Is Woke the Path to Enlightenment?

People should not be treated as sheep unless the intention is for them to become like sheep – mindlessly following popular opinion without applying their own moral standards – that can never lead to anything positive!

For those of you don’t know (and I was one of them until recently) ‘woke’ is a widely used term for people who are ‘aware’ of social and racial injustices but does being aware make them enlightened or just intolerant of the intolerance of others?

If you have a quick whiz around Google you’ll soon find this comment from David Brooks (who is an American journalist apparently):

“To be woke is to be radically aware and justifiably paranoid. It is to be cognizant of the rot pervading the power structures. The woke manner shares cool’s rebel posture, but it is the opposite of cool in certain respects. Cool was politically detached, but being a social activist is required for being woke. Cool was individualistic, but woke is nationalistic and collectivist. Cool was emotionally reserved; woke is angry, passionate and indignant. Cool was morally ambiguous; woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable.”

face palmWhen I first started thinking about ‘woke’ I thought yep OK we need a bit more tolerance and understanding of other people because, with that, comes acceptance and with acceptance comes peace but then I read this explanation and face palmed….It would appear that, in modern parlance, woke is merely calling other people out over their ideas and opinions which the ‘woke’ collective deem as being unacceptable. It has led to a culture in which some people, who presumably consider themselves woke, criticise the comments or actions of others and, furthermore, are offended on behalf of others. 

A sad example of this was the online castigation of a young girl who posted a photo of herself in her prom dress. Pretty innocuous right? Nope, because she was wearing a traditional Chinese dress called a cheongsam and she’s not Chinese which apparently means that she committed the crime of cultural appropriation which prompted responses such as:

“Was the theme of the prom casual racism” (this from a girl whose profile picture indicates that she is not Chinese)

This was followed by:

“I’m Asian and not insulted in any way. You look beautiful”

This thread prompted over 6,000 comments, some condemning and some showing support. Those condemning appear to consider themselves woke; they are pointing out that a dress choice could be interpreted as taking something from someone else’s culture without having the proper respect or understanding of that culture which is, apparently, inappropriate. If you take this theory to the nth degree then, surely, it means that everyone must stay within their own cultural boundaries in case they offend someone by stepping over theirs. Whilst I can appreciate patriotism and pride in our heritage I do find it incredibly sad that we should not be able to appreciate the wonders of someone else’s culture without fear of inadvertent appropriation.

Your rights endThis phrase from Mr Brooks “woke seeks to establish a clear marker for what is unacceptable” really concerns me not least because who will be deciding what is ‘unacceptable’. Is it the case, as it seems to be with advertisements these days, that if more than 0.00000001% of the population is offended then it naturally follows that the rest of the population should be offended?

There is currently a battle ranging between trans women (biological men who identify as women) and extreme feminists and both sides are gaining a lot of traction in the media because they are trying to force people to accept their beliefs by saying that, to have a contrary opinion, is offensive and unacceptable. So, to take this example, does ‘woke’ mean that you have to accept both sides of the argument as being offensive? If that is the case then where does the positive on each side fit in? Where is the place for the individual in all this?

sheepApparently woke is collectivist which means that the good of the society has to be considered over the welfare of the individual. That’s dangerous ground for me I’m afraid; what is ‘society’ other than a collection of individuals and who gets to decide what is good for the majority of an individuals other than a minority of other individuals? People should not be treated as sheep unless the intention is for them to become like sheep – mindlessly following popular opinion without applying their own moral standards – that can never lead to anything positive!

Lotus isolated on blackSo, is being woke the same as being on the path to enlightenment? In my opinion, that would be a resounding no. True tolerance and true harmony between individuals doesn’t come from being offended, angry and indignant, it comes from acceptance and understanding. It’s a rare thing to be able to accept others just as they are but I believe that’s the way to peace so I will try to be awakened and not woke if that’s all the same to you ;O) x

 

When the Monkey Mind Stopped Chattering

Being English and naturally somewhat reserved I was suprised to find myself slipping off my flip flops and wandering over…..

‘Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.’ Buddha

As I said in my last blog post, I am continually on the look out for ways to stop my ‘monkey mind’; when the negative thoughts rough and tumble their way through your brain, disturbing your inner peace – do you know what I mean?

Anyway, last week I was in beautiful Thailand, the home of many a Buddhist monk. I’ve never really had much time for religion as it seems to cause more problems than it solves but I’ve always had a soft spot for Buddhism as it basically seems to involve being nice to other people and not worrying too much about things you can do nothing about. My friend and I took a trip up into the mountains to see the Giant Buddha (which was breathtaking by the way) and there we found a small monestary in which a group of monks were chanting. I had no idea what they were saying but, for some reason, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm whilst listening to them.IMG_5189

When they had finished, several of the locals approached the head monk, kneeled, and asked for a blessing; there was no request for a donation but they willingly handed over a few bhat. Being English and naturally somewhat reserved I was suprised to find myself slipping off my flip flops and wandering over to the monk. I had no idea what, if anything, I was supposed to do but I bowed to him as I’d seen the others do and waited in a slightly uncomfortable, feet shuffling kind of way. He looked up at me and smiled.

His smile was not professional or forced, it was completely naturally and utterly, utterly beautiful. It might sound like a strange thing to say but you could feel peace radiating from the man, as though he were lit up from inside. He gave me a medallion and told me, in broken English, that he wished peace and happiness for me and those close to me; I bowed again, thanked him, and walked away. I was shocked to discover that I was crying and smiling at the same time and, best of all, my inner chattering monkey had completely shut up and had very little to say for the rest of the day…….