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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Scraps of Matter

 

All things summon us to death: nature, almost envious of the good she has given us, tells us often and gives us notice that she cannot for long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…she has need of it for other forms, she claims it back for other works.”

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704)

We are but scraps of matter on borrowed time, waiting to be recycled into something else. Regardless of our human age, the atoms we are made of are billions of years old, on an endless transition from one form to another. We get to use them for an eye-blink … and then they move on. I find that oddly comforting!

And who knows, maybe one day some of “my” atoms will end up in a magnificent fossil like this one – wouldn’t that be grand? ♥

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An Overwhelming Week

In 2020, we’ve had bushfires that have destroyed our old growth forests, driven rural communities to the brink of collapse, and killed over a billion native animals.

We’ve had a global pandemic that has infected over six million people. We’ve had lockdown and closed borders that have bankrupted businesses and basically put folks under house arrest. I’ve had three friends lose a parent during this time and not be able to attend their funerals. I’ve got friends with relationships at breaking point, know of at least one suicide, and don’t know a single person who isn’t stressed.

Then last week in America, land of the free, a white police officer, sworn to protect citizens, killed a black man by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes. For having a counterfeit $20 note. Have you ever seen American currency? It ALL looks fake. I thought I had a counterfeit $20 note once. It came out of a Bank of America ATM cash machine and the supermarket took it without question. Does that make me a criminal?

The very many really good people of America were filled with entirely appropriate rage and anger at the complete betrayal of everything they put their hand over their heart for whenever the anthem plays. And we sit here and watch in horror as, in the midst of a highly contagious pandemic, they don ineffective cloth masks and gather in huge numbers to protest this horrific gross injustice. But what else could they do? Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

And even as the rest of the world watches in surreal disbelief, we here in Australia have been forced to turn our eyes to the inhumane and callous way we treat so many of our indigenous communities. Since the release of the royal commission into black deaths in custody in 1991, more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander have died in custody. The Australian press has (finally) begun to draw attention to how similar incidents to the George Floyd death have occurred here, but with little or no media attention at the time.

May 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia.  You can read about it here – it is a day that remembers and acknowledges the irreparable harm caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who had their children forcibly removed from them – “The Stolen Generations” as they are now known. 26 years after the report which highlighted this incredible injustice, and 12 years after a national apology was made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still ten times more likely to be removed from their families than non-indigenous children.

This year, two days before National Sorry Day, Rio Tinto destroyed – legally – a site sacred to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People, two caves that showed 46,000 years of continuous occupation, including an artifact that proved a genetic link between the traditional owners and their ancestors of 4,000 years ago. This was not only a huge blow to the PKKP People, but to every single Australian. It was mindless destruction of our country’s history in the pursuit of expansion and wealth, and yet another example, in a long line of many, of the truly appalling disrespect with which Australia treats its First Nations peoples.

I’m honestly not sure how much more my heart can take this year. And it’s only June. 💔

. . . . .

Diane commented recently that my posts were never negative. I try very hard to keep it that way, but this week I’ve felt overwhelmed, and the words needed to come out. I hope though that you will take something positive from this. The only long term way to change societal bigotry and racism – especially the subtle forms that we’re not even aware we all have – is education. If you’re Australian and like me, your knowledge of indigenous history is limited, then make it your job to find out. Read the Uluru Statement From The Heart. Celebrate our First Nations cultures without appropriating them. Read books written by authors like Stan Grant and Bruce Pascoe. Watch Vernon Ah Kee’s Tall Man art installation, but be prepared to weep, as I did both times that I viewed it at the MCA.

It won’t be a comfortable learning curve, but nothing can change until we acknowledge that a problem exists in the first place. ♥

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Two Months

Well folks, today’s post marks two months of daily scribblings from me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my often random stream of consciousness, and that it’s brought you a little cheer during this period of lockdown.

It’s been a frenetic blogging pace and not really one I can maintain in the long term, particularly as Sydney enters its next phase of opening up from 1 June. I will try to keep blogging regularly, albeit less frequently – I’d forgotten how much fun it was to chat with all of you!

Thanks for keeping me company during these weird and slightly scary times. And please…stay safe! Talk soon. ♥

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Two Hands

. . . . .

I saw this clip on the news recently about a Sydney restauranteur helping Thai students who are struggling under the COVID19 crisis.

Many international workers employed in restaurants here don’t qualify for help under existing government schemes and the food industry as a whole (bless them) has rallied to support them.

The message Jack from Jumbo Thai had for everyone was particularly wonderful – as one hand takes, the other hand gives. That’s how we look after each other and our communities.

Happy Sunday, folks! ♥

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Ripples of Hope

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My friend Stephen sent me this earlier in the year, and it gave me great hope that, just maybe, our individual actions could make this world a better place. At the time, Australia was in the midst of terrible bushfires, and I was questioning whether our attempts over the previous two years to live more sustainably had really made any difference at all in the grand scheme of things.

It’s an excerpt from Robert Kennedy’s address to the National Union of South African Students members at the University of Cape Town, given at a time when South Africa was still an Apartheid country and the American Civil Rights Movement was at its peak. Over the years, it’s become known as the “Ripples of Hope Speech”. In 2020, the problems facing our world may have changed, but the message is as powerful as ever. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did. ♥

. . . . .

DAY OF AFFIRMATION ADDRESS, CAPETOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, JUNE 6, 1966 (excerpt)

Robert F. Kennedy

“First is the danger of futility; the belief there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills – against misery, against ignorance, or injustice and violence. Yet many of the world’s great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32 year old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. “Give me a place to stand,” said Archimedes, “and I will move the world.” These men moved the world, and so can we all.

Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation.

Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in the isolated villages and the city slums of dozens of countries. Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

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