You are commuting to work on a train along with a few hundred others. It is quiet, a Monday morning. So quiet in fact that there are few sounds. The hum of the air conditioner, a rustle of a breakfast bar wrapper, an occasional cough, and the guard announcing rules for the quiet carriage.
At the next stop a young woman boards. Her phone is in her hand and she is deep in conversation. She blurts out a whinge against her family and it is loud. Her normal voice probably. She is not especially angry or agitated, as the complaining seems natural and well practised.
Now imagine what would happen if the commuters, still all quiet and respectful, were to arrive at this woman’s home this evening. They would not do anything. They are there to just stand in the corners and along the walls of the room and listen to the private conversation.
Of course, there would be incredulity and bedlam. The police would be called and the incident recorded in gossip for a generation.
The woman is easily aware of an invasion of her space but is totally oblivious to her invasion of others. In fact, if you point out to her that she might be disturbing the peace she would tell you to fuck off to the quiet carriage.
This is an insidious challenge.
Awareness of self and others is the core ingredient of both personal happiness and societal success. And it seems to be slipping away from us. As individuals retreat into their technology so they lose touch with themselves and everyone else.
Many have written about this and many more will suggest solutions. So here is mine.
Teach yoga to school kids.
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