For those following along at home, you will know I have moved house. Moving is very disruptive and many a psychological survey put it in the top three stressful things alongside death and divorce. The buying, selling, moving weren’t that stressful, but the settling in has been tougher. Adaptation doesn’t come easily. It is a consequence of my privilege to be able to be unsettled. Not everyone can move when they want to and not everyone has the luxury of moving to somewhere safe, near family and the beauty of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Being unsettled for a while is a small price to pay at one level, but the existential challenge to ‘land’ is real, and it is taking time.
In this year of activism I am reflecting on this privilege. Those in islands, close to coastlines and living on deltas around the world are the first to be bearing the consequences of our common home having the sea levels rise. Those fleeing from war, famine and drought and looking for a safer place to raise a family don’t have the same number of choices open to me. Those with an Australian passport, or indeed any passport, still have a place to call on to give them refuge.
Unpacking what I have, finding the seeds of ideas and poems first sown in old note books, I am still throwing things away. I even managed to fill another bin yesterday as I begun to set up a space where I can work. I mused about what I was discarding and why. Not quite setting a criteria but saving blank pages in half filled note books took priority over the pages that had been scribbled on. One thing I did not throw away, and was really pleased to discover, was an original paper I had written in October 1992 (and then was reworked and published by Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace in 1993). I have mentioned this previously in a post last year, ironically on Mother’s Day. I presented it at an ecumenical Economics and Ethics workshop in North Adelaide when I had just turned 34. I was a mum of four children by then ranging in age from 12 to 5. I had completed a Masters degree in Peace Studies a few years earlier and was really keen to keep refining my thinking around economics and ethics from a Christian perspective, especially factoring in new thinking on environmental and feminist theologies that were emerging. I am a little surprised I didn’t keep going with this work and have no real idea why I started to dilute its place in my thinking … well apart from the dysfunction of the patriarchal church I found myself in, little kids and life!
In the paper I opted for an organic gardening book‘s analysis of the difference of what was and mostly still is, dominant paradigm of Newtonian physics, from quantum physics. Where an approach to change was from continuous to discontinuous and from uniform to quantum leaps; and the source of power from entropy to creative power; and problem solving being approached from either/or to both/ and. I backed my thinking by invoking economist and futurist Hazel Henderson and a few theologians like Sallie McFague, Tom Berry and eco-feminists like Carolyn Merchant and Charlene Spretnak. I built a framework from the effects of others and added in an ecumencial perspective, and that being the principle to do whatever we could together and only stand apart when it was impossible from a doctrinal point of view not to act together. My thesis being that the planet is our common home, gifted to all of us and that we should treat the earth as our mother and all the global commons as our sisters and brothers. The reason I was giving this workshop was to support the combined churches in my home town to discern a strategy and course of action to support our planet, respect our humanity and foster or even perhaps create, inclusive models of economic development. Finding this paper has shown me the depth of my roots and also caused me concern about how I have left so much of this to lie fallow, or at least not well attended to in the most recent years.
The pillars I promulgated were:
- Shifting from Father Right to Nature Right
- Working for justice, peace and the integrity of creation
- Inclusion of the other
- Remembering the future
And the questions to assist discernment to be:
- Is our reflection coming from a breakdown or breakthrough analysis of the signs of the times?
- Are we taking into account the integrated nature of social, economic, cultural and environmental variables?
- Are we questioning Father Right and therefore including feminine, global and intergenerational variables?
- What are the global commons, common wealth, common good and common security implications of the idea?
I think these have held up pretty well over these last nearly thirty years and is causing me to reflect on what I have done to keep these questions and practices alive and what it means to rediscover them in this move. The paper is a note to self from the past. It also feels that perhaps one of its purposes was to be a note to self for the future as well and that is it not an accident it has been called out of the recesses of boxes long closed and I am being prompted to learn and discern again as this year of activism unfolds. These were not new ideas at the time and they certainly aren’t now, however they are giving me comfort and helping me to land as I recalibrate and get settled.