Germaine Greer is a legend in her own time, a leading feminist in the ‘burn the bra,’ era, yet Germaine has something to say about security.
“Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.”
– Germaine Greer
If we think about those words, to live life we have to face risks. The trick is to balance that risk with practical common sense and find that happy medium between living and managing risk.
Recently I attended an Adventure Climbing Park. At my age, it is an unusual thing to do and I have not done it before. But it was now or never, I thought. Last Chance station. So I gave it a go.
The task was to climb trees, harnessed in for safety about 20 metres up a tall tree, and walk across progressively more difficult and wobbly bridges and ropes from platform to platform suspended high above the ground, with no exit until the end of the course.
I was keen yet I was terrified. Terrified of falling off the bridge and hanging in my harness mid-air 20 metres up, until some 20 something park attendant could rescue me. How he would rescue me, I did not know and that was even more terrifying! This single thought propelled me onwards when I doubted my ability to continue.
This task that I was so keen to undertake was way out of my usual comfort zone and was designed to test your physical strength and mental resilience. After several reasonably easy initial steps climbing nets that gradually took us higher and higher into the trees, I faced walking across a tightrope – still harnessed in.
This was a real challenge balancing and stepping carefully and I balked at it, thinking there was no way I could do it, but as there was no way down, I inched across sideways, little by little, hanging on to the harness for grim life, until I made it safely to the other side.
475 deaths from Corona, in Italy yesterday. 140 new cases overnight here, in Australia. No new cases in China – that they are aware of. Some good news from China, at last.
Iceland had its first death, possibly attributed to Covid 19! Iceland!
A sparsely populated area in the north of a country of only 250,000 people. An outpost in the very north of the Atlantic!
And who was it that perished in that tiny village in the north of Iceland?
An Australian tourist!
Unbelievable, but true.
RIYADH: The Saudi Health Ministry announced 67 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the total in the Kingdom to 238. The ministry said that highest number among the newly recorded cases was 45 arrivals to Saudi Arabia during the past two days. These cases arrived from UK.
It begs the questions of how much international travel, for business or pleasure has contributed to spreading this virus, albeit inadvertantly?
The Australian Airline carrier, Qantas, has reduced flights by 90%. International travel has been curtailed indefinitely, for most people. The Government has now banned foriegners from visiting our country. If you are a foreign citizen living here, you may leave, but you cannot return.
Is the sun setting on the future of passenger cruising and travel? Along with companies whose sole business is tourism, holiday accommodation, hospitality, and recreation?
Supermarkets sales are booming, whilst every other business languishes, rots or dies – Death by Corona.
Toilet paper, rice, pasta, other staples and curiously broccoli, fly off the shelves as soon as they are re-stocked. Why just Broccoli?
Nurses, Doctors, Hospital staff such as Cleaners, Ward Admininstration staff and Service folk, Ambulance drivers, Paramedics, Police, Fire, Laboratory testing staff, Security Personnel, Emergency services, all continue to work. Thanks goodness they do.
A friend works in a Hospital laboratory conducting more than 1000 Covid 19 tests a day! His work is usually only URGENT specimens for the hospital. One hospital. How many more are being conducted at the major high volume blood laboratories in each city. That statistic staggers me.
Gyms, sporting clubs and Yoga studios have closed.
Cinemas have closed.
Social Clubs have closed.
Universities have moved to online delivery of lessons.
Fiestas and Public festivals and events are canned.
We cannot gather together in a group of more than 100.
Yet the Government refuses to close the schools – children are safer in the germ- riddled playground and public toilet than in their family home,according to our fearless leader!
TV ratings must be up higher than ever before, or perhaps residential internet data usage is?
I remain at work, by direction. Everything but essential appointments are cancelled. Essential means an appointment that is vital, for safety reasons. So there will be very limited community visits for me – I will be spending my days at work, filing!
Quite frankly, I would rather stay at home, on unpaid leave and write, or paint. One consolation is the traffic is better. And I have my podcasts to listen to. There is no Covid 19 news on them.
