Friday, 27 July 2012

There are always two sides to every story

I make sense of the world through stories and relationships, I receive and share a lot of information, hopefully most of it is true and accurate but some of it slightly exaggerated, some of it repeated in confidence, some of it just said to fill the silence, get a laugh, gain approval or showcase inside knowledge.  Stories, words, tales, yarns, accusations, insinuations and anecdotes, all freely told, shared, passed on all day, all over the world.  What harm can it do?

I was listening to the wonderful Etta James the other day and the words from her song Two Sides made me stop, listen and think.  The lyrics were:

Things aren't always like they seem to be
So take this tip from experienced me
There are always two sides
To every story, yeah
But two wrongs, two wrongs can't make a right
Oh, and two mistakes will only bring you heartache
And you both will end up losing the fight

How often do I only hear one side of a story but accept it as the only true and correct version of events?

We hear a story or observe a situation and with our own limited knowledge, previous experience, misplaced trust and pre-conceived ideas and beliefs we form a judgement.  The problem being there is probably at least one other side to this story that we have not heard or considered and it may be the polar opposite of what we think is correct. 

Aesop (c. 620-564 BC) was a story teller and he is quoted as saying “Every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both, before we commit ourselves to either”.  Take for example if you are sitting on a plane and your flight has been delayed because one passenger cannot be located.  After a lengthy delay he boards, without knowing the circumstance would you be furious at him for inconveniencing you?  What if he was at the hospital with his terminally ill child, or what if he had passed a car accident on the way to the airport and stopped to help the injured or what if he had been drinking at the bar with mates and didn’t give a toss about everybody else on the plane waiting?  How would you respond without knowing all the facts?

 It is not possible to know all the details of every situation; we cannot research every bit of information to determine its absolute accuracy.  Some things we simply know to be the truth, which we can cling to and build on, most other things we will probably never know the whole truth.  Next time I am tempted to jump to a conclusion I will think twice about whether there might be another side to the story.  Before I share information I will consider whether it is accurate, relevant and necessary or is it actually rumour and gossip?  Just as Etta advises I will stop and consider there always two sides to every story.

Monday, 9 July 2012

It makes no sense to me

I am struggling to make sense of the world around me.  I know without a doubt that we have been created to live an abundantly joyful, purposeful, kind, exhilarating and magnificent existence.  I appreciate that at the same time there will always be some suffering and pain but I feel deep in my core we have been born with the ability to grow strong from our greatest hardships.

However, right now, I see pain and hurt, depression and bullying, alcoholism and drug abuse, homelessness, hopelessness, despair, war and injustice.  I see broken hearts, rejection, sadness and self doubt, I see struggle.  Right here in my own backyard I see huge profits being made by companies, but I also see good, honest local families unable to pay the bills. I see too many marriage break ups, destroying families forever.   I hear constant talk about the future our children will need to navigate, drinking, driving, promiscuity, drugs, technology and I am gripped with panic.

I can’t make sense of it.  I am not driven by a desire to make a lot of money and own a lot of things, I don’t want to have a fancy career and a long job title, I just want to be comfortable, free and happy and keep my family safe.  I want to feel light and joyful but the weight of the world feels heavy on my shoulders tonight.  Everything around me and ahead of me seems insignificant and small, except the relationship I have with my loved ones, but is this really enough?

Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, television, games, blogs, deadlines, followers does any of it mean anything at all?  Are we slowly killing ourselves by what we are eating?  Are we destroying our spirits by what we are watching and reading and doing with our time?  Constant political backstabbing and name calling, endless flow of celebrity gossip, so many advertisements showing us beautiful things we need to be happy.  Where is the inspiration, the vision, the hope, the future?  What is all this for, where is it leading us, what are we creating?  I want to shout ‘Stop it now, it is all so wrong, it is insignificant, it is unimportant’, but I can’t because what does right look and feel like?

Protect your heart for it is the wellspring of life, but I am struggling to fill my heart with good, the dirty, sticky finger prints of this world are leaving their smudgy marks all over my heart.

I have a clear vision of the life I desperately want to live, the life I believe I have been created to live, I just don’t know how to get there.  How many other people feel the same way?  Are we a whole society stuck on a treadmill when all we need to do is step off, but who will be the brave one to step off first? I am genuinely petrified if I step off I will just fall flat on my face, and everybody who stayed on the treadmill will laugh hysterically at me.  It is taking all my energy, all my joy and all my passion  to just try and fit in, make the most of it, try and function in this world that makes no sense to me.  I don’t know why I can’t make sense of it, it is frustrating, I am tired. 

This blog has no answers, it is not delicate, pretty, soft or poetic and it is not a cry for help, I know I live an extremely blessed life, which kind of makes it harder to make sense of the world. Nothing will change as a result of these words, except I am hoping I will find some peace and be able to fall asleep very soon.  Good night xo

Sunday, 8 July 2012

It's better when we're together

Jack Jones  sings “At least for most of the questions in my heart, Like why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it's so hard? It's not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving.  I'll tell you one thing, it's always better when we're together”.  The Beatles sang “Help me if you can, I'm feeling down, And I do appreciate you being round. Help me, get my feet back on the ground, Won't you please, please help me.”  Ben Lee sings “Woke up this morning I suddenly realized We're all in this together I started smiling Cos you were smiling And were all in this together I'm made of atoms You're made of atoms And were all in this together”.  Finally, the Bible says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Too many of us today suffer from social and emotional isolation but it is clear we thrive when we live and exist together.
A wise and inspiring friend said the other day; this is the first time in history, and only in the Western world, that women are expected to be great mums, wonderful wives, successful career women and talented home keepers all by themselves.  The same is being experienced by men, their roles in the workplace and the home means they have much less time for just hanging out with the blokes.  Technology has made it possible for us to move long distances away from our families and long time friends and many of us are isolated, trying to do everything by ourselves when we were never created to exist alone.

You can be surrounded by people all day everyday but still be lonely, social interactions need to be real and like everything in life, need to be prioritised, worked on and invested in continuously to be made strong and durable.  Social and emotional isolation break down both body and soul, relationships and face-to-face conversations strengthen our immune system and help us to live longer.  Plus it makes life so much more enjoyable. We are not designed to do everything in our own strength, it is exhausting, unsatisfying and limits us greatly.

Natural selection has determined that whales function best in pods, fish in schools, birds in flocks, lions in prides and cows in herds.  Does it not make sense that as human beings we too would work best in a tribe?  Many Anthropologists have found tribes were very satisfied by their way of life, it was very meaningful to them.  Studies show their population was not depressed, suicidal, seething with rage or questioning the purpose of life like we are. Tribal life has been a success since the birth of mankind.

I know we cannot return to hunting and gathering, tribal life was not perfect and I’m not that keen on everybody just wearing a loincloth and having to sleep in a hut.  However, I think there are lots of great benefits from tribal life that we could adopt to make life a lot better for all of us individually and for the future of our planet.  What do you think?