Reader comment on Anna Quindlen's passage ...

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    On Sep 28, 2014 Rebecca McCarty wrote:

    Recently a person commented to me, "Life is what happens to people, while they are making other plans."  This is true for many people today, which begs the questions: How has this happened? Can this be changed?

    With the advent of mass media, our societies have been saturated with social programming that introduced new attitudes among peoples. This phenomenon has caused a change in humans, as a result, we behave differently, than generations of the past did. Through mass media programing, humanity adopted a different set of attitudinal criteria for assessing and assigning  "value" . The value of "things", the value of "actions", the value of "others", the value of acquiring "money", the value of "affluence", the value of being "in", the value of "virtue", the value of "spiritual development", the value of the" inner Self", all these have been assigned a changed degree of importance or non importance by media broadcasts in our various cultures.

    This has come to us in the form of advertisements, movies, it is a kind of collective propaganda, haphazardly created by people who can afford to use the media for their promoting their products,agendas, ideas, services, opinions etc.. In the past an individual or small group of people, could only effect the values of so broad a slice of humanity  very slowly, if at all. Miss information was not so easily spread, fashions were not so easily influenced, trends not easily manipulated, virtues not so easily ignored. Every one alive on the planet has been effected to a lesser or greater degree by mass media programming, we share this in common. 

    In the past ideas governing attitudes changed slowly, trends tended to remain steady. People had more time to evaluate ideas from their own experience, to question whether an idea, a thing, an action proved itself useful, valid, according to their own set of experiential criteria for judging values, comparing values. Now many of our experiences are created for us by mass media. These experiences are artificial, we've filled up much of our inner space with these artificial experiences, our ideas about the world, our attitudes toward life, our standards for good and bad, the interpretations we make about our personal experiences are influenced by them.

    Do modern humans, as a whole, have a life of their own? We are so filled with artificial attitudes, which operate quite automatically, un-examined "as if" they were our own, that we can no longer be sure if we are living our own life, making our own choices. We are programmed to "make money", to "settle down", "reproduce", "get an education", "drink coca-cola", belong to this group or that, we are told, what to hate, what to fear, what success is and the standards whereby to measure it, we are programmed, how to dress, and how to think, what is "cool", what attitudes to use to deal with every kind of situation which we may find ourselves facing. In the midst of all this, where are our authentic Selves? What would it mean for our own authentic Self to begin to live, not according to our programming, but according to the essential nature of our own true being? Would we engage in activities contrary to our own authenticity? I think not. We would be true to ourselves in the purest sense. We would not live lives we hated, perform jobs we found no joy in,  say and do things we'd later regret...even now, deep down inside, we know we would be different, truer to our inner Nature, if we could figure out how to do it effortlessly, and the world, we know, would be a changed place for it.

    So how can we "get a life? Our own authentic life? The answer lies in penetrating the moment. Our life is composed of events, events are composed of moments, moments are composed of NOW. This moment, right now is where we, authentic living Being, exist. If we do not find our selves here, where else can we find our selves? If we let this moment go by, like so many others, without truly penetrating "now" with our conscious Being, making it our own crystal of time, if we fill our minds with all the things we're programmed to think, to value, to feel, to fear, and act from that programming; can we be said to "live an authentic life"?

    Socrates said "the unexamined life is not worth living". To discover our own authentic nature we must begin to examine our programming, where it came from, we need to question our motives, question our habitual attitudes, prove ideas out under the open sky, in the light of our daily moments. When we shine the light of examination on our programming and with open eyes, pick out the artificial attitudes and values, and replace them with attitudes and values that "sit right with our own hearts", then our lives will truly be worth living. We will live our own authenticity. Authenticity is infectious, when the authentic living Being in us, vibrates with the truth of it's own authenticity, it sets up a similar vibration in others. When we embrace an authentic life, we send out ripples of authenticity through all of humanity, one moment at a time. The present is the leading edge of eternity, live here and embrace your own life, true to tour essential Nature.

     It takes a certain kind of courage to live authentically, it is not popular, nor will such a life heap up money. Such a life however, is richly filled with experience, from which grows wisdom and understanding, and these can not be bought, at any price.

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    On Oct 1, 2014 david doane wrote:

     Good essay, Rebecca -- thank you.  I disagree with only one point, your last paragraph.  For me to live authentically, live my truth, I may not be popular and may not heap up money, but I may -- many who were authentic have -- you never know.

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