Founder of Co-Create Change Consultancies, Ben Schernick has assisted many Namibians as a trainer for non-violent conflict resolution. Ben shares here his learnings and lessons from the past year, his self examination from Africa… his Afrospection.
Ben’s favourite quite right now :
“The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the centre of the circle.” from the Tao te King, No. 29
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
BS: Improved Self-Discipline, to successfully tackle personal fitness goals, in order to remain fit enough for my kids as they grow up.
What challenged you in 2018 and how did you overcome this challenge?
BS: The economic situation (recession) has been a challenge for me as a freelancer (self-employed), because capacity building or interventions related to so-called “soft skills” are among the first things that are cut from any organisation’s budgets. Getting out of my comfort zone and engaging much more actively in own ‘marketing’ efforts has helped, as well as going back to regular meditation practices to stay centred in the eye of the storm, and during this challenge/crisis.
What’s one thing that bothers you most about the world today?
BS: The lack of awareness that we as society are in dire need of better social skills, i.e. how to be more empathic, communicate more compassionately and resolve conflicts peacefully.
Companies are willing to invest into ‘practical skill development’ but disregard providing funds to social skills training programs. This is also visible in the lack of bursaries for social work and psychology studies, for instance. The costs of violence and of our disability to resolve conflict constructively are not yet visible for everyone. And of course the fact that many people are stuck in a racist, sexist and homophobic worldview bothers me a lot.
What was your biggest personal development learning of 2018?
BS: There were two: Giving a TED-X Talk on Nonviolent Parenting (from ‘Power Over’ to ‘Power With’) at the University of Namibia, and dealing with unconscious bias and blatant discrimination against LGBTI and sex workers at various levels within the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, as I was developing the ‘National Training Resource Kit on Gender-Based Violence’ for them. This raised serious ethical concerns for me as a social worker who has the obligation to help and serve all people equally and not to exclude certain groups because ‘my client tells me to do so’.
Speaking truth to power is uncomfortable, yet must be done in order to achieve a better world for everyone.
What is your wish for Namibia for 2019?
BS: Integrity on every level, and that those who have will realise how privileged they are.
They/we must not invest in higher fences in an attempt to hold on to their/our riches, but that they/we give freely to those in need, because inequality is a major root cause for crime.
Changing this painfully unequal society is everyone’s responsibility!
Where do you find your inspiration?
BS: In silence within myself (herewith connecting to ‘God’), thanks to the local Quaker Community and other forms of meditation, as well as by just BEING (with a playful and supportive presence) with my 2-year old daughter and her 3-year old cousin (who also lives with us).
What’s on your bucket list for 2019?
Saving up, so the next wave of recession won’t hit that hard.
Attending my father’s 80s birthday in Berlin in August
Regular meditation and exercising, and
Engaging in a variety of yet unknown but surely interesting projects and clients
Do you believe in second chances?
Yes, even if they happen to come only in one’s next lifetime.
What skill do you wish you had?
Greater self-awareness, i.e. being able to see much faster which skills or qualities I need more of, so I can better answer this question. 😉