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Society

We Are Sitting Through History

252
Society

We Are Sitting Through History

Let us turn into reflective and proactive recipients of the present so that one day, when the present falls into the palms of the past,  we can look back and be pleased with the history we have so courageously created. 

252

Let us turn into reflective and proactive recipients of the present so that one day, when the present falls into the palms of the past,  we can look back and be pleased with the history we have so courageously created. 

One day, I heard a captivating statement that rendered me speechless. It went as follows: “When we are in the middle of history, it is hard for us to see it.” That statement truly hit me and I wanted to hear more about this uncommon proposition.

I must admit, this daring statement might have been a staunch and unapologetic epiphany. Let’s think about that for a second: When we live ‘in the middle of history’, it is hard for us to realize it. I took this notion a step further and thought: we’ve indeed lived through history without realizing it. From countless uprisings to climate change to events that have forever changed the course of the world, we have been ‘sitting through’ history all throughout, and the millennial experience is even more unique. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic we are witnessing counts as part of the history we are witnessing.

Yet, you might say, just five minutes ago was history. I chose to contend that we are in fact sitting through history because sometimes, when we sit through something, we are oblivious to it; oblivious to the uniqueness of events, the timing, and even the details of that experience. This is particularly true for millennials and the generations that follow.

Since I subscribe to the millennial cohort, I can confidently contend that we sat through countless historical events: September 11, the Iraq War, the Great Recession, Hurricane Katrina, the launch of the iPhone, the first black U.S. president, the Arab Spring, and countless other defining events including the pandemic we are now living through. This brief reflection was going to be a reflection on the last decade but I thought I’d take it a step further and engage in some form of self-reflection while graciously inviting others to do the same. 

Along with witnessing history comes a responsibility. I believe that, first and foremost, the responsibility we have toward these historical events is engaging in self-reflection to better understand where we fit in this overall equation. This includes learning from past historical events so we could ameliorate our current state of affairs. As a conflict resolution student, I was once introduced to the term, “Reflective Practice,” which in a nutshell is the art of self-reflection with self-improvement as the main goal. This practice yields intrapersonal awareness and allows us to truly get in touch with the core of who we are as well as our deep-seated thoughts. Reflective thinking and practice are what we need right now.

The point is not to say that we simply witnessed historical events, but to take the lessons associated with those events and make informed decisions about our present and future. The world has become a patchwork of many events, both good and bad. In today’s rowdy, conflict-ridden, watered-down, and hostile world, most of us have lost our ability to self-reflect; self-reflection with a purpose, that is.

We live in an impulsive world where instant reactions to incidents feed our self-gratification. Amidst the rowdiness of the world, we often fail to pause and gather the essence of our scattered thoughts.

Social media has made it difficult to pause, to reflect. We are expected to rejoice, grieve, and express our affinity online. We are expected to quickly release the finest sentiments that our souls have to offer in an instant. The art of self-reflection must be practiced and deeply considered. It is often easier to advocate for self-reflection, but practicing it along with mindfulness – that is also being in the present – is an urgent must.

Reflection gives us a deeper sense of our experiences. When we reflect on our experiences, we are better aware, hence are able to react better to similar situations in the future. Let us “zoom out,” and live the details of our history without being passive recipients of our present. When we zoom into the historical events that we live through, we are able to make better sense of them, hence create a better future. Perhaps this will make us drivers of change whereby foreseeable negative historical events may not take place again or may not have unwanted ramifications.

Let us turn into reflective and proactive recipients of the present so that one day, when the present falls into the palms of the past,  we can look back and be pleased with the history we have so courageously created. 

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