A Person’s A Person, No Matter How Small

Posted: 3 March 2016

Clare and LouiseMy wife Jane and I have two little girls, Clare and Louise; Clare turns two this month and Louise is just over six months old. Clare is at a really fun – but albeit all consuming – stage. She loves nothing more than playing outside, and if she is not insisting on being pushed around in her plastic toy car, she is carefully dropping her toys in the wading pool, before picking them out of the water and starting all over again. Louise is beginning to shuffle around on the lounge room floor while learning about the world through studying a range of stuffed animals. Clare will now regularly come and lay down next to Louise on the floor and with an enthusiastic ‘hello’ proceed to take back those stuffed animals which she believes are her own. Everyday our daughters are growing and developing but they really are still just babies. They rely on us for everything, we are their nurturers and their protectors, their friends and their family. Their world is safe and secure because we make it that way for them.

But what if one afternoon in the middle of Clare playing outside I just walked away, leaving her in the backyard by herself with no food, no protection and no shelter. Her smile would fall and the frown would descend into tears, she would cry her eyes out, her nose would run and she would go to the back door yelling ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’, not understanding what had just happened. As night began to fall she would cry and cry, tears streaming down her face. She would be hungry and want her milk. She is not old enough to reason out her situation and create or find shelter in the yard. I really don’t know, or do I want to know, how she would cope. Would she even make it through the night?

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Loneliness…the greatest tragedy of all

Posted: 21 December 2013

man-on-benchEach year, as so many of us wrap gifts, baste the Christmas turkey and look forward to the holiday fun, there is a growing proportion who will neither receive a gift, enjoy a festive meal or have the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones. These people are not only the homeless, the physically and mentally disabled, the widowed and the elderly, but in the Western World they are increasingly people in our own circles, the work colleague, the friendly neighbour, or the migrant family.

A recent survey conducted by Relationships Australia, discovered that up to 15% of the country reported frequently feeling lonely. New research commissioned by Age UK revealed that 450,000 British pensioners aged 65 and over face Christmas alone; 26% did not look forward to the Christmas season and 17% reported that Christmas brought back too many memories of those who had passed away.

Asked many years ago by an American reporter about the poorest country she had ever been too, the renowned nun Mother Teresa of Calcutta responded that while she had indeed been to many poor places the poorest one she encountered was America. Somewhat surprised the reporter reinforced that America was one of the wealthiest nations, but Mother went on to say that the poverty suffered was that of loneliness. Captured more fully in her later writings Mother Teresa explained, “The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Myth of Overpopulation

Posted: 5 June 2013

overpopulation PicAustralia recently welcomed its 23 millionth citizen. Of course we do not know who this person is exactly but they are out there somewhere. The person may have been a new born baby or possibly an immigrant who relocated to call Australia home. The news reports generally seemed to have been positive, or at least neutral, about our growing population numbers, which are still rather small compared to other nations. The same positivity was certainly not present when the global population ticked over to seven billion in early 2012. At that time there were renewed warnings from some quarters that earth could no longer continue with so many humans moving in.

Talk of overpopulation is nothing new. One of the foundational works on the subject was published in 1798 by an English Vicar named Thomas Malthus. Malthus believed that unchecked population growth would lead to a reduced standard of living and he actually advocated the death of poorer members of society so that those of a higher social status would not starve. Malthus predicted that society was about to reach a point where the planet would no longer be able to produce enough food causing worldwide starvation. Although his predictions of a global meltdown never came true, Malthus is still cited as an authoritative reference for those who advocate the forced curbing of population growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Lent and the Cross

Posted: 5 April 2013


crossWe are rapidly progressing through the season of Lent and if we have been taking the season seriously, the physical and spiritual efforts we have undertaken are probably being felt. This exercising of the spirit is much like exercising the body.  Initially when we start a fitness regime, maybe running or swimming or a particular group sport it can be tough, we cannot go as far as we would like, but as we keep working at it, little by little, our ability becomes greater, the distractions and bothers fall away.  This is the Church’s hope for us, that by now we are starting to grow stronger in virtue, but we must keep the cross before our eyes to remind us of why we are suffering and of whom we suffer with. Everything done in Lent has to be done for Christ and with Christ. One might live on bread and water for forty days but if that suffering is not united with Christ’s suffering then all that has been achieved is most probably significant weight loss.

