Tag Archives: England

About Paul Alexander Wolf – ‘Continuer à essayer’


 
Don’t tell us what we can’t do, but ask what together we can do for our human destiny!
 In a nutshell about Paul Wolf

He likes:

Family life. – The art of leadership. – Human rights. – The idea and concept of Peace. – The politics of change for the better and more justice. – Good books & musics. – Great and genuine people. – Writings. blogging kayaking. – Sailing. Travelling (when again?) – Relaxing near the Ocean at Robe or Wirrina Cove.

!!!>>AND CAPPUCCINO<<!!!! 

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now“–Chinese Proverb.
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It would be nice to be able to stick to this Chinese Proverb, and keep growing…. It is never too late planting a tree or seeds for renewal and wisdom!

About myself, – the writer of this blog… Following above proverb I keep trying, as indicated. Not sure whether I am always successful though, but it’s always good to keep trying! (‘continuer à essayer‘)

Being fortunate with the type of work I have, (a doctor’s job), – my family and I have been able to see a few things of the world. Hence an international family with 3 children. All born in three different countries.
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In a nutshell:

Born and bred in the Netherlands both my wife and I went together with our baby son to South Africa…  A position as a rural doctor in the very far north of the country together with some 8 other doctors from overseas. All in the same hospital. 
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..In retrospect a short-term involvement for a bit over one year, which was however an unforgettable experience in a time of turbulence. It is interesting that short commitments at times may have a profound impact whilst other longstanding positions seem to pass by…For various unrest related reasons we went back to the Netherlands. After 2 years the journey continued to England, then Scotland and finally Australia. (For people interested in the order of events just look at my LinkedIn profile down below, nothing special by the way..)
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In Australia we found home now for some 14 years. The children have grown up with one working and living in Queensland and the other one in New York. They all like to travel as well. My wife is still an enthusiastic tapestry weaver and works in different art sessions with various people.
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At present I am working as a GP in a rural area not too far away from Adelaide. Busy job! Locum doctors don’t cover the weekends here and we have only 2 GP’s … So not enough time to see more of the world or go to Europe and see old friends or relatives etc at the moment. Bit sad at times but that’s life at present. Going for a short break to eg Europe means 2 jet lags in one week.
Relaxing near the Pacific Ocean or very close to the Gulf of Vincent in South Australia is always possible for a couple of days, – which we enjoy really very much. And we make good use of this.
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About my future?…Don’t really know as yet. But somehow, being a ‘family physician’ at present, I would like to have a different engagement at an unalike level,  – at some stage..

Who knows!…


Keep planting seeds or trees, if possible!
Je vais continuer à essayer.
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But all this aside.

About my past family history: ….

Lets start with some archives, and only read this when interested:
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The archives of the Wolf family go back to the 17th century. Elias Wolf was born in Rostock in July 1717. Becoming Mayor of Jever he married Margarethe Christiene Kohnemann. One of their children was another Elias Wolf, born in Jever on the 24th May 17 68 and he became the owner of some plantations in Essequebo (Guyana). He was President and adviser in the Criminal Justice Department of this colony and married on the 5th of May 1792 with Sarah Barkey in Rio Essquebo. They got 5 children, including Frederik Hendrik Elias Wolf, born on the 30th of November 1803 in Breda. He became Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church at Leeuwen and married in Gendt on the 9th of April 1828 with Johanna Henrietta Coenen. Both got 5 children including Elias Frederik Hendrik Wolf, being born in Leeuwen on the 18th of January 1829 and this Elias became a Reverend in the Dutch Reformed Church in Utrecht. He was married with Sophia Carolina Charlotte van der Goes. They got 7 children, one of which was my granddad.

Considering the directions his brothers and sisters took in life, I can only assume granddad had a colourful family. My granddad (Louis Gustaaf Wolf) was born in Klundert ( the Netherlands) on the 15th of February 1865 and married grandma (Louise Ploos van Amstel) on the 3rd of May 1899. She was born in Reitsum on the 16th of July 1877 and was the daughter of Reverend Johannes Jacobus Ahasverus van Amstel and Anna Geertruida Binksma. They had 6 children including 1 daughter who died at a very young age.

Actually I don’t know too much about granddad’s younger years. He went obviously through primary and secondary school and opted to go into Medicine but in his 5th year of this study, just before the clinical part, – he realised that this was not the future he wanted. After careful consideration he stopped medicine all together despite good results (I don’t think his own dad offered him to try a different study as there were more children to raise)…

Mind you, after 5 years, but he did do the right thing by doing what he wanted.

How and when he met grandma (oma ), I don’t know. He moved with his wife to Canada and started about 1890 one of the first Dutch settlements near Yorktown. Perhaps he was comfortable to be a bit away from his family as he did not follow the usual patterns of life, – or family expectations. Who knows. Auntie Sophia was born in Yorktown and did live amidst the real wolves and Indians. The stories were quite colourful.
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After a couple of years grandma became terribly homesick and both granddad and grandma returned to the Netherlands with the family. Obviously if grandma would not have been homesick in those days, – for sure I would not have been able to write this story in Australia. – History then for our family would have been totally different. This applies as well for my mum and dad.

I found the stories about Canada and the 2nd World War always very interesting experiences in my family background.

Being home sick can be quite bad (with other things perhaps) and the family had to settle again in the Netherlands after the Canada experience. For granddad this was perhaps not the easiest time in his life as he really liked Canada, – likewise his daughter Sophia who loved the lifestyle in the outback and the horse riding etc. For grandma it was clearly different as again she was more close to her own family.

