The fact that the Westgate Hall in Canterbury is under threat, is not news to me. I have known this to be the case for over 6 months or more, and I will admit that I didn’t think much of it at first. So, you may be wondering at this point, what has made me finally take notice and reflect on the potential consequences this could have for me and of course, many others in the area.
Before I go into what those reasons are, I want to talk about what my intentions are in writing this. I am not someone who believes in demonstrating or even in trying to change others; I think there are enough tyrants in the world already. So it might seem strange as to why I would even bother writing this. I believe that the reasons I am going to put forward, as to why the hall should be kept open, are not just beneficial to me or others in the area. I believe these reasons are as important to our sustenance, as eating and breathing are. Upon close inspection of what those reasons are, I felt, that I had a responsibility to do something, to play my own part in all of this.
Now, whether the hall is potentially going to be closed because of the need for more parking spaces, to build flats or due to high maintenance costs, my perspective is the same.
The Westgate hall not only provides an area for people to attend social clubs and events, it also fulfils very important emotional and mental needs. These needs as I see them are; a sense of belonging, acceptance and connection. Which are all extremely important when it comes to psychological health and a sense of wellbeing.
Before I go into the benefits of these needs, I shall focus on what can happen, as a result of not getting these needs met.
I will keep these examples brief and will not go extensively into what I believe happens when these needs are neglected. In today’s society there is a constant call for more police to be deployed on our streets, to crack down on crime and to control the use of drugs and alcohol that is spiralling out of control. Due to the scale of the problem, it is creating a lot of problems, not only for police but also for the safety of people in society and the increasing amount of money that is spent to deal with the consequences that all of this creates. This is obvious to many people and doesn’t need me to create awareness when it comes to this point. Through my own understanding and through the research of others, I have come to see that very often it is the individual that feels alienated and disconnected from society that is motivated to participate in crime. And that alcohol and drugs are very often a way for people to escape their emotions and to feel emotionally whole again, to feel how they truly want to feel. There is also evidence that shows depression is on the rise, with feelings of isolation and neglect often being involved.
In today’s world there are many ways to stay in contact with people, through the internet and the latest phone’s, however what these don’t provide is human contact. So although our ability to connect with people is better than it has ever been, there is also a real sense of emptiness when it comes down to experiencing deep connections with people.
So it seemed like I had gone completely off topic there and although you might have been wondering what has that got to do with the Westgate Hall!? I believe in order to understand something; we need to not only look at the advantages of something, but also the disadvantages and the absence of that very thing. This should enable us to gain the right perspective and achieve a balanced conclusion.
Very often our attention can be placed on what is not working and at the same time we can neglect and ignore what is working. Constantly focusing on the problems and often overlooking the very things that are making a difference to our community and to our world.
This why I believe the Westgate hall’s benefit and influence on the community is being largely ignored. Of course I am not suggesting that the Westgate hall has the power to make people feel emotionally whole or is some kind of miracle worker, but what I do believe is that it plays a vital role.
Living in a city can be a daunting task for anyone. Although Canterbury is not a large city, it is a place that consists of many different nationalities, backgrounds and creeds. All of which have a right to feel welcome and part of the city. I mentioned above that a sense of belonging, feeling accepted and connected to others is important to our own wellbeing and in our ability to function in the world. This is especially true when we are new to an area and know very few people.
The Westgate hall provides the fulfilment of all of these aspects and more. My empirical observations are based on attending salsa there and yet I am sure there are numerous other activities that provide the same benefits.
When I first joined the Salsa class at the Westgate Hall, I soon realised that it was a great place for me to meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world. As I saw this, I soon recognised that the benefits of this were not only experienced by people who attended the classes; they were also benefitting the whole city. Whether we are new to the area or have lived there for a while, we all like to feel a sense of connection to others, to feel as though we apart of the larger community. When people feel isolated, they can easily become depressed and believe that they are all alone in the world. What is great about the salsa class at the Westgate Hall, is that anyone can join in and experience the connection of being around others and learning about different people. I, for example, often get so caught up in conversation, that I forget I am doing salsa.
I also believe that many friendships and relationship have been formed over the years and this will have allowed people to feel connected to others and to also feel accepted by people. I don’t believe this is limited to the class, I think it has greater potential and creates acceptance within Canterbury. This of course will lead people to feel as though they belong in the area and are not just on the outskirts of the community.
As the class is pressure free and there is a real sense of safety about the place, because of where the building is situated and what the class stands for, it provides people with an environment where they can relax and be themselves.
This is a valuable option to have, with peoples stress being at an all time high. I believe it is a great way for people to let go and release tension, with no harm being done to themselves or to others.
