Monday, June 23, 2014

Conflict or Conversation

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted every time I am contradicted" -R.W Emerson

It seems so easy these days with fragile egos and larger than life personalities for a simple conversation to turn into a battle ground. Listening to conversations go from an exchange of ideas and opinions to a verbal fist fight is not the best example for public figures or any adult to be setting for those around them.

I understand that there is definitely a line between good communication in which people take ownership of their ideas and opinions versus those who attack with their words or try to make it a personal issue. Having the experience of living in a physically disadvantaged position I have met people who see this as a reason to assume and to dominate in conversation. Other times it can trigger people to be extra delicate in how they address conversations to someone in my position. Neither of these approaches should be acceptable or reasonable in conversation with anyone. Just as I have learned to correct peoples misinformed assumptions about my personal capabilities, I feel people should be able to express themselves and their opinions in a respectful but direct way.

Seeing so many public figures ending up on the verge of open argument on T.V and the popularity of shows like Keeping up with the Kardashian's encourages narcissism, which is a significant contributor to the difficulties that face scenarios of open dialogue these days.

As someone who has grown up with people who have difficulty in discussing things without feeling personally affronted it has encouraged me to sharpen my conversation and presentation abilities to avoid some of the traps that people can fall into. Because communication is so important in helping to change the opinions and behaviour surrounding issues key to our communities well being and the improvement of our country and humanity as a whole (not wanting to be over dramatic of course), I hope there is a return to calmness and rationality in how people approach communicating with each other.

The quote that began this rant is from Ralph Emerson, who I have written about previously and I feel that again his words have relevance beyond the time in which they were written. I hope that there will be people from my own generation whose words will last and reach out to future generations to inspire others to think more deeply and approach aspects of their lives with new positive perspectives. 

The force of community

My family home is set in a long established subdivision in a small coastal town in the Bay of Plenty. It has the feel of a close knit community where people still smile and greet you as you pass one another on the footpath or wave out their window as they pass in a car. A place where people seem to know and care for their neighbors and neighborhood, reflected in the effort to reach out and share overflows of garden produce or fishing bounty or even the genuine conversations at community barbecues or concerts.

The sense of community is about having interest and awareness of the existence of others outside the bubble of our own household and lives, the desire to be sociable and involved in developing and maintaining a sense of togetherness as part of being a resident in this place. These things motivate the local people who participate in this little community within a community. It has been a nourishing experience to come back to a place where I now consider myself a visitor, and yet I am greeted as a familiar face by both those who know me, just as much as by those who only know of me by name or stories and news that has passed along the grapevine.

This openness and care that seems to shine in the acts of neighborliness and friendship that happen on a daily basis are all things that ease the flow of life's course by filling the spaces and easing the rough patches that we all experience.These are the things which seem to be missing in many towns, cites and neighborhoods.Many factors play a part in keeping the lives of people who live across the fence or down the street from one another separate and fragmented but
"Life is not permanent, make the most of it. Quality not quantity, don't rush and stress to fill time but cherish and give back in the moments you have."