These words were not easy to write. None of us like to be the “kill joy” to others bliss. But as with Mother’s and Father’s Days, Christmas, New Year and so on, Valentine’s Day can be a day of pain for some whom we know. As with those other days, on Valentine’s Day, I’m reminded of the tristesse of those who are widowed, divorced, abused, single and feel isolated and alone. That brings me to the second reason why these words were hard to write. To write them means to see the faces and feel something of the pain of those whom I know and some whom, in my own way, I do actually love. So for them… for those you know…. and for others too… Who speaks?
It’s almost hard to believe that we are in 2021. As Aussies down South (where I am) are coming through a heatwave, those in the North of our world are playing in the snow. We are all trying to do the best we can to both contain COVID and to keep connected.
The We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is all about connecting us with good news. For the first month of 2021 our co-hosts are:
Living through the fires of Summer 2019-20 and across COVID into 2021 is itself good news. But this week we celebrated Australians of the Year. ‘Australia Day’ itself is being debated. Which is also good news for free speech as people search for the reasons of who we are and what we stand for.
In the midst of that I present recipients of Australians of the Year under four categories. These are people who shine a light for the way of humanity.
Senior Australian of the Year:
“Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, an Aboriginal elder from the Nauiyu community in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, is an artist, activist, writer and public speaker. “
Young Australian of The Year:
“At the age of 18, Isobel Marshall, from Adelaide, and her school friend Eloise Hall set up a social enterprise to end the stigma around menstruation and improve access to female hygiene products.”
Australian Local hero:
“Kenyan-born Rosemary Kariuki, from Oran Park southwest of Sydney, fled family abuse and violence in her home country in 1999. She became a multicultural community liaison officer with Parramatta Police in 2005, helping migrants fleeing domestic violence.”
Australian of the Year:
“Grace Tame was 15 years old when she was first groomed and raped by her 58-year-old maths teacher, who was later found guilty and jailed for his crimes. But while her abuser was able to speak publicly about the case, Ms Tame was gagged by an archaic law in Tasmania that prevents victims of sexual abuse from identifying themselves. With the help of the #LetHerSpeak campaign, Ms Tame applied to the Supreme Court for the right to publicly self-identify – and won.”
Prose addendum: Here’s a fun fact for reader’s. My maternal Grandfather, Patrick Anthony Thomas “Pat” O’Reilly, was known to write verses for his mates at bowls and in the then local newpaper. He died on 1 December in the early 1950s. On 1 December 2020 I woke to the beginnings of this poem rattling around inside me!
I have long been interested in people and culture. We have such a vast array of them in our world. At times our “otherness” can lead to competition and conflict. At others we enrich each other in our variety.
So when I saw that the Australian ABC had this story on their ABC Life list, I had to have a look. It can be used for other aspects of social media but they have applied to racism.
There are four suggestions. I’ll provide a taster quote for each one and you can go to the link yourselves at your leisure.
Suggestion One: Setting Firm Boundaries for Yourself
“This can include your engagement on social media, who you deal with and how you deal with them,” says Naarm-based counsellor Tigist Kebede.
She has some simple advice to start with.
“Log off. Especially in times of distress or where you feel overwhelmed, having contained periods where you use social media can be life-changing.”For more.
Suggestion Two: Connection is Key
Whether it’s spending more time with (biological or chosen) family, finding a mentor in your workplace or seeking out online communities, prioritise connections with people who share a base-level understanding of what you’re going through.
“Connection — whether it’s to community, to an individual, to others — is about finding your people,” Ms Kebede says.
“It’s not just because they’re the same colour but because they understand your experiences that you can share the load with them.”More on connection.
Suggestion Three: Give Yourself Space to Feel
Experiencing racism can overwhelm us with anger, anxiety and pain. It can impact us in many ways: mentally, physically and spiritually.
Rather than bury your feelings, “check in with yourself” is Ms Kebede’s advice.
