“You are something that the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is something the ocean is doing.” Eckhart Tolle (quoting Alan Watts)
We all seem to have some narcissism, so we like to look in the mirror. We probably have quite a few mirrors in our house, and lots of women carry a mirror in their purse. We use our car mirror to make sure we don’t have anything amiss, like a booger emerging or merely a few hairs no longer where we carefully placed them. Walking past store windows, we may not be able to resist taking a look at ourselves as we walk down the street. And then there are the wonderful walls of full-length mirrors at the gym that have us enthralled as we pump some iron. Some people like a mirror in the ceiling so they can watch themselves have sex.
Most of us obsess about how others perceive us, so our mirrors serve our need to be successful with other people. We hope we will be received well by others when they look at us. A few people among us don’t give a damn what we think of their appearance, but the rest of us care a lot.
Mirrors serve a more serious purpose as well: we check ourselves out in the mirror to gauge our health, our vitality, or even our spirit. We want to assess our well-being. Oh, oh, I look depressed. Oh, oh, I look a lot older today, faded, declining. Oh, oh, I think I’m chubbier than yesterday. Or, hey, I look cool; I look like who I think I am. Maybe, looking into the mirror, we try to overcome our endless doubts about who we are. Who are we, anyway? We’re not sure, so our egos never stop worrying. But there is a much bigger mirror to look into, a mirror that will tell us just about everything we need to know about ourselves.
The big mirror, the all-revealing mirror, is the news.
The news shows us the current state of human evolution
The news gives us a constant reflection of the human species, including a reflection of who we are individually.
24-7 news is a modern breakthrough for the human species. For most of our history, people didn’t know much about what was happening outside their own village. If they did get some news about people outside their village, the news was patchy and fairly unreliable.
Now, for the first time in history, humans are informed about almost everything that is happening on the globe every day—actually, every second.
The news has become our immense mirror, showing us how we look, what we think, and what we do as a species.
Look in the news mirror and you will see yourself, a wave in the ocean of human evolution.
But we have difficulty seeing ourselves in the mirror of the news
The entire range of human behavior gets reported in our news mirror. We see that there are marvelous human accomplishments happening every day, and we see that there is profound evil—unspeakable violence, hatred, and suffering. And we see and hear all kinds of bad human explanations that revolt us, anger us, or sink us into despair.
We don’t see ourselves in the dark side of the news. That part of human behavior is committed by other people who are unlike us, we are convinced. And we find it painful to watch what “those people” do.
We find it so discomfiting to watch the news that many of turn it off for a while, as if it’s a poison that can injure us. Some people decide to avoid the news altogether, so they don’t read about current events, don’t listen to the news on the radio, and don’t watch any news on t.v. or the internet. They can’t stand the world.
We don’t think that the news is a mirror reflecting our own personal lives.
But as J. Krishnamurti says in You Are the World, “Our life has brought about a culture, a society, which has become the trap in which we are caught. The trap is built by us; for that trap each one us is responsible. Though we may revolt against the established order, that order is what we have made, what we have built.”
We have great trouble observing ourselves accurately, he says. Looking over the wall, we are able only to be the censor, the judge, holding ourselves aloof from the world.
But the news mirror does, in fact, reflect each of us
We tend not to understand that something new has evolved in the human species—the powerful capacity to see the entire picture of human evolution in real time.
The news is showing us clearly every moment the state of the human species. From scientists probing the universe, we have the news that we are all children of the stars, every atom of our bodies created by cosmic explosions. The daily news shows us fanatics murdering innocent men, women, and children. We hear reports of great human heroism, helping us understand our capacity to love our fellows. The news reports human behavior from every corner of the earth: there is nothing that we don’t know about what humans are thinking and doing.
Almost everything we humans can dream up is happening now, and we are the witnesses and participants. Not much is hidden from us now, except self-awareness.
Each of us is in relationship with all other people and with the earth that sustains us. As the news reports endless human folly, we can avoid negative emotional responses and avoid pulling away into the small universe of our personal lives.
Instead, we can acknowledge the news mirror as a great human accomplishment: we can now see for the first time what the human species must learn if we are to survive. The news mirror is showing us with brutal clarity that we must learn how to love so that we can stop harming each other. We can see in the news mirror that this beautiful earth is wounded by our carelessness and greed, and we can see how we must change. In the news we can see how our individual blind spots cause harm and pain, what we must learn to transform our thinking and behavior, and how we can find the support we need to change.
The news may not be a flawless mirror, but it good enough that we can see what we must learn and how we must change as a species in order to survive and thrive. We have invented the modern news because we need it to evolve.
A sustained poise is required for your own evolution
Most people can see only other people doing things they don’t approve of when they look at much of the news. It takes a sustained poise to look into the news mirror and see yourself.
Sustaining my poise, I see myself in the news. Ah, the world is a crazy place, and I am one of the crazy ones.
I can’t separate myself from what is happening on this earth and I can’t separate myself from the people who are moving in darkness. We are all moving in darkness together, but we are moving toward the light.
The great ones have always been aware of how much we want to separate ourselves from the fates of other people. But they knew (and they know now) that separation from others—any others—dooms us to suffering and confusion. Christ offered the ultimate challenge to us: love others as yourself. In other words, don’t separate yourself from other people if you want to live an expansive life.
We can’t live in the most advantageous state of awareness if we can’t stand to identify with the rest of humanity.
We will have to sustain our poise if we want to learn from the news. To live in reality—the current state of human evolution—we will need to live in the present moment, embracing life as it presents itself to us. We will need to maintain our connection to others, to this magnificent earth, and to our own individual assignment to become more conscious. We will need to be grateful, embracing this life of ours without complaint. We will need to be creative, and if we are, we will contribute to further evolution. And we will need to be lighthearted, avoiding cynicism, dread, and pessimism as we look, unflinching, into the mirror of the news.
Sustaining our poise, we will laugh at our part in the human predicament and we will evolve individually, no matter what other people choose to do. Poised, alive, and joyful, each of us will supply the love needed for the evolution of our species.