For sure the conditions in Canada in those days were really different than they are now.
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Granddad got eventually employment with the “N.V. Maas -Buurt Spoorweg” (Maas-Buurt Railway Company) in the County of Brabant and became President – Director of this Company in 1918 after the retirement of President – Director J.M. Voorhoeve, – after the 1st world war. When granddad took over the reigns it would seem he did do this in an energetic way, with leadership and insight at times of challenges and turmoil. With an increasing number of bus companies in those days, leading obviously to growing competition, and with the economic recession, this job was really a tough job. In the Company there was the need as well for more social reforms in those days and granddad did properly engage to this, so I am led to believe. He loved his job and cared for his employees. He showed fairness courage and determination, besides a good sense of humour. In speeches he could be quite funny.
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On the 1st of June 1935 he retired from this position. Both grandma and granddad had 6 children. One daughter died at very young age and Elias (my dad’s only brother) died suddenly in 1934. His death drove grandma to total despair. She recovered very slowly.

During the 2nd World War both provided shelter for Jews in their own home at the Parklaan in Bussum. This was a tense time, last but not least as due to my dad’s activities in the resistance movement. Granddad died on the 27th of March 1948 in Bussum at the age of 83.
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Even though he died far before I was born, he made a real impact on me when I was a child. Not sure why.  Perhaps because he was both a pioneer and had lots of courage, besides being very caring for his family. His original painted picture frame is still positioned in our hallway as if he is keeping an eye on the family.

Grandma was as remarkable as granddad, but in different ways. She survived him many years and died later in the 1968 after being moved to Apeldoorn, the place where my mum and dad lived with my 3 brothers. She left a history of memories in Bussum and at her age she could not coop with this transition. Changing old people to a different place often has a major impact.

From the lives of this special granddad and grandma I sensed somehow that life may become harder when we live for others, but it also becomes happier and it brings more fulfilment.

Perhaps not everything was that positive in my later childhood (in my experience), but examples were not the main thing which gave direction in my life, it was the only thing.

My mum and dad met during the 2nd world war and whilst my dad was actively involved as the leader (so I am led to believe) of the “Flying Brigade” resistance group, my mum was dedicated to her role as a “courier” for this group. Many messages and documents went as such from one group to the other. Intelligence about German defence systems across parts of the Dutch coast line passed as such as well to Allied Forces in England.
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Both my mum and dad were the only survivors from this group, following someone betraying the “Flying Brigade”…This fate, – this coincidence actually, determined the path to their marriage – which ended some 26 years after the 2nd world war. My dad at the time was planning with his group the 4th assassination. This time on a dangerous Gestapo Officer or General, responsible for lots of Jews being transported to concentration camps (It proved that providing shelter and food for Jews was not enough)…
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During the meeting he felt uneasy about the way the planning was approached, and the meeting was stopped for 2 hours. Meanwhile he tried to find his “second-in command” (who had not turned up) to discuss asap, – but arriving at his house he noticed various police cars under the trees and his friend was not at home. ..He felt more uneasy…Going back he was stopped by my later mum at the corner of the street going to the Youth Chapel where the meeting was held. He wanted to get in but was stopped in the back yard by the ministers wife. The Gestapo had seized the Chapel already. 
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All who were in there were taken into “interrogation chambers”…
In retrospect it proved that the negotiations were held with an assassin hired by the Gestapo to infiltrate in the “Flying Brigade”… The whole resistance group was killed after 3 days of interrogation. My dad had now to find shelter during the rest of the war, as he was  a prime target for the Gestapo. …He finished his law degree and had the opportunity, straight after the war, as an Attorney to cross-examine the Gestapo officers who captured his group.
I can only guess this was both painful and interesting…

In retrospect my parents were very good and decent people and though their relationship with each other had such imperfections that it could not sustain, they tried to live life as good as possible. They made an impact in what they provided for their children and what they expressed in their own ways to friends, relatives and in their jobs.
I loved the walks with my dad in the forests near Haamstede when I was young as he always told me about things of interest. He showed a lot of interesting places in Zeeland, like eg particular spots at Zierikzee and Middelburg. He loved historical sites and old churches, the last were he played the organ at times.

I still see my mum cooking in the kitchen of our holiday house in Haamstede on hot summer evenings, with the evening sun shining through the side window, – and children sharing the table after playing football. With always the noisy sounds of the little usual quarrels among kids.
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The owner of the little local Foodland at the time (“Van Dijke”/ van Dike) was always kind enough to bring a supply of shopping home in those early days, or bringing e.g. a new gas bottle.

I was really fortunate enough to start my life within those comfortable circumstances. No matter what the difficulties were at some stage, no matter what the challenges were when I was a teenager… where it really comes too in life is affection, respect, encouragement and good examples , the last generating the sort of strength and love which is essential in life, – besides “meaning” or purpose.

Personally I had many good examples, both nearby and far away… I still have warm feelings for all those people in what they gave me during various moments in life. This appeared often in little things and most of the times they were not aware… It is one of those mysterious things in life of what we give to each other without knowing it, – and the impact it has at times.
Sometimes this happens during trivial circumstances and simple encounters, – sometimes this happens during vital moments within our human ventures. Moments with seeds being planted in our hearts and minds, and wisdom – at times many years later – growing through the grace of God.

In my case there have been people I never met who made an impact.
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Both my oldest and younger brother are still alive. One brother, 4 years older only, died suddenly in 1999. His name was Tjakko. He had a strong and solid character, also kind and generous. We played a lot when we were young and apart from some rivalry there was always encouragement and support.

Many of my childhood memories go back to the village of Haamstede at the lighthouse, where so often we went on holidays during the summers, often in the company of childhood friends.
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Like my dad, – Tjakko later went to study law (in Utrecht). It was for some reason perhaps to suspect that he did consider a career in politics at one stage, – but the political dynamics in the Netherlands did not really appeal to him, neither was he attracted to Courts of Justice. At young age however he became Director of a Road Construction Company. Both as a result of this and his investing endeavours in property he became quite prosperous in Haamstede, where he lived for several years already. Three days before he died we had a last telephone conversation in which we discussed a family reunion in the Netherlands. I was living at that stage with my wife and children in Scotland. When we heard about his sudden death on the Monday, we travelled as soon as possible to Haamstede to be part of the funeral preparations and share with the family in sadness, together with his wife. They had no children. For various reasons his life was an unfinished life, – he died far too early.

