What Jesse Williams speech taught me…

It probably seems a bit late to write about Jesse Williams speech, and let me assure you, I am not writing about it, but rather what I learnt from it. What the aftermath taught me.

Jesse pointed out some uncomfortable truths about current society, he expressed frustration, hurt, and sadness at the inequality still prevalent in today’s society. Jesse referenced factual events, he was not using hateful language, and he was asking for positive change.

If we are to think about this from a non-violent communication framework, what we are hearing are requests for basic needs, such as, equality, inclusion, and safety. A need for a community which accepts diversity without attempting to capitalize on it.

Unfortunately, for many NVC was not used. All that was heard was an attack. Racism (?!) Blame. Those listening with the Jekyll ears (check out Marshall’s youtube clips if you don’t get this reference!) just heard hate. They could not hear a fellow human in pain, hurt by generations of inequality. A human begging his fellow humans (note, Jesse did not ask only black people to stand with him on this move for change) to stand up and demand change. To be change.

Could Jesse have worded it better? Maybe. Could he have worded it worse? Definitely. Did he achieve his ultimate goal of having his very important message heard by as many people as possible? Undoubtedly! Isn’t that all that matters?

When will we learn to put our ego’s and over-sensitivity aside and simply focus on what people are trying to say?  If we are all so caught up in arguing over the details of the words, how will we ever truly learn to hear what people need to tell us? Imagine a world where everyone cared enough to ensure each others basic needs and rights were met? Imagine a world where every cared enough to listen to what each other truly needed? All we have to do is listen…..







Somewhat hypocritically, as a tactile defensive person, I have for a long time appreciated and valued the importance of touch to human development (at all ages.)

It all started after a stint in disability, where I was empowered by an amazing manager to communicate with the individuals I supported however I could, and for many this involved touch. Sometimes it was a gentle pat, others a firm handshake, and some, a reassuring hug. Thank fully I worked in a very liberal work place which valued quality of service, and personalized communication. 

Having then spent a lot of time in family homes, observing different methods of parenting, I soon recognized the importance of touch for young children as well. I noticed that those who were rejected/denied physical affection on a regular basis, seemed a lot less confident then those who were regularly hugged and shown consistent affection. 

On researching the subject, it seems that my discoveries are nothing new or obscure and that that, well….. we need touch! For example*:

  • A study by the “Journal of Epidemiology and health revealed that babies who were given more maternal affection at 8 months old, were more emotionally resilient as adults.
  • A Northwest Medicine study found that patients who were touched (i.e. Reassuring pat on the shoulder/handshake) between 1-3 ranked their GP’s as more empathetic then those who were touched less or more. GP’s who made physical contact more than 3 times were viewed as insincere. 
  • Psychologist Michael Kraus found that the teams with more on-court physical contact early in the season tended to be the teams that were more successful (both individually and as a team) later in the season. 

While I am not suggesting we all go out there and touch everyone around us, I do wonder how much we are missing by being so touch-adverse, and how much we may be letting future generations down.

Recently I assisted someone (Lets call him Bob) in seeking urgent support for some health issues. The process took upwards of 5 hours, and involved meeting with a range of professionals. From that day, one moment stands out as perhaps the most moving. A traiage nurse sat Bob down, and started talking to him. As the nurse was talking Bob was becoming increasingly agitated. The nurse reached out and gently placed her hand on Bob’s wrist, which was laying on the desk. It was as if a wave of relief washed over Bob, and he suddenly felt safe and secure. The nurse ultimately could not help (but admittedly tried quite hard to direct us in the right direction), but yet, Bob and I both felt she did more that day then anyone else, I guess because she provided Bob with comfort, hope and reassurance at the point when he most needed it. 

I would love to end this post with my amazing recommendations on how this information can be used to better look after those around you. But I cant. I guess all I can say is please, think. Think about the interactions you have with people, and remember that communication has so many dimensions, remember that by restricting a meaningful conversation to a phone call (or worse, a text!) you may be denying someone the real communication that they need.


