It's the week for the elimination of violence against women and children in South Africa and I wonder what this means for you and I?
It’s easy to say that it’s someone else’s situation to fix, but I don’t think that’s the best we can do. As a mother of an 18 year old daughter, it has been very much front of mind for me that I have a responsibility to protect her and to try to make the world in which she tries to make her way as safe as possible. And not just her! All the other young girls too. So, what should I be doing? I don’t profess to have answers, only musings and thoughts that I would love to share with you. I’ve been watching “World War 2 in Colour” on Netflix. I’m horrified by the suffering of that war and all the other wars and atrocities that occurred in the past century. My mind boggles at what people had to endure and try to heal from. I don’t think we can live in the present without incorporating the past. We have to include the past, with the scars we have got along the way. It’s not that the past offers excuses for bad behaviour, but it does offer insight into what we face inside. I have always said, and I truly believe it to be true, that “hurting people hurt”. So, the world is scarred, and the people are wounded from the tragedies of the past. Maybe not always the youth themselves, but the people who raised them and the people who raised their parents. They were wounded and so they operated out of those wounds and created more wounds. My question is how do we stop the ongoing chain? What can we do? One of the things for which I am most grateful is my adventurous nature. It is relatively easy for me not to operate out of fear, I know not everybody finds that easy. I trust in the process of life and I trust in my own ability to stay safe and to be okay whatever comes my way. I believe in the fundamental alright-ness of life. I trust my intuition enough to believe that I will be able to pick up when I am running into danger and will be equipped to move away as long as I am tuned in to the radio station of my inner voice. My first invitation to my daughter and the vulnerable people of this planet is to start trying to build the connection with that voice and the muscle of trust. This is a very different thing to being naïve and being an ostrich, pretending that the world is full of “honey bees and apple trees”. This is about knowing that we have the experience of fear to protect us, and we have a brain that works 24/7 to keep us safe. The critical question is, how do we listen to our fear, without letting it shut us down and limit us? Use our fear as a resource to inform us, not as bars to imprison us? I don’t want to be walking around feeling afraid and I don’t want to be suspicious of everyone, so I need to be aware of the data that my brain is collecting from it's ongoing scanning of the world and then choose from the data to ascertain what is real threat and what is not. Let me share a story that tested this hypothesis and you will see what I mean. Last year, my daughter and I went to Rwanda and the Congo on a dream adventure. It’s not something the people there are used to seeing…. a mother and daughter travelling alone together. We were a spectacle from the moment we stepped off the plane. I had read extensively about Rwanda and its gut-wrenching history and I was incredibly curious to see what the country had become, 25 years after the horrific genocide. We both wanted to meet these people who had endured such suffering and found a way to move forward. I had met a Rwandan here in SA and had been told by him that Rwanda has become “the safest place on earth”, because the people have seen what anarchy and violence can produce and they have chosen a new way to exist. Guided and led by Paul Kigame, they have rebuilt their nation based on national pride and respect for all. I was curious to know if I could feel the outcome of this respect and pride. It was on our second day there, that I got the chance to experience how my intuition could alert me if at any time, we weren’t actually safe. We had felt totally fine and welcomed from minute one, despite being somewhat self-conscious about being stared at constantly. On this day, we were travelling to a region in Kigali that we wanted to explore. We were using the motorbike mode of transport, which had been a bit of a stretch for me, since Tyler had to travel on a different motor bike to me. Each time we had taken a trip, I had made it clear, even if there was a language barrier, that the drivers were to remain in convoy, so I could see her at all times. As I made this request, I felt their empathy and they had all respected my wishes as best they could with traffic. I had started to relax and trust the system of transport and so had Tyler. On this particular journey, the driver insisted on sitting a little too close to me and I moved to create distance between us as best I could, but I started to feel a prickle in my neck and a tightening in my gut, as we sped along. I didn’t ask any questions of my inner voice, I just managed to get the message to Tyler that we were to get off at the very next traffic light and told my confused driver that I wanted to get off the ride and that I had changed my mind. As soon as we could, we jumped off our bikes and regrouped even as we were, in the middle of nowhere. I was grateful for the "teachable moment". It didn’t matter if I was right or not, what mattered is that we had listened and responded. As it turned out, we were far from where we wanted to be and while this doesn’t convict our drivers of anything, it showed me that in fact everything wasn’t quite as we needed it to be. I am very happy to tell you, we had no other incidents in our 3 week tour and we travelled to some very remote places. All we found, wherever we went was friendliness and indeed respect. For a start, because we can't change the world, we must start with ourselves. Listening to our inner voice is the same as meeting ourselves with respect. Knowing we have the right to say no and to move away, even if it causes someone else alarm, is respectful and vital. I’m not saying that if something bad happens, it is our fault, because either we didn’t listen, or else, we didn’t say no properly. NO! I am just saying that these skills are a big start and I think they should be kept in the front of our minds and practiced repeatedly. They are a measure of defense and are valuable tools for preservation. I have more ideas to share, but this is a start! I’d love you to share your thoughts on this. May you all have a beautiful, safe, respect filled week and year end. Love Sue and the Body Brilliance and Energy Incubator Teams