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Items filtered by date: July 2013
Monday, 29 July 2013 10:25

I'm Switzerland

Switzerland

Home of:

  • Great chocolate,  
  • Cheese and fondue
  • The Red Cross
  • Swiss bank accounts, and of course 
  • Armed neutrality.

I went home recently and caught up with friends I had not seen in a long time. When I returned, I was giving to a Sydney based friend, we had all been colleages a decade ago in New Zealand. Unfortunately, she had chosen to end the friendships years ago. 

As we were talking, my friend stopped me mid sentence complemented me on my ability to maintain relationships with people who have fallen out with each other. She said ‘most people choose sides, you have always taken a very mature approach that took a generosity of spirit.”

My immediate response was “I’m Switzerland.”

It was a very flippant reply and until then I hadn’t really given it much thought, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Both people were my friends before they fell out and their falling out was nothing to do with me. Whatever the issue was, it was between them. I just assumed that everyone behaved that way. 

Now I wonder, do they? 

  • Did I always behave that way?
  • Why did I begin my neutrality?
  • Why do people take sides in a fight that is not theirs?

I grew up in a family of three children. As the eldest sister I was the responsible one. The one that had to set the example; the one who sat in the middle seat in the car and almost never got to be by the window; the one that sat between my brother and sister because my brother got terrible car sickness and occassionally so did my sister. Mostly though it was to stop my siblings fighting. (Though I am sure they have many stories of their own about me.) I was Switzerland.

At high school, I had friends that were your best friends one minute, the next you were the outcast, picked on and ridiculed. I confess I didn’t maintain my neutrality much through my high school years. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be liked by my peer group. In all honesty I really needed to have found new friends. Ones that genuinely cared about me and treated me with respect. Trouble is you have to have a level of esteem and self respect for yourself first.  I don’t look back on high school with fond memories, except my last year, my peer group and so called friends helped errode my sense of self and I behaved in a way that I am not proud of.  In order to regain my status I often sided with my ‘mean’ friends against one of the other girls in our group. It did not make me feel good and it certainly wasn’t who I was. On reflection not only did it take me further from my true self, that too, erroded my self-respect. I lost sight of my neutrality, my heart and Switzerland.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve increased my self awareness, my judgment and my discernment.  There are times when its necessary for me to take a position or have a firm opinion, though I will still avoid choosing a side.  If I do take a position I remain respectful, I explain my position and my stance. If I’m honest I choose not to take sides for purely selfish reasons. I remain neutral because I love all my friends and would prefer them to reach a peaceful accord. So I remain neutral, Switzerland.  

Sometimes being Switzerland is tough. People want you to be on their side. We get caught up in the emotion of an argument, take a position, dig our heels in and then feel like we need to defend it.  

What I have realised is that in the long term, people respect you more because you have remained true to yourself.

Do you have your own stories of neutrality? Of being Switzerland? Love to hear them add your comments below.

Published in Blog
Sunday, 14 July 2013 02:36

Where is the Love?

I’m not easily surprised by people these days. I’ve been working with them for too long, and know we have frailities and a darkness in us that drives good people to do ‘bad’ (unresourceful) things. The killing of the british soldier a few weeks ago was an exception. It rocked me. A father; a brother; a son; beheaded at the hand of a religious fundamentalist. 

I was getting my morning cup of coffee, when I happened to read the SMH. What I saw sickenend me. It horrified me that this man’s life meant so little to someone else. Killed all in the name of religion. How had we come to this?

Where is my right to believe something different to you? I’ve recently read Richard Dawkins “The God Delusion” and he poses the question we have debates on science, on politics, on life and love on pretty much everything. Yet somehow, and for some reason we are not allow to debate religion. We are not allowed to have our own opinions on how things came into existence. And woe betide if you express your opinions to a fundamentalist who’s views are so rigid there is no room for anything else other than I’m right. Your wrong. 

What a sad endightment that is. Just because I believe something different I am somehow bad, evil. 

Where is the understanding?

Where is the curiosity? 

Where is the compassion?

I have long believed that what you choose to believe is personal. I was lucky as a kid, I had a choice about what I wanted to believe. My parents allowed me and my siblings to choose. Me, I spent most of my time at the library in the natural history section; David Attenborough was (is) my hero. When I grew up I was either going to be a vet or a National Geographic photographer. So, when I was sent to Sunday school, it didn’t fit into my childs world view of things. I believed in evolution. So I stopped going. And I am ever grateful to my parents for that.

As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve read more, as I have asked more questions of myself and of others, my perspective has broaded. I’ve discovered that we are made of energy. We are all connected in a collective unconcious. More importantly we are wonderfully and magically different. You are different from me and from that comes challenge, learning and inspiration.

What a boring old world would it be if we were all the same. 

And while the public beheading may have shaken me; my belief in the power of humanity and that people are inherently good, remains intact.

Published in Blog
Monday, 01 July 2013 08:09

Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

“Get busy living, or get busy dying” is a quote from one of my favourite movies “The Shawshank Redemption”. 

I’ve been thinking about life, my life, a lot lately, prompted by the death of my grandfather. My last and more recently favourite grandparent. As a child I was sacred of him. Not because he was awful, because he was stoic, proud and disciplined. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. He could spot dust at 50 paces and young children were to be seen and not heard.  He and my nana raised 6 children in the days when deserts were necessary to fill up the stomachs of growing children. In a consumer ridden age, nothing of his went to waste and things did not get replaced until there was absolutely no life left in them. He had 20 year old tea towels that were so threadbare you could see through them! 

Because of his frugality and his desire to give his children (and subsequently his grandchildren) family holidays he purchased land at Taupo and then Whangamata and built basic bachs for them to visit during the summer holidays.  I am sure that there were things he wished he had done differently with his children, he is fondly remembered as a grumpy old buggar. A colourful character who lived life on his terms, right until the end, I am convinced that he chose to die when he did. The question that plagues me is will I be able to say the same? When I get to the end - will I have lived life on my terms? Will I have achieved my potential and my purpose? And by not doing so, will I have inhibited others from achieving thiers? 

I have just passed a significant milestone birthday and I feel like I am just waking up.  I have some big plans/dreams/ideas and hope that I have not left it too late. That I have not sat on the side line of my life for too long, waiting for the world to deliver it too me.

In the words of Andy Dufresne;

“...Get busy living, or get busy dying”

Published in Blog
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