Tag Archive: freedom


“To whoever sees this…”

Someone called Grace has been leaving notes on a lamp post I walk past. And I came to wonder whether there is a person called ‘Grace’ or whether the grace is the space being offered, a gentle invitation to live into all you have it in you to be…

What grace-space would you invite others into? What counsel, what love letter would you leave on a lamp post?

westword lmaw vigil 287

An act of public witness and liturgical protest in a response to the current crisis on Manus Island following the government’s closure of the island’s immigration detention centre.  Sunday 19 November 2017, Tim Watts, Labor MP Office, 97 Geelong Rd, Footscray

We are here today to stand in solidarity with men who the Australian Government have held on Manus Island in limbo for over four years. We are here today on the unceded land of the people of the Kulin Nation because on October 31 the Manus camp was officially “closed.”

We are here today because water, food and power have been cut off. Over 600 men have been abandoned. They are collecting water in rubbish bins. They are digging wells to survive. They are showering in the rain. And left starving and without medical care. Because they can no longer tolerate political games and human rights abuses.

There has been no plan. There has been no justice. Their lives are on the line. Men have stated: We can’t blame the sea for drowning people but we blame Australia for killing us. People need a genuine solution. Not to be shifted from one prison to another where their lives remain at risk.

We echo their calls for freedom and safety and call on the Australian government to bring people back to Australia immediately and provide safe resettlement. We want the government to know that we are watching this humanitarian emergency unfold and we do not accept the violence, the abuse, and the ongoing persecution of refugees.

westword lmaw vigil 313



 

We hear stories of the men on Manus in their own voice. Raise our arms as they do in non-violent protest. We spell out SOS in cups in solidarity and symbolically of life-giving water denied. We make decorations together with our children and tell them stories… we want to teach our children justice. We make chains of the names of those we know on Manus and symbolically tear those chains. Felt and red lights denote the blood on the hands of our democratically elected Government who are treating people this way in our name.  We have barbed wire on our tree instead of tinsel – neither the welcome you thought you’d be given nor the home you hoped to find. We sing, to remember and be re-membered.  We make decorations, we recite, we pray, we sing… it feels like something. Wherever two or three are gathered… there is our hope.

 

Hold on (Love Makes A Way)

(tune: Keep your hand to the plough/Keep your eyes on the prize)

They are coming across the sea,
From their homes they have had to flee,
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We are here to sing and shout,
Why you keeping God’s children out?
We say love makes a way, hold on.

Chorus
Hold on, hold on,

We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We say welcome the refugee
We say set all the people free
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

We have room in our hearts to care
We have plenty enough to share
We say, love makes a way, hold on.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

westword lmaw vigil 068

I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.

 

 

It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.

 


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP

 

… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP

 

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

 

“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

 

 

To Xia

My dear,
I’ll never give up the struggle for freedom from the oppressors’
jail, but I’ll be your willing prisoner for life.

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
I want to live in your dark insides
surviving on the dregs in your blood

inspired by the flow of your estrogen

I hear your constant heartbeat
drop by drop, like melted snow from a mountain stream
if I were a stubborn, million-year rock
you’d bore right through me
drop by drop

day and night

Inside you
I grope in the dark
and use the wine you’ve drunk
to write poems looking for you
I plead like a deaf man begging for sound
Let the dance of love intoxicate your body

I always feel
your lungs rise and fall when you smoke
in an amazing rhythm
you exhale my toxins
I inhale fresh air to nourish my soul

I’m your lifelong prisoner, my love
like a baby loath to be born
clinging to your warm uterus
you provide all my oxygen
all my serenity

A baby prisoner
in the depths of your being
unafraid of alcohol and nicotine
the poisons of your loneliness
I need your poisons
need them too much

Maybe as your prisoner
I’ll never see the light of day
but I believe
darkness is my destiny
inside you
all is well

The glitter of the outside world
scares me
exhausts me
I focus on
your darkness –
simple and impenetrable

 

The poem was written by Liu Xiaobo, anti communist, writer, poet, activist, for his wife Xia from prison.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_0385

p.44

I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood
I see that the elementary laws never apologise…
I exist as I am, that is enough
If no other in the world be aware I sit content…
I know the amplitude of time
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains
of hell are with me.

 

img_0378

 

p.31

Who need be afraid of the merge?
Undrape… you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded.