Some years between the age of 16 and 18 I spent with a lovely foster family in Apeldoorn. I was able here to finish secondary school as only this environment provided the support being required at this stage in life to help me with some attention & concentration issues at school. This was a somewhat different environment than I was used to. Quite an artistic and warm hearted family actually. There were 3 other children, all a bit younger. Wilgert, the oldest, died at the age of 25 in Groningen following an accident with a bus. One of those terrible moments where a split second of lacking the required attention to avoid danger proved to be fatal.
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Some 10 years ago we went for an enjoyable family reunion and stayed almost obviously in Haamstede, – besides travelling to Scotland and see old other friends. Having had the opportunity to live so close to the sea in Cullen, in-between Inverness and Aberdeen, was a great experience for both my wife and 3 children.

Together with their friends, our children often jumped from the harbour in the sea. I often did this as well, but often a wetsuit was needed as due to the cold sea water.
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There has been always something special with Scotland, the country of both “the high road and the low road.”

Unique as well was both our stay in England and South Africa, – all before this.

Funny enough I still remember some early preschool events and St Nickolas arriving by boat in the harbour of Goes. The city where I was born. Goes was a great place in my perception and I was sad for days with the prospect of moving to Apeldoorn.
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Adapting to Apeldoorn in 1961 took time. The (pre) school was different, likewise the culture. However also here some friends were made at an interesting primary school being called the “Sondorp school”, named after the previous school inspector. (My dad took over this function, after an earlier career change).

There are many stories about this school and my old school mates have many memories as well, last but not least about the head master. He made the school what it was , with pride, but on another note he often used his hands when kids were naughty, or when “he thought” the kids were naughty. He reigned with a vigorous regime, not rarely at a cost of the children.
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The first part of Secondary School was not that good. Often in trouble with teachers. The school system at that particular school at the Church Lane (Kerklaan) in Apeldoorn, next door to the swimming pool, was less than inviting or stimulating – the least. It went somewhat better at a different school but I think my mind was a bit preoccupied with other things going on.  At home things were not ideal and my parents went through a divorce.

Following secondary school matters profoundly changed actually after finishing the Teaching Training College in Amsterdam, and after passing an entry test for the medical faculty. I found direction. Medicine has been at the background of my mind for some time already. However I did not had the right qualifications, hence those entry exam in various subjects.

Being able to do the Medicine study in Maastricht, the most beautiful city of the Netherlands, did open various doors to the future. The city was great for students who liked the outdoors like e.g. rowing on the Maas, or climbing rocks in the hills of Belgium. I did do both as much as possible. For sure not only this!.. The concept of the Medicine study was based on problem orientated learning, – new for me and most interesting!  Problem Based Learning (PBL) was almost a replica example from the McMasters University in Canada, the last still known as a high impact University.. The concept of PBL is still with me and part of anything I want to learn.

After graduation in Medicine, life evolved further in Sneek, the county of Friesland. This as part of a hospital job which combined General Surgery, Obstetrics and A&E..Busy busy job!..It was a reasonable preparation for working and living in the far north of South Africa (Siloam Hospital).

Later, with England and Scotland in between, we arrived 10 years later in Australia…This is now in 2015 some 14 years ago, time flies!
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As you see I made a few big jumps in my history whilst writing this. It is just to give you a bit of insight in my background, – the writer of this blog.

The lighthouse in Haamstede -in my awareness- was built to give light, was built to endure burning.

I still have this picture in mind and it has  meaning for me.

Lighthouses do not move, they give direction, – they persist in the storms of life…
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Coming back on this blog, which offers an escape for my usual work:

The articles in this blog are a reflection of trying to engage modestly on some of the questions of our time and generation and will continue on a periodic base, – depending on my “inspiration” and workload in other activities.

Feel free to comment on the contents of any of these articles (in the comment section below), if there is anything which strikes a chord or resonates with you..

 “We dream of things that never were and say: .. “Why not?”
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Turning to a different but somehow related topic:
Some of the people mentioned below made a profound impression on me as a person, even though they died already long ago, What they had in common was that they all had more or less strong attentions to easing some of the anguish and suffering about less fortunate people in their communities..

Hence some of their citations are quite nice actually.

They often found their path through unassuming interactions with their inner wisdom and did not worry about social disapproval..

True, there are for sure many things we can’t control, but if we try to focus completely on the things we love, with similar courage and dedication as those in the following quotations, we are on our way to a better life.. A life with compassion and moving forward towards a better state of humanity in ourselves and with others… Even if sadness and disappointment is passing our way…

So still, – – don’t tell us what we can’t do, but let’s ask ourselves what we can do together, – and collected we may have this rendezvous with human destiny, even if it is only simply showing the ways for our fellows to find their own light….

Why not?
Again THANKS for reading some articles in this blog!
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I wish you all well in your own personal life journey, with hopefully lots of inspiration and good health!
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And if possible: explore the unexplored with the best possible wit or sparkle!

Live long and prosper!

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“There may be times when we are powerless to
prevent injustice, but there must never be a time
when we fail to protest”
Elie Wiesel

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——————
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks
wrote so many years ago: to tame the
savageness of man and make gentle the life
of this world”
Robert F Kennedy
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—————–
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he
stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of
challenge and controversy”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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———————-
“But peace does not rest in the charters and
covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of
all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on
parchment and on paper, let us strive to build
peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work
for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our
people. I believe that we can. I believe that the
problems of human destiny are not beyond the
reach of human beings”
-John F Kennedy
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“A good head and a good heart are always a
formidable combination”
-Nelson Mandela
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——————
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits
than strict justice”
-Abraham Lincoln
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———————-
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness
is the key to success”
-Albert Schweitzer
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Keep planting seeds or trees, if possible!
Gardez la plantation des graines ou des arbres , si possible !
Mantenga las semillas o la plantación de árboles , si es posible !
Halten Pflanzen von Samen oder Bäume , wenn möglich!
Tenere semi o piantare alberi , se possibile !
Przechowywać nasiona do sadzenia drzew lub , jeśli to możliwe !
Mantenha plantando sementes ou árvores , se possível !
Derzhite posadki semyan ili derev’ya , yesli eto vozmozhno !
Ueru shushi ya jumoku, kanōna baai o shite kudasai!
Jìxù bōzhòng háishì shù, rúguǒ kěnéng dehuà!
Pidä istuttamalla siemeniä tai puita , jos mahdollista !
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The Art of Leadership and Lessons from the Past – Gandhi.


