All posts by pcostello

where is the why?

Follow up thoughts, when you ask WHY about something in the past, you get an explanation or an excuse or an alibi, Why did you do this, Why did you walk away? etc, looking for an excuse, but when you ask WHY about the future, the idea of goals and ends come into play, which in a way is a different WHY altogether, you are not soliciting an alibi so much as a dream, a vision, an empowering purpose, and so perhaps that WHY needs to be called something different, the WHERE TO, Start with the WHERE TO, where do you want to take us, And WHERE FROM, where did this dream come from, which are locative questions, allowing people to put themselves in place.


( A note sent to NSL class of 2015 that might be of interest)
What pro ISRAEL and pro PALESTINE can mean in WASHINGTON DC

One of NSL’s alums made this comment about when he encountered the Israel and Palestine lobbies in Washington, they seemed more Pro Palestine than he as a Palestinian was. He suspected the same with the Pro Israeli Americans, they being more Pro Israel than most Israelis were. I certainly have found that. When someone is more Pro a cause than the native naturally attached to that cause, you have to suspect that something else may be going on which says more about them than their cause.

When Irish Americans are more Pro Ireland than the Irish, is that about some sort of identity quest, about what they want to be. When CUFI is more for pro Israeli than just about anyone, you realize its not because of the Jewish people, its because Jesus said he would return. The real story often resides in the story behind the story.

Lobbyists in DC here are PAID to advocate a cause, for example for climate change or Pro Life, or Palestine or Israel, so you know their pro- stance means Professional- they are paid and often paid very well to push a point of view.

Similarly, when someone is so ANTI a cause than the ones who are most legitimately aggrieved, men who are more upset than most women about gender bias, or white Australians more upset than aborigines about racism, then again, something seems out of balance.

It is always worth asking- Is someone hijacking someone else’s story for their own ends. No story is innocent. It pays to check if someone’s story truly belongs to them.

NSL Notes to the Management Team Today

“Our role is to invite our members to speak out of the authority of their own experience rather than speaking out of their experience of Authority which keeps treating them as children, telling them who they are, how to think, what to say.
Our project is to help them (and ourselves) know the difference between the authority of owned experience and the experience of inherited authority.

at the core

At the core of every human being is a mystery- something ineffable, something so beyond words. The power of a story is that it can evoke in words what is beyond words, it can catch the faint echo of that mystery without having to define it or put limits around it, or defend it. The theologian would describe it as “mysterium tremendum et fascinans” meaning that it is holy, sacred, something other, that which makes you take off your shoes and bow.


We were showing the NSL team the Vietnam Memorial, this week and explaining how this site of memory had morphed from a place of nation-splitting controversy to a place of healing, a place to mourn and heal.
We were walking out when a thin older woman appeared, with long blond hair and glasses. She was clutching a crumpled white piece of paper with a name and a number E63. Her pleading eyes caught mine and she asked me, “How can I find someone?” I looked at the note and told her that the A- Z register was at the other end, but she said she had the panel, it was E63.

Mo, my Palestinian friend on NSL who was at my side, also tried to help. She said, I think I can find it, and as she turned away, I went forward to suggest she check the register, but Mo pulled me back. He whispered, ” She is really upset- let her go.” and thankful that he could see her tears more than I could, I retreated but not before asking her, “Was it a friend or relative?” She said, “We were engaged.”

We walked with the NSL team to the Womens’ Vietnam statue and I watched as this lady walked to E63 and with her fingers felt for the name, When she found it, she collapsed at the foot of the panel, and her body seemed to disappear into the depths of her loss, even after so many years.

As i showed my NSL team the Pieta of the nurse holding the body of the dying soldier, I was hiding my tears for this lone women who finally found the name of her lost love. How many futures had she lost? I thought of my mum, an RAF nurse, who loved a dashing Canadian pilot in World War Two and how she wrote poetry to console herself when his plane disappeared over Berlin.

We were finishing the tour, time to go home and as we walked back past the memorial out to Constitution Avenue, there she was again.
I went down to her and she recognized me, and I embraced her and said,” I am heartbroken for your loss.” And she said “Thank you for your help.” and then she asked me, “Who did you lose?” I heard myself say, “My Mum and Dad fought in World War Two, and each lost their closest friends in battle and I lost what they lost- Even if I never went to war, like they did, we all had to grow up in their war. ”

Her question haunts me still, “Who did you lose?”

If the true cost of war was ever weighed, it would be the story reflected in the sorrowful women at that Vietnam Nurses Memorial who remind us that in war, we are all losers, we lose our loved ones, we lose our sanity and our humanity, we lose those futures we sacrifice for the sake of some unresolved past.

Yes, she was engaged to be married and war tore her love away. And 40 years later, the tears have still not dried.


“People will listen to you to the extent that they feel you have listened to them.” Its called the LISTENING CONTRACT and explains why SOME people can’t get their message through, no matter how many times they speak. Everyone has a right to speak, but no one has a right to be heard. Attention must be paid.

Marco Polo to his crew before they embark to China ( An Imaginary Dialog)

My Fellow Voyagers
Be Curious, Not Critical!

If you can’t help Yourself
Being Critical
Be Curious about what is Making You
So Critical.

If you can’t be Curious
About what is making you so Critical
Then be Critical about what is making you
So Critical
And stopping you from being Curious.

If you can’t be Critical OR Curious
about what is making you so Critical

Then clearly you are not ready to journey.




Hello all our family and friends it is with great pride we announce that Bernard Costello, my dad has been been awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government for his part in the liberation of France in 1944/45. Bernard served as a Flight Lieutenant navigator in 115 squadron RAF 3 Group Bomber Command. He completed his 30 mission tour, and than was appointed squadron navigation officer. He continued to fly, and he and his squadron led Operation Manna dropping supplies to starving civilians in the Netherlands in 1945 in a half truce with the Germans. After the surrender he flew on repatriation missions for prisoners of war. Yet he waited to marry his beautiful Muriel until peace in the Pacific, as he was to again to fly with Tiger Force against Japan. He is very humbled. We looked forward to the investiture.

Principles of Communicative Competency.

“I never said half the things I said.” Yogi Berra

“Its not what you said that matters
and its not even what you think you said
(which is sometimes totally different)
Its not even what your audience heard
its what they think they heard you saying.”


Unless you speak inside the story that shapes the Listeners Listening
you will trigger them back into their own preferred stories anyway
reducing you to the script they expected. Nothing changes.
Its not the story you tell that matters,
despite all our workshops and training
its the story you trigger
the story people listen to you through.
Story is the shape of our listening. Now that reminds of of something I read or maybe even wrote way back