This winter I spent much time living with a cold and a strained back from looking after those chookies! For one who is rarely out of sorts it gave me that full stop to savour my healing process, and the space to notice more around me and within me. For the first time in my life I felt infected by a contagion of gloom, doom and angst from all corners of the world. I also felt sick and tired of the unrelenting negativity and growing culture of complaint and ‘outrage-mongering’ within my lucky, peaceful and prosperous country. Australia was not going through devastating famine, wars or bankruptcy. As Hugh McKay, one of our leading social commentators has recently stated, “Australia somehow feels unhappy” in spite of being arguably the most successful country in the world.” We seem to have lost sight of our optimistic natures, our natural groundedness and our balanced Centre. We are pulled in all sorts of directions by constant fatalistic messages that – we are losing out, we won’t have enough, we are all going to the dogs, or we are under threat from almost everything and everyone!
This message was exemplified this week by the extreme horror of how one young man from Norway murdered so many innocent youth and others so he could push an extreme-rightist ideology to save his country from ‘those outsiders’ – racial, cultural and political. A young boy who at 15 left home, was cut off from his father for over 17 years, broods and breeds an all-consuming violent hatred. His father in his darkest moments ‘wishes him dead’, and wants never to see his son again. Somehow this family and social tragedy shouts of a cancerous growth of pessimism and an extreme corruption and dislocation of the values, truths and compassion of civil societies. It cries out about the real poverty and famine in love and care for human beings.
No matter who we are, what we believe, where we’ve come from, how much money we have or have not, the Core need and value we all share is that of Love – the love of self, the love of family, the love of life. Having Hope, that enduring sense of real and practical optimism is a close second. Bhutan has recently chosen to create and measure their country’s ‘actual Progress’ through ‘gross national happiness’. And what makes each and every human being happy – simply to feel valued, respected, hopeful about our lives and loved. Perhaps it is time to take stock this Spring and ask what really puts an enduring Spring into our Step and then to progressively create this Social Capital no matter what!
“Social capital should be the pre-eminent and most valued form of capital as it provides the basis on which we build a truly civil society. Social capital is the social glue, the weft and warp of the social fabric which comprises the myriad of interactions that make up our public and private lives. Distrust, loss of social cohesion and short-term interest breed conflict and social isolation, demands for law and order and a contempt for power and authority.” (Eva Cox)
“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.” (Oscar Wilde)