Blog and opinion
15 December 2017 • Simone Fredriksz
Soft is the new strong
Last weekend, I was strolling through Paris. A bit different from grocery shopping for currant buns, coffee beans and rabbit feed on a Saturday morning. I was feeling on top of the world as I walked over the Quai des Orfevres … until I spied an absolutely stunning woman. Her red dress rippled against her lithe body. So elegant yet with the grace of an athlete, she raced toward me on her skateboard. I suddenly felt quite deflated in my jeans and turquoise sneakers, lugging my dented suitcase behind me. Me: an amateur in Paris.
Fortunately, supergirl was only an illusion. Simply an ad, a billboard full of promises. Watching this young woman come whirling toward me, I read the advert: ‘Soft is the new strong’. What’s that? Is English the new French? Is red the new blue? Is soft the new hard?
The glorification of The New: what is that actually? If we turn something around, it’s suddenly something fresh and new. So I wasn’t just stupid when I forgot my passport. No, ‘forgetting is the new remembering’. I really hadn’t been chaotic and lost my way. Getting lost is the new road to discovery. So neither was I an amateur hauling her suitcase 14 kilometres through the streets of Paris. The amateur is the new professional. Our incumbent Cabinet is also trying make it through this term by imparting that ‘Doing is the new thinking’.
And just look at how busy we are! As if our lives depended on how much we can get done in the calendar year, the academic year. We keep pressing ahead with the big goal of becoming global citizens sometime. Full speed ahead, I’m joining in and whipping up my colleagues with my mantra: ‘Doing nothing is not an option.’ But, hey, maybe it’s time to step back and think. That’s when something I read by the American author/consultant Peter Block started bouncing around in my head: ‘What do you do when you find yourself in a hole? Try harder? The first thing you do is stop digging!’
Is standing still the new pressing ahead? Liduine, what do you think?
Liduine Bremer and Simone Fredriksz are deans of the faculties of Public Management, Law & Safety and Business, Finance & Marketing respectively. They will be blogging in turn during this academic year.