OPINION: Listen twice as much as you need to speak

Saturday 24 April 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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OPINION: Listen twice as much as you  need to speak
Columnist Thomas Wynne. 16040843

Perspective is shaped not only by what you see but also by where you are looking from, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Looking at a Coke bottle, placed in the middle of a room, I ask students to tell me what they see. Each one writes it down and then I ask them to tell me what they wrote down and what they had seen.

Of course there are differing perspectives – because everyone sees the same object from a different place in the room – and as each relays their picture of what they see, we realise two things.

Firstly, everyone sees something different though we are looking at the same thing, and secondly, we all are right. None of us has a perspective that is wrong, and in fact when we bring all our perspectives together we see the bottle for all its beauty and uniqueness and not just the perspective in front of us. Because perspective is shaped not only by what you see but also by where you are looking from.

The value of seeing things from someone else’s perspective is that it can cause us to grow, and cause us to see more than we thought we could see. In fact, learning is about sometimes letting go of what we know and asking ourselves is there more to this, what else do people think and what else can people teach me?

One thing I am constantly reminding myself, and especially for those of us who write opinion pieces, is that they are just an opinion and that like the bottle I asked my students to look at and describe, there are many perspectives even as we look at the same thing.

I wanted therefore to acknowledge some of the perspectives of my many good friends in the business sector and those who lead the tourism industry and their related businesses in Rarotonga and the Cook Islands.

I met James and Karin Crombie, as we dined at their amazing restaurant, and he spoke to me of the struggle they were facing with no tourists and little in the way of business for their Avatea Café in Aitutaki. Two amazing hardworking Cook Islanders that desperately need that bubble opened so they can remain in business and not have to consider packing up and moving back to Aotearoa or Rarotonga.

While in Aitutaki I had lunch with Nick and Diane Henry, and they too spoke of the struggle and resolve they were fighting to keep their business afloat. Despite having to trim the business back, they are hoping for the bubble to open so as they too can get revenue pouring back into the business and the economy.

I can think of countless friends and colleagues that would take little respite from some of my opinions, especially around the caution of the bubble opening and the idea of taking the time needed and for a more precautionary approach.

I acknowledge it is easy for me to pen these opinions, while living here in Aotearoa, and not having to feel the bite of a business slowly sinking with cash reserves slowly emptying with no real date as to when this might change.

It’s not unusual now for me to turn on the TV or read the paper and see my good friend Tangata Fletcher Melvin’s face appearing and comments around the desperate need to open the borders and a sense that if we do not soon, we will have nothing to open the borders to when that day does happen.

Because it will happen, despite the wait, though May 1 is looking more unlikely according to Pacific health specialist Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

Some have openly called this position by New Zealand as paternalism or that sense that someone is being overbearing or restricting the freedom and responsibilities of dependants and done in their supposed interest.

Regardless of what you may think, or your position, I just wanted to acknowledge the many strong opinions in the room on this topic of opening our borders as soon as possible, and that mine is just one.

And although I have taken issue on many occasions with the current form of tourism we have welcomed into the Cook Islands, I am cognisant also that there are good, Cook Islands people that live and depend on it.

There are larger questions I think we should be asking, as a country, especially as the current government continues to spend money on itself as if Covid had not happened.

Proverbs says there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel, and danger when the only voice we hear is our own.

And my mother always said, listen twice as much as your need to speak.