Founded on raw courage or conviction or both, there are powerful things happening around the traps. Big steps, small steps — but steps they are, and all capable of producing massive change for the good.
Randomly, from my week’s reading and radio, stories that touched me, made me cry and gave me hope: a radio interview about a young woman who lost both legs in a terrorist bombing who has gone on to found a peace corps; an article by an aboriginal author calling for the end of the depiction of the aboriginal victim in Aussie literature; magazine feature on two men who have partnered up to start a bakery with a difference…
First up: Gill Hicks who was unlucky enough to be standing one person away from a bomb when it detonated in the London underground. She lost her legs, 80% of her blood and her heart stopped for 28 minutes. In fact, a couple of times, she was pronounced technically dead. Out of gratitude, this amazing woman made a decision right there and then in the moment she realised she was still alive, to found MAD for Peace, a not-for-profit association that encourages people – that’s us – to do our bit by interacting and working together so perhaps one day peace may become as instinctive an action as caring for the environment.
Her account – gritty, poignant, inspirational and told with a great sense of humour – can be viewed on http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/07/01/4036782.htm?site=conversations .
Secondly, there’s aboriginal author Melissa Lucashenko with her plea for Australian writers to move beyond outdated depictions of aborigines as victims. She calls for a more satisfactory mythology than the ‘fairy tales of Aboriginal Australia that have run and been re-run since Captain Cook’s footfall in 1770’. Instead of the tragic innocent, she pleads for portrayal of ‘Aboriginal Everymen and Everywomen…who have never seen inside jail cells or paddy wagons, Aborigines who can thrive, emotionally, spiritually and economically.
‘Can we build a new set of stories about living here together or is the dead hand of Australian colonialism destined to remain always lingering on in our literature, our film and our folklore.’
Refreshing, empowering for her people, a reminder of the increasing number who are making it to the world stage in print, film, music, sport. Melissa’s latest novel Mullumbimby was longlisted for the Miles Franklin 2014 and won the De Loitte Queensland Literary Award for Fiction 2013. (From “Aborigines in the Australian literary tradition”, Australian Author, June 2014).
And then there’s Todd Ferridge and Nathan Karnovsky – an atheist and a non-practising Jew – with a project that brought a warmth to my body and a smile to my lips. These two men have joined forces to start up a bagel business which in itself doesn’t sound particularly revolutionary, but the Holy Bagel is proving to be a uniting treat among the various religious communities. ‘Arguably the best bagel afficionados – the local Jewish community – have cottoned on, even though their bagels aren’t kosher. “It’s not just a Jewish product. It’s for everyone,” Todd says. “We’re feeding the Jewish community. But we’re also feeding the Catholics and the Christians – everyone. It’s a ring of joy: it connects everybody.”’ (From “Heart & Soul”, by Amanda Keenan in West Weekend, 28-29 June, 2014.)
It’s my guess that their ‘ring of joy’ will send ripples well beyond those communities.
People making a difference. How marvellous. How wonderful. And how ultimately empowering. The winds of change are surely stirring once again.
Coming from a Judeo-Christian-Protestant-Catholic-Agnostic background, growing up a privileged white in a black country, schooled at Roman Catholic convents, living and writing in Muslim countries, witnessing first-hand both the destruction that religion can cause and the joy and solace it can bring, choosing to spend a year of my undergrad degree studying the histories and philosophies of several of the major religions – Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity – these spirited calls for peace, understanding and connection between peoples and religions are food for my soul. Small wonder that religion informs so much of my writing.
If you have a comment to make or want to add your own good news story, I look forward to reading it. Happy reading, writing and connecting until next month.
Photo: Brian A Jackson i-Stock photos