*Examples given are oversimplified lines attempting to summarize a study, that should not be limited to 1-2 sentences… please only use this as a starting point and do your own research!

Sister Wives

The show ‘Sister wives’ fascinates me. I started watching the show when it first came out because, to be honest, I found Polygamy incredibly confronting. The idea that a religion views marriage differently depending on if you are a male or female really pushed my buttons due to the inequality I saw it to be. Also I kept imagining myself in the wives position, watching my partner form an intimate relationship with someone else, not just right under my nose, but with my approval.  I tried to imagine waving goodnight to my partner as they walked into someone else’s room for a night of intimacy- and i’ll be honest, it made me feel all kinds of weird.

What I love about sister wives though, is the fact that it offers a different view. I do not have to like polygamy for me. I do not have to think that it is the true way to live life. I do however have to respect that some people do believe that this is the way to live, and truly feel fulfilled living this lifestyle, and I do have to remember that this is o.k (because if you believe common attitudes- anything that deviates too far from catholic/protestant law is generally NOT o.k.).

After the initial airing of the show, legal action was taken against the Brown family, and they had to move to a state that would allow them to live in freedom. In my mind this is wrong, and I suppose it is why I am writing this post, to show my support for this family.

Thinking about the way the Browns were targeted made me wonder, would the issues in Utah with Warren Jeffs gotten so bad had have the world permitted the polygamous lifestyle? Insisting that “these people” keep their “abnormal” religion to themselves and encouraging segregation, only stood to further isolate the victims from the outside world, and the people that could free them from the child marriages. From what I understand (and I have read a lot about this case) initially the law turned a blind eye to this sect, taking a “as long as I don’t have to see it, I don’t care what happens approach” until the increasing numbers of runaway members became undeniable. I think had have Warren Jeff’s been able to keep his members from leaving nothing would have ever been done. That scares me.

In an episode of Sister Wives, some of the Brown children assisted a charity that supports people that flea such sects and during the interview scenes  the following statement made by Kody Brown, the patriarch,  really resonated with me: ‘If there is abuse or if there is evil, I don’t want them turning a blind eye to it, I want them to understand it so that they can oppose it.’ (Sisterwives Season 3,  episode 16).

In order to be able to identify the difference between lifestyles that genuinely are a gross violation of human rights (forcing young girls to wed) as opposed to people simply choosing to live an alternate lifestyle, we need to be able to understand what is happening. Ask questions, have conversations, and not simply write something off because it leaves us feeling a wee bit uncomfortable.

I commend the Brown family for putting their lives on show. I am not going to pretend they don’t have their own agenda, and are being completely altruistic, but I also think that they have chosen a somewhat more difficult life for themselves in order to promote positive change. It would be wonderful if more people were life that.

If polygamy- or any lifestyle for that matter- makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to learn about it before making a decision. Research the different religions that allow it, and the people that practice it.

I also urge you to communicate, have conversations with people who do practice religions/lifestyles that differ from your own. Ask the questions, but also keep an open mind. Understand that true normality is variety, that we will all make different decisions on how we do or don’t practice religions, and that true love, acceptance and kindness to all should never be conditional.


The work of God.

Ohhhh boy. I have had it!!!!! I am in complete support of people being grateful to God for the good things in life (i.e.the blessing of this beautiful world, for the wonderful people) but at some point this gratefulness actually gets a little patronizing to the people who have not been graced by Gods good work.

Case and point…. I just saw this status update: “Short queues at the airport- God is good!”

Say what?? I’m sorry, Famine, floods, terminal illness’ and sorts are out of Gods control, but making sure his holy servant can board a plane stress free- that is not just in his control, but something that he deems so important he must prioritize it?!

I am not trying to slam God here, or his believers, but what I am trying to say is that the belief that one is so important that God graces them with a quick check in at an airport, while others die of unavoidable diseases seems a little callous. Surely, the better wording here would be “Aren’t I lucky?” because, lets face it, that’s all it is. Luck. The difference between anyone of us fortunate to fly, and those who are unfortunate enough to be born into poverty/illness is LUCK.

