I recently heard an interview with Margaret Attwood where she said two profound things:

Fear gets more respect than love


It takes courage to be decent.

My first reaction was to question whether this was really true. And then I looked at my own experience.

I could see in myself how at times I chose ‘expedient’ over ‘love and decent.’ How I let things slide when I could have stepped up or how I ignored someone I could have helped. I have had to acknowledge my own fear and where it comes from.

But I know I am not alone in my fears. The Happy Community Project has provided many experiences for me to also test the truth of these statements. 

For example, when we attempted to initiate the Adopt a Grandparent  Project, one in four people would tell me that they were afraid to be a neighbour. They told me that they were afraid of being wrongly accused by their neighbour of abuse, or they were afraid to let a neighbour into their home. They were afraid that their offer of help might be rejected and offensive.

They told me they were afraid of ‘authorities’; that they were afraid they would be challenged for not being qualified to be a neighbour – they hadn’t taken the course be to be a neighbour and that they hadn’t been police checked.

I have also been told by our ‘authorities’ that they too are afraid. Our police have told me they are afraid to mingle with the public at a picnic without wearing body armour and guns. Our bureaucrats have told me they are afraid of being held accountable and our politicians have told me they are afraid to challenge the decisions the bureaucrats are making on their behalf.

I have learnt that courage only happens when there is fear; it is doing the right thing anyway. Even though there is lots to be afraid of; we need more courage, we need more respect for love.  Many experts are telling us our windows of opportunity are closing and it takes all of us to have courage to do what is right, to be part of turning this ship around, to respect our love for each other over our fear of each other and respect our love for our nature.

I keep a poster in my office to remind me of the importance of courage. It is a quote from Audre Lorde who was a black, lesbian social activist in Southern USA during the 60s and 70s – a time when courage could get you killed.

It is hard to live by this quote, those who spread fear often have power to make our lives difficult. Yet if we all dared to be powerful, to use our strengths to make the world we want instead of the world we are given, we could move beyond fear into hope. We have seen time and again how the real power lies with us and not the ones who use power to create fear. But that is only true if we choose to be powerful in the service of our vision.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”  Margaret Mead

Surely we can step up our courage and embrace love and decency. Surely we can look out in a more forward way for our neighbours and what is right. Surely we can insist our businesses and authorities act with love and decency.

If I have a New Years resolution, it is to make 2020 a year where I have more commitment  to be more courageous, to be more decent and to have more respect for love.

I wish you all a New Year filled with the joy and satisfaction that comes from having the courage to act with decency and embracing the respect for love over fear.


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