 

Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass

img_0376

 

054

Last night I participated in a graveyard shift with the Walking for Freedom crew who were walking for 30 hours for the 30 ASIO negatively assessed refugees who are still indefinitely detained in Australia.  Largely this is awareness raising, while we will willingly acknowledge the rights and responsibilities of the ASIO to protect the local populace we are interested in what this looks like in the light of that little piece of paper called The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  People are being held, uncharged, indefinitely, without any opportunity to defend themselves. Is that OK?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 Articles – here’s the first 14… apart from Article 4 (slavery)… can we honestly say that these refugees are being treated fairly and with just consideration of their human rights?  Let’s talk about it as we walk along the way… 

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

  • Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

  • All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

  • Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

  • Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

  • (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
  • (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  • (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

  • (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
  • (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

— About the ASIO Negatively Assessed Refugees —

Australia has found these 30 people to be refugees fleeing war and persecution. However, ASIO have given these people negative clearance assessments- claiming that they may be a security threat to Australia. ASIO do not have to inform the people of why they think they are a threat. The refugees are not given any chance to dispute or explain the claims against them.

As they were granted refugee status, Australia cannot deport them to their home countries and because of their negative assessments from ASIO, they cannot be released into the Australian community.

For some it is now the beginning of their sixth year in detention. Six years of their lives have been taken from them. No one knows when they will be released.

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

— David Whyte
from The House of Belonging
©1996 Many Rivers Press

Terns by Mary Oliver

066

Terns

Don’t think just now of the trudging forward of thought,

But of the wing-drive of unquestioning affirmation.

It’s summer, you never saw such a blue sky,

And here they are, those white birds with quick wings,

Sweeping over the waves, chattering and plunging,

Their thin beaks snapping, their hard eyes

Happy as little nails

The years to come-this is a promise-

Will grant you ample time

To try the difficult steps in the empire of thought

Where you seek for the shining proofs you think you must have.

But nothing you ever understand will be sweeter, or more binding,

Than this deepest affinity between your eyes and the world.

The flock thickens

Over the rolling, salt brightness. Listen,

Maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world

In the clasp of attention, isn’t the perfect prayer,

But it must be close, for the sorrow, whose name is doubt,

Is thus subdued, and not through the weaponry of reason,

But of pure submission. Tell me, what else

Could beauty be for? And now the tide

Is at its very crown,

The white birds =sprinkle down,

Gathering up the loose silver rising

As if weightless. It isn’t instruction, or parable.

It isn’t for any vanity or ambition

Except for the one allowed, to stay alive.

It’s only a nimble frolic

Over the waves. And you find, for hours,

You cannot even remember the questions

That weigh so in your mind.

TYPE 2

p.156 Everything that happens is our expression of Holy Will, from the birth of a star in a distant corner of the milky Way to your hand turning a page of this book. In theistic terms, everything that occurs is God’s Will. God’s Will is not mysterious or removed from us – it is expressed in what is occurring right now and what will occur in the next moment, in every corner of the universe. Even though human actions may be out of synch with Being, from a nondualistic perspective even those events are part of God’s Will. Everything that happens, then, is what God wants to have happen.

p.158 The solution to human destructiveness does not lie in trying to regulate or eradicate it but rather with connecting to a dimension within ourselves in which such behaviour does not make any sense.

Just as it is an immense presumption to assume that what is happening externally should not be happening, so it is also an immense presumption to assume that what we are experiencing is not what we are supposed to be experiencing: that we should not be angry at our partner or unsympathetic toward our best friend, for instance, or that we should be more open and enlightened and not caught in some emotional state or other. Out of this kind of evaluation of our own experience we then set about trying to manipulate ourselves so that our experience is otherwise. This propensity to be constantly tinkering with what’s going on with us s one of the characteristics of the personality.

p.159 When we perceive reality from this perspective, we know ourselves to be participants in the Holy Will of the universe. We know that each of our lives is an expression of God’s Will. When we are in alignment with this reality, we know that we are being moved rather than being the mover. Moving with the current of what is happening both inside ourselves and outside of ourselves is what the other name for this Holy Idea, Holy Freedom, means. Holy Freedom is the understanding that we’re only free when we do not resist the flow of what is – when we do not resist God’s Will. What we call free will is choosing to align with what is or to resist it, and in time we see that only by surrendering to what is are we truly free.

Holy Freedom, then, is Holy Will perceived from within our human experience. Holy Freedom means seeing that your personal will and the will of the universe are inseparable. Rather than needing to assert what you want or manipulating reality to conform to how you think it ought to be, which is the will of the personality and a central characteristic of the Ennea-type 2, when you perceive through the lens of Holy Freedom you understand that real freedom is being able to surrender to the flow of what is happening, both inwardly and outwardly. Ultimately the more you perceive reality objectively, the more clearly you see that even the notion of having your own personal will is a delusion of the personality.

p.160 …you find that having your own way is really a matter of surrendering to your inner truth. Your way is following the thread of your own experience. It is not a matter of choosing or not choosing it, your way is something that is given to you. It is the road you are walking on, the landscape you are travelling through. You discover that it is a huge relief not to feel that the territory you are crossing should be different than exactly how it is for you.