Category Archives: Social Justice

A Little MJ Inspiration

But The Heart Said No

They saw the poor living in cardboard shacks, so they knocked the shacks down and built projects. Huge blocks of cement and glass towered over asphalt parking lots. Somehow it wasn’t much like home, even home in a shack. “What do you expect?” they asked impatiently. “You’re too poor to live like us. Until you can do better for yourselves, you should be grateful, shouldn’t you?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They needed more electricity in the city, so they found a mountain stream to dam. As the waters rose, dead rabbits and deer floated by; baby birds too young to fly drowned in the nest while mother birds cried helplessly. “It’s not a pretty sight,” they said, “but now a million people can run their air conditioners all summer. That’s more important than one mountain stream, isn’t it?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

They saw oppression and terrorism in a far-off land, so they made war against it. Bombs reduced the country to rubble. Its population cowered in fear, and every day more villagers were buried in rough wooden coffins. “You have to be prepared to make sacrifices,” they said. “If some innocent bystanders get hurt, isn’t that just the price one must pay for peace?”

The head said yes, but the heart said no.

The years rolled by and they got old. Sitting in their comfortable houses, they took stock. “We’ve had a good life,” they said, “and we did the right thing.” Their children looked down and asked why poverty, pollution, and war were still unsolved. “You’ll find out soon enough,” they replied. “Human beings are weak and selfish. Despite our best efforts, these problems will never really end.”

The head said yes, but the children looked into their hearts and whispered, “No!”

by Michael Jackson, from Dancing The Dream

What is more noble.

She came in again yesterday. Once she would have marched into the store, this time she limped painfully and slowly. The hair that she used to so often fuss about is gone, replaced with a small akubra adorned with a floral scarf.

I often find myself sighing when I see my chatty and fussy regular customers heading in, as I cast a glance at the pile of paperwork and orders waiting to be dealt with. I am polite, friendly even, and always helpful; I like to do my job well. But I am normally so eager to return to my errands so that I can gain the satisfaction of simply checking them off my to-do list; so I don’t normally prolong any irrelevant conversations.

But here she was again, dramatically altered by cancer in just a few weeks, and suddenly the paperwork wasn’t so urgent and her complaints not at all irritating. It wasn’t pity that I felt; it was appreciation, for this person, just as she is, and for the fragility of life.

Why is it that we need an acute awareness of our own mortality to wake us up to what is really important? Why do I so quickly forget the same lesson over and over?

This year, I have known three young people pass away tragically. In each case, it wasn’t their achievements I thought of when I remembered their lives, how academically qualified they were or how big their houses were or how efficiently they did their paperwork; instead, all I thought of was how they influenced others lives.

I have always carried a sense of urgency about life with me; however, for me that urgency has translated into ambition and drive. So I now drag behind me a trail of top university marks (2 subjects ahead too!) and checked off to-do lists and savings in the bank and a sense of failure at not being more successful in life (you know, successful as in I should be writing my fourth book while running a multi-billion dollar corporation that I founded that uses its powers to help bring transformation to injustices within the world while leading an active social life, pursuing my interests in music and circus arts by gigging and fire twirling each weekend and then clown doctoring at the children’s hospital at least twice a week followed by. totally realistic).

But given my current energy restrictions (that a part of me still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge), this single-minded drive has also cost me many friendships, evenings spent laughing rather than staring at a computer screen for hours. It’s led to my poor family having to deal with me tired, cranky and antisocial on a regular basis, and it has worsened my health.

Fair trade off? I think not.

Nothing wrong with working hard…I so appreciate the opportunities we have here. But maybe it’s time to finally take the advice that everyone keeps offering, and cut back on work/study (whoa! scary.) and try to enjoy the journey a little more…so that hopefully I can help others enjoy theirs, too, rather than spending the whole time thinking of my stupid to do list until I arrive at the end of my journey with all my paperwork properly filed and my bucketlist unexperienced and no friends in sight.

So forgive me if I take Billy Joel’s advice some time soon and:
“Slow down, you crazy child.
Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while.
It’s all right you can afford to lose a day or two…”

And to the friends that I have neglected due to my overly zealous commitment to study and work, forgive me. Lets have coffee.

“It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” – Dag Hammarskjold

Need inspiration?
Read about how Henri Nouwen left his job at Harvard to care for Adam, a severely disabled man
Or Mindfulness – the art of conscious living.
Or how a stranger gave me flowers in Guate just when I needed them
Or ask me about the most incredible, resilient girls I once lived with in Guatemala…

xoxo.

The First Australians.

A must watch: First Australians (really!! a must must must. amazing series.)

A must read:

A must-listen-to:

Must visit: Koori Voices – Melb Museum (free for students!!)

worth attending:

or even better…Garma Festival.

I have so much to learn.

Unwanted Shoes


Why I am collecting shoes in order to take them with me to East Timor in 2 weeks:

My lecturer had an old pair of runners that he passed on to a farmer in Timor-Leste. I believe the convo went something like this…
“Here you are, at least they should be useful for you out in the fields.”
Farmer: “In the fields? No! This is my first pair in over ten years…I will keep them just for mass.”

Even though there is a secret part of me that dreams of living barefoot, I realise this really isn’t the best option in life…especially if you don’t have a choice, or live in a nation where parasites can enter your body through your feet. So feeling a little ridiculous that I have so many pairs of shoes just sitting in my closet, I am now clearing out and also collecting unwanted (but in good condition) shoes to take with me.

So shoes clogging your closet? Let me know!

The Waiting Game

Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander. – Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC.

I feel like a bystander.

Frustrated.

I am spending my hours learning, reading, watching, and discussing conflict, wars, human rights abuses, poverty, and basically everything that’s wrong with the world.

And I am spending hours writing essays and preparing presentations on the topics….so that one single tutor can read/listen to them and mark them.

Bystander.

Massacres in Timor-Leste, endemic rape as a weapon of war in the DR of Congo, corruption in every government that exists, massacres (one last week!) in Guatemala, hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty, horrific treatment of asylum seekers in Australia, more slaves in the world than ever before – the world is a nasty place for most people who live in it.

And I am one of the lucky ones. But what am I actually doing about what opportunities I have for these issues?

Bystander.

I know I have chosen to devote the limited energy I have primarily to my studies so that in the future I can hopefully do something significant about some of these things. But I hate waiting – I feel such an urgency to be doing something concrete now – any injustice is too much injustice – any part of humanity suffering should mean we all feel their pain.

How can we incorporate strategic and change invoking activism into our every day lives filled with work and bills and sickness and housework and homework and family? There must be a way. Petitions and fair trade purchases and letters to MP’s barely scrape the surface…

Aaargh – the waiting game. I don’t like it. The clock is ticking.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education in Guatemala

Just stumbled upon this quality video about children in Guate (if you want to see what I saw when I lived there, watch this…):

Oh, Guatemala!

You know, you’d think that after spending just 9 months in a country and then being back in your own for a year and a half that your memories would sort of fade…especially when you spend time studying (and even travelling) to other nations. but for some reason Guatemala remains in my thoughts. daily. and as I watch this video, I remember walking those very streets – and as much as it seems a world away, somehow it feels more real than my life here…

Beautiful country. Yes, issues. But also, amazing people. Would be back in a heartbeat if I was able.

But for now, time to keep learning how to get more kids out of situations of child labour, exploitation and risk and into school. so that when I do make it back one day…

Dreaming.

“The problems facing the world today are immense. This is not a time for incremental thinking. If a cause is worth devoting your time to, then you owe it to yourself – and those you will serve – to think in a big way.”

– John Wood.