Driving to Podcasts
As I drive the long drive to and from work, I listen to stories of history, of what it was like to endure life in years gone by, scientific advances, the wars, heroic tales of people who overcome adversity or those who achieved success. I listen to philosophers and researchers – those who study the past to find answers to the future, who create our future. It interests me and is much preferable than listening to Corona updates.
My daughter is worried. A 20 year old girl should not have to worry about whether she will live or die by the hand of a virus. She worries about having money to buy food and essentials; she works at a hotel, empty of guests, so her shifts have been drastically cut. There is a pitiful amount of money coming in.
She worries about paying rent. The landlord will no doubt still collect every last cent that is due. There is no relief for those who pay for their accommodation, or who have a mortgage. We help her, of course. We are her parents and willingly help. What if we weren’t here?
I reassure her worried teenage young adult mind, by telling her that humans are a resilient species. We have survived famine, years of food rations in the Great Depression and The World Wars. People ate rabbits, for the most part! I don’t tell her that part.
Yet in all this, life feels like it’s on hold.
I am flooded with daily emails about the extra precautions industry and businesses are taking, offering hand santizer, cleaning door handles, countertops, using gloves to handle food, only taking credit cards for payment, in order to avoid ‘dirty’ cash. I wonder: did your business, never ever clean your products or benches, door handles or ATM’s buttons before?
The mood at work and throughout society now, is solemn. And it can only become worse. People are worried, talking constantly about the latest media updates. It is hard to remain joyful and optimistic when everything is so uncertain.
“A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”
If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail. — Gambian proverb
A recent article suggests that those who can weather the storms of life have the ability to perceive events in a different way to those who feel stressed and negatively impacted by trauma and life’s challenges.
Whether you can be said to have resilience, or not, might depend on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky and never experience any adversity, you don’t really know for sure how resilient you might be. When you come across obstacles stress and environmental threats, you discover how well you can cope with life’s challenges.
Reacting to Stress
Do you see a stressful event as traumatic, or a problem? Or is it a chance to learn and grow?
Why do some kids thrive in awful circumstances and yet others crumble despite hailing from more comfortable backgrounds?
Predictors of Resilience in Children
Who will be resilient?
According to the article, support networks are essential to resilience. A strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor, who believed in them tended to be more resilient, when life threw them a curve ball.
There is no really more to be said. This poem says it all.
After some time you learn the difference,
The subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning,
And company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts,
And presents aren’t promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats,
With your head up and your eyes ahead,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn,
That even the sun burns if you get too much,
And learn that it doesn’t matter how much you do care about,
Some people simply don’t care at all.
And you accept that it doesn’t matter how good a person is,
She will hurt you once in a while,
And you need to forgive her for that.
You learn that talking can relieve emotional pain.
You discover that it takes several years to build a relationship based on confidence,
And just a few seconds to destroy it.
And that you can do something just in an instant,
And which you will regret for the rest of your life.
You learn that the true friendships,
Continue to grow even from miles away.
And that what matters isn’t what you have in your life,
But who you have in your life.
And that good friends are the family,
Which allows us to choose.
You learn that we don’t have to switch our friends,
If we understand that friends can also change.
You realize that you are your best friend,
And that you can do do anything, or nothing,
And have good moments together.
You discover that the people who you most care about in your life,
Are taken from you so quickly,
So we must always leave the people who we care about with lovely words,
It may be the last time we see them.
You learn that the circumstances and the environment have influence upon us,
But we are responsible for ourselves.
You start to learn that you should not compare yourself with others,
But with the best you can be.
You discover that it takes a long time to become the person you wish to be,
And that the time is short.
You learn that it doesn’t matter where you have reached,
But where you are going to.
But if you don’t know where you are going to,
Anywhere will do.
You learn that either you control your acts,
Or they shall control you.
And that to be flexible doesn’t mean to be weak or not to have personality,
Because it doesn’t matter how delicate and fragile the situation is,
There are always two sides.
