Mindfulness is not just about finding peace of mind under ordinary circumstances. It is most important as the ability to retain a degree of clarity even under extremely challenging situations. How does this play out in the face of an existential threat of unprecedented magnitude?
The United Nations commission on climate change recent report alerted us that the situation is even more dire than previously thought. Compared to the magnitude and immediacy of this threat, it is tempting to dismiss just about everything else as having the futility of rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
Of course, making the deck chairs a priority would be insane. But keeping our attention on specific things, even relatively trivial things, helps us counteract the effect of panic, which tends to make us ungrounded. So, at an individual level, it makes sense for us to keep paying attention to the “deck chairs.” Staying grounded means staying sane.
At a collective level, it is tempting to dismiss most other issues as paling in importance compared to the existential threat represented by climate change. However, a substantial part of the population, and of the people in power, are either blind to the threat, or even actively stoking the fire. There may not be enough time to convince enough people of the reality and urgency of the threat. It will probably be more effective to grow alliances with people who are less convinced about the urgency of the threat — i.e. people whose focus is on issues which we might look upon as rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.
Staying mindful, as opposed to reactive, means being more effective in dealing with the ecological challenges as well as the societal and political challenges.