“ I want to appreciate you without judging, join you without invading, invite you without demanding, leave you without guilt” Virginia Satir”
As I travel around the country, m lucky to experience living in different areas and often ponder on those things that make a place enjoyable and memorable .If you read the Australian papers, you might think the most important quality of a residential area is the price of its properties. But is that necessarily the case?
We live in a world in which “othering”, an ancient and dysfunctional practice, is becoming normalised and accepted. Its the old ‘us v. them’ scenario so skillfully practiced by adolescent girls in their groups and modern day political leadere. I’ve seen it practiced in many different settings-families, teams and groups of all kinds. When a group seeks to isolate and then expel a member or newcomer because of real or fabricated difference, you can bet that its the group which has a problem and not the person. The group, family or team confident in itself can welcome the other with ease, knowing that it will be strengthed by accepting and learning from them.
“He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in. ”
I recently stayed in a well heeled Sydney suburb, a place of “haves” rather than “have-nots”, where it was hard to find a sense of community. People did not seem keen to engage in light conversation and in fact it was hard to find anyone around during the times I walked the dog or visited local shops. It had that impersonal coldness you sometimes find in areas where people are fearful. The trees however were beautiful and seemed to appreciate my gaze.
By contrast I am now staying in a place where the community is strong, proud and diverse. Its a place of artists, many cafes, people struggling with mental illness, professional people of all ages, students, retirees, refugees and diverse racial, ethnic and migrant backgrounde. Its an area that feels alive and dynamic and while West Geelong is not exactly a small country town, the previous Sydney suburb was 15 minutes away by train ftom the heart of Australia’s largest city and yet bore a sense of isolation and deep unhappiness.
The word “Community”is proudly displayed in buisnesses, shops and organisations of all kinds and you get the feeling that because you’re here, you are accepted like any other member of the community.
People often ask me where I come from and where I belong-it depends how I feel at the time; but if they were to ask me today, Id give them my current address at West Geelong
“Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love” Rumi