All things must pass

New Year message from SOM 29th December 2020

All Things Must Pass
By Jonathan Dingle FRSA - Society Chair 


“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, our Hong Kong-based members told us in a recent training course. They say, and it is apparently apt, that the nearest related Chinese expression translates as "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 if 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 90 minutes of demonstration mediation observation and consolidation opportunity online on 9th December. 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. The next opportunity will be on Wednesday 13th January at 1730 and the Zoom Link is – come and join in, it is free!

There was a 97.3% level of enjoyment in the room with welcome greetings being seen.

The season that is upon us may or may not allow us to see loved ones – who knows? But it will allow us to reflect on a year that many want to forget and to ponder the possibilities to 2021. These are enormous. We as a Society hope to have some extraordinary developments to announce in the New Year and there will be online platforms and eLearning 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.

A very happy New Year to you all.

Jonathan Dingle

*listen to the wonderful Nitin Sawhney discuss the importance of this work on BBC Sounds here




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