 
Mohandas Gandhi gave rise to a whole new gener...
Mohandas Gandhi gave rise to a whole new generation of nationalists, and a whole new form of revolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”
  Mohandas Gandhi

Gandhi had been on the political stage for more than fifty years before three pistol shots put an end to his life at the early beginning of 1948. Two generations of Indian patriots were inspired by him apart from millions of others. He shook the British empire and was at the frontline of a peaceful revolution which he initiated by his vision to change the face of India, but Africa and Asia took his example. To the people of his own, millions,  he was the Mahatma the great soul. Despite being ridiculed by many and considered to be suspicious, by the end of 1947 he raised the frontier of revolt against racial imperial domination and racial suppression. His ideas began to resonate in some of the finest minds in the world. “Generations to come, it may be”, Einstein had said of Gandhi in July 1944, “will scarcely believe that such  one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon earth.”His life had been ongoing at the centre of drama which did not seem to stop but Gandhi himself was the least dramatic of men. Well balanced in many ways. He had neither the “popular” reputation of a heroic person nor the trappings of political eminence where efforts keeping up a public image not rarely hides a complex private image. He did not try to create an image as he was as he was. A man with steel-rimmed glasses, rough sandals, a toothless smile, a voice which rarely rose above a whisper and dressed in his loin cloth. He had an impressive humility. Gandhi’s, deepest strivings were spiritual. Not in the usual way of retiring in a cave for salvation in his country, but salvation to be achieved both within the context of meditation and expressing himself amidst the challenges of his time. He had not a complicated childhood. Thereafter molding experiences amidst the political struggles of South Africa and the struggle for freedom in India. The last lifting him at the world stage of triumph and tragedy.Gandhi’s leadership was effective in a particular set of circumstances and he moulded the requirements of his leadership to get both independence from England and a future for India. Besides the principle of non-violence never being compromised, a person like Gandhi most likely would have shown different aspects of leadership in different circumstances – dependent on the priorities and actions being required.

Embrace change

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Gandhi’s  life  story  was  about  action  and  positive  change.   Whilst  he  was  succesful  in  some  areas  he  failed  in  others,  however  he never  gave  up his  efforts  for  improvement.   We  are  all  allowed   to  make  errors  as  long  as  we  learn  from  them.   This  is  what  he  said  on  various occasions.  This  is  part  of  life.   This  is  part  of  leadership  as  well.   Mistakes  or  errors  from  the  past  are  lessons  for  the  present  in  order  to  be  successful in  the  future,  as  long  as  we approach  them  with  honesty  and  humility.  Life,  politics  and  business  are  full  of  dynamic  changes  and  we  have  to embrace  those  changes  as  long  as   the   principles  of  approaching change  are  right  at  the  centre  of  our  thoughts   and actions,  who  (if well-selected)  find  the  future  of  the  many  who  are  involved.

“Action expresses priorities.” 
Mohandas Gandhi

We may hear at various times that actions speak louder than words; and Gandhi proved an example of this. More often action is far stronger than words though the power of words and language can be equal strong to create the action being required, the action of non – violence wich in the specific way Gandhi dealt with matters made the British empire decide to give up their aspirations on India. Action is an expression of our desires or intentions and the priorities of our actions is determined by our desires for the future, – in the role of leadership by the strong desire of what we want to achieve as part of our long-term plan’s and/or goals. The biggest challenge facing India was “callousness of intellectuals” as far as Gandhi concerned. He was far more concerned about building a sustainable society and not having independence only. Gandhi was proactive in his actions as well

 “Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.”
Mohandas Gandhi

There is neither pride nor gain derived from violence as in the nature of things those manifestations will get back to us in a way which we not always are able to either sustain or endure. The corner-stone of Gandhi’s movement was non – coöperation and the principle was non-violence regardless the violence at times of an oppressive police force. When at some stage villagers in a rural area of his home land responded in a barbaric way too such police violence, Gandhi based on his conscience reflected that the key tune from the non-violence movement was violated in this act and he judged firmly against this. Gandhi once said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”.

Obviously this is true but the strict non violent approach is difficult to apply in any circumstances where a dictator stands up with a large armed following of people applying the same violent principles as the dictator himself. The only way to disarm a dictator is with the approach of non-cooperation by both the whole population and his generals, which is not the usual approach to be followed if we look at reality. Whilst the principle is excellent where leadership is able to enforce this as part of “self-rule”, disciplined as it needs to be, – circumstances may arise where such approach is not effective. In terms of international politics the “doctrine” of not attacking nations unless we are attacked is achievable, whilst accepting mass attacks by repetition of a different country or movement is the same as not protecting own citizens.  On the other hand, like Gandhi once said: “The policy of retaliation has never succeeded.”

Character traits like humility, persistence, assertiveness and self-awareness are likewise important as a mindset willing to learn and to change through experience in the perceptions of Gandhi. In  the discipline of this with the above notations incorporated people are ready for “self-rule”, as far as Gandhi concerned.

Proper values

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Value systems being properly assessed on their implementation were important in Gandhi’s way of thinking. For Gandhi, truth and morality was crucial.  It was in and on its own linked with the concept of non-violence and spiritual renewal and it did determine his conduct in events to be absolutely right before proceeding. If he considered the conduct of certain events not to be right he would rather not act. Often as a result of this he called off protests or other actions.

