Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cultural Repair-bringing back the village

I've had lots of discussions of late, and have been thinking about the village and how we recognise our particular, what Mark Silver of The Heart of Business calls our  'jewel'.Your jewel is what you are, who you are and what you love to do. Its the prism of light that you reflect. It is also what others need and therefore basic to a very satisfying relationship with the world, as it encompasses the desire to belong, to connect with others, to have a sense of meaning, recognition and appreciation. It seems that in our culture, the modern urban 'Western' culture, it is no longer enough to be that person that everyone knows to go to for ............ Now you have to sell yourself, market yourself to an unknowing world, town or  community. To me its yet another sign of our spiritual poverty-we dont know who are the doctors, the healers, the bakers,the listeners, the person who understands animals, the literary experts and so on. Once I believe we knew who they all were; now we are lucky if we know our neighbours.
At one time I lived in the Cook Islands and there we found a place where everyone knew who everyone was and what their jewel was. It was a small island, limited by its sea boundary on all sides. Having a vehicle was of some advantage, but you lived in a confined space where everyone knew everyone. The local cop knew who the likely thief was who stole a bottle of gin from your kitchen. Pretty soon you saw him on the back of the policeman's motorbike, heading back to the station, a small office down near the reef, for questioning. You couldn't escape your community, even if you wanted to.
I know many people who are frustrated, lonely poor and unsatisfied because no one knows them and what they can offer. They may be doing some repetitive task for a crust,in our rest homes watching tv commercials or unemployed. They are probably you who are reading this, unless you are of the minority who work at the heart level and enjoy the fruits of doing what they love and are good at and meeting those who want hat service or thing. It appears to me that the industrialised society has paid a high price for convenience, efficiency, and material wealth.
I like to end my chats on a high note; what can be done, what is being done to change the status quo. I keep coming back to efforts to reclaim the village. The place where potentially, all people are held with respect. I think of the people I know who are engaging in what animal tracker and onetime native American apprentice Jon Young calls Cultural Repair. We will be forced to engage in this process-its this or death. And we want it so badly but have yet to be concious that we do. We still expect institutions to take up the values of the village. They are being crushed by the burden of the failed village, the burning village.
So let us start from today; reading this blog, making dinner, catching the train, wherever we are right now. What are you core values? What do you bring to the world? What do you love like nothing else-when time ceases for you at your task? We want to meet you. We need you.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Privacy exposed

I was recently refused a request for a student's contact details via Massey University (the standardised letter came with the irritating "is there anything else I can help you with?" -having not helped me in the first place! Privacy laws prevented them from giving them to me. In contrast to this, people are exposing themselves and all their personal lives, not just contact details voluntarily on social media. There is no privacy on Facebook. So I'm a little perplexed. I spose its another paradox that seems to be the essential human quality;its what makes us unique in the animal world.
I was annoyed and said so. I suggested they tell their boss (assuming them to be minions) that the situation sucked; and received a flurry of emails which eventually got the lead I was looking for. Which also shows that you can get something but you might have to express what you want, and why, in a respectful manner which acknowledged their position in terms of legality.
Get to the boss is a good ploy-too often front desk workers feign helplessness despite the fact that they are the interface for the company and should feel a little more powerful and autonomous in their ability to make decisions.When I was a teacher, a colleague of mine would become enraged at the yawning "I just work here" attitude and shout at the mouthpiece "Who do you work for?!" and then blast out their onus  as a company rep to make decisions and take some responsibility. Followed by his statement to never shop with them again and tell them he would tell all his colleagues to follow suit as they were a useless bunch of ............wits.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

We're flagging.........

I'm lukewarm about flag design. I'm resigned to the fact that the result will be mediocre; referencing the old and delineating our flag from the Aussies'. Having said that, I'm ready for a change, and no time is like the present. As John Key said , it is never a good time. What bugs me though, is the referendum. Its back-to-front.
I read in a book once (shit, I never retain things like who wrote it, title etc) that a kind of media spin tool used by various famous and infamous people is to ask people to choose or answer a question whilst assuming a premise. One of the most famous cited was Adolf Hitler, master of the media and knowledge of the human mind. In his famous 'Jewish Question' as he called it, he would ask " What shall we do about the Jewish question?" The assumption is that there is a problem, its just what are we going to do about it! It is a technique both masterful and dastardly.
Imagine if I said, (to use an exaggerated example) "How shall we best administer corporal punishment?" "By hanging, lethal injection, electric chair or firing squad?". The premise is that we already have decided on corporal punishment. But people by and large don't pick that up Ok, I choose lethal injection. Wait a minute! Inherent in the situation is our hard- wiring; our desire  to trust authority, that 'somebody' knows or 'somebody' has decided.
Fast forward to our joke referendum papers on the flag design which ended up in my mailbox a couple of days ago. Pretty basic fuckup to ask people if they want a new flag after they've chosen one. I heard the politicians debating the flawed document, but now I've seen it for myself I'm a bit stunned. Here's an example below I did as a sendup