Of course people could go to a club or to a bar instead, but let’s face it, how many people do we usually talk to when we go to these types of places? They are also not the types of places where people of all ages can go or feel comfortable going. And this is what the Westgate hall provides, an environment where people all ages, backgrounds and creeds can join together.
To remove the Westgate Hall would be like removing a hospital to make way for more houses or shops. This might sound completely out of proportion. However when it comes to a balanced life, we all realise that we need a bit of everything. We have to eat well, sleep well, keep fit, and take care of our emotions and other things. If we see the city as we see ourselves and use it as a metaphor, straight away it is clear that we need balance in a city, just like we need a certain amount of balance in our own life.
I am not suggesting that the Westgate Hall is more important than a hospital and neither am I suggesting the hospital is more important that the Westgate hall. It is clear that no one in their right mind would allow a hospital to be removed, just to replace it with something else. To me, it comes down to having the right perspective about what a city needs. As although we have to deal with the problems, I also strongly believe that effort needs to be put into what is making a real difference in the community. It would be a severe case of tunnel vision and I believe it would be a grave mistake to remove this building which brings the city together and makes such a difference in the community.
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Oliver J R Cooper
127 Hours – My Interpretation Of The Metaphors
What motivated me to see this was the fact that Danny Boyle was directing it, with it being his first film since Slum Dog Millionaire. After this I heard that it was based on a true story. The story is about a climber, who in order to survive, has to lose his own arm.
While I was watching it I didn’t think there were any metaphors that I would be able write about. However, as the intensity of the film grew, my mind changed completely and I realised how much of a profound film it was.
These metaphors of the film are my personal view and are based on my own interpretation of what these metaphors are and there meaning. They are in no way the right or only interpretation, they are just my view. And as this film is based on a true story, I would add this is also not a judgment on Aron Ralston's life and is for the purpose of looking at the metaphor’s contained within the film.
This will also mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. It will not be like a story board where I will describe the whole story.
So with the disclaimer of sorts out of the way, let’s begin.
The Start And Looking For The Swiss Knife
The film begins with Aron Ralston (James Franco) collecting all of the different objects he will need for the journey ahead of him. When the camera is on the cupboard, we see his hand searching around for the Swiss knife. But as the cupboard is high up he can’t quite reach the knife and he therefore assumes that it isn’t there. As I think about this it brings to my attention the importance of awareness and being as present as we can in each moment. He acts in haste and as a result he misses something that will become vital. Out of our own impatience and need to do something else, we can end up compromising our self and even our safety. If Aron had allowed himself the time, he could have used a chair to have a real look.
The Start Of The Climbing Journey
It is here that we get a glimpse of Aron’s character. In many ways he seems to be a bit careless, with the kind of hobby he has, the way he falls of his bike and then get straight back up again as if nothing has happened. Through him going on this mountain climbing journey on his own, we can see that he prefers to be on his own as opposed to doing things with others. This could be from his early experiences as a child of feeling as though he wasn’t accepted by the people around him or worthy and as a result felt isolated. So now he has a preference to being on his own.
It is here that he meets Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn). They are currently lost and with his guidance, he helps them to find their way. They invite him to a party and are left wondering if he will actually turn up. But it isn’t long before he is soon on his way. Holding firm to his Identity and preferring to go it alone.
Entering The Rock And Getting Caught Up
It is during this time that the real depth of the film start’s to unwind and we begin to see the deeper side to Aron’s nature.
Once his arm has become trapped, we come to see, like a wave, his frustrations and the conflict he has with trying to do everything himself. At this point we soon find out that not only has he not got a cell phone to contact any one, but he also hasn’t told anyone where he was going. This further shows what can happen not only in this situation, but what can happen to us as human being’s, when we cut ourselves of and isolate ourselves from others.
Through our own perception of how people are, it can become unpleasant to be around others, and through this we can end up cutting people off from our life. When ultimately, it is not the people that are the problem, it is our perceptions of people that create the problems.
It is also here that Aron begins to play back on his camera the videos he had taken of Kristi and Megan. Just seeing the fun and connection he experienced with them fills him with happiness and an appreciation of how important people are to him.
During the latter moments of having his arm stuck, Aron begins to have visions of his family sitting on a sofa right in front of him. They are all smiling and are looking right at him. At this moment we get an even deeper glimpse that his heart yarns to feel connected to his family and how living a life of being his own mountain is not how he truly wants to be.
He also has visions of his girlfriend, and we see him being at a sports game where she leaves him and says he is going to be a lonely man or something similar. This fills him with frustration and regret. This is further evidence that he likes to cut people out of his life and go it alone. However, we see that this is not what Aron really wants and could be seen as a form of self sabotage. Perhaps through his early experiences of people, his mind has associated a sense of safety with being alone and yet at the same time his heart longs to be around others. Another way of looking at this is how our conscious mind can often want one thing and our unconscious mind can want something else.
