Sharks at Ballina – why as a community are we so divided and what can be done.


Below is a recent letter I sent to a number of people and agencies both in Local and State Government. There is an old saying, “it’s not what you do but it’s the way that you do it” that rings true with all things and this issue is no different.


Hello everyone, 

With the very active Shark issue in our local community at the moment I have been looking around at what other areas or councils are doing to support the decision making process around ‘tricky issues’. I have attended a lot of the meetings with the DPI as a representative for the Ballina Chamber of Commerce but I approach you as a concerned community leader. I was witness to the last Ballina Shire Council meeting and watched the continued emotion this issue has bought into the community. The some of the general flavour of concerns continue to be the community fearing they aren’t being heard, the lack of community constellation, the lack of trust in Government, to frustration of wasted time and resources, the injury and impact within the community. While these concerns aren’t exhaustive they are a sample of what is within our community. I understand the State Government decision to now go ahead with the Shark net trial which I support as a step with other measures as you have done.

I want to bring your attention to the results being obtained through Citizen juries.

In South Australia this is what they have to say:

Citizens’ Juries aim to change the way democracy is done in SA, creating a new balance between experts and the public and giving elected representatives confidence that public judgment (rather than opinion) contributes to better decision-making.  

This is a ground-breaking approach for the way governments make decisions; it presents our elected leaders with an uncontrolled result, reached by a group of South Australians whose composition ensures that they able to represent the state. While lobbyists, activists and community groups are welcome to present their points-of-view to the jury, the structured and supported process ensures that final recommendations are developed independently. Juries have given South Australia opportunities to bring the voice of its community into decision-making around a tricky policy issues”

Here is the link for more information with a current citizens jury and also the results of some others 

What I have found appealing about these type of community run juries are the fact that they are ‘run’ by the people, by the community. What I have found much of the feedback and criticism from the community has been they are not being listened to even after what some may consider exhaustive consultation. I have said before it is becoming more and more obvious that conventional consultation processes may be gaining results but they are certainly not supporting the consistent wider community view. The great result or method of the juries are that they not only have community representatives within them selected from a cross-section of the community but the process is run within the community in their full view. The juries are able to call witness and are supported to find the facts within these areas and not get drawn into or pushed around by emotion. These types of forums will be more and more a thing of the future I think. It takes the pressure away from Government and brings a lot more responsibility back to the communities decisions.

I would be looking for this to be supported with Council as driver for any decisions forward on the shark issue. The coordination of any jury would need to be funded and in the shark issue I’m sure pressure towards the State Government at this point may support something like this to be supported by them in this current climate. This type of thing could also be put on the radar by our Local Council for any further community engagement in the future.

I will be also forwarding this information to all parties at Local, State and Federal level. I look forward to your replies and I am always available for chats around this. My phone number is 0402……. for those who may not already have it.

Warm regards,

Ray Karam

Responsibility – a big word that’s only ever true when lived.

What a word – Responsibility – it was a word I avoided growing up and whenever it was said I felt a huge pressure, an expectation and as if it were something I would need to live up to constantly. In saying that, was it an actual word I avoided or was it the feeling that came with it that I avoided?

It seemed whenever you did something wrong or whenever something big was coming up, the word responsibility would be thrashed in there almost to scare you. It would pretty much always come in one of ‘those’ talks, almost a dressing down that would be so heavy and serious. Why are we so serious and heavy when it comes to the word responsibility?

I know also that because of how I held the word, I was also running from something when people talked about it when I was young. This wasn’t a one-sided relationship with the word responsibility – I had my hand in there somewhere as well, it’s just that I couldn’t see it.

Travel forward 30 years and here I am with children and supporting them with responsibility. So do I deliver the same as it was for me or do I change it and give them everything I didn’t have? Or more still, do I unwrap what responsibility is for me and then deliver that to them and everyone? I have come to know responsibility very well – I have a relationship with it. I have found it’s not a word to be delivered in a serious and heavy way to make you fear. It’s a word that has a true meaning – a living way for us all to consider.