I refuse to believe that a certain set of souls are more important than others, that God deliberately put the better souls in certain bodies, and graced them with not just the resources to eat, but also the fortune to own a computer, to fly, and everything else us “other half” can afford. No, I believe that we are all handed a set of cards when we are born, parents who look after us, or parents who desert us, financial security or poverty, illness or good health, etc. I believe that this set of cards has nothing to do with past life,  and everything to do with complete and utter randomness.

Sure, attribute the strength of some to fight adverse conditions, the beauty of nature, or the miracle of birth to God, but good fortune? Please, do not think for one minute that you “deserve” that. Be modest enough to admit your good fortune and good luck. Please.

The power of thank-you

Recently a few colleagues and I were discussing a man we all have contact with at an external agency (for the sake of this blog, lets call him Bob). Bob is known for being friendly, helpful, and an all out “good guy” in a area where there are a lot of people out to, well, screw you over.

Not long after this conversation Bob himself called me to discuss work and I happened to casually mention to him that I was privy to a conversation about how good he is. Bob was shocked, as in he barely believed me, and wondered if I was perhaps just being overly nice. I challenged Bob on this, initially doubting the sincerity of his shock, and he explained that when things are good he rarely hears from people, but when things go wrong, he is the first port of call for blame. He said he really didn’t hear the word thank you, let alone compliments attesting to his character.

Having worked in retail as a teen, I was not so surprised to hear this. Customers would scream, shout, and demand a manager the second that things were not going their own way, but go out of your way to help a customer? Spend your break walking them to the item that they can’t find? You would be lucky to hear a dismissive ‘cheers’.

How much nicer would things be if we took that energy we seem to reserve for complaints and ensured that for every complaint we made, 5 equally meaning thank-you’s were given?

People will always work harder for those that are appreciative, imagine if we were all appreciative, all respectful. Spreading the love, discouraging (through role modelling) the disrespect.

When I see grumpy cashiers now, sometimes I still get frustrated, I think a smile doesn’t cost anything. Then I watch the people they serve, the ones who moan about queues (which the cashiers have little or no control over), grumble a barely audible hello, or talk/text while they are being served, not even taking the time to look once at the cashier, and I remember why they probably act like that.

The same goes for so many other workers out there who are constantly confronted with our socially inept ways.

My suggestion? Go out there and smile, say thank you when ever you can, greet the people you interact with and give them the respect you would any other human being. Hopefully you will make someones day a little bit easier, making them a little more friendly for the next person who comes along.

Give it a go. I dare you!



Phone etiquette

I’ve had enough!!!! Today I had to wait in line YET AGAIN while another self righteous moron discussed what they had for tea last night while fumbling around for their credit card at the self service kiosk at my local shop. So distracted by the conversation, this phone user took a ridiculous amount of time, pausing every 30 seconds or so to listen to their caller. Meanwhile, I stood waiting after a ridiculously long shift wanting to buy my loaf of bread and get the hell outta there.

I get it, phones are useful. I live on mine, I love it, I’d be lost without it, in fact I take a charger to work most days because sometimes I just spend all day on it (I have a very lazy job sometimes.) That said, things with phones are now going to far and I am sick of it. I am sick of listening to silly conversations that are not at all urgent (“So after I found out that they didnt have my size I had to walk 3, no, hang on, 4 meters down the road to go to the next shop”) or way to personal (“I can’t believe they called social services, I didn’t do anything, I swear”) conversations, that frankly did not need to be held in a public area. I hold hope though, I believe that these things can be fixed and that maybe its just a case of us not yet been well enough educated on phone etiquette… so please let me educate* you.



Switch your phone on silent when having an ongoing text/whatsapp/BBM etc coonversation or playing a game in a confined area (i.e. bus)

Focus on the person you are with rather than the people your texting when out with friends and family

Turn your phone on silent when leaving it in a staff tea room

Look where your walking when on your phone, if you can’t focus on walking GET OFF THE PHONE!