Breaking Free From The Rock
With Aron running out of water and just about giving up, he finds an incredible amount of courage to cut his own arm off as a way to free himself from the rock. Along with his fear of death, maybe his own desire and longing to see his family and friends once more is what motives him to do this.
Although he has just lost part of his arm, his joy at being free once more, has made the loss seem, if only momentarily, insignificant.
Upon leaving the rock, Aron begins to swagger out of the area to a place that contains water. Here he practically falls into the water, even though it is far from clean. After he has gone so long without any form of liquid, seeing water after such a long time must have been a real blessing for him and filled him with gratitude.
As he continues to walk away from the rock he spots three people in the distance and shouts for help. Here we see the magnificence of the human race. He calls for water and without hesitation the women offers him water. It is not a surprise that it was the women and not the man who offered the water, as females are generally more in touch with their nurturing nature than men are
After this we see other walkers and shortly after a rescue helicopter arrives to take Aron to a hospital. For so long he had felt alone and isolated and from that moment he was touched by the human heart. From this metaphor, we see that although we might have moments of frustration and despair, there is always assistance around us if we are open to receiving that assistance.
After the helicopter rescue, we see that he has fulfilled his dream to be reunited with his family. And that his longing to feel connected to them has been archived. He is also pictured with his partner and a child. It is an incredible moment to see that after a situation of such despair he has achieved what he always wanted.
When I look at the film as a metaphor I see Arons story as being about how we can often take things for granted in life and not appreciate the importance of what we have. And it is often only after we have lost something that we begin to appreciate what we have. Whether it is the family we have, the friends or our own health, we can easily become caught up in wanting more and forgetting what we already have. Our own sense of gratitude becomes a distance memory. I believe that the line they have used on the poster 'Every second counts’ illustrates this perfectly.
What happened to Aron is an extremely rare occurrence. However, I think we all have events in our life that give us the opportunity to sit up and take notice of what really matters to us and what we should be grateful for. With our interpretation of those events, defining what we do about what happens to us.
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One of the challenges I have with the mainstream media, is that what is shown is largely portrayed as the truth. It could be said, that all forms of critical thinking are gradually eroded by exposing ourselves to it. Of course, it could be argued that it is down to the individual to use their own sense of discernment when watching and exposing themselves to such things.
However, for many people whatever they are exposed to via the mainstream media is true and that which is not promoted by the mainstream media is often seen as not true. I just used to the word promoted, and that would seem like an inappropriate word when it comes down to something that is only concerned with giving us the truth right!? I believe no matter what it is or who it is coming from there is always an agenda, even with me writing this, I also have an agenda. What I am saying here, is that no matter how objective something might seem, it doesn’t mean we should allow our critical abilities to switch off.
We are lulled into a place of complacency, passivity and apathy by the mainstream media. Of course we want to be informed about the world and our local area. However, what we don’t want is to become so saturated with fear and so overwhelmed by how the world supposedly is that we can’t function any more.
This is where I think the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ is extremely true. With the majority of what we are told being irrelevant to our life and very often there is nothing we can do about what’s going on.
A great example of this is from a story I once heard, about an old lady who lives in an area that is low crime and generally peaceful. However through her constant viewing of the media she is too scared to leave her house, all coming from what she has heard on the news. With the way the mind works in seeing everything in black and white, we can hear about one story and through that one event can come to the conclusion through generalising, that the whole world is not a safe place.
This whole occurrence reminds me of a person who carries a history of rejection or failure. They might be reluctant to try out new things, but if they do and they don’t get it right straight away they take it completely to heart. When in reality it was just a one of and has nothing to do with failure or their true value. This is how our mind works; a one of event can very easily become a generalisation and taken completely out of proportion.
I also think that watching the news can be like empathy to the dysfunctional degree. A great metaphorical example of this is contained within the story of how out feeling sorry for a homeless person a man gives his house and money away. Cleary this doesn’t help anyone, and just creates more problems. Yet by watching the news we are allowing our sense of happiness and wellbeing to be effected by other people’s experiences.
So it could be said that we can develop a sense of guilt for leading a happy life and out of that guilt we can easily take onboard the troubles of the world. As a result of this just add to what’s going on, instead of providing some kind of solution.
There is also the aspect of comparing ourselves with others. This could be people in our own country or in other areas of the world. By watching the news people have allowed themselves to become more and more hopeless, and the way to escape that is by feeling as though we are fortunate based on the troubles of others. Now as I have said before, comparing ourselves with others, apart from a momentary release, won’t do much for our wellbeing. I do believe that being grateful for what we have is incredibly important, but I don’t believe being grateful is a valid reason for us to stop growing. With my perspective being if we want to truly make a difference, we have to step into our own power and be the difference ourselves.
