Blog entry by Alan Chapman

by Alan Chapman - Friday, 6 August 2021, 7:00 PM
Anyone in the world


There is a man called Karl who lives near me.

He often sits alone on a street corner bench.

He always has a smile for other people and exchanges words of greeting.

From a distance, Karl might seem a very insignificant person.

But when you see Karl more closely and engage him in conversation, it's clear that Karl is a very strong wise man.


Karl has sparkling eyes, a lean physique and tanned skin.

He looks very fit and well, as if he has a very simple lifestyle.

He uses clear language, and has a quiet under-stated manner.

Karl is actually very charismatic.

Charisma is a very rare quality.


Karl does not have much money, nor many possessions.

Karl has a different sort of wealth.

Karl listens

Most people do not realise that Karl talks with other people about their traumas.

More meaningfully, Karl listens to people who want to talk about their grief and distresses.

Karl has not been trained for this.

Karl is not paid for this.

Karl does it because he is wise and strong, and a selfless loving man.

He listens without judgement, and absorbs the angst of other people.

People feel safe sharing their feelings with him.

modesty and humility

Karl doesn't realise how wonderful he is.

He is extremely modest and humble.

He makes no attempt to analyse himself or others.

He simply listens, and occasionally reflects, carefully.

re-imagining community health

Absorbing someone else's pain - without judging - is 'big work'.

Professional people who do this, like therapists and counsellors, usually have a 'supervisor', so that what has been absorbed can be processed or shared with someone else.

Karl has no 'supervision' nor official support for the good work he does.

This to me seems a missed opportunity.

Meanwhile pressures on social and healthcare systems continue to increase.

Grief especially is treated as a mental illness, when actually most people simply want someone strong and wise to listen to them, with compassion and sensitivity, and without judgement.

Grief is not just when a person or pet dies.

Grief can be any sort of 'letting go', and coming to terms with a loss, of anything.

There are many good kind helpful people like Karl, whose life experiences and sensitivities are immensely valuable for societal wellbeing - especially for helping others with grief - and yet these natural 'community healers' are excluded from official thinking about how we might re-imagine social care and community health.

I imagine that Karl is helping to change things more profoundly than he realises.

[ Modified: Sunday, 29 August 2021, 12:59 PM ]