By Stan Stewart
Years ago I projected the image above (or one like it) on the screen in a church service in which I was presenting the main message,
I asked the congregation why both men looked so tense?
No one in the audience had any idea. “I will tell you,” I said. “They have just been informed that Stan (me) is off the team”.
I had recently come to realise that in my personal unconscious fantasy, I was a player in world politics – for instance, a moderator in the interaction between Putin and Obama. Back then I started the day with world news and I ended it with the latest bulletins. The world conflicts, catastrophes and disasters were somehow my responsibility. They kept me awake. They depressed me and soured my stomach. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and I could do nothing about it but worry. It was exhausting!
By chance, the words of a Korean Buddhist nun (name forgotten) I had read years before came to my mind. She said the key to a peaceful and effective life was focussing on your own circle of influence – matters which were nearby, within your reach. She said the big things, world issues and catastrophes, are beyond our reach, beyond our influence. Worry as we might, fret and fume for all we are worth, we will not make any difference. But actually, if we do our best to bring healing and calm in our small circle, in some way, this will effect the whole. We are all connected and bringing peace and harmony in our space is our best contribution to the whole.
I get it! The image that comes to my mind is this - a bubble. We all live in a circle of influence. It is not a big circle (bubble) in comparison to world issues. But, this is our responsibility, and our bubble is connected to other bubbles. We touch them and so on. In this circle, our bubble, and with these few people, mixed races, many nationalities, young and old, we can make a difference. If we are mean and vengeful and claim(or think) we are superior to others, we will sour our bubble. This bad taste will then leak from our bubble to other people’s bubbles. It is infectious. The people we ignore, demean, de-value will go on to do this to others. But if we work for understanding, mutual respect, for forgiveness and kindness in our small circle, it will also spread and multiply. We will be doing our bit to sweeten the world environment.
Since coming to the Coromandel I have been touched many times by friendship and welcome. I am impressed how people want to work together and help each other. Facing huge issues, destroyed roading being one of them, they are resilient. Clearly they are saying, ‘We will face these difficulties together.’ No doubt I will soon encounter negative attitudes, but that is not the main theme of our community. Welcome, openness, warmth - they are the messages of the bubbles I have encountered.
It seems Putin, Biden, Macron and the rest of them are intent on shouting ‘We are right (righteous) and you are wrong (evil). They could all learn from the Coromandel. I suppose it is childish of me to say this. However, what is not childish is for us to work here to continue to nurture goodwill, understanding and cooperation within our bubble. This is within our grasp. This is our best contribution to the big picture.