Discernment is one of those less fashionable attributes. It’s not showy or pushy. It doesn’t demand the limelight and slips in quietly without an entourage. Appropriate for these times.
When the foundations of western society falter as we realise they were built on sand, it can be a disorientating time. And this is where discernment is an ally.
Discernment is an attribute we can cultivate
It’s easily overlooked. In the incessant din of opinion and counter opinion, who needs discernment when you can open any social media feed and be told what to wear, what to eat, what to do and what to think depending on your inclinations.
And this, this is something at the heart of our predicament. We have outsourced our wisdom to those who shout loudest or flatter our egos the best or reassure and soothe our fears in the most dulcet tones.
Discernment comes to our rescue, giving us pause before we jump on someone else’s train
Insecurity comes in many forms. Not knowing what to think and asking others to do that for us, is just one form. But it infantilises us.
Now more than ever, it looks to me, we are being asked to grow up. To use our powers of reflection and contemplation so we can discern where to put our attention, where and how to spend our time and money, when to act and when to pause.
In learning something new, in my case about anti-racism work, it can be tempting to jump in with the right phrases, the cool memes and a show of activism but we know when it feels off (and so do others). When it is about being seen to be or do something simply because that recognition shores up our ego or fragile sense of self, then our actions are at best hollow and at worst counter productive or damaging.
Unlearning old habits of thought can be uncomfortable at times, but discernment is our ally
Just as we know when we are tired and hungry our mood is likely to drop and in that state, our judgement gets clouded; so too, when we discern we are wanting to act from a place of insecurity, we can pause and wait for a settling that will allow an action to arise that promotes connection rather than taking us further away
Pausing, allowing ourselves to settle, allowing love to fill us, can have far greater impact than a load of social media shares done in a rush of ‘I must do something.’
Discernment is not something to learn or acquire; it’s always available when we settle and get intimate with that felt sense that tells us we’re home.
Note: Written 6 August 2020, published 18 August 2020