To Live and Let Live

When the blind lead the blind down the streets of the CBD they forget, or, are blind to the smooth and effective systems that regulate daily life, from bedtime to re-bed time. Together they facilitate civic life that we all enjoy. To try to be free of them is to wish for a paradise free from interdependence and conscience restraints, an idle life free of responsibility of any kind. It’s almost as impossible as being perfect.

Why this compulsive stumbling toward the unattainable? We live gregarious lives intertwined with others. We depend on others as they depend on us. To reverse that is to act like infants challenging parental authority. For four or five year olds such behaviour can find pardoned with a simple, “Sorry”. When adults misbehave, putting their own perceived rights above those of others, there are social consequences; disruptions mean amnesty  at a higher cost (invariably the community ends up paying). 

Where there are more than two individuals there is potential for conflict and disagreement. Who and what determines who is right? Who deserves to dominate? Does might give a divine right to rule and be obeyed? Is the human kingdom no more than a pretentious animal kingdom; where the choice lies between fleeing and fighting? If the noble “two-legged things” are truly compassionate and respectful of fellow humans, higher standards of behaviour are expected. Consideration and empathy would rate highly. These could only be possible with a degree of self-restraint. On a social platform this means discipline   – exalting the simple principle of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. 

Cynics in Politics

How politicians do take us for granted, and then make believe that they work for our good. Example in hand is the much debated Anti- discrimination Bill before parliament. There are the self-righteous claims and the flag waving on issues that arise from time-to-time in the workplace and our educational institutions. There is no arguing with the facts that in our society merit ranks foremost in the job selections process. We support students ( and teachers) having free access to where they want to study/work without hindrance from the governing bodies. And, legislations already exist to protect the rights of disadvantaged individuals. There may be half-a-dozen Acts at the Commonwealth level, and equal numbers the same at state levels. Bodies and corporate institutions at the micro levels have codes and guidelines under the watchful eyes of their governing boards. So. What is the idea of burdening the taxpayers with what is a tedious process for  “notional “ gains that have not been validated in public. And to all purposes, would only result in a surfeit of policing.  

If the government truly believes that there are grey areas (that in their eyes) are being exploited, and that reforms need to be introduced for the benefit of the community, it should do so transparently; ensuring that the constitution rights of all parties are protected in the spirit and letter of the law. In the larger scheme of things, we already have a legislated body that’s charged with scrutinising and reviewing the Constitution and Laws as they exist. Should it not be expedient to reconsider all legislations on discrimination with a view to rationalise and combine them? When the law allows it, the courts (be it reluctantly) will allow it too. 

Onward To The Kingdom

Considering a “reflection for the day”, I am directed to sync my devotions and spirituality with my chronological age. I admit there has been a lag since  being an  altar boy, learning catechism verbatim, habitual morning and evening prayers etc, and the emergence of “Doubting Thomas”. There has been a misfit that I was not aware of. How can a menacing devil sit on one shoulder,  while a gentle angel prompts tenderly through the other ear? The juvenile symbols can no longer satisfy or be wished away as “mysteries”. One needs more fodder for a mature intellect  that questions as it digests. It must implicitly comply with visible and empirical laws.

This papacy heralded the Church to be outward looking; echoing Christ’s instruction for the disciples to go out into the world preaching the kingdom of God. The ship of the Church navigates new, uncharted waters. Within a few decades a world order has changed, yielding place to new. Recognised logic and eloquence have been shaded by laws of physics and technology. In the new environment secularism morphs in new trajectories; creating and dismantling ground and structures with transient and soluble foundations. Everything’s relative; today’s reality becomes a myth tomorrow. Everyone has a right to be right; a right proven right by the right methodology ( in some cases created by the decibels of the announcement). Within this mayhem, how does a believer preach, or look outwardly?

Notable saints would advise the need to first recognise the problem. Then name it. With discernment and prayer one can proceed with the logical process of solving the problem. Despite eloquence from the pulpit, people are attracted away by the commonsense and science of modernism. While, in our churches pews go empty. I think loss of God is the main problem – no matter how we dress it. Secularism is the organic growth from an amalgam of scientific enlightenment and cultural diversities. On the one hand we seek empirically based answers, on the other we are confronted by new cultures pushing for validity, confusing traditional thinking born of faith, hope and charity.  The problem becomes one of identity – the image we want others to see us by. The disciples must decide how to assert themselves while accepting the complexities of the macrocosm. To successfully accomplish the given mission one needs “to read the signs effectively”. This is possible when one matures in understanding with wisdom. One does not need to quibble for words; the words will be given at the appointed time. 

Featured

Springtime

Perceptive of wind direction and clouds

The vine dresser confidently prunes

Sapped out, unproductive branches

Creating space for hope-filled fruitfulness 

That returns with spring.

Stark granite limbs

Faced wintery blasts

Bereft of vitalising saps

That retreated to mother roots

Entombed in frozen earth

Brooding yet expectant.

Warmth in a new spring’s Dawn 

Stirred up the branches 

To issue invitations

Through highways of the vine.

Spritely Saps responded 

Rushing through semaphored branches 

Bursting out in splendid shoots.

Summer shone through lush leaves

Sheltering plump grapes

Growing with the constant warmth

Anticipating fuller fruitfulness.

Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds

Guests

Arriving in their summer best

To join a fest of sensuousness.

Nothing stops this circle of rotating seasons

Each season a precursor of the next.

Each grape receives intimation 

Of finding Sublimation 

In the bridegroom’s joyful cup.

Going The Other Side

We brooded

Surrendering gregarious intimacies

 Before a raging bull 

Bellowing toxic fumes

Consuming, charring all.

Liberty’s countering Spirit 

Arouses green leaflings 

From sooty beds

To herald a new dawn of dreaming 

Nibbling koalas, and greens with frolicking marsupials;

Awakening all’s 

The distant call from a kookaburra.

Echoes resonate

as one satisfied tankard’s

Set down, and

Another froth-full rises

Catching the glint from the setting sun.

Buddies belly up to the bar

Bantering, revisiting

Unfinished games and politics past.

“Is thirsty business fixing fences”.

Bringing round the cheers 

The publican smiles

A fast-erasing sparkle in his eye.

When Anarchy Usurps Liberty

There are daily crusades in the media over some cause or other against autocratic authoritarianism. The catch cry is “Freedom”. Some right minded individuals, unknowingly, get corralled into a wider web of indiscriminate negativity and seditions. Freedom is an innate aspiration of the human spirit. We start early as rebellious kids, flaunting rules and wishes of the family. We naturally side with the underdog against unequal odds. Each aspires to be a Prometheus, bringing enlightenment and freedom to an oppressed humanity. This “spirit” is also exploited to seduce for ulterior motives and agenda. But. We are also gifted with a faculty of intelligence that offers checks and balances in a wobbly world. It’s warning: “thou shalt not be brain washed”- a process for depriving the mind of the ability to think for itself.
A situation arises, where, the call for liberation from a tyranny, leads to enslavement to another. Revolution itself, personal or political is a form of purgation that shows a willingness to change, which is always good. But, like all things natural, it leads to a paradox. As the yin and yang day and night co-exist as two sides of the same coin. The difference is in what we willingly see. Governments and social attitudes change, but the change is not viewed in the same way universally. Changes brought about by social action cause more pain and tyranny when change agents become the controllers. How often loud voices of the minority have led to legislated changes that prove oppressive for the rest? They become a nightmare for government agencies and the community at large.
Moral of the story to me is that reason and common sense must not be forsaken when considering innovations that involve two or more individuals.

Listening to Jesus

Recollection on Matt 13:1-03, could ask, “Do you hear Jesus talking to you”? An incredulous look may question the questioner’s state of mind. In Christ’s own time people failed to understand his teachings because he spoke in parables. It would be natural, among the distractions and scientific learning, if one’s first response is that of denial. But, to his believers Christ still speaks through scriptures, the cosmos and all it contains. One needs the grace granted to the apostles to understand the master’s words.  

It is not surprising that the uninitiated fail to see the signs of seasons, skies and nature. In a superficial Life we  take “messages” at face value. Pop culture germinated in this existence  for the moment. it’s a mentality that stretches into every aspect of modern life. Fearfully, I remember the children’s story, where a grasshopper frolicked in the sun, while an ant laboured through the good times to lay by stores for darker times. We overlook consequences. Lifetimes and resources are being spent rueing  past actions and lost opportunities. Decisions that were based on choices. Can we hear a gentle voice of caution and guidance during our decision making? If so, I believe that it is Jesus speaking to us.

How scrupulously correct we seek to be in our interactions. How scrupulously  we watch our own and other people’s behaviour. Appearance and perceptions are important. Yet, we are also prepared to let “unscrupulous” behaviour slide by in the interests of social unity and “ political correctness”. Our current norms tend to be relative (one might say ambivalent ) to the priorities dictated by perceptions of Freedom. Secular society’s great gift to the world is the feeling of liberation from the yokes of religion, morality and orthodoxy. One is free to act as one pleases so long as the majority in government feels comfortable about it.

Many psychiatrists’ couches have given relief to burdened consciences by differentiating between scruple and conscience. In associating scruples with social behaviour they neutralise the fears of damnation and consequences of sin- which would be borne by an individual conscience. Reparation is offered by way of changing habits, commonsense rational solutions and monetary compensation. Once done it is hoped there will be no lasting scars or damages. Figuratively, an eye is offered for an eye –  the court allows it, justice allows it. If unresolved flash backs begin to haunt, the pain can be eased by clinical intervention. It is to be resolved, or, treated in the here and now.

But, not all rely on terra firma solutions. There are transcendental extensions for those who believe that we are more than just mind and body. To them actions and consequences must be resolved not only in the body and mind, but in the spirit too. They are intertwined influencing and directing each other.  The ancients understood this and devised systems and traditions for dealing with human conditions in an ever changing and evolving universe. Social changes have been some times too strong for traditions tarnished and diminished by human misadventures and the sands of time. To those grounded in the traditions of the elders there are insights and revelations not granted to the intelligent and worldly learned. For them there is no bad conscience: it’s a gift of discernment keeping the wayfarer on the straight and narrow. Believers are able to distinguish between an earthly “scruple” and the grace of a conscience. Scruples may tell us when we are wrong, wrong, wrong, but do not offer healing or ways of redemption. Conscience indicates when we are off the track, where, why, and how to mend a relationship that may have been put to risk.