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

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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.

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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 http://yoursay.sa.gov.au/initiatives/citizens-jury 

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.

My full response to the Echo during the Ballina Shire Council elections

Hello Hans,

It may state the obvious but you haven’t given me much time to respond in what is an article that names me directly. While I appreciate the courtesy you have extended to me to comment on the article I would imagine placing a pressure like this on anyone would either see them make no comment or make a comment that would not be quite what they intended. As you are aware I am running for Ballina Shire Mayor and Council as well as running businesses in Ballina among other things. Not that this is your problem or should you see it as that but more give you an understanding that I am a person and in that while you may see this as a normal request to ask for comment with a deadline like this, it is certainly not normal in the world I live and further wouldn’t be a supportive way for me to engage anyone in business. 

I will leave the main body of the article for Serge and Gail to respond to and I would seek to add to the paragraph below, my addition is at the end.

Ray Karam’s website says that he has worked with the team creating the ‘Facts about Universal Medicine’ website to catalogue ‘the many ways in which our communications platforms continue to be exploited to carry out personally motivated agendas at the expense of the wider community’, and his own site contains many references to his support of Benhayon and involvement in UM, a business that he attributes to “a greater sense of wellbeing in my life and a huge support with my PTSD after leaving the Police.” 

I would further state:

Never in all my years both working in the Police and in business have I seen the effects of communication crimes as rampant and instantly destructive as they are today. I have seen the real life impacts on people of crime in an increased level from my years in the Police in inner Sydney. I have watched the destructive impact of domestic violence and other ongoing crime and the impacts of cyber abuse in my opinion go beyond this. Never before have we seen a medium by which you can impact so frequently, wide spread and instantly as we do have now with the internet. 

If we don’t take a stand in our local communities, how will we ever see a cultural shift in the levels of cyber abuse across the internet? 

The website acupuncturebyronbay.com is not just about the harassment of people in the Universal Medicine community, it is about the fact that this kind of cyber abuse is happening to people everywhere in all communities. 

This is not just an issue that effects youth– women and men are constantly harassed and abused on the web, businesses are targeted by anti-competitive behaviour and as yet we have not made the internet a safe space or even taken steps for people to be able to freely report the many crimes that impact them in this ‘new’ public place. As a community we all have to come together to make a change, as from what I’ve seen, the laws and society are out of step with the levels of use and abuse of the Internet happening today. You only need look at the papers to see this fact.

These websites http://www.acupuncturebyronbay.comhttp://universalmedicinefacts.com/ and http://www.raykaram.com.au are sites I openly put my name to as they give a voice to people who have been cyber abused and currently have no other avenue to tell the truth of what is actually occurring. The abuse I will continue to call to account includes incitement to vilification towards others and completely fabricated claims of a malicious nature. I use the Internet as the public place it is. I don’t go onto it anonymously or create something on it that is not reflective of how I am face to face. For me there is no difference between cyber space or public place, they are one and the same. 

I would also question the timing of this article. Given you appear to be focused on just one part of my life. As you would see there are many many parts to my website. I would draw you attention to my continuous years of dedication in business in Ballina, the Chamber of Commerce as well as my previous 13 years experience of dedicated service to the Police. My extended family have over 80 years experience in business in the local area in a variety of areas. I am also a father of 5 school aged children. These are other parts of why I am standing for Mayor and Councillor of the Ballina Shire.

It’s a step I take with great respect for all that is past and what can be done in the future. I would hope this article by focussing on one part isn’t meant to pull away or detract from the significant contributions I have had in the local community as many residents of all ages would attest to.

Warm regards,

Ray Karam

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.