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THOMAS TARURONGO WYNNE: Having the wisdom to find common ground

Saturday 11 September 2021 | Written by Thomas Tarurongo Wynne | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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THOMAS TARURONGO WYNNE: Having the wisdom to find common ground
A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being administered. Photo: AFP via RNZ

Nothing at the moment can be more emotionally charged than our personal decisions and feelings around Covid-19, vaccination, vax passports, and our faith and trust in government and institutions, writes Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

Spend a day in the Land Court and you may come to better understand that no decision we make is made without emotion.

And if you want to see raw emotion and decisions woven together, look not inside the court but look instead as it empties out and families that have found themselves on the wrong side of a judge’s decision.

Often the feelings on that decision spill out with emotionally charged words that are not worth repeating, because both of those families strongly believe they have done their research, that they have proof that they are right.

Our land decisions are driven by research, as we gather facts to support our argument, and sometimes pay and employ people to do that research, and to fight in a court room for us.

The money and time we invest in land decisions should clearly point to the emotion and deep feeling we invest in that decision and to be right. A decision often based on trust, trust of the process, trust in justice, trust in the courts, and trust in our information.

There is not a single decision we can make without trust.

Trust is that sense that everything is as it says it is, that the information is trustworthy, that the people telling me that information are trustworthy, and that my decision is trustworthy, because in the end we have to trust that we are making the right decision.

Should the source or information be found to be untrustworthy, we then find ourselves having to reconsider that decision.

Emotion is so interwoven in our decision making when we get it wrong that we don’t say, ‘damn, that information wasn’t accurate’; instead we often find ourselves saying, ‘in my gut I knew it was wrong’, or ‘I should have listened to that intuitive voice that said yes, or no’.

That gut feeling or inner voice is not based on fact, but more that deep and emotional connection to trust and whatever it is that we put our trust in.

So can I say it again, no decision you make in life is free from emotion.

In fact we often regret those decisions where emotion was left at the door or where emotion was the only thing we welcomed in.

Nothing at the moment can be more emotionally charged than our personal decisions and feelings around Covid-19, vaccination, vax passports, and our faith and trust in government and institutions.

If you want to see a discussion go down the abusive rabbit hole, then talk about vaccination and you will see a heated emotional response like no other.

And for the record, I am double vaccinated, I have a healthy scepticism of institutions, I work for government, and have been awake since my Mum told me to fetch the kikau broom.

So when I say misinformation, I’m not talking about information about a vaccine, government or even Covid-19.

Instead it is the misinformation of our shared humanity and about how we should treat each other, especially when we strongly disagree. Because we will disagree, and disagreement is a necessary part of any discussion and learning.

We are however misinformed if we choose to stop listening, misinformed if we stop caring, and misinformed if we think it’s ok to attack people from the privacy of our keyboards.

History is littered with too many examples of when humanity decided either because of race, religion, gender, politics or ideas, that our fellow man could be treated as less than human, and I worry about the spread of this virus of hate than I do an actual virus.

Sometimes I feel like my own faith has been hijacked by insensitivity, injected with conspiracies and vaccinated against any kind of compassion – especially for those He said, were our neighbours and to love them as we would want for ourselves.

Love for each other however is not found at the end of my decisions, is not found in the echo chambers with those we agree with, or in the comfortable room of agreement.

Instead it is found in the uncomfortable room of disagreement, when we are faced with those that despise us or our ideas, or simply with those who look and think differently to us.

And can we still find the grace to seek out what we have in common? That for me continues to be a daily challenge and at times I have made good decisions and other times it’s been disastrous.

Maybe it’s a challenge for us all, especially in the times we now live in and the battle for our attention, information, our decisions, our health, our bodies, and our faith, and more importantly, whatever or whomever we trust and believe in.

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