I’m home for less than 24 hours between a team meeting in Derbyshire and a training event in Nairn.
It’s funny how ideas come together. The other night I watched a couple of TED talks. One was from Eve Ensler of Vagina Monologues fame who spoke passionately about ‘safety’ and how people who try to stay safe miss the point of life, to live it. I also watched Philip Zimbardo talk about how good people turn bad. A fascinating, if rushed, talk about his work exploring what causes ordinary people to to evil things.
Finally, on Wednesday at my team meeting we spent the morning hearing Martin from Spinnaker Trust’s thoughts on Nehemiah and his rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and how Nehemiah inspired and enabled people to build walls and gates.
I’m not sure where this thought is going but it seems to me that walls work two ways. They keep people out and they keep people in. I’m not sure either of those is a good thing but gates also seem to serve similar purposes, to let people pass between in and out.
I was struck by Ensler’s talk, particularly her story of a brave African woman who was brave enough to stand up against genital mutilation in her culture. It seems that if she had sought safety then nothing would have changed.
I was struck by Zimbardo’s thoughts on how people do what their environment tells them to do. It’s not necessarily about being told to but being in a culture which makes it ok or infers that you should act in a certain way without checks or balances.
I was struck by how Nehemiah wanted to restore the city but to do that he needed to build walls, to define it and to defend it.
Sometimes it seems that our desire to keep people safe actually puts them more at risk because walls divide and gates, while allowing people through usually have gatekeepers who check that only the right people come and go. Walls create in and out, them and us, for us and against us. I like the idea of Nehemiah mobilising the community to restore the city but I’m not sure we will restore our cities by building walls.