I wrote the following for the 224th issue of the Weekly Awareness Guide, a written document distributed weekly via email that I offer for $11.11 a month.
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What do you find meaningful? Do you find the accumulation of wealth and material things to be a good use of time and energy, or do you look for meaning on a deeper level? In my opinion, wellbeing and success rely not only on how hard we work and how vigorously we pursue the latter, but what we do with it.
Too many people find success, fame or fortune only to waste it through egoism and self-indulgence, but not all of them are in it for themselves. Others choose to help the world when they’re given an excess of money or attention.
They put their energy toward real causes – not causes that are only meant to make them look good – and they genuinely try to make the world a little better. As individuals, we tend to feel like a small change is the best we can achieve. Fortunately, it can have a meaningful long-term impact.
Neglecting Our Collective Needs
Focusing on ourselves and our status in the world causes us to neglect our collective needs. As long as we have what we need to survive, we can let everyone else struggle and even criticize them for not being on our level.
This is one of many reasons the world seems broken: most people only look out for themselves. Even underground artists, musicians, etc. who hit it big and have an opportunity to say something real to a larger audience often become egotistical and self-indulgent instead. It shows in their work.
The world would change in a heartbeat if we started thinking about each other and working to create a better future for us all, but for some reason, refraining from self-centeredness can be difficult.
Apathy and Carelessness
Artist or not, we tend to think only about how certain people, situations or circumstances affect us instead of at least trying to empathize with those involved. Most of our thoughts and resulting decisions come from this apathetic space.
We only care about our struggles, and everyone else is treated with apathy and carelessness. Artists and musicians can change this since they, being in the public eye, have the power to shape (if not influence) the masses’ perception. They can encourage compassion over carelessness and unity over hate.
They can start a movement for compassionate change so huge that our governments will have no choice but to get on board or get out of the way.
We Can Achieve Peace and Unity (but It’s Not Easy)
We wouldn’t need governments if we were united, empathetic and peaceful to the extent that we could eradicate war and the prejudice that leads to it. This is a naïve challenging and complex goal, but the first step is to develop collective compassion.
The path to its achievement will be rough, because the masses would be outraged if they knew or cared what was happening in all the countries we’re at war with.
Drone strikes and hospital bombings are only the tip of the iceberg, and if we empathized with the victims, we’d furiously and successfully demand an end to the war crimes. This is achievable if we can come together and learn compassion.
I urge artists of every kind (writers, painters, musicians, poets…) to practice and encourage this in your art. Even if it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done, try to care about others more than yourself.
I’ve tried it, and to my surprise, it’s not easy. As it turns out, I can be pretty selfish. There’s no shame in admitting it if you’re trying to do better, and developing compassion can make you aware of how self-centered you may have been throughout life.
Don’t Limit Your Art
The great thing about art is that it provides a means to express these ideas in several forms, which is one reason I recommend artists explore different outlets.
I’d encourage a writer to learn an instrument, a painter to pick up the pen and write or a musician to pick up the paintbrush. In doing so, they might discover they can express their creative side in more ways than one.
They might even find it easier to shed light on something meaningful in society. This will allow them to raise awareness in different ways while exploring their multifaceted creative side. Or, they can go the other way and become self-centered like some do when success is in the picture.
Art is yours to use however you want, and I don’t intend to limit anyone creatively.
However, to favor self-promotion over compassion in your art is to limit yourself to creating things centered on little more than how great you are, how inferior everyone else is or how you only made it through hard work that all the other inferior people are incapable of.
This might work at first, but after a while your inspiration will run out. You’ll have nothing new to say about your greatness, and by consequence, you’ll have nothing to say at all. Hopefully by then, you begin to see the value in using art to help others.
I have no problem with those who are self-indulgent in their art, but I do think some are missing an opportunity to not only tap into an abundant creative wellspring, but to do something valuable with it.
The pursuit of an independent lifestyle through creative work is incomplete if not used to encourage compassion and social change. What’s left to create after you waste so much energy relentlessly reminding people you’re rich and famous? Only the emptiness that comes with realizing money and fame are not the answer.
Selflessness will help you feel better than an expensive car or house, and using your art to help others will be more fulfilling than using it to build up your ego. Have fun with it, but remember it can serve a meaningful cause when it’s not hindered by self-absorption.
About the author:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, revolution, music and the transformative creative force known as love. I run The Culture of Awareness, a daily news blog dedicated to raising social and spiritual awareness and supporting the evolution of the planet.
I also have a personal blog, Openhearted Rebel, in which I share writings related to spiritual philosophy, creativity, heart consciousness and revolution (among other topics).
I write from the heart and try to share informative and enlightening reading material with the rest of the conscious community. When I’m not writing or exploring nature, I’m usually making music.