When you know there is a hurricane coming, you buy water and gas, board up the house, and start driving away. What about hurricanes you don’t want to see coming?
Some disasters are not due to the faults in our stars. I’m talking about a Full Life this month. Today is day 10.
Patanjali says, in his Yoga Sutras,
हेयं दुःखमनागतम् heyam dukham anagatam
avoid the suffering that has not yet arrived
Some times we know there is trouble if we don’t act now. When someone has diabetes, they are already in trouble and have to change their diet and lifestyle to prevent damage. It doesn’t take much courage to act when the problem is already upon us.
It takes a great act of leadership to see a problem, and to solve the problem before it becomes imminent. In 1943, a racist indifference to the people of India led to the death of 4 million poor civilians in the Indian state of Bengal. The disaster was entirely man-made, and it was made by one man- Winston Churchill. This was no great leadership.
Most times, we __don’t want__ to see it coming. When the 2017 Hurricane Irma was just projected to wreak havoc on Florida, a popular right wing radio host declared, days before, that the hurricane prediction was just scare mongering hype from the left wing media, and that he’s staying right at home because he’s sure there’s no problem. One day before the hurricane arrived, he realized that the hurricane isn’t merely a political whirlwind, and quickly packed off to safety. There are many more disasters where we don’t want to see the future suffering, and we don’t want to do anything about it.
But why? Why do we not want to act to avoid a future problem? We have already talked about denial. Now I want to address “inconvenience”. Sometimes its just inconvenient to move from our seats, even if there is a disaster looming. We wish the disaster goes away on it’s own. “Global Warming? That’s not going to happen around here”! Sometimes it’s inconvenient to bring others to see the problem like you do. Other people may be in denial, or may not be interesting in doing anything right now. Or just trying to change a force of habit. The US Congress has a habit of denying the very imminent disasters caused by the opioid crisis, the North Korean situation, the Medicare funding gaps, the Social Security funding gaps, climate change and so on. It takes a very tall leader to see above the heads of these sheep and to then drive the decision making.
Most personal suffering is avoidable. We eat food we already know is unhealthy. We watch more television than we know to be good for our spirit. The nation is in the midst of an opioid drug epidemic, and its likely that each of the users know that danger is around the corner. In relationships, people cling on to bad relationships, fearing the worst but choosing to look away. These are all things we can see from miles out, but we don’t want to see them, so we live in denial.
Act now to avoid the suffering that has not yet arrived. The inconvenience will be higher, but the ultimate toll will be lower.