The importance of vision:

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“There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.” –James Kouzes and Barry Posner

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.” –Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame

Gandhi’s vision of the future was both spiritual, moral and practical, and it was through his consistent application of his vision that he led. He and his vision were one, as he lived it with clear articulation. When people have no self-respect others are able to rule them and so felt Gandhi about the Indians and he felt that they should approach their place towards British rule in a proactive way. What Gandhi emphasised was not only political independence from the British empire, but also spiritual renewal for the people of India and the means he emphasised this was of an absolute non-violent nature.His ideas were rooted both in the beliefs of the Gita’s with a Christian influence and in this he reached the hearts of millions. He not only tried to bring justice to the people of South Africa, but his endeavours in the direction of Indian Independence were based on justice as well. What he was unable to meet was his own deeply felt vision for a just society in his own country.

Based on the experience in both South Africa and with British rule, Gandhi felt that “the violence of all Governments” meant that the people should move to a situation in which they control their own destiny in small-scale groups and sort their issues out at this level. A concept which proved at a larger scale not to work far earlier in history when the Greek had their experiments with democracy. Gandhi did not argue for a plural democratic India. There is a plural society, when different sections of the community (eg the Indian, the Chinese, the European) do live side by side, within the same political unit. They do mix but do not necessarily combine. It was Nehru who was the driver of mass democracy in India.

The importance of Unity

If a leader and his followers pursue a shared goal with similar motivation to go ahead in positive action, to try with the similar positive energy and strategy to meet what they so dearly want to do, –  they have the potential to make history as they will leave a legacy. This requires great team work and coaching, support and empowerment when people have been rallied to buy into the principle direction by own choice,  to follow a common goal with diversity of talent and qualifications. Gandhi did understand the importance of unity, like Martin Luther King,jr, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama did understand the importance of unity. Regardless direction, we find the principle of keeping unity back in both the leaders with conscience and integrity, besides the leaders who are lacking those virtues.

The importance of integrity and respect for human rights.

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Hitler was neither the only leader who understood the principle of unity nor was he last leader who was lacking integrity and respect for human life.  This virtue does not come from physical capacity but from an indomitable will to show strength in this direction, being the most cohesive and enduring force of our unity in diversity, the most cohesive force and a test for civilization.

Gandhi expressed this differently in terms of respect for life. He said:  “Power based on love is thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.” Gandhi is correct in his assessment that if the arms race continues all over the world, with today more countries having access to weapons of mass destruction, the last resort is a slaughter such as has never happened in history and if there is a victory for a nation this victory will be a living death for the nation being able to claim victory, – if there is one. The approach of Gandhi which is based on respect for human life calls for unconditional action to refrain from violence. The concept is not the easiest, but the background is clear.

With all respect there is violence right at the heart of nature but humans have the ability to apply respect for life and restrict violence by noncooperation with evil. Whilst violent noncooperation has the potential to multiply evil, sometimes evil needs to be eradicated to prevent a “cancer” which could abolish life and respect for human rights & life.

Evil violence can’t be tolerated as this type of evil could multiply itself if the forces of noncooperation with such evil are not strong enough. History teaches us that leaders can stand up with both the worst intentions and followers and if evil does manifest as a result of this at a larger scale it needs to be resisted with right and proportionate means to stop it. Absolute non violence might be highly regarded in terms of values and whilst ignoring provocations can be helpful, non – violence regardless the circumstances at times could be the same as being indifferent to evil, – the last which is wrong.

Whilst Gandhi claims that the law of love governs the world, this is not the reality of day-to-day life.  Respect for human life however is able to conquer hate, but the same respect for human life means as well the willingness to protect human life.

Integrity is a different entity, however whilst integrity and honesty based on conscious are part of strong leadership, integrity in the avenue of respect for human life embraces the quest for truth “to nourish the soul and life itself, as untruth tends to corrode it”.

Leaders are different

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Even  with  some  failings  Gandhi  is  still  considered  as  one  of  the  most  positive  and  effective  leaders  of  our past century.  He  made  a  major  step  forward  and  broke with  all  existing  perceptions  by  solving  the  problem  India  faced  with  a  different  level  of  thinking,  – escaping  from  a  war  with  the  British  empire  and  gaining independence  by  applying  the  principle  of  non  violence  and  noncooperation.  He  considered  the  use  of  violence  an obsolete  paradime  and  proved  to  be  effective  in  the  way  he  approached  the  subject,  – both  with  integrity  and  leadership.  He  was  able  to  mobilise  most  of  the  Indian  people  at  all  levels  of  society  and  despite  the  many dilemma’s  he  achieved  a  quality  movement  of non-  violence  with  a  legacy  all  over  the  world,  – last  but  not  least  affecting  the  movement  for social  justice  in  the  US  where Martin  Luther  King,jr  was  the  leader  in  the  early  1960ties.   Gandhi  had  despite  failures  and  despite  the  concept  of non-violence  not  being  applicable  in  all circumstances  both  at  least  great  courage  and  vision,  – both  great  compassion  and  integrity.   He made  a  choice  to  be  used  for  a  purpose  larger  than  his  own  self  and  he  did  this  with  both  joy  and  balance  of  mind.   He  inspired  people  to  follow  his  steps  based  on  a  foundation  of  trust  and  influence  which  had  a  long  lasting impact  in  the  last  century. But  even  today!

If  more  people  would  buy  into  his principles  we  would  indeed  end  up  with  a  better  world,  however  by  free  choice  people do  opt  to  create  more  arms  and  use  more  violence  and  at  international  level  the  principle  of non-violence  is  only  practical  if  all  stakeholders  buy  into  this  principle. This  does  not  happen  as  yet  and  is  not  likely  to  happen  in  the  future  as  many  countries  live  by  the  application  of  achievable  politics, –  and  non-violence  is  still  a dream.  A  dream  however  with  great  value  as  it  asks  from  us  to  act  with  wisdom  and  restraint  in  a  world  potentially  more  dangerous  than  ever  before.  The measure of  the  man  (his  leadership)  is  what  he  achieved  with  this  and  tried  to  do  without  seeing  “the  promised  land”.   He  did  add  value  to  life  and  we  can’t  say  this  from every  leader.  

