I often say to my clients that there’s a difference between mouse view and kahu or hawk’s view. Mouse is often in the middle of a flurry, all the things seem big, potentially threatening and much must be done by mouse, scurrying to and fro to get a sense that threats can be understood at least if not managed.
Hawk’s view is one from a distance. Hawk’s view supports us to see over the whole picture, and in doing so find the part we need to home in on; the part that will best serve us and our needs.
I was thinking about the distress in Aotearoa New Zealand this morning as I woke up; about my friends whose choices around vaccination are not ones I made. As unvaccinated people they stand to lose jobs, access to gyms, cinemas etc. Their children will face restrictions too, social gatherings will be limited. The grief is huge. So is the anger. So is the sense that they are being controlled and discriminated against. It’s been a rocky path to walk and I don’t think I have done a great job always of loving the person and not loving the choice.
If you have read my blog, and thank you if you have, I have been stumbling over what the fuck is happening to us for a long time now… Why is this situation causing so much division. What makes this pandemic a political football that seems to be caught and played very differently from say the polio epidemic and treatment? Why do people, and I read this on a local facebook page where people share lemons and look for lost pets, call themselves “conscientious objectors” a very inappropriate war reference, in my opinion, if they are unvaccinated.
So instead of stumbling and scurrying as I find myself doing when I step close to the sense of threat I read in my system at this whole shitstorm, I asked for Kahu’s wisdom.
I began to see the way that imported American individualism has taken centre stage in pakeha (white) culture.
Te Ao Māori or the Māori world view has whanau or family in the centre. The concepts of whanaungatanga (relationship and connection) Kotahitanga (unity and working together) Manaakitanga (extending love and compassion to others) all uphold the values of community and this is in stark contrast to individualism.
My Grandad fought proudly for the 40 hour working week to make life fair on hardworking people. The Treaty Negotiations and attempts at reparation have been going on since the late 1980’s. My mother worked in Family Planning when the changes to the Contraception Sterilisation and Abortion act were enacted. The Gay Rights movement in the 80’s and same sex marriage in 2005 is the most recent sea change in our legislative landscape that have impacted all NZ citizens.
But covid has come along and the necessarily hasty changes required to face the threat of the pandemic have set many people up to feel like the Government are creating change that doesn’t represent them at a speed they don’t trust in ways that are incursions on their rights.
The changes required to meet the pandemic are needed on, from Kahu’s view, all the levels.
We are asked to take on personal change – lock down, vaccinations, restricted access etc being obvious ones. Maybe we were anti-vaccination before and we are facing this novel virus as a new threat. Maybe our vaccination status didn’t mean much in our work before and now we can’t work. Maybe we had an identity as an alternative person into natural health. All of this is called into the arena and has pressure put on it to change.
Politically we are asked to change. A semi socialist country is suddenly being asked to swallow urgent changes that seem rushed through. Our freedom is being restricted. The right to gather and protest is being restricted. The leadership seem to be making decisions on our behalf that don’t make sense to us, and when they talk about it something doesn’t feel right.
Collectively we are asked to change. We are called to consider what we are doing with our neighbours in mind. We are being asked to believe big pharma and Government sources we aren’t used to listening to… are they trustworthy??? We are being asked to stay away from each other. To engage in a socially distanced masked up world. We are feeling worried we will suffer and we want to buy the toilet paper before someone else does. We are being asked to get vaccinated with this thing that seems to have come out of nowhere with no testing and trust it? And if we don’t we won’t be able to participate in the flow of life??
Out of these changes arise two broad responses. One, I will take one for the team. This is a shite situation and we have to do things to navigate this. It’s scary to think of the world in disarray and to trust big corporate and international interests but I am listening to the experts.
Or the second response which is; This doesn’t feel right. I don’t trust it. Something is up here. Don’t push this on me. Let me look at alternative sources of information. This is my decision. And here is a lot of information that feels right to me, that means I have grounds not to trust Government. I refuse. . If we are Māori or Pasifika we have the added distress of being treated poorly, for generations by Government and government agencies. Our healthcare, education and housing stats are shite. We get a bum deal.
There’s a bit of Kahu and a bit of mouse in both these two camps, which are coming more and more like palisaded pa sites.
One pattern seems to emerge, unless we can hold the lens of the collective we will most likely land in the second camp.
Added to that unless we are used to engaging politically in life, seeing how politics is inherent in every decision we make, we might see these interventions as incursions.
And because of a period of relative social stability, we are unlikely to have had lived experience of being involved in big social change.
If we don’t consider the collective, we might believe that all information is equal and that what’s important is how the information makes me feel. We might read something that’s had lots of views and think that makes it an important source. We might not look up and see who our bedfellows are.
Unless we know our history we won’t understand the huge losses suffered by Māori in the last pandemic, the Spanish flu. We won’t understand how polio ravaged New Zealanders and how willingly people took their children for their “sips”.
If our experience doesn’t include the collective, the view of history, the engagement with the political this huge change is likely to land in a disturbing and distressing way. We are I imagine much more likely to find some information that matches our disturbance and distress and say “ This is wrong! I knew it!”
Well from my view it’s the unsexy, mundane, exhausting work of sifting and sorting. It’s the poppy seeds from the dirt work or looking closely at what is really there. It’s understanding the patterns from Kahu’s view, the view that always includes the collective. It’s understanding our own patterns and traumas and crucially it’s thinking of the way our individual choices count for something in the lives of others. This shit is not easy and there’s been tears on all sides of this situation.
The way we come into mouse view is to look at what we are responsible for in our own lives and how that impacts the collective. It’s a both/and we are being called into.
We have to consider everyone when we make the decision that is right for us. We are nothing if we are a nation that doesn’t act to protect the vulnerable. We are nothing if we don’t recognise the privilege inherent in being able to say “I will be alright, I deserve a holiday!” when travelling to Tairawhiti or Te Tai Tokearau despite the wishes of iwi leaders.
We have to be the pivot point and bear and friction of this time. The forces of the Pandemic are grinding against our longing to be free and the more we imagine we can reach back in time to the pre-pandemic way we perceived freedom, the longer the friction will burn.
We can use our individuality to show up as the pivot through which change begins. We can use our own being to be the place that change and care for the collective, for each other and for our neighbours begins.
For me, that’s what Love looks like that.