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Disagreement is sedition

A woman I know was recently served a trespass warning notice by mail from WINZ-Work and Income New Zealand. The reason? Disagreeing with something she was asked to do. No threats no abuse, just saying I don't want to do that. This worries me. I hear it all over the place-dissent or disagreement is being viewed as hostile or dangerous by authorities-including parliament. Couple that with peoples fear over job security where if they speak up they may be sacked or 'sidelined' and you have a a nasty little recipe brewing. You have an environment where crap can continue when it no longer serves. The proponents have been warming the oven slowly and now see it as a way to make their road-sic Bill, law, preference, status-smooth.
In another sense it merely echoes the compulsory school setup-as an ex teacher I can give you many examples of where I have seen this same behaviour.
We used to call that bullying. Now its seen as legitimate behaviour.
What to do? Speak your mind. It will take courage. Do it with courtesy and use language which conveys your values, your wants and your feelings.Listen to what it is that they are wanting and why they want you to do what they say. You may lose your job, your friends, your position. But you will gain the world so to speak; and if we all do it we will institute change. You may get what you want and that may be surprising for most of us used to not getting what we want; thinking that to be somehow selfish. At the very least you will sleep with integrity as your pillow instead of fear and resentment. Learning to live with ourselves is the first step as it is often our own judgements of which we are afraid.
Let us see disagreement as healthy, conflict as unavoidable and a means to hearing people and what they need for life to be good. Let us embrace our differences around the respectful table of disagreement and dissent, and strive toward mutually beneficial outcomes.

Monday, 20 April 2015

You are to blame

I'm feeling a bit reluctant to write- but I have to say something about Blame. I was travelling back from work and was listening to the news on the radio. There were three reported incidents involving unexpected deaths. In every case, someone was saying that "this shouldn't have happened" and "I'd still have my son/daughter if only they had........." etc. And then the poor staff, nurses, mid wives doctors are the subject of a search and destroy mission. Its someone's fault.
How did we get here? Life is precarious, people are inattentive once in a while, people die all the time and in inappropriate places; crises arrive when you least expect them and even when you have every base covered for safety and security. Its as if we can stop this from happening by blame. I'm not excusing poor care or disregard for safety and so on, its that we need to take some responsibility for being human, for going to the surgery, for bungy jumping, for having a baby (kiddin' ya)
Blame will hurt the one who is pointing the finger and very likely the targets will suffer all kinds of heinous punishments. Blame will keep you from grief, it will keep you angry; it may keep your loved one 'alive' so to speak. But you will pay a dear price with your physical and mental health.
Blame comes from our need to be right. It comes from a culture that believes its wrong to suffer and you shouldn't have to suffer in your life. Where death is seen as a failure, a waste, a mistake.It comes from a culture where punishment is considered necessary even when people have been acting in good faith and with good intentions. Blame believes in punishment.
I ask myself, what punishment would the nurses and doctors need when a child is lost in child birth. Do we really think they are having a party after that event? Do we believe that the infliction of pain on the people involved teaches a lesson? What if the lesson has been 'learnt'. I remember Celia Lashlie, the outspoken writer and one time prison superintendant talking about prisoners in Paremoremo, there for murder. She said every day they are living with the magnitude and the memory of their crime. That is the punishment.
An antidote to blame: Know what you are feeling; this will lead to genuine response ability-you have the feelings and no one else- and will let you know what you want and what you value. This will stop placing yourself at the mercy of another and making them responsible for your feelings. Ask yourself what do I need right now. It may be support, it may be a conversation; it could be anything. It may be qualities like patience, or peace that you desire and that only you can give yourself. It may be something from someone else. Try not to interpret whether you are likely to get it or not.

Friday, 27 March 2015


'Collapse' charcoal on paper by Duncan Hill 1800X1000mm 

The Voyage of the Tangaroa

The Voyage of the Tangaroa*

If you scientists had gotton on deck
You may have noticed the Wilkins Ice Shelf, bigger than Aussie,
Instead you got seasick down below
Wading through incoming data slopping about in the bilges

And then teams of seamount, cephalopod, benthic fauna scientists
got together for tea
We mostly miss the inner invitation to leave behind your mind

In Island Bay and Berhampore
They feel the southerly presence of You
A white cold front making windows untouchable
Bergs of cloud up from Kaikoura
Like the cold cultural fear that blows from the shivering continent of the Capital’s transactions
Walling itself up or hiding behind hills and corridors

The soul is a vast and quiet land
Few go there
The occasional visitors are mystics and psychos
They are incarcerated, like Scott, in frozen beauty
No wonder they die young

Yesterday I woke up and felt the cold
I packed my bags and scientific gear,
Probes and prayerbeads
And headed south

* Antarctic research ship