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The  last  principle  of  good  leadership  with  all  above  ingredients  included  is  perhaps  indeed   > to add  value  to  life <. 

Together  with  creating  the  margins  to keep  the  mission  going  and  to  make  “the  dream”  come  true.

Thank you!
 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/the-art-of-leadership-lessons-ted-kennedy/

Further memories


Many things happened.

English: West Schouwen lighthouse (Haamstede) ...
English: West Schouwen lighthouse (Haamstede) Nederlands: Westerlichttoren – eigen foto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mum and dad met during the 2nd world war and whilst my dad was actively involved as one of the leaders of the “Flying Brigade” resistance group, my mum was dedicated to her role as a “courier” for this group. Many messages and documents went as such from one group to the other. Intelligence about German defence systems across parts of the Dutch coast line passed as such as well to  Allied Forces in England.

Both my mum and dad were the only survivors  following someone  betrayed the “Flying Brigade”, and this fate, this coincidence actually, determined the road to their marriage – which ended some 26 years after the 2nd world war.

In retrospect my parents were good and decent people and though their relationship with each other had such imperfections that it could not sustain, they tried to live life as good as possible. They made an impact in what they provided for their children and what they expressed in their own ways to friends and relatives.

I loved the walks with my dad in the forests near Haamstede when I was young, as he always told me about things of interest and he showed a lot of interesting places in Zeeland, like eg  particular spots at Zierikzee and Middelburg.

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I still see my mum cooking in the kitchen of our house in Haamstede on the hot summer evenings, with the evening sun shining through the side window, and children sharing the table after playing football.

The owner of the little local Foodland at the time (“Van Dijke”/ van Dike) was always kind enough to bring a supply of shopping home in those early days, or bringing e.g. a new gas bottle.

I was really fortunate enough being born within comfortable circumstances. No matter what the difficulties were at some stage,  no matter what the challenges were when I was a teenager,  where it really comes to in life  is affection, respect, encouragement and good examples   generating the sort of strength and love – which is essential in life, besides meaning.

Personally I  had many good examples, both nearby and far away. Still do I have warm feelings for all those people for what they gave me during various moments in life. This appeared often in little things and most of the times they were not aware. It is one of the mysterious things in life of what we give  to each other without knowing it, and the impact it has at times. Sometimes this happens during trivial circumstances and simple encounters, – sometimes this happens during  vital moments within our human endeavours. Moments with seeds being planted in our hearts and minds,  and wisdom – at times many years later – growing through the grace of God.  In my case there have been people I never met who made an impact.

In moments of reflection we may look back at the colours of our own life. For each of us they are different. If we are lucky,  the colours may get warmer when the years pass by. However not for all of us do the blend of light and the peace of nature come together, – like it may happen e.g. in those late sunny afternoons where the mix of circumstances and light do create an inner peace with whatever we experienced in life.

Both my oldest and younger brother are still alive.  One brother, 4 years older only, died suddenly in 1999.  His name was Tjakko.  Among the brothers he was perhaps the “lion” of the Wolves,  both fierce if required but also kind and generous. We played a lot when we were young and apart from some rivalry there was always encouragement and support.

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Many of  my childhood memories go back to the town of Haamstede at the lighthouse, where so often we went on holidays during the summers in the company of childhood friends. Like my dad,  – Tjakko later went to study law (in Utrecht). It was within reason perhaps to suspect that he did consider a career in politics at some stage,  but the political dynamics in the Netherlands did not really appeal to him, neither was he attracted to courts of justice. At young age he became director of a road construction company. Both as a result of this and his investing endeavours in property he became quite prosperous in Haamstede, where he lived for years already.  Before  he died he was able to reconsider his options in life as he had the type of wealth he could afford this. He was not the type of person who would be happy with an easy lifestyle as he had a degree of restlessness making him to seek new endeavours. Three days before he died we had a last telephone conversation in which we discussed a family reunion in the Netherlands. I was living at that stage with my wife and children in Scotland. When we heard about his sudden death on monday, we  traveled as soon as possible to Haamstede to be part of the funeral preparations and share with the family in sadness, together with his wife.  They had no children.  Quite a number of people were profound devastated.

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For various reasons his life was an unfinished life, – he died far too early.  – Still I do remember sailing with him at the lake near Veere (Veerse meer) in the county of  Zeeland, both with him and his future wife at young age.

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Some years between the age of 16 and 18 I spent with a lovely foster family in Apeldoorn. I was able here to finish secondary school as only this environment provided the support being required at this stage in life to help me with some attention & concentration issues at school. This was a somewhat different environment than I was used to. Quite an artistic and warm hearted family actually.  There were 3 other children, all a bit younger.   Wilgert, the oldest, died at the age of 25 in Groningen following an accident with a bus, one of those terrible moments where a split second of lacking perhaps the required concentration to avoid pending danger proved to be fatal.

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Five years ago we went for a broad family reunion and stayed obviously in Haamstede, – besides travelling to Scotland and see old other friends. Having had the opportunity to live so close to the sea in Cullen,  in-between Inverness and Aberdeen, was a great experience for both my wife and 3 children. Together with their friends, our children often jumped from the harbour in the sea. There has been always something special with Scotland, the country of both “the high road and the low road.”  Very special as well was both our stay in England and South Africa,  before this.


When I was 4 or 5  I was hit by a motor bike whilst skiving off preschool, – on my way to a friend’s house.  Can’t remember the impact but when I woke up there with many faces bending over me, but I lost conscious and woke up days later in the hospital of Goes, in the county of Zeeland. Considerable head injury and an open fracture of my leg was the verdict. My poor pre school teacher Miss Mathla was possibly in trouble as young kids are not supposed to escape from preschool. I could recover that summer in Haamstede but it was not the most pleasant holiday.

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Funny enough I still remember some preschool events and St Nickolas arriving by boat in the harbour of Goes. Goes was a great place in my perception and I was sad for days with the prospect of moving to Apeldoorn, if I knew what sadness was in those days. At least I did not like it.