You learn that heroes are those who did what was necessary to be done,
Facing the consequences.
You learn that patience demands a lot of practice.
You discover that sometimes,
The person who you most expect to be kicked by when you fall,
Is one of the few who will help you to stand up.
You learn that maturity has more to do with the kinds of experiences you had
And what you have learned from them,
Than how many birthdays you have celebrated.
You learn that there are more from you parents inside you than you thought.
You learn that we shall never tell a child that dreams are silly,
Very few things are so humiliating,
And it would be a tragedy if she believed in it.
You learn that when you are angry,
You have the right to be angry,
But this doesn’t give you the right to be cruel.
You discover that only because someone doesn’t love you the way you would like them to,
It doesn’t mean that this person doesn’t love you the most they can,
Because there are people who love us,
But just don’t know how to show or live that.
You learn that sometimes it isn’t enough being forgiven by someone,
Sometimes you have to learn how to forgive yourself.
You learn that with the same harshness you judge,
Some day you will be condemned.
You learn that it doesn’t matter in how many pieces your heart has been broken,
The world doesn’t stop for you to fix it.
You learn that time isn’t something you can turn back,
Therefore you must plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure.
You really are strong .
And you can go so farther than you thought you could go.
And that life really has a value.
And you have value within the life.
And that our gifts are betrayers,
And make us lose
The good we could conquer,
If it wasn’t for the fear of trying.
‘After a While’ (Veronica Shoffstall), ‘Comes The Dawn’ (Judith Evans), and ‘You Learn’ (Jorge Luis Borges) with minor variations on the wording. The version posted here seems to include extra verses and the extra verses seem to come from other poems titled “I’ve Learned” either by Washington and Paul Coelho and by Maya Angelou.
When visiting Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkenau selection facility in Poland, the sobering reminder of man’s inhumanity to man, was painfully obvious. It was then that I was reminded of a transcript of an interview, I had read some time ago. This transcript discussed the surprising fact that suicide occurs less among those people, who lived in severely impoverished/low socioeconomic areas and those in concentration camps, as opposed to those who have resources and perhaps live in more comfortable circumstances. What can be learnt from the incredible resilience of survivors, who when faced with extreme brutality or hellish circumstances, continue on and survive?
Johanna Reiss explains it like this:
“the middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak, (In) Elie Wiesel’s book. In concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis and so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too. And so there were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”
Kitty Hart a survivor of Auschwitz, in her documentaries, speaks of how she trained herself not to “think,” but just to do – just to live in the moment and do that, without thinking anything about the future, or indeed the next day.
Impact on the Victim’s Circle
A parent’s mental state is forever changed when the tragedy of depression or suicide involves their child, no matter the child’s age, nor whether the child recovers or not. Many of those persons, closest to the victim, experience anguish that seems to leave a permanent scar, for which there is no miracle cure, perhaps only amelioration. How can we promote resilience for these people, who suffer a daily living hell?
“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever. In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father,and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans. Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from New York and you can get right back in there.”
[Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.] Click here to read more Developing Resilience
I think this is a really important thing to remember if we are to combat suicide rates in all levels…. that the sufferer is not left feeling alone, feeling abandoned. Could it be that if an individual has a sense of responsibility towards another person more vulnerable, or if that person feels that the other absolutely needs them, the victim might cope better/ hang in there/be more resilient, no matter what? Might a reason to stay alive, be that they can then feel hope; that there is somebody or something that is so important, the victim cannot contemplate leaving, no matter how bad things become?
Elie Wiesel wrote about his experiences in a concentration camp as a boy and that he “was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him.” And that’s the only time he mentions the ‘allure of suicide.’
In reflecting on suicide in today’s world where it appears to be a hidden spectre, together with my own experience with a close friend’s depression and suicidal behaviour, I wonder if the resilience/coping strategies of people such as those mentioned, might just be something that could potentially encourage resilience and give hope to victims, where often there seems none?