Each one of us is called during this Lent to wait on the Lord, for our sufferings are not meaningless, but the very opportunities that God allows to unite us to him. Sure, we were not created to suffer but we live in a fallen world and now the only way to overcome our fallenness and be united with the Trinity is through the cross. There is no other method; no pill, no book, no website, no self-help DVD and not even another person. By allowing himself to be hung nailed to a tree Christ wanted to show us that happiness in this life – and salvation in the next – comes through waiting on God.  The cross is the exact opposite of what happened with our first parents in the garden. Read the rest of this entry »

Death. A Part of Life.

Posted: 6 October 2012

It turns out that I am dying. One day, in the not too distant future, I will be dead. It may be tomorrow or it may be in seventy years, but either way, compared with the scope of history, it will be fairly soon. It will happen to me and to you and to everyone we know. In fact from the moment we are born we are on a path towards death. Death is actually happening all around us. As you read this an old man is breathing his last breath in a nursing home and a middle-aged woman is saying goodbye to her family in a hospital. Over 150,000 deaths occur worldwide each day, yet the modern psyche seems less equipped to deal with death than ever before.

For all of history, illness, death and grief have generally taken place in the home within a family context. However, in the Western World in the last century, death and illness have been relocated behind reception desks and security staff into hospitals, nursing homes and palliative care units. People go in and bodies come out. Yet for most of us the closest we will get to that, is sitting in our car next to a windowless mortuary van at the traffic lights. Of course our progress in healthcare and nursing is a wonderful achievement but it has come at a price, that of us seeing death as a somewhat unique anomaly. This compartmentalisation of death in modern society into purpose built institutions away from ‘real life’ has resulted in a general ignorance and even fear of death. Read the rest of this entry »

Violence again Women. Australia says…Yes

Posted: 7 July 2012

ProstitutesIn 2004 the Federal Government funded a $20 million campaign with the slogan, ‘Violence against Women. Australia Say No.’ The campaign was to bring awareness of violence occurring behind closed doors. As part of the campaign a TV ad was produced with a selection of men justifying why they assaulted women and the slogan making it clear that such behaviour was not tolerable. More recently a government campaign was launched called ’The Line’ which encouraged young people to consider where they would draw the line regarding issues such as ‘hooking up’ sexually at parties. The message in response to this possible quandary was not to engage sexually with someone unless there was mutual consent.

It may seem on face value that Australia is serious about stamping out abuse but I wonder just how serious we really are. While all these sorts of campaigns are of some value they fall into the interesting category of a secular government trying to teach morality. While a government may make laws to try and enact a particular behaviour they are seemingly unable to plug the illogical and confusing holes that appear in their attempts. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the point of suffering?

Posted: 5 November 2011

Anyone out there had any sufferings cross their path lately? Perhaps it’s something transitory like recently losing a job. Perhaps it’s something long term like caring for someone with a disability. Maybe it’s the anxious wait to meet the right person or the heartache of dealing with marriage problems. Then of course there are the sufferings that most of us will never have to encounter such as starvation or a lack of clean drinking water. Suffering is a strange thing, it surrounds us and all of us will meet it in some shape at various points through our lives, yet most people have no idea about how to respond to it.

I recall once being down about something and a friend said to me in all sincerity “just remember that there is always someone worse off than you”. I am sure many of you have given or received similar advice. And at face value the logic is true, I am not living on a dollar-a-day in a third world country; I have a car and a house and people who love me. Surely I would be better to consider the trials of others before getting all worked up about my own sufferings? Read the rest of this entry »