When Online moves Offline – What do we choose to do?

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In August 2018 I made a post on social media titled #smallbusiness isn’t the only thing that gets done in #ballina – more detail soon. @ Ballina. This was on the morning I was attending Ballina Local Court in relation to a Personal Violence Order (PVO) that I had applied for myself.

It stemmed from phone calls made to me personally by a person that wasn’t known to me at the time. This person had a lot of information about me and what I was doing, which isn’t difficult considering I live somewhat in the public eye. He would disclose no information to me about himself, a blocked caller ID, no name or location but he called me a number of times within quick succession in mid June 2018.

So why go and apply for a PVO some may ask. These calls were targeting my recent talks and community project ‘Police Are People’ as well as my long time close friendship with Serge Benhayon. The nature of the calls included a number of threats including; “I’m coming down and I’m gunna break your f#@king pretty jaw” and “You’re f#@king gone” as well as continual comments like “You’re just a f#@king grub, a slime bag”. From this you could say it’s self-explanatory why I took out the PVO, which is true but for me what was also important was highlighting the way this was done and used.

We live now in a world that many people post their lives online which connects us with friends, family and others. Some use this as a way to ‘stay in touch’ while others use it as another means to harass, menace and threaten people. We have filters for this and usually there is an acceptance of sorts for people carrying any style of public profile that they have to be prepared to wear a certain amount of harassment due to their choice of work or service. I admit once being apart of the belief that this is ok or ‘normal’, but now I can see that no matter who you are, what you are doing or what you have done there is no place for anyone to target people in anyway, let alone using communication devices or social media anonymously or in any way as a medium to vent at others.

From my experience I knew this incident was one initially I would need to action myself and so I took detailed notes in my phone of what was said straight after each call. Because there was a number of calls I also was able to allow others to witness what was being said. With the notes I had made I was also able to call on the community around me to identify the person, which then allowed me to apply for a PVO and also assist me in my report to the local Police. This did shake me up for sure due to the severity, intensity and anonymity of the calls and what was said. I found that once I applied for the PVO and also reported it to the Police I was more settled in the knowledge that something was being done and more so that I had taken steps to ‘answer’ the menacing and threatening way this was done.

The result so far was that I was granted the PVO for 12 months with the defendant not appearing in person but having a legal representative present and consenting to the order. The Police investigation is still underway and if needed I will update further with that outcome.

I felt to write and post about this for a few reasons. One of them being that we can’t just talk about what we see needs to change, when the opportunity knocks in any way we need to answer it and take it to the highest place rather than sitting back and accepting what we know inside us isn’t true or ‘just’. That no matter who you are or what you do or what you have said or done no one has the right to harass you, no matter how they justify or dress it up and the world of anonymity needs to be addressed strongly. If you are taking the steps to comment or call someone personally in this way then they have a right to know who you are and what your agenda is.

For me it goes beyond coward to sit behind a communication device and threaten, menace and or harass people. If you have witnessed or been impacted in this way I would strongly recommend reporting it to the Police and to anyone else you see that can take action. After all, if we don’t make a stand at this point then in time to come where will the ‘norm’ stand and how far do we let this go?

 

 

Driving cars – Why I love it part 1.

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I have been driving cars now for many years, ever since I was around 12 years old. Those who know me are aware of my love for cars but it’s not only the cars themselves, it’s the driving of them that gives me equal pleasure. If we take this back to where it started it may make more sense. Growing up, my parents loved cars and as a sideline they would detail cars together at our house for a local car dealer. My father in particular would always be washing and polishing his cars and this was something that transferred to me. My Dad was a role model for me; as I grew up he was one of the strongest role models in my life – as you can see from the photo below.

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When it came to driving my father was my first teacher and as I mentioned, these lessons began when I was quite young.

What was great about my father was he gave firm direction while at the same time was willing to allow me to have responsibility and grow.

My first steps into driving were in a paddock at home in a small Mini Moke – it had 2 seats and didn’t have any brakes. The lesson for me here was to learn to use a manual car without needing brakes and also took away the temptation to speed. I remember driving around for many hours in the paddock; I only had a certain amount of fuel I could use and so I also learned to care and appreciate the time I did have driving. I would drive fast at times but driving for me, even at that young age, was so much more then driving fast. I loved and enjoyed just driving; learning how to be smooth in changing the gears, to the relationship on of how when my body was tense it seemed more difficult to drive. Even though this was an old car I would wash and polish it then always reverse it into our large shed out of the way. Even the reversing of the car into the shed became something I wanted to master.

