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General News · 21st December 2008
I first learned of the conflict surrounding the Cortes Island School “boot camp” day in the second last issue of the Cortes Marketer. I was quite taken aback by the copy of the letter and that it was published in the community flyer. There is a reason why I don’t read the paper or watch TV or listen to much talk radio. I choose to live without such opinion spreading, and storytelling, tattle telling.

I was also very surprised by the defensive tone of the letter and wondered where and when the “controversy” would end. Who would relinquish the need to have their say first. And what would that last word be.
So today, the response came, and I was not surprised when the defense appeared.

Many thoughts came to mind. Of them, who is paying for these ads?
What also arose was how this public dialog was turning into a battle- like communication about the concern for the image of what one represents.

And also, how are the children of the school responding to this? How does this dialog make them feel. How do these judgments between peers of authority affect their way of being in the world. Does it say to them, if I have issue with someone, I can make a display of such manner? That instead of trying with great effort to mend the dis-agreement on a basic, direct, un-assuming, one on one manner, that it is best, and for the good of all, to broadcast it for all to hear?

And not to say there isn’t a time or place for broadcasting what we feel is unjust, inhumane or immoral. Activism is absolutely essential for transformational change. So is self-expression. So is building dialogs within community, for community.

In this case, I get the feeling of school-yard bullying. That “my opinion is right” and there for “your opinion is wrong”, downward spiraling kind of spat.

While thinking about this public debate, I was reminded of the recent Christmas Carnival at the Cortes Island School. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, I was very pleased that the event was opened up to the whole of the community of Cortes Island. I was a little surprised by the chosen song to sing with this community gathering. No doubt about it, this is a very diverse community. To me, the song felt a little vocally and spiritually exclusive. I could feel the crowds apathy towards “raising the roof” with O Silent Night. It felt out of tune with the rhythm of this island.

Some words or phrases are so loaded with varied intense emotion that to use them broadly, to encompass a diverse group of individuals, will lead to debate. And where does the debate end? Does it take someone to win? And how do you gauge the winner? What does defeat look like? What does it feel like? How does competing in such a manner bring about transformation? I don’t believe it does. It may bring to light different opinions and points of view. But are these other ways of seeing integrated into practice, into our world view, into our one-view? I believe there is a much kinder, compassionate way of communicating with those that we live and work with. By not taking things personally. By having faith in good intent. By looking at how something could be seen differently instead defending our habitually attached view.

So what would that gathering singing together sounded like, if say, the song was “Winter Wonderland: where Later on, we'll conspire, As we dream by the fire. To face unafraid, The plans that we've made, Walking in a winter wonderland”. Or Auld Lang Syne ? Yes, traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes in the new year. But it is a winter festive song. Can one imagine how that would have changed the evening? In looking up the lyrics for this writing, I had the fortune of reading for the first time the entire lyric.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine†;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


I would like to invite another way into communicating between ourselves. And it is for each to find it in them selves to catch the reaction to let the response through, with kindness. It takes courage to be kind. To stand in accusation without defense. With total acknowledgment of another, and total responsibility for our own actions. Because there is always, absolutely always, common ground. As I have heard, defense is the first act of war. And peaces starts within. Please put the weapons down and seek out the common ground.

Peace, joy and friendship to all.
Kids, gads...
Comment by Julie on 15th February 2010
They are so damn cute and funny and say the darndest things...I do love them. I don't have any of my own - but I do have a niece and 3 nephews whom I adore.

That said, this is not a black and white issue. The children here on Cortes are unique and outgoing and funny and wonderful...and at most events, they are welcome, thank goodness - because they lighten things up and make us laugh, everything in life, there is a time and a place for everything and just once in a blue moon, it would be nice to have an adults only event. Not often, but just once in a while.

There are many events that go on that children are just too young to really appreciate and that's OK. They aren't meant to, they are meant to play and laugh and run!

I just think there should be a time out for parents (and adults) to reconnect with each other and have some fun with each other without having to care-take or run around and quiet their kids - so they can have a nice, relaxing night out.