Talk about things you would not discuss with a stranger… the strangers are listening

Talk loud and excessively in confined spaces on your phone (i.e. the bus)

Use your phone when at a cashier or self checkout, especially when people are waiting

Be mistaken into thinking that it is more important to first tag yourself when out with friends, then say hello

Have your phone between you and another person when having a phone conversation, even if it is on silent, take the time to be where you are, don’t allow yourself to be held hostage to your mate Benny messaging you to tell you he just saw the hot girl working the till at his local bakery

…. and finally, DON’T be mistaken into thinking that excessive phone use in public makes you look busy, important, or popular. It doesn’t, it just shows other people that you are willing to put your own trivial entertainment first or that you are so insecure that you can’t be seen alone in public without a prop.


*I in no way claim to be a trained educator of any sorts. I am merely a layman who is sick to death of having mobile phones dominate all aspects of real interaction.

Burn the bandwagon!!!!!

I should delete my Facebook page. On the days when I am not delighted by photos and updates of friends/family who unfortunately live in other countries, I am endlessly frustrated by the bandwagon that rattles across my news feed depending on this weeks trend. Photos of candles reflecting some meaningless vigil that my oh so concerned friends will never lift a finger higher than their keyboard for, a “like” for a prayer (that I suspect never actually gets meaningfully recited), or “RIP” photos for this weeks Amy Winehouse equivalent.

Sure, we could add this to my growing list of pet peeves on Facebook, such as the vague bookers who scream “too personal!” when someone dare guess what they are vague booking about, the birthday wishes for children too young to read, let alone access a facebook account, and the announcements of deaths (is Facebook really the first page checked in heaven?!) that all to often lead to someone finding out about the death of a loved one via social media (I speak from personal experience here!)


This particular trend frustrates me more. It downright scares me, for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, often these posts do more damage than good. In cases where there is a perpetrator, often this gives unnecessary attention, sensationalizing their crime and giving those that way inclined ideas on how to commit such an act. Also, they promote witch hunts, and encourage people to make a judgement on something that they actually know very little about, they promote a group mentality- not positive and productive conversation about important issues.

Secondly, as I not so subtly alluded in my opening whine, such posts suggest that the poster is actually doing something, giving back shall we say, when in fact the reality is (and I know this sounds horribly harsh and cynical) all the person has done is log onto Facebook  see a post they like and hit “like”. In most cases they have not actually taken an significant time out of their day and I worry that people actually think such posts constitute compassion. I’m sorry, they don’t. They merely indicate a person who wants to APPEAR compassionate, the people actually being compassionate are very rarely posting about it on Facebook, they are too busy doing it!

Thirdly, these posts lack perspective, and lets face it, those of us fortunate enough to be able to afford the luxury of a computer (or computer access) when others don’t have the basic needs could always use a little more perspective (myself included). People die every day, so many people die unnecessarily sad deaths due to things such as war and famine that are so completely out of their control. So many children are subjected to so many horrible things, but do we talk about them? No, we like a couple of recently publicized events, then return to our daily lives thinking how compassionate we are for sharing the “RIP [insert over-publicized death here]” post.

I don’t hate Facebook, in fact I am not ashamed to admit that I think it can be a great communication tool, and a great platform for real conversation. I just wish it was used that way. Sadly my posts whinging about the bad-breathed commuter next to me resulted in many more likes and comments than my post questioning why western children are not able to be photographed and put on Facebook by workers/volunteers who have supported them, but children from “developing” countries are fair game. (see post photographic? for my complaints on that one). Sadly on Facebook, controversy seems to result in childish banter and crass slagging off of opposing views much more than helping us reestablish our view points.

I guess what I am saying is I just wish that more thought went into these posts. I wish people were original, and I wish people would stop relying on this weeks socially acceptable tragedy to show their compassionate side on my news feed.

End. Of. Rant.