Fast forward to now some 30 years later and I still love driving and love cars. As I said, it’s never really been about going fast or having fast cars, it’s more than that. I love driving to a feeling, watching passengers, watching the traffic and most of all, feeling how my body feels. I learnt from a young age that if you bring a tense, busy or frustrated body to driving, then this is how you drive. In other words, you drive how you live. Ever get into your car and it seems like every light changes to red in front of your eyes, or you get stuck behind a slow driver that really bugs you? Then ever experience the times when the ‘seas seem to part’ and you have a dream run to a destination? This relationship is not by chance . . . it comes from how you are before you drive.

What happens in your driving is only a reflection of what happens in your life – the two are linked.

The next time you drive or sit in the driver’s seat of the car, take a short moment to check in with how you are feeling. Are your shoulders tense, your mind on other things, are you talking on your phone or texting or are you sitting ready – ready for the drive ahead? Then as you are driving use the time to check in to your body: how are your hands on the steering wheel, how do your arms feel and how are your legs feeling? There are many little games or ‘check-in’s’ you can do while driving. It’s not a time just to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ but a time to use to feel your body.

Do all this knowing that how you are is how you drive.

 

 

 

Coming back to Community – from the past to now and back again.

I have made no secret of my love for growing up in a small country town. It would seem each day I speak of it I see something else to appreciate about it. But is it the country town that was the reason for this or was it the feeling within this country town that was the key?

I say this because I have experienced this same feeling at work in the city, in the street in other towns and at people’s homes on occasions. I don’t want to limit this to being just about ‘country towns’ which in my experience are really beautiful, because if you didn’t have that experience growing up it doesn’t mean you have missed out somehow. The feeling I am talking about is more often not related to country towns but because of their nature and their size it is easier to see it when it is there – this feeling is community and it can be true community if we truly support each other.

This support can be as simple as helping with something physical, it could be a chat, a wave, a smile or just a presence. I remember growing up and riding down the street. My parents job was made easier because it felt like I had 100 fathers and mothers at least in the town.

The way I acted when I was young felt like I always had someone watching me, this is not like it sounds or how you may think. I wasn’t fearful of being caught or wanting to sneak around, but it seemed with everything that was presented to me I had a choice. I could do anything I wanted but what would the consequence be of my choice? I was always accountable to my community.

This was like a steady support inside of me that was accessible in every moment, in every decision I made.

At times this was there even with no one around, so physically no one was watching but the feeling was still there. Some may see this as a young man under control, or being controlled, but it was far, far from this. What I see it as now is a community working together, people being responsible for themselves and others which in turn holds everyone in that equal responsibility if they choose it. As a young man growing up I had all the freedom under the sun. My parents worked very hard and so from a young age I would have time to do my own thing. I just kept choosing to stay with that responsibility that had been set for me, not only by my parents but in the community where we lived. My parents and grandparents and family were big community people when I was growing up. We had businesses in the town and had a reputation of being hard-working caring people– but to me, it wasn’t just our family, the whole community felt like this.

Karam's Fruit and Veg Market in CasinoSo what does this say? Does it make this exclusive to my small country town or to only people related to the Karams? No, what it is saying is that any community, no matter how big or small has a quality and in that, everyone has a responsibility to that quality, they all contribute to it whether they choose to be aware of it or not.

 

The majority or sum total of that community quality is what everyone will feel or be pulled towards.

So when I speak about how “I always felt I had someone watching me”, it was the collective quality of the local community that I was sensing, a quality that inspired a certain level of responsibility to be, live or act in a certain way. In this way we are all responsible for what goes on in the community in which we live, work or even visit.

Are we adding to the quality in a way that supports others or are we detracting from the quality?

I see the way we return to true community is in everyone, or at least the majority, holding a quality of care and responsibility in how they are, first with themselves and then with each other.

If we run each other down, compete, ignore etc then this is the quality we are putting into the community that will then be the place we live.

If we want community back, if we want that country town feel, then ‘we’ need to hold that feeling in everything we do first. So there is value in reflecting on and talking about what we haven’t got or what we have lost, but this ‘talk’ will need action and not just talk. True community is about people first and we are people, how you are with yourself, just like in a community, goes out to all others.

True community starts at home as they say and the first home is you, how you are with you. This is the foundation of the community we can all we enjoy and be enriched by.