Arriving in Geneva was like meeting a beautiful woman who won’t talk to you. It was vibrant and alluring, but aloof and distant. I did not become better acquainted for having briefly visited Geneva.
Blonay, however, was a different story altogether. Here we were met with a wonderful welcome offered up by Janet’s old friend Valerie and her husband Etienne. They have two beautiful daughters, Virgine and Auriel, 13 and 20. Being in the company of these four provides us with a warm bath of hospitality and a lens through which we can view this special place.
The Swiss manage chaos with precision. It is not that things always work well, but they don’t tend to energize the dysfunctional by railing against it. Rather, they focus on the next step, progressive but cautious. They live in communities that have been under the stewardship of their parents and grandparents, ad infinitum. There is veneration for the place in which they find themselves and regard for the impacts their actions may produce. They seem to understand that short-term solutions might be long-term problems in slick outfits. Underpinning the folk spirit of these people is a core value for responsibility.
In America, as a people, we are compelled by our value for freedom. Yet so often this impulse is expressed as “freedom from” – freedom from domination, freedom from being told what to do. And we have high expectations. It is not that we are spoiled, per se. Often willing to work hard, we do so out of an expectation of reward rather than a sense of duty or responsibility.
The connective tissue between our desire for freedom and our sense of responsibility is often tenuous. With this connection we can create boundaries that establish the space to express our impulse as “freedom to”. Freedom to fulfill our purposes, freedom to produce the outcomes we desire. Instead of embracing boundaries as useful and creative we erroneously view them as constraints that make us less free.
The Swiss seem to be much more practiced in managing their responsibilities and more positive in the way they deal with their problems. We throw out the baby with the bath water. They treasure babies and recycle grey water. And they are rewarded for their restraint. This area is a lovely place filled with warmth and laughter and a quality of community that is truly inspiring