In Professor Carlson’s experience, it’s Indigenous peoples’ ability to see the funny side that often helps them deal with the repetitive trauma of “another day in the colony”, to quote Dr Chelsea Bond.
Deploying humour has become a powerful tool for Indigenous social media users to speak back to racist and non-factual online commentary.
“That’s something I love about our mob, being able to see the irony. You get people saying ‘Australia was colonised peacefully’ — well, you can show just how laughable that is by turning it into a meme like [the Facebook page] Blackfulla Revolution does so well.”More on reclaiming.
There is more to the article than what I have gratuitously cut and paste from ABC Life. The link is in each quote.
As I was preparing this post some other words were forming. Below is an excerpt and link.
I’m very grateful to Polly at Rocks and Bones for drawing my attention to Charles Causley, a poet from Cornwall. Raised from humble beginnings, this sailor, teacher and poet is quite a chap. We began chatting about Welsh poets. Then, turning to Cornwall, I asked about Cornish poets and Polly sent me Charles Causley’s very fine poem Timothy Winters. It is dreadfully sad and you can find excerpts of Timothy Winters at wikipedia.
Here is a fun one called Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast.
Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast Bought an old castle complete with a ghost, But someone or other forgot to declare To Colonel Fazak that the spectre was there.
On the very first evening, while waiting to dine, The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine, When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare, Shot out of the chimney and shivered, ‘Beware!’
For the remainder of the poem you can read, listen to, or both, at Poem Hunter. As is often the case, writers become acquainted with other writers. As we see from wikipedia
He was corresponded with well-acquainted with such writers as Siegfried Sassoon, A. L. Rowse, Susan Hill, Jack Clemo and Ted Hughes (his closest friend) — and a host of other figures from the literary, publishing and wider cultural spheres around the world, as well the southwest region. In addition to Causley’s poetry dealing with issues of faith, folklore, memory, his wartime experience and its later impact, landscape, travel, friends and family, his poems for children were and remain very popular. He used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of ‘Timothy Winters’.
Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath would be known to other poetry fans and I have mentioned Plath before.
It is wonderful to be taken on a poetic pilgrimage to new poets from other lands.
Interview with Christine Anu on ABC News Australia.
Being a 1970s child was quite an experience. But it just dawned on me that I shared being born in the early 70s with Cathy Freeman. For those of us in Australia Cathy Freeman is a household name. Cathy represented Australia in athletics and, during the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, she lit the Olympic Cauldron.
This year is 20 years since Cathy played such a significant role in those Olympic Games. But that is not the reason for the post this time around. What I would like to highlight, given it’s more particular focus on WATWB matters, is the work of the Cathy Freeman foundation. This foundation gives an opportunity for young indigenous people to access educational and vocational opportunities. This is especially significant for those geographically remote locations.
Some would be aware, some would not, that Cathy Freeman is an Australian indigenous woman. She represents the aboriginal and therefore First Nations people of Australia. Part of the work of her foundation is creating opportunities for young indigenous women and men to find their way in life. In an interview on Friday, 25 September 2020, Eastern Australian time, ABC News journalist, Christine Anu, interviews Cathy Freeman on her life during and after the Olympic Games and also her life with the Cathy Freeman foundation.
I have included the link and hope you enjoy the interview between Christine and Cathy. Although not an indigenous Australian myself, I was both deeply moved by Cathy‘s presence in the 2000 Olympic Games and also to hear of the great work in her foundation.
Perhaps some of you reading this may also be moved or even inspired.
Also, don’t forget to have a look at any other posts who are tagged with WATWB. Thank you for supporting our work to promote good news stories.
Lines based on certain regrets that come with rumination upon the painted faces of women on North Clark Street, Chicago
Roses, Red roses, Crushed In the rain and wind Like mouths of women Beaten by the fists of Men using them. O little roses And broken leaves And petal wisps: You that so flung your crimson To the sun Only yesterday.