Firstly, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one!
There’s so much to celebrate in life and all too frequently we choose to dwell on the negatives rather than the positives. Look at how the media reviews any year – it’s a catalogue of doom and gloom, disasters and deaths, whereas we know that there are just as many hopeful and cheerful stories. However, they’re probably not as sensational or “newsworthy” – an indictment in itself, where as a society, we appear to need to feed off the negativity and suffering of others in order to function for ourselves.
“Poor things! Thank goodness that’s not us!” we say as we look on at the tragedies of others, and then switch the television off or carefully ignore our role in the misery of others.
“I empathise but I can’t change the way things are” is another example of a dereliction of our duties.
Well, perhaps we can do something. Perhaps we can change the world, even if we only start with our immediate world – being more considerate to those we care for, or trying to concentrate on what we give rather than what we receive.
Or perhaps we ought to spend more time thinking about the values and virtues that we hold dear. To what do we aspire in 2014 and beyond? What do we want to do with our lives? What are we passionate about? Can we make a difference?
We see much that is wrong with life but we can make a difference.
Let’s look at our schools, for instance.
As educationalists we see untold damage done to our children by the restrictive practices that we see in our test-driven system of schooling. Yet, there are many schools throughout the country that have a more enlightened approach to learning, with some introducing philosophy into their practice – for us, an extremely encouraging and thoughtful addition to the curriculum.
It is time to think. We all need to have reflective time – to consider what we’ve done and not done, what we could do, and what we should not do. We also need time to stop thinking and to live more positively, considerately and compassionately in the now.
January is sometimes a difficult month. The festivities are over and a certain amount of exhaustion enters our lives. Yet in many ways, this is the perfect time for reflection, rejuvenation, re-valuing.
To this effect, we’ve decided to offer some thoughts of our own that may or may not be helpful for your personal reflection time.
Whilst we’re delighted that many schools are now providing lessons in philosophy, we’re also aware that many concentrate on Western rather than Eastern philosophy. In these Internet days, we have far more access to the great thoughts of all philosophers, both past and present, from East and West. Why reinvent the wheel when the likes of Confucius, Lao Tzu and Dogen Zenji have given us so much to think about?
So for the next month, in the transitional time at the start of the Western New Year and the eve of the Eastern one, we are going to write a daily offering of “Vice to Virtue”. There will be 26 offerings – one for every letter of the alphabet where we start with a “vice” and move it towards a “virtue”.
The vices and virtues aren’t always exact antonyms but hopefully it will provide some thoughts as to how we can shift our emphasis from problem to promise, hardship to harmony and encourage us to make tentative steps towards a better world.
We hope you enjoy our contributions and look forward to your comments as the month progresses to the time when we can celebrate the emergence of the Year of the Horse.