Responsibility is not about something you need to do, it is about how you are and the quality you are in in every moment. I know you ask, ‘quality?’ Well if I am in a shop selling you something, you can say I have many responsibilities; to pay the rent, be polite, be professional, make sure the product does what it says it does etc. etc. But what if responsibility has nothing to do with doing? What if my first responsibility was for how I am with myself; how loving, how careful, how dedicated I am to feeling etc., knowing that everything I do after that first point carries with it that imprint of love, care and dedication? It’s well worth considering the very fact that how we are with ourselves at any moment carries forward into the doing, so it is about quality first, a quality of being well before a doing. Some may say ‘we just need to get this done’ regardless of the quality, but there is always plenty to do and this will never stop. The only thing that is there to change is how you are, your being.

In this light, responsibility is far greater than we think but yet it’s not a heavy load or something we need to achieve or learn for the first time. It is within us, within our relationship with ourselves that we grow responsibility out and from there it touches everything we do. No serious talks needed, just a living imprint of a step in a relationship with ourselves that then people and children can feel.

Even the word in the ‘Hello’ responsibility can then be felt. Children don’t learn from what you say, they learn from what you do. It’s time to lead the way instead of trying to direct and control. True responsibility is a living way and not just a word we tell someone.




My Whole Body not only walks it talks

When I was young I remember there was a lot of focus on how you could remember things. All through school I recall struggling to learn, at times turning off to how things were taught. Those who were able to remember or recall things were rewarded and when I looked at the volume of work I thought it was impossible to learn so much, let alone recall it when I needed it. I was told that reading things over and over would help but I soon lost interest in this.

Any time there was a practical part to the learning or a physical application to what was being said, it just made sense and I was able to simply pick things up. I remember knowing and outwardly saying that when I had a tangible application to what was shown to me I found it easy. It was like education was targeting a particular part of you and for me this didn’t gel with how things were – it was like my whole body knew it needed to be involved for things to make sense. I had thoughts that part of me was dumb – that I wasn’t intelligent and I was just a physical type of person. I not only grew up with this but took it into my life… I believed that because I had difficulty with this type of learning that meant I would never be normal or be successful.

As I grew up and went from school into the workforce, similar things would happen. I was a life learner; whenever I could apply what someone was saying to life it made complete sense. It was like I had a particular way of learning – I didn’t just want to remember or recall something, I wanted to be able to live it. I wanted to know how what was said made sense to my whole body. Again I thought this was somehow inferior or that I was somehow dumb for having to be like this. I watched others pick things up quickly and I was somewhat a slow learner because of needing to apply a teaching to life. Some things I would pick up and others I wouldn’t. It wasn’t as if everything that I applied to life stayed with me either, and I didn’t know why this was. I had many question about life and in particular about how I learnt. I remember telling people how I found it best to learn and when I would say it I would still think this made me a second-rate citizen or similar.

I met a man by the name of Serge Benhayon who spoke of whole body intelligence, and when he did this just made sense. I came to realise that I wasn’t a broken, dumb and second-rate human being. In fact none of us are and from the awareness of what he said I was able to understand why I learned in the way I did. Even all those years back I was aware that something wasn’t right with just using part of my body to rule over the rest. It didn’t make sense, even though I put a lot of effort in trying to make this the case. It was like my whole being wouldn’t allow me to focus on a part but kept bringing it back to everything. My body knew something and even though it appeared quiet at times, I could see from how Serge Benhayon was, that there was a choice by me to have it this way.

The more awareness I bought to my whole body intelligence, the more everything around me made sense. I felt like I could be in the middle of life but not be surrounded and consumed by it. In this awareness – that appears at this point to have no end – I was able to gain insight into the past and future, all from the present. By staying and dedicating to how my whole body was feeling in any moment, I was able to expand my view of the world and have understanding of what was going on around me.

It wasn’t something you turned on, whole body intelligence was just there and you only needed to connect to it. This was like me returning to what I knew, what I always knew, but because I saw the world didn’t reward this I tried to change how I was to be a part of it. All along I was being pulled back to how I was; I knew how everything worked from a young age. I knew growing up that there was more to learning than school could support me with – for me this is why I learned the way I did. My body had an awareness of what was going on all along – it’s just that I didn’t trust that this was true from all that was around me. When Serge Benhayon came along it wasn’t as if he was saying something I didn’t already know, he simply had more awareness of the truth. I knew it but had doubted and discounted what I was feeling.

Whole body intelligence is the new, and the old, black.