Posts filed under 'Thoughts'
A simple story about an ordinary person was told on the Norwegian national radio last month. Somehow I can’t keep my mind off it.
It is the end of June, and most Norwegians start to go on vacations, many travelling to other places. But some cannot travel due to physical constraints, for example the elderly people at nursing homes. So, a nurse who likes riding motorcycles came up with an idea – bundling a sidecar to his motorcycle and offering residents personalized trips, with comfort and fresh air.
It’s a beautiful day in June and it’s an elder lady’s turn to travel with the motorcycle nurse, Michael Raaberg. Michael is a strong man, and he lifts her up and puts her down in the sidecar like a child. During the ride, Michael asks how she does. She says, “Good, very good, never better!” with a youthful and cheerful voice. They drive through the Oslo city centre, they talk about different places they pass by, like old friends who haven’t seen each other for a long time.
The issue of safety, especially with residents with heart diseases, has popped up in the heads of the staff team once, but they decided that it’s much worse “locking up” the residents all year long. So far, there hasn’t been one single incident and the residents have never been happier.
Michael talks about himself. He was educated as a graphic designer and designed catelogues for Ikea. At the height of his career, he found his work lack of meaning and decided to become a nurse instead. Now he’s a happy nurse, bringing happiness into other people’s lives.
When people follow their hearts, they easily come up with simple and yet ingenious solutions to big problems, they naturally make a difference. I hope more and more people follow their hearts like him. I hope I become like him.
If everyone just had one single person in his life who says, “I will love you no matter what”, then we’ll never end up in mental institutions.
– Leo Buscaglia, “Living, Loving and Learning”
I passed by the centre of Oslo today, the day after the tragic events. The streets are fairly full again, although the never-before-seen armed soldiers guarding the parliament building bring people ever closer to what happened yesterday. There is nothing in the news, or on the national TV channel, other than coverage about the incidents. The nation, which had not hated anyone since WWII, has one enemy today – Anders Behring Breivik, the (or at least one) culprit, a native Norwegian who grew up in Oslo, and who is described by his neighbours as being “sometimes overly polite”.
But right now, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.
Who is he? Did his parents spend time with him, both playing and learning, when he was young? Does his family still live close to him, visit him and laugh with him? Did he, or does he have a mentor he could talk to when he’s stuck? Did he ever meet someone who would love him unconditionally, instead of saying “I will love you, if …”?
I thought of these questions when they said in the news that his schoolmates remember him but have not kept in touch with him. I found out that Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a bomb which killed 168 people in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma, USA) in 1995, did not feel he had a home and was rejected by women he sought relationships with. I found out that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the high school students who shot their fellow students at school in Columbine (Colorado, USA) in 1999, were bullied at school and turned to bullying others as a way out. I wonder what Breivik’s life was like.
Of course, everyone has had bad experiences and some people can shake them off better than others. But as family, friends, and fellow citizens, it is our responsibility to minimize these bad experiences and to help those who have had a bad experience to come out of it. I feel that we, especially those in Western developed countries, are not doing a very good job at it. We are not doing a very good job at preventing these incidents from happening.
Tonight, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.
I saw someone today and realized how lucky I am.
It was at the ceremony for the Abel Prize (a prestigious annual prize awarded to an internationally renowned mathematician by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters). There he performed one of his most common job tasks.
When everyone was seated and the door was closed, the door opened again and he came in. Everyone stood up. After he sat down, everyone sat down again. After some speeches and some music, he went up the stage, gave the prize to the laureate and said “Congratulations”. Then there were more speeches and more music. The ceremony ended half an hour after he came in. He stood up, everyone stood up, he exited the hall, everyone followed.
Since he was born, his destiny was determined. He could not choose a career he desired and could not freely express his opinion. He attends ceremonies, shakes hands and says “Congratulations”. He may be one of today’s typical workers – he has to do a job that he does not particularly enjoy; but his situation is worse than the others – he can’t decide to quit.
He is the King of Norway.
When the sky was suddenly lit by fireworks from all directions, I exclaimed, “Another year wasted!” It was not only me, but surely many others and all of us collectively: The Copenhagen conference yielded no real results; in the two countries which I call home, one is still using more and cheaper energy to extract less but more expensive energy from the dirty tar sands at the expense of deformed fish and cancer-ridden villages and another continues to punish severely for “crimethink”.
But I’ve got to be better than those politicians. So I looked back more closely. Although there were no impressive accomplishments, I did seem to have made some progress towards obtaining more joy and freedom for myself and others:
1. Spent six weeks of vacation with mother. Strengthened individual body, soul, and relationship contributed directly to a better society.
2. Committed to promoting proportional representation in the province of British Columbia. Proportional representation is a electoral system that results in more democratic election results than the current system of first-past-the-post used in federal and provincial elections throughout Canada.
3. Obtained Chartered Accountant designation. My service to the public accounting industry ceased to be a commitment.
4. Started purchasing some food from a local food supplier. My goal in the next two years is to buy 90% of food from local sources (within a 150km range), grow some food myself, and thus reduce the pollution and slavery created by the global food system (see more in the movie Food Inc.; although focusing on USA, it’s a good representation of the food system in most developed nations).
5. Biked or used public transportation 95% of the time while travelling for less than 10km.
And with that, I have no more regret.
High resolution, higher resolution! In every corner of the picture!
(Conclusion above is based on my observation of the photography exhibits at National Art Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario.)
Any government that builds grandiose structures has something to hide from its people.