Just heard that the Taliban have offered their endorsement to Donald Trump, that idea brings together activism and disruption to new places and is a great reminder that when systems change is being called for, there is always the potential to end up with some strange bedfellows! Having a common agenda is a central ingredient to building movements and pathways for change, and building a shared platform and understanding of translating that vision into action, might start with leaders, and left to its own devices can morph and meander down some dark and difficult holes as well as rise up into sunshine we can all bask in.
This week I am writing from Kabi Kabi country in Queensland and feel I am thrusting all my privileges onto the page even by saying that. Yes I can travel, I get to see family and get hugs, I transferred through an airport with the flash of a travel documents on my mobile device, a device that is now being used as digital passport to go to cafes, restaurants and to stay in a hotel, I have permission to get into cars, planes, cabs, trains and have travelled in all of these in last 24 hours. All this along with my white, educated, English speaking, healthy, housed, literate, digitally engaged and employed status continues to set me apart as one of the elite in a post COVID world that has already arrived for me while loved ones in other parts of the country and the world are excluded from much of what I am now able, mostly, once again, to take for granted. For this activist I am reflecting on how to not let amnesia set it and to pay attention to how my privilege is showing up in these new times. Everything can change very quickly and when I walk along a coast line brimming with species that have served generations and being appreciated for their abundant beauty, I am clumsily bringing a mindfulness and deep, sincere appreciation of the gifts I have been given, mostly not earnt, privileges of race, class, colour, location of birth.
I even have my favourite walking shoes that have taken me to the Camino, to forests and dunes, up and down hills and along rocky inlets and riverlets. They served me well as I puff my way up to a lookout called Hell’s Gates and if this is what the gates of hell look like I am not too worried! The power of the ocean in the migratory path of humpback whales, home to turtles, dolphins and cormorants – a cornucopia of food for communities past. I take a moment to give thanks, arriving at the top to catch my breath, and to recall the custodians and their totems that have been held by this place for generations.
One of the practices of this activist is to land into place. I am feeling this more and more and I entwine my actions and my self around a preferred future where the centrality of the planet is non-negotiable. (This concept of place if beautifully explained by the poet Pádraig Ó Tuama in his Poetry Unbound reflections for On Being’s Paused.) Justice for our First Nations here in Australia and around the world, learning decolonising practices and understanding place based approaches to give meaning and connection to translate into our cultural and economic relationships, feels like a combination of untangling and making new threads we can weave together. Some days I want to cut all the threads and start again, other days I have energy for weaving and then there are days when all I can do is soak up the beauty and invite the beauty to guide me (and have at the back of my mind survivorship bias which is also encoded into my list of privileges)