Terrorists spread terror... and the media help them.This article is not about my political opinion but a change in perspective.
Following from a recent talk I was asked what was different about NZ to the UK; for me, home is always where the heart is, where you stop and water the grass and smell the roses. The weather doesn't really matter when you are content, it didn't matter in NZ when it rained, we all went for bike rides or headed to the pub either way. One big difference was the people to space ratio, and what was clear in this situation was how easily energy is spread. Pack a lot of stressed, angry or fearful people together and the ones who have a happy disposition are likely to be affected.
And then there is the media. In the UK I noticed how much more they get into our minds, it's not just TV and newspapers, it's online - it seemed to me that more people in the UK are scared. Maybe this is because, abroad, I had been surrounded by people who had felt the fear (or not) and done it anyway - in NZ I was surrounded by people who were travelling, who had given up the 9-5 and who were re-creating their lives and shaping them into how they wanted them to look without catching other people's mind virus and becoming afraid that they were doing something wrong, irresponsible or selfish.
We hear stories of terror, or of recession and job loss, and we become afraid and mistrusting, which ends up creating something worse. Of course there are occasional good news stories, but you have to look for them, and with negative energy being 4 times more powerful than positive, you'd have to look for a few to counter-balance. Just think of the emotion of anger, in comparison to the feeling of relaxation to notice the difference in energy each one has.
When I came back from NZ I did a business profile interview for a newspaper, and in it I mentioned my observations - this was my first first-hand experience of editing. This comment was removed before the article went to press.
Today I read a story through social media that prompted me to write this, because it prompted me to think about my own experiences and I'm wondering if this prompts you to think of your own too -
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used--
she stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
the lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands--
had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
this is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
- Naomi Shihab Nye (taken from Facebook)
These are the stories I want to know when the media paints a picture of a world full of hate, when I am afraid of a foreign stranger at the tube station, who is perhaps, just like I once was, a bit lost and feeling alone.
I recently worked with a very logical man, an engineer, with a beautiful imagination and a creativity he had almost lost, who was prepared to do what it took to change his mind and achieve his goals. Through the coaching process he shared a learning of his that was so powerful. He had let his mind take him back to a distant memory, and in doing so he reminded me that we are all connected, somehow and that means that we can never be lonely. We can reconnect with each other through kindness and trust, a smile, a helping hand... that is something we all have the power to do, and together, we can change the world...starting with you.