“May you live interesting times” is said to be a Chinese curse.
It isn’t – like so much of our modern cultural context it is a viral nonsense. There is no known equivalent expression in Chinese, as our Hong Kong-based members informed us, the nearest related Chinese expression translates is "Better to be a dog in times of tranquillity than a human in times of chaos." (寧為太平犬，不做亂世人).
As a Society we do, however, live in interesting and chaotic times – perhaps never the more so with a pandemic of fake news, fake presidents, fake scares and real threats from COVID, extremism, and attempts at monopolistic control. And that is just in my little Devon town.
And yet 50 years on from the release of perhaps one of the most extraordinary music albums of the vinyl era, George Harrison’s words come back to remind mediators that even the darkest moments of the day can brighten. It seems to me that what characterises many a mediator is an ever optimistic view of the world – one where conversations replace conflict, and relationships succeed riots. Mediators bring so much to the people who are blessed to use them and having an understanding that all things must pass is vital to them, and to the participants.
Our role, in creating dialogue, and letting the very process of talking take people to places where they can start to look up to the stars and eschew the mud around their feet has never been more important. Talking can protect you from the follies of humankind, and even the virus, if you listen well and wisely - and remotely. We must encourage people to think about their talking toasters as they begin their journeys towards a future where interesting times will resonate.
It was, therefore, so encouraging to see 69 people Zoom into the first 90 minute 'virtual' demonstration mediation we held on 9th December 2020 and many more joining the observation opportunities we have offered since then. Sharing of skills and thoughts, refreshing minds and confidence, and educating is what the Society is all about. So much networking too - before and after. We will be holding more of these sessions throughout 2021 so please do check our website for further dates, we'd love to see you.
In reflecting on a year that many want to forget and pondering the possibilities of 2021, we at both SoM and 218 Strand look forward to providing providing you all with access to and the benefit of extraordinary developments, such as our Government Housing Possession Mediation Scheme and our new online training platform and eLearning opportunities to enjoy and use. There is also hope ; more than that which emerges from the syringe of fate as it pricks the arm of uncertainty: there is a real hope that the time for talking, listening and thinking may emerge as a surge of democracy replaces the Twitter nonsense of the last four years.
I began with a false Chinese curse so you may forgive me if I conclude offering an ancient prayer that reflects a message that I truly believe should be our mantra:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Wishing You all a Happy and Healthy 2021!