Nov 26 Moving to a new Couch
The beauty of couch surfing is that you can move to different houses and meet new people. I have had 4 couch surfs since being in Santiago. It is a wonderful way to learn about the culture and people.
I had been fortunate to have been allowed to stay at an apartment by myself in the heart of the city for free. My friend Jonathan moved out with his friend so I had a place to stay. Who can say people are selfish, what he did was very unselfish and it allowed me to cough and splutter for a week by myself. That is much better as I really don´t like disturbing people by listening to the music of my cough, sounds more like a tuba. Ha
Anyway, I was accepted to stay at Cristabell´s place. He sounded a little American on the phone. We arranged to meet at Irrazaval station at 3pm. I actually got there around 2.10. The metro is pretty efficient here. I had no idea what he would look like as he didn´t have a photo on his profile. I can´t talk, mine is a photo of a clown, so that must be fun for hosts to identify me. The only thing in common is that my hair is blonde and I am a westerner, so I do stand out with the luggage suggests traveller. Anyway, this guy waves at me and I realise it is Cristabell. We greet and he puts my bags in the car and takes me to his mum´s place. His mother offered us lunch it was really lovely. I met his grandmother too and the maid, who to me is family as well. I gave them a kiss and sat down. I talked about my lfe as a clown and his mother was very interested in my work and life. She asked many questions. I felt a peacefulness in the grandmother and an intelligence in her eyes. Later at Cristobell´s place I saw photo´s on the wall. The grandmother was very beautiful when young and a scholar. I found her very interesting. She said she understood my English but couldn´t speak it, she had learned English quite a long time ago. The mother looked very young and had pale skin and light blue eyes, she had a deep warmth in her face and I felt her as spiritual. I explained to them that I have no strategy for peace but just go with the flow. My attitude is if my work happens good if it doesn´t good. I am not attached to it nor am I fearful of it not happening. For me the key is inner peace and that is the goal. There are plenty of people doing wonderful things in the world towards peace. I am no saviour, I am simply a lover of peace. I want to live it, breath it and extend it in my life. So I am open to whatever happens. When I look back over my life none has been planned, it all just happened, I couldn´t have scripted it. I laugh at the story of my life as it is interesting and fascinating and some of the events are simply magical for sure.
I was interested to find out Cristobell had been away from Chile for 10 years. He had travelled to the Australia, UK, Africa, France and Germany. He is in the area of development studies and interested in communities and social systems. I found we had much in common and definitely creating a better world was shared. We have talked extensively, or rather I should say I have, so much to share with him. I promise I will shut up tonight and let him talk more. I am very interested in his work and what he has learned from working with communities. I found him very open minded and interested in learning. He said he wanted to take notes about my REAL HOPE work and how to work with corporations. My feeling is that people in corporations have to focus on shareholder value, so if it doesn´t make money they are not listening. This is the economic system and the reason why change is very slow. People are not free to make radical decisions on the basis of wellbeing or of benefit to the planet, they are out of a job fairly soon. There are also mindsets that resist change as they like the status quo, so they justify keeping their ethos, business as usual. There are also other factors. My belief is you can´t change people, but you can change yourself. I think community forums are excellent with disparate people invited. Most people associate with their peer groups, they don´t invite different viewpoints as they like to feel secure and with like minded. Having forums of different people such as experts in a range of areas such as community development, science, business, art, environmental sustainability, political, family, civil society etc. provides for a wide range of views to be heard. If you have them working in small groups they find themselves on the same team and identifying with each other more. This is human nature. A corporation is a team and people work together for the same objectives, so the trick is to get them problem solving (or solutions generating actually) the issues for a win-win. It is all psychology. Collective decision making, problems solving and possibility generation is very powerful and people often surprise themselves and others at how creative and imaginative they are. We had forums in Australia where the breadth of civil society comes together, all ages, gender and even children are involved They communicate life in their community historically, personally, work, infrastructure, health, education, aged care, the present and the future. You have them in mini focus groups where they facilitate their discussion putting up main points. Then they choose the critical points and present it to the wider group. Some present as standard verbal delivery, others decided to role play, others had creative maps etc. It is very interesting to see how people can work together. This is important for governments to learn as they don´t have all the answers and they will find a collective wisdom in their community if they tap into it.
We are at a point in history where collective empowerment is critical for future survival. We cannot go on with the juggernaut of consumerism like there is no tomorrow. The reality is tomorrow comes and what will it look like. Are we going to end up with financial collapse as greed concentrates money or allocated to areas that are not in the social benefit. Are we going to have at the same time an ecological collapse because economics does not factor in finite limits to growth. These are realities that are asserting themselves, that is why there is not point in a them and us, we have to work together and learn from each other. That is my feeling.
Anyway, we talked about a diversity of subjects until 1.30pm, it was fun and nice to meet a like minded person. The environment is the number one issue of our day, to address it we have to look at values and systemic structures. Yes, folks change is on the way. So why not be it, as Gandhi´s vision was ´be the change you wish to see in the world´. That is the most powerful way to change, to change yourself. mwa