Living on the brink of tears is where I left off last week, echoing Camus, and this week has been a daily discipline of being at the brink. There have been many edgy moments met in public spaces. My pilgrim steps have taken me to #March4Justice where my legs carried me down the main street of my home city with thousands of others to make visible the number of people who are meeting this moment of misogyny and want to be both seen and heard. The outpouring of grief and anger has reached a new height and the nation is coming to terms with what might come next. My prediction is that we might see the most number of women ever elected to Federal Parliament the time we turn up at the ballot box. I know I would be encouraging parties to look very closely at their candidates and the rise of independents is very likely. I am excited for this possibility. I predict another way we will meet this moment as a nation is we will seek a spike in the number of reports to police of current and historical rapes, which I hope will be made visible in the data and then in demands from these law agencies for more support and resources to cope with the traffic. In my short walk up and down the main avenue of my city three women revealed to me rapes that had happened to them, one recently the others some years ago – I really didn’t know any of these women having only met them in virtual environments previously. I was overwhelmed and encouraged them to make reports and I know at least one did. Violence against women is everywhere. It is a pandemic, and men’s violence against women is a leading cause of the premature death for women globally (see the Femicide Census for more information).
From here my steps took me to the national capital and in the public space of the lawns of Old Parliament House I was welcomed by the community custodians of the Tent Embassy, a permanent occupation, since 1982 protesting about land rights, sovereignty and a site for hosting conversations and protests such as Black Lives Matter. Being a constant presence, means the door is always open for those conversations and I was pleased to make a visit. I was part of a small delegation travelling to Canberra for meetings and connections with elected representatives and included indigenous women leaders. We are walking and learning together about place based changemaking and aiming to apply the principle of First Nations first. Practicing this muscle requires a daily workout and I realised I wasn’t as match fit as I thought, fortunately, for me, the Aunties, are generous and patient teachers eager to help me with my learning curve. The opportunities to decolonise thinking and behaviour came thick and fast – it was a three day intensive immersion.
I was weary to the bone once I got home and integration of the lessons will take a while. Part of that integration, is sharing the learning, holding discomfort and reaching out to decipher and translate so the learning can continue. And meeting the moment of exhaustion calls for flopping on a couch, reaching for tea and toast, watching comedy and allowing the body and mind to rest. Rest itself a practice seeking meaning as the /place between activity, the pause to gather yourself, refuel, recover, so you can go on. When the yeast is in the bread, then kneaded, it too has to rest to grow and in the resting the gluten relaxes and reforms into protein strands to help form the loaf. I have been imagining conversations around preparing bread, kneading, resting, baking, eating. The communion that comes when we break bread together never ceases to hold me in place and purpose, and support a vision of inclusion.
Before the week ended, I was sitting with the sun setting over the gulf, an abundance of salads every colour of the rainbow and plates filled with locally grown produce discussing the housing crisis, especially for women seeking permanent homes for their children post domestic violence. The far reaching conversation held the invisible and silent women not at the table whose lives and the lives of their children separated from the security of a solid roof over their head, and what does this mean about the kind of people we are, and the systems that hold this inequity in place. Tales of policies past, cultural responses, planning, housing options and structures were in abundance making more visible the holes being identified and urging us all to collectively and individually meet the moment. Intergenerational privilege and promise was inherent in our shared experiences, and beckoned us to want more for each other and other women.
Wanting more and less all at once seems to be featuring in equal measure in moment meeting – integrating the micro and the macro and keeping the conversation going between the two and holding the personal as political continues to ring true.