Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Coping with "Know alls".


I have suffered an affliction all of my life. It happens because I do not have all the relational skills I should have. It happens because I lack a certain confidence or maybe courage. Sometimes it happens because I am wise.
I keep putting up with "know alls". Some of them are my friends. They come across as if they think they are authorities on all sorts of subjects and can pontificate assertively about them.  On the light side I often say jokingly, to the firefighters that "If I want to know anything I only have to ask a firefighter and they will tell me - whether they know about it or not!" (Don't tell them but often they are very helpful sources of information.)
I recall once I was doing some pipe work at the Church and this Church member came along and started telling me how to do it! - I trained and worked as a plumber - he was a paint salesman! I have also had all sorts of people trying to correct my Theology or tell me what the Bible says. I have spent decades studying the Bible. I appreciate opinions, but I appreciate informed opinions. I am going to build something and there will always be someone ready to tell me how to do it, or how not to do it - and there is only one way according to them. But they are often looking at it as someone with an limitless budget, and that's not me. When we decided to raise money to buy the Night Shelter, there were those who said we could not do it! I have listened quietly to "advice" from all sorts of people, on all sorts of subjects, from people who often like to give such advice without a hint of humility - they know! Often they do not see the full picture of what they are talking about. They are often comparing "apples with oranges", but that does not stop them prattling on and pontificating. They say things with such certainty that if I differed I would either have to call them a liar or stupid! ( I get the same feeling listening to some politicians - e.g. Donald Trump) They state things in such a way that "this is the way it is - and there is no room for debate!" Some times I want to scream- "Do you think I'm stupid!" - but I don't. Maybe I'm chicken. Only occasionally do I break out and contradict or question.
I saw a video on facebook recently with the camera focused on the face of a woman with a deadpan look, listening to some person and nodding and just saying "Mmmm" from time to time. Underneath was the caption, "Me listening to another bullshit artist!" That is often me. I am not skilled enough in being assertive in response so I just say "Mmmm", and fume underneath. 
Sometimes I want to disagree intensely, but I think, "What's the point? This person will never change their mind. They do not have the insight to have an intelligent conversation. They obviously are not willing to think differently. I will be wasting my breath and their time challenging them." Even Jesus said something about "Don't caste your pearls before swine."
Often I do not speak my mind because I learn to "choose my battles". Some things are worth the hassle, but other things are just not worth going on about.
Often I guess it could be that I do not have the courage to challenge the speaker. Sometimes I say things like, "That's an interesting perspective." in such a tone that I communicate that it is, however, not the way I see it, and the subject is dropped. I think too that my job has been to listen in a pastoral way, and people are more likely to mouth off to a "listener", so I am fair game for such people. If I'm with it enough, I will occasionally have the wisdom to ask a question that suggests a different perspective. 
I heard somebody describe another man as somebody "who does not suffer fools lightly. They call a spade a spade." Well I guess that's not me. I seem to be destined to "suffer fools." Just sometimes when the issue is important, or involves a slur on somebody else, I will "not suffer fools", but most often I am the non-assertive listener, and I guess I will be until I die. Just sometimes I wish I wasn't. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My neighbourhood.

I went for a walk today in my locality. I have been trying to get back into running, but have not managed a run for nearly two weeks, so I thought a brisk 12k walk would loosen me up for a run later in the week. I headed out and ten minutes into my walk encountered a man from one of my chaplaincies walking his dogs. We stopped and talked for about five minutes and I went on. Around the corner came a cyclist on a fancy road bike, all in lycra. "Hello Dave" he said as he braked and turned around and rode back toward me as my mind raced to locate his name in my memory banks. I remembered just as he reminded me. He is the partner of a friend I have not seen for years so once again I stopped and talked. (I have been in Dunedin too long. This happens often. When my wife and I visit a hardware store in town, she jokingly says, "$10 for everybody we meet that you know.") I finally continued my walk, uninterrupted except for a quick talk with another couple halfway around. As I walked I began to really appreciate the simple beauty of the place I live. I live on the outskirts of Dunedin, in Sawyers Bay, which is the suburb next to the port "village" of Port Chalmers, the container and cruise ship port for Dunedin. I simply share some photos I took with my phone as I walked.
Careys Bay next to the Port.
Looking toward the mouth of Otago Harbour.
Historic Iona Church, part of "our" presbyterian Parish. It is in the process of being restored.
Port Chalmers Logo - Koputai is the Maori name for the locality. 
A murky Otago harbour looking toward Dunedin.
A fishing ship on its way from Dunedin Wharfs to the open sea.
Nearly at my house - I love the semi rural outlook. The days are short, so it is beginning to get dark - and it was raining!

I love New Zealand as a place to live. I enjoy Dunedin, and the Port Chalmers/Sawyers Bay community. I am indeed a fortunate man.