Listening to our youth
Thank you, Crosslight, for the excellent Synod 2016 supplement, capturing many moments and opinions. I haven’t attended Synod for several years and this kind of summary is most welcome.
I was interested, but also saddened, by the comments of the four younger attendees on page 14. How many years still have to pass by before we really allow our many fine younger members to lead us? There are, of course, protocols and regulations that have to be abided by in a meeting such as Synod, but can we not hand over a large segment to be led and managed by younger people? OK, there may be some learning issues, but we all face that in our lives. Let’s enjoy their leadership and participate fully under their tutelage.
Holding Brexit together with a safety pin
On the 23 June ‘Brexit’ became ‘a thing’ and not just a slogan or an idea. Heads, hearts and spirits slumped as the day dawned on what the decision to leave the EU might mean. I am an Australian who has recently brexited home to Melbourne after living and working in the UK and travelling widely across Europe for the past seven years.
I am a part of a UK clergy mum’s Facebook group of more than 600 women clergy members who provide spiritual, community, educative, social, environmental, person centred care across the whole of the UK.
The UK’s geo-political unit is the parish, and the parish church and community services generated from every church in the UK is vital for the holistic functioning of the country. We arrived post GFC in 2010 and at that point there was no sign of foodbanks in the country. By January 2016 there were foodbanks in just about every parish across the UK. Religious leaders of all faith were instrumental in advocating the need for and the establishment of these services.
The Facebook group posting on the morning of the 23 June were unanimous in shock and grief by the leave decision. Their children and teenagers were in tears as they only knew a UK as part of an EU. The women were fearful for their family, friends and children’s friends who are migrants, perhaps Polish and Muslim and the expected backlash. They were so worried about what Brexit will mean for the UK farming communities dependant on EU funding. They have partners/husbands/wives who work in the EU and in long-term projects and partnerships so what will happen to their jobs?
In all the trauma of that morning what did these women of faith do? They called out via Facebook for prayers and resources to help their grieving and divided communities. They dug deep into the riches of their faith – they found scripture – ‘love the widow, orphan and alien in your midst’; they shared prayers of lament, courage and hope; they held peace and prayer vigils, they invited their Muslim and Polish friends over for cups of tea and cake and they offered lots of tissues and many hugs.
And then, thanks to the creative poetic imagination and connectedness of social media a new campaign emerged – #safetypin. Twitter, Facebook and Instragram users posted photos of themselves wearing safety pins as a sign and symbol of safety and compassion of the wearer towards Muslims, Poles and migrants who felt threatened and vilified in public places.
From our own recent election experiences, the American Presidential campaign and the seismic changes now across Europe and the UK big changes are making the everyday lives of communities stressed and torn.
Thank God for people of faith and the creative imagination in these uncertain times. Thank God for people who will not be swayed from pinning their heartfelt values for love, compassion and inclusion on their chests. And who will courageously continue to welcome the stranger in their midst.
Rev Sally Apokis,
Chaplain Queen’s College University Melbourne
& Church of All Nations Carlton
The United Kingdom 48 per cent, Brexit 52 per cent – this was the result for the separation and division of the United Kingdom from Europe. Prime Minister David Cameron announced the result from 10 Downing Street to the world. An independence leader called out “We have won”. Boris Johnson declined to stand as Tory leader. The new leader is Theresa May. What had happened?
The result was a loss for Europe and immigration and a disaster for the United Kingdom. Cameron had backed the ‘Remain’ position, but he lost.
Why had this happened? Because of immigration and globalisation, but in the result British youth lost out. They wanted to be part of Europe and the Scots have to find another way of getting into Europe. The result was a loss on both sides. Spain had an election within four days and France and Germany within four or five months. On the Europe side, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, was able to muster the power to keep on going, but how much longer can she go on when she has been a force in Europe for a decade?
There are other negative aspects to Europe. For example, in France the National Front of the conservative wing now wants more of a say and they will be more difficult. Italy and Greece are failed states, and also Turkey with its terrible loss of life in Istanbul airport recently and now a failed coup.
So, there are diminishments all around, brevities all around. Who will take up the cause of globalisation now? Will it be Russia with a question mark, or China, Japan or Malaysia?
Globalisation has been around for 2000 years as “power and kingdom” but its real power has been present only since the end of US hegemony in World War II. Religion will need to take up the aesthetics of life rather than just other features. We will see aesthetics become more of a religious nature.
Globalisation is peculiarly an American phenomenon which saw its beginning in the response to World War II. This is why, when Barack Obama heard of the result of Brexit, he called out “The UK can now go to the end of the queue”.
Last week at our Church Council meeting I mentioned that once you financially support a charity that comes under the umbrella of the Uniting Church, within two weeks you get another request for more financial support. I would like to think that most people give to Uniting Church charities as much as they can and do not need to be reminded to give more.
Sometimes, besides getting a letter for more money, there is also within Crosslight the same letter requesting money.
My latest letter was from UnitingCare asking for financial assistance to support Community Development Work and help end poverty. When you open the mailed out envelope and look at the contents I would estimate it has cost UnitingCare at least $2.00. (There is the envelope, postage, two post-type-cards and a written letter with writing on both sides on good quality paper.)
I get frustrated and concerned at the amount of money being wasted in these mail outs as I am sure most people like me just bin it. To my way of thinking there is a lot of money wasted which could be used to help these people in need.
The hidden disgrace
Once again our TVs have revealed the extent of racism directed towards our indigenous people.
Hidden, condoned and regularly practised grotesque, unstemmed violence towards incarcerated, helpless youths, perpetrated by sadists, and unchecked by the authorities.
Constantly we are bombarded, by the strident, for rights for the refugees who seek illegal entrance to our country. Banners are unfurled and loud voices proclaim for the human rights of those in detention.
Where are the banners and loud voices for the original people of this land who are subjected to even worse treatment, with Indigenous young people making up more than 90 per cent of incarcerated teens?
In the State of Western Australia, that has experienced the obscene wealth of the mining boom lining the investment portfolios of the rampant few, land grabs have seen whole communities robbed of their land and means of existence. Poverty, desperately inadequate housing, health, services and education have seen their life styles deteriorate, and their children’s futures destroyed.
Any discussion devolving on aboriginal affairs such as treaties and recognition in the constitution, inevitably arouses immediate equation with the refugee intake. Our indigenous people should have always taken precedence over immigrants. They have never in the history of Australia’s settlement, been given the dignity of self determination, or indeed the time to integrate their very valid tribal wisdom in a relevant way with the civilisation of the newcomers to their country.
Anyone who has had the immense privilege of working, living and interacting with our indigenous people must feel the same as I do – desperately angry, hopelessly inadequate and thoroughly ashamed of the undignified, disrespectful and indeed terrible neglect of such a once proud people.
When your Government demands you leave your outstation and join the larger communities because they refuse to fund your original, centuries old tenure – how would you feel? Would you like to join your clan living in a two bedroom home with three other families? Would like to live in a home with little water, sanitation, garbage disposal, or power supply? What would you do if you were obliged under your laws to accept relations who dropped in from the desert to share with you your inadequacies?
What if refugees were treated this way? What would all the strident do then? The public outcry if refugee children offended and were incarcerated and abused as are aboriginal youths would be deafening. But I guess we have learned or have become accustomed to accepting ‘our original people’ just don’t count – and who cares anyway?
I desperately do – and I hope others do also. And if we do what are we doing about it?
Ferny Creek, VIC