When it comes to our own tendencies to be narrow minded and prejudiced, the mainstream media can also validate and support these. Whether is the so called ‘foreigners’ who are taking our jobs, to the bankers who are the ‘reason why people are broke’. The deeper question’s in life and asking ‘why’ instead of’ who’, are rarely asked. This can all lead to a sense of opposition and violence against whoever the media presents as the culprits. The words ‘divide and conquer’ come to mind. This is all running on the illusion of lack and separation. This of course has the potential of creating more violence in the world.
Then, after a certain time of exposing ourselves to the mainstream media we can start to become dependent and addicted to it. I think one of the reasons that underpins our addiction to it can be to escape our own pain and to medicate ourselves with the whole idea that our problems might be bad, but others are worse. With the mainstream media always providing us with all the reasons why our life is a certain way and it is always because of someone else, it is never ourselves, this view point can make us feel powerless and a victim. One view point could be that people spend so much time taking in the news, due to their compassion for others and the troubles in the world. However I believe that compassion starts with ourselves first and if we are not compassionate with ourselves we can never have compassion for others. If we truly love and appreciate ourselves I don’t believe we would allow ourselves to be exposed, so often, to such things.
We are told to watch what we eat, and yet when it comes to our mental and emotional health, we completely switch off and allow all kinds of dysfunction to consume our mind.
And coming back to the dependence aspect, once we have become cut off from own our guidance and connection via intuition, gut feelings or whatever someone wants to call it, we are then reliant on the mainstream media. It doesn’t take much thinking to see that this is a very precarious position to be in. I would say this happens as a result of being completely consumed by fear and as a result we lose our centre. So our ability to listen to ourselves has become extremely difficult.
Bruce Lipton, who is a cellular biologist, has talked about the effects of fear. He mentions that when we are exposed to fear our immune system lowers, blood leaves our vital organs and our intelligence is lowered with the blood coming to the front of our brain. Now, as profound as this is and how it is important to hear it from a scientist, if we think about it, it’s not rocket science to see that constant fear and stress does us no favours.
So, if we get our whole view of reality via what the mainstream media tells us, then not only are we getting an out of balance and dysfunctional view of the world, that is someone else’s perspective, but we are getting an extremely negative and disempowering perspective.
Looking at the mainstream media and how everything is portrayed, it reminds me of our ego and what happens if we don’t observe it. The result is a life of being a slave to our mind and not our mind serving us. Whether it’s the type of story’s or how they present everything in the mainstream media, we can see that there is rarely any kind of observation or detachment with what is going on. With it always being doom and gloom and the end of the world every day.
It could be said that as a way to avoid facing itself the mind creates all kinds of conflicts and dramas. And that the mainstream media is the projection of our own ego.
So in my view, it would be so much healthier if we could have a mainstream media that takes into account the nature of the ego and also what part we are all playing in what’s going on, instead of portraying everything as random and because of someone else. This all sounds idealistic, I know, however I believe that most of the change we see is the result of idealism.
I think the most important thing is that if it is indeed our perception that creates our reality, then it is extremely important that we are vigilant in what we place our attention on and what we allow into our minds.
I think there is great metaphor that shows the power of our own attention, that we can all relate to and is also believable. Whether it is a car or a colour, we can initially see that few people drive a certain car or wear a colour. Once we start to focus on the car or the colour, through our own attention we can begin to see, what initially seemed rare now seems to be everywhere and even common.
So what I’m talking about here is if our own attention works like it does and we draw into our own awareness what we place our attention on, what could the consequences be? Could it be that the reason we often experience what is in the mainstream media is due to own attention being placed on the very things its telling us is ‘happening in the world’? And that if we placed our attention on something else we might experience something different?
As although the mainstream media sells us perspective’s that no one has any money or every is unsafe etc, if we open our mind we can see that there is always people who have money and people who feel safe, no matter what is going on in the world.
Our mind has something called a Reticular Activating System. What this does is filter our own reality so that we only experience that which the mind believes to be true. How the RAS sees reality can be altered, this is done through the process of changing our perception and as we do this our reality can change.
So if that is the case, does the mainstream media have the potential to be a form of mind control, that not only controls how we feel but also has the ability create our own subjective reality?
On one side, the consequences are alarming and on the other side they give us a glimpse of our true potential.
If you feel this has been of value, please leave a comment, like or get in touch. And feel free to share this article.
Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant - With Over 2,000,000 Article Views Online.
That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.