It’s the first day of Winter and Reconciliation Day. Yesterday, the children had bible class online and talked about Sorry Day and what reconciliation means and looks like. Out of the mouth of one babe (not mine — a much better taught one), a little boy gave the perfect stock answer: it’s about making an effort to fix a broken relationship.
(Or something very close to that. I didn’t have pen and paper ready, but what he said was gold.)
Our family got friendlier with another family just newly moved to our neighbourhood and school. We had them over for pizza last night and all of us got along. I just got back from a really soul-quenching morning tea with friends that stretched past lunch into afternoon tea — just catching up face to face with people I love who I genuinely like and get along with. People who think a lot like me.
It’s been an emotionally demanding few weeks. There’s George Floyd et al, America’s systemic racial violence and the Minneapolis pushback. Rio Tinto blows up a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site 11 days before National Sorry Day. My Reuters phone app morbidly reports the day’s count of the hundreds of COVID-19 deaths in the UK… while parts of my Facebook feed remain adamant about #AllLivesMatter and some Australians snark about the ‘COVID-19 fuss’ being just a mountain made out of a molehill. Meanwhile, I’m watching rather helplessly as people I really admire suffer tremendously from the actions of unscrupulous businesses putting the screws on other businesses during a pandemic. Sadly, I don’t believe that Karma really is a thing.
Amidst it all, I got told some wonderful news and celebrated a touching 10th anniversary vow renewal online. So not all bad.
But I’ve run out of nuance. Lately, I want to unplug. While I understand cerebrally that polarisation occurs because we lack true listening skills and talk at each through hashtags and sound bites, it takes effort to push past opinions and values that are the diametric opposite of our own — especially during times of stress. I’ve had to snooze two people in Facebook so I can take a breather from their toxicity. I’m still working out how to reconcile with them in my head and heart. Do I even bother, I ask myself, when we are such different people? Social distancing has also given us all such convenient excuses to pull away from one another — especially when our energy reserves are so low. In all this, I’ve started to rediscover where my real relationships are and who I choose to invest my time and energy with. It’s a bigger and smaller circle than I thought.
Here’s a few standout insights I’ve gleaned from others in the past 24 hours.
I watched what was essentially the executive summary of an extraordinary life and career. Kristine Tompkins, and her late husband Douglas Tompkins, had (together and separately) built businesses that are now household names. I’m talking Espirit. Patagonia. North Face. And if that wasn’t enough, they turned their private wealth, skills and talent away from retail and towards environmental conservation and ‘wildlands philanthropy’. It’s the first time I’ve come across the concept of Rewilding.
If the question is survival, survival of life’s diversity and human dignity and healthy human communities, then the answer must include rewilding the Earth.Kristine Tompkins
All Lives Matter
How to have better conversations
The art of holding a fruitful conversation really is about the art of listening. And I can be terrible at it.
This TED talk came up this afternoon as a flashback that still applies — perhaps more than ever. In the course of growing up in a conservative fundamentalist church and then rethinking Jesus and how faith intersects with current affairs and Christian practice, I’ve collected along the way a coterie of passionate friends across the political spectrum. Lately, it’s been difficult talking to some of them.
A few good takeaways:
- You need to enter each conversation assuming you have something to learn. Bill Nye — Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.
- The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said that true listening requires a setting aside of oneself.
- Don’t pontificate. If you want to state your opinion without argument, pushback, opinion, or growth… write a blog. 😏