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Adapting to Apeldoorn took time. The school was different, likewise the culture. However, also there were friends at an interesting primary school being called the Sondorp school, named after the previous school inspector. There are many stories about this school and my old school mates have many memories as well, last but not least about the head master. He made the school what it was with pride, but on another note he often used his hands when kids were naughty, or when “he thought” the kids were naughty. He reigned with a vigorous regime, not rarely at a cost of the children. Practices as in those days at schools would not be tolerated today and it always puzzled me why my dad did not make the required efforts to tame this man, – but it would seem that the other teachers did respect the way up with his approach. He became the victim of his own attitude and one day -(so I was  led to believe)-  a mob of teenagers were waiting for him.

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We had a good class though, – at the time of this headmaster, united in our awareness of the daily potential dangers. Some pupils were  however more at risk than others. My performance was seriously not that great with this teacher in the last class of primary school, whilst with some other teachers before I worked hard because they were really nice and genuine.

The first part of secondary school was not that good. Often in trouble with teachers. The school system at that particular school at the Church Lane (Kerklaan) in Apeldoorn, next door to the swimming pool, was less than inviting or stimulating – the least.  It went somewhat better at a different school but I think my mind was a bit preoccupied with other things going on. Things were not ideal at home.

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Matters profoundly changed after finishing the Teaching Training College in Amsterdam,  after passing an entry test for the medical faculty. I found direction.

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Being able to do the medicine study in Maastricht, the most beautiful city of the Netherlands, did open various doors to the future. The city was great for students who liked the outdoors as e.g. rowing on the Maas, or climbing rocks in the hills of Belgium.

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Life evolved further in Sneek, the county of Friesland. This as part of a hospital job which combined General Surgery, Obstetrics and A&E.  It was reasonable preparation for working and living in Venda (South Africa), which we did at Siloam.

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With England and Scotland in between, we arrived 10 years later in Australia…..

 

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We all may have our specific mission or goal in life which provides fulfilment, despite obstacles. No matter what can be taken away from us, still at the end we have the last choice within the given set of circumstances we have.

The lighthouse in Haamstede was built to give light, was built to endure burning.  I still have this picture in mind and it has a meaning for me. Lighthouses do not move, they give direction.

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Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/early-childhood-in-goes-a-memory/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/granddad-and-grandma-wolf-rostock-mecklenburg-roots/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/my-dad-during-the-2nd-world-war/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/about-paul-alexander-wolf-continuer-a-essayer/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

The Next Frontier of Australia


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Good Evening!

From thousands miles that stretched north of us, the first British people reached the Ngarrindjeri lands – on the banks of the river Murray, – almost two centuries ago. They were followed by the first other settlers in South Australia, – encroaching on both the lands and entitlements of the Ngarrindjeri  people, – and many others elsewhere in Australia.

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Many of those amidst the Ngarrindjeri lands, had to give up not only their safety but also their hope. Many lost their lives,   already by far outnumbered, – just before the first European’s set ground on this continent in the southern hemisphere.

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Some would say that the Smallpox epidemic which arrived before was provoked to settle the pathway for British domination. Others would say that those comments or sentiments are not in line with what history says. However, both in history and in the world of today, we see things being provoked to change the direction of the future.

From countries across the globe people settled in Australia , – often under harsh circumstances. They also struggled with poverty, not rarely despair, – to build their lives in a different country. Not rarely European convicts, – ill treated at home already before setting sail to this far away corner of the wold.

 

Many made it, some did not make it! 

Many still make it!

Most of the people who came to this country were eventually successful and pushed forward to the country which we call Australia today, – still a country closely linked with the British Crown, and some of the British traditions.

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All this started  some two hundred years ago, – at a continent more ancient than the original and aboriginal people itself.-

Today, – most Australians live in the cities near the Pacific Ocean – where over 90% of the people are able to live without ever seeing Aboriginal faces. Often they live their lives in comfort and safety, which is the legitimate desire of people living in Australia. Not rarely they have to do without those comforts, without at times even the adequacy of good education, the safeguard at least in part of building a decent and independent future.

Still too many Australian citizens live in the mediocrity of a British orientated country where both Parliament and systems of government are based on what was once copied from England. England great as a country within the context of Europe, but England as well being inflated to be the ongoing reference for the future dynamics of Australia, the last still trying to find its own identity in the Pacific region with a multicultural society not having any strings anymore with the UK, – apart from trade and friendship.

Speaking about the original inhabitants of this continent and their restrictions we can simply say this:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made a “formal apology” on 13th February 2008 to the “stolen generations” of indigenous Australians who have been taken away from their parents. This was the right thing to do. But we are not there as yet as an Australian people, – and the road to justice is long.

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The dynamics are not always easy, – and easy are not always the dynamics of history.

History is a collection of both justice and injustice, – as it proves all over the world. We have however a free choice how to manifest ourselves in the direction of increasing justice, – how to bend the Australian Ark for its own history, for its own identity, into the pending future, – with safety and with speed.

National justice within such mission is able  flourish in this time, in generations to come.

We all cherish this country for various reasons and whilst many people lost their dreams and value for their identity, – as a country we should progress  towards a more unified identity.

This is what you can do as a people.  – as a nation.

Respecting  British history for what it offered over the many years in the past,  people of the future and in the far and extended corners of Australia,  are neither related anymore to the British traditions in politics,  – nor are they related to the British Crown.  The last has been the history of the British in the past, and for certain it can’t be the future of Australia with its own identity,  a culture still finding its way across the far-stretching borders between both the Indian Southern and Pacific Ocean.

The original people who belong to this land, – have survived both in language and culture, both in sharing ritual practices and sharing dreams.

They had and still have their crafts. They had and still have their dreams, their spiritual beliefs – still closely in touch with nature, – like we all have our dreams at different varieties. But we have all our dreams now on this continent, born in both freedom and Australian space,  – respectful for both its diversity and its own culture,  the last different from any other.

