Was reminded this week of Camus’ instruction to “.. live and create. Live to the point of tears.” He also wrote: “In the depth of winter. I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” That thought was made visible in the glorious Australian impressionist Clarice Beckett painting Summer Fields which I was able to see in the Art Gallery of South Australia last week. The heat rose from the canvas in the softest tones and the invisibility of her work being vaulted in a tin shed vault for many Melbourian winters. I suspect her creative life was one that lived to the point of tears. To be on this edge, a precipice inviting disaster is also a place where to fall or perhaps even be pushed forward into an unknown, a letting go is a surrender. The paint must leave the paintbrush, the tears must leave their ducts and in the leaving there is release, they are liberated and folded into something bigger. This is how I am meeting the moments of these days I am coming to understand as a kind of reckoning.
The black lives matter movement is a reckoning particular in the US for racial justice, I am hoping that a tweet induced campaign will crescendo nationally in Australia over the next 24 hours with over 40 #March4Justice and all Australians will heed the call for these actions:
– Full independent investigations into all cases of gendered violence and timely referrals to appropriate authorities. Full public accountability for findings
– Fully implement the 55 recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Respect@Work report of the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces 2020.
– Lift public funding for gendered violence prevention to world’s best practice.
– The enactment of a federal Gender Equality Act to promote gender equality. It should include a gender equity audit of Parliamentary practices.
– No perpetrators as policy or law makers. Stand them down.
– Ratify the International Labor Organisation’s Convention on Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
– An independent review into the prevalence of gendered violence in Parliament to be conducted by the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
– Strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act so that Parliamentarians and Judges are no longer excluded from accountability for sexual harassment and discrimination committed in the course of their employment as public officers.
– Creation of a Code of Conduct for all Federal MP’s that includes the prevention of gendered violence in Houses of Parliament and associated workplaces.
– Mandatory gendered violence and sexual harassment training of all Federal MP’s and their staff on an annual basis
I notice I am seeking from leaders more and more to be at the point of tears, to arrive so angry, exasperated, moved by empathy, enabled by love, that they act not talk about acting, not planning to act, just do what they know is right. A truth is always naked – vulnerable, shedding adornments, throwing off cladding that may have enabled it to hide in plain sight. This is what I am noticing coming to life around me, years of pent up frustration, disappointment, anger, fear, rage – truth arriving – there is no going back from this precipice now and I am hoping we are at a tipping point in our country. The violence, the practices that keep workplaces unsafe, the inequities that are cloaked in unconscious racial and gender bias, must stop. It is a call to bring our truths to the table, to bring our whole selves not a watered down, covered version. To make visible the cost of what ignoring this is doing to our nation on every kind of balance sheet. The number of children not hitting their developmental goals and not ready for school is a direct result of systemic failures generationally of racial, economic and gender justice in funding, in not have treaties, in not valuing women and men and grandparents and uncle and aunts in their roles in families, in dislocation. Poverty is not personal. Violence experienced by an individual and perpetrated by an individual is rooted in power and privilege.
Moving from cover ups to naked truth involves a big reveal. This is the precipice I think we are on in Australia in this moment when it comes to gendered violence. I also think we are nearly there on racial justice but not quite. We are arriving though in numbers to the precipice and the sheer weight of it all will see the cliff crumbling below our feet. When we go into this unknown all kinds of possibilities await, and the trick will be not to make another cliff, but an expanse of empathy to create new horizons, where truth can turn up not looking for a shawl to be wrapped in, but clearly visible in all her colours where we all live to the point of tears induced by joy and justice.