Fiona: Friends of Wednesday Night

Written by  //  December 1, 2010  //  Fiona Nicholson, Special Wednesday Nights, The Salon  //  No comments

Friends of Wednesday Night,

Last week I presented a course on the value of ethics in business (don’t laugh too hard!). As I started the class, I remembered it was my parents who prepared me to teach this material with passion and purpose.

While most children hurriedly ate a meal to make it to the next event, my parents encouraged us to eat slowly and talk enthusiastically about our thoughts on world events. Mum and Dad had a simple request; to think and make decisions that were flavoured with our own opinions. They allowed us to take risks and demanded that we make our point with salient information (and noteworthy references). My parents taught me about the value of ethics – not as an intellectual debate, but as a process for making better and smarter decisions.

1500 Wednesdays later many minds have changed and been altered in ways that only a lively discussion could create. My parents have produced a legacy that started with Carl Beigie over dinner. It evolved, it grew in such a way that no one could mimic or successfully recreate it. Wednesday Nights were once about how my parents could stimulate interesting conversation, but Wednesday Night became more than my parents’ event, it became a self sustaining institution that persists thanks in part to the wonderful people who dare to enter the salon and test an idea. Did they appreciate the response? May be yes, may be no – I am sure it happened more than once that an ego was “cut down to size”.  Without a doubt, a new idea tested became a better one in practice.

Did my parents think they could change the world? They tried to change the world, not by changing people, but by changing the way people think and experience the world around them. One week at a time, they made a promise to try and wake people from their slumber of complacency. They tried to help people to see the world through a new and wider lens. This could only be accomplished thanks to the various opinions and perspectives that each guest and guest of guests offered.

As I ended the class “Ethics in Action”, I remembered how Wednesday Nights helped open my eyes to the reality that no one perspective is right, there are multiple versions of right; each one justifiable and even rationale. My hope, I said to the participants, is that you walk away recognizing between the black and white is a rainbow of opinions that together can make the world a better place. My hope is that you walk away with the ability to listen and learn about the value of different perspectives. I hope people make a resolution to think differently, and by learning to think, we can change the world.

Wednesday Night is a source of energy for my folks, even as the weekly event evolves into a smaller and more intimate discussion; know that the spirit will live on until the last flame flickers on the dining room table.

In spirit, I raise a glass to all the wonderful people who helped shape my thinking. I can’t deny it, Wednesday Nights have made a difference – little did I know, I would practice what I learned at the feet, hands and minds of my parents.

Ubantu – I am because you are.

With love,

Fiona

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