Some would say there is a pending challenge in Australia, which we can’t postpone, but have to embrace. Have to embrace it as the past is rushing to the future,- and amidst our own choices, and insistence and perseverance, – we do decide the outcome of our collective history – as one Nation.

At some day – and this day will come in the forward movement of both history and the future, – the Ngarrindjeri people besides other groups in Australia will go up the mountain of hope  – and leave the despair of many of their children without hope or dreams to the past.  And move forward!

And together we shall defend the afflicted among the people, and save the children of the poor.

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The day will come!

It is the day that people will figure out what they hope for as one nation, and live in that hope, – right under its roof. It is the day that all people have both the choice and the opportunity to use their talents and genius for the great good of culture and Australian society, – if they belief this is the right thing to do.

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It is the day that people have the courage to take off their hat and toss them over the walls of existing barriers  and prejudice.

It will be the time for justice amidst the lands and the hills of Australia.  – with a future based on strength, with a future of being a peace-loving country.

A nation being a buffer of positive leverage and both cultural and economical exchange with our neighbours from both the east and the north, – besides maintaining positive ties with old allies. But more independent and interdependent than ever before.

The liberation of people of one Nation starts with the liberation of the dreams, existing in the hearts of people. It starts with the liberation of the talent and genius hidden in the genes of those who take all part in the process of bringing Australia to the next frontier. A frontier with the seeds of historical justice,  where neither genius nor future can’t be lost in the endeavours we face as a Nation in a changing world.

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There will be the day that even Australia,- will not be linked anymore with the British Crown, and some of the inflated other traditions, – and on that day a new generation of Australians will select an Australian President, – some decades down the line.

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It is the day that the Ark of Australian history will bend towards the realities of today and the future, the realities of a different culture, – and fulfil the unique identity of a new nation born out of traditions far older than the British Crown!

When that day comes, – it will be the day  that historical justice finally prevails and that with all the work and talents to be developed beforehand, – Ngarrinjeri and other genius won’t be lost , – as at some day Australia may have eg a President with his or her own Ngarrindjeri or other roots in the future laying ahead.

Like history shows this happened in different countries as well.

Justice shall flourish in this future with the fullness of peace, – speaking within new legislation developed in a Senate based on the qualities of people working together for a common future, rather than the often dysfunctional activities we witness today. Respectful differences are good to fine tune future dynamics in the right direction for stirring this country to the next level, with law enforcement based on proper laws and adequate people to carry them out. With an Australian President chosen by the people and for the people, with both legislative branch, executive branch separated amidst an independent branch to apply the laws Australia deserves, – the last which applies to all of us regardless our differences. 

As a country we need to show candor and honesty in the level of influence we have abroad, in the critical choices we need to make for the future with direction and purpose, – without too much illusions but with healthy convictions.

Speaking  about wars and the disturbing facts in Afghanistan, including the events leading to it,  – after as well both wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq –  we are fully entitled to say:

War, – often is pointless, and needs to be prevented with all reasonable efforts on the required international platforms for discussion and dialogue. The perception that major war within seconds could destroy everything what has been achieved during more than 100 generations of work by human is based on the fact of what is available now in terms of nuclear and chemical destruction.

What the US does perceive as national security is not always similar with  Australia’s perception on national security, and we don’t always need to be involved in US military endeavours abroad. Terror is a danger and will be a danger at any time for all times, but the means by which this terror needs to be defeated is subject for healthy discussions as how to do this without causing more damage than intended, – or without causing potential escalating war’s which would defeat the purpose when “speaking softly with a strong stick” could do the job.

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With high level military intelligence and selective actions,   the prevention of terror based on international cooperation  is more effective than using a huge war machinery and abusing human rights at places where there are more people innocent than culprits.

Whilst such considerations may be complex at times, under all circumstances we need to act with wisdom and restraint, – being proactive as well at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent harm at an early stage.

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Our Gross Domestic Product is over US $ 1.5 trillion, but it counts apart from the service sector contributions to ill selected war’s. Apart from the agricultural and mining sector it counts for the costs of air pollution as well. The energy dependency in terms of oil and petroleum is around 80% and we have a an estimated budget deficit of a $45 billion forecast. Whilst exporting commodities, importing various  manufactures are still on the increase.

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Australia is still scoring high in the worldwide quality-of-life index,  but both poverty, chronic diseases, healthcare costs and the extinction of native species are clearly on the increase as well, – besides a future of raising seawater levels and global warming, including increasing brutal forces of nature.

Climate change and water security are interlinked, the last being  underestimated as due to floodings and rainfall related with changing El Niño patterns.  However, long-term drought will be likely again within the  Australian horizons without any productivity on creating water reservoirs, – whilst the issue of water is likely to become critical in the future.

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Besides this, the question of save energy supply for the needs of the many is not allowed to serve the pockets of the few, being allowed to make short cuts in favour of nuclear decisions  where the combat of nuclear disasters on this continent outside times of war can only be successful by not going nuclear.

Australia has to stick to its political promise to look to the future, a future with changing dynamics, both with challenges and opportunities, both with areas of hope and danger.

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This is the next frontier for Australia!

And so today, – we are not forgetting that the quality of courage, – and determination, and perseverance will not be forgotten in Australia, – as this next frontier is based on this particular courage and this particular determination of both the people of this continent and its politicians.

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It is the quality of both the art and speech, –  the people to get a whole nation moving to the next frontier of being an independent Republic. Strong in its foundations.  Strong in its beliefs and expectations  to have quality in its leaders, – today and tomorrow. – Strong in its beliefs of justice and equality among different cultures, – both within and without.

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Strong in its belief not to shrink for the responsibilities, – both at home and abroad. Strong in its commitment to get proper education in place at all corners of this continent, – with equal rights and opportunities for everybody.

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This is the day we can say: we gained Australia and we did not lost it at the altar of poor politics, – on the altar of unfinished business at a cost of the future!

This is the day we are still waiting for!

Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

 

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/our-future-lies-in-our-children-as-well/