Over 15 years ago I asked a friend and colleague who came to Denmark very regularly to help with community issues and to holiday with family: “Why don’t you go live in Denmark. You obviously like visiting often?” “Oh no, we would never live there – too many conflicts and warring factions!” Sadly in the 6 years I have chosen to live here, there always seems to be something burning on our collective stove and the Denmark Bulletin is clearly the public space to see temperatures rising on hot topics.
I also recall a fact that has troubled me for years – that the 20th century was the bloodiest war-filled time with the most deaths in our entire world history. This shocks me as surely the 20th century has also been the most creative, innovative, wealthy and advanced in thinking and collective action. Yet here we are in the 21st century with so many big and small conflicts everywhere. Why the endless warring and what does it take for us to learn better ways of responding and relating?
Some individuals may think that it is simply human nature and nothing ever changes, let alone people! Others may think that what others do or say in collective space is none of their business. Or others may genuinely feel that their personal lives are tough enough and that is all they can cope with. And perhaps there are others who simply don’t care if they are fine and a bit of domestic or societal warfare makes for a good read or dinner conversation!
From all my years of mediating conflicts of individuals, families and organisations three key attitudes stand out as the constant fuel for warring fires: I am right, you are wrong; You are bad and I am good; and I will win at all costs, so you lose! Be it nations or smaller groups, when we diminish, denigrate or demonise others, we rob all parties of the respect and capacity for change and resolution.
We have just celebrated Australia Day and the honouring of 199 different nationalities living mostly harmoniously on this ancient and precious land. We also know from experiences across the world that the old saying: “Make peace or perish” is real. In this Autumn, nature’s season for shedding the unwanted and unneeded, let us make that real step toward peace-making in our lives and community. What a shame it would be to keep hearing over the years: “Oh I don’t want to live in Denmark. It’s full of conflicts.”
Denmark can be that honourable and honouring place for learning to ‘live the dream’.
How to begin this new way of living? Firstly we need to recognise how we carry the baggage, outmoded habits and attitudes of our past – into the present. From this awareness we can begin anew and discover a resolve to find better and more elegant solutions in all spheres and relationships of our lives and community.