Is it beautiful or ugly, or so ugly that beauty is all that could remain? The creeping vines of the plant wrap tiny fronds of their substance around and around and around the stalks of the other plants, slowly thickening in their numbers and increasingly tightening their hold. The insane flowers burst out of numerous buds, so overt in their colours, showing a blatantly unfragrant disrespect for any simplicity. It pervades, it creeps, it crawls. You can not avoid being mesmerised by it as it strangles its hold. What is this part of nature? Is this not alien, foreign, malignant to our natural world? This cancer, this intriguing growth that stops for no soul on its path? But this plant is Nature herself, being that which she was created to be. Our pristine, sanitised, perfect version of our world is so askew from the complex reality. Nature kills, tortures and maims… leaving broken hearts, suffering and pain. Death wipes out life after life, with no empathy or conciliation for what is left behind. Even the birth of a child rips and tears flesh away. What is this part of our nature within which we seem destined to remain? the perils of wondering around the backyard with a camera…
The shock of seeing police being violent suprised me when I first got involved in student politics.
I never knew of police brutality before then, which unfortunately speaks volumes of my racial identity.
After a protest where the police took off their name badges and identity numbers, I saw myself on the evening news frantically waving my finger at a riot clad police officer, telling him off for not wearing an ID badge.
It’s a big deal for me to ask a waitperson to bring some sugar to the table, so this was somewhat out of character.
It made me think.
The rage that started to pervade within me when I saw police being rough and violent with my friends and other protesters was huge. I was so angry.
What would it be like to be born into a world when you repeatedly see this happening from childhood?
That immense fury I felt over several incidences of unjust behaviour from police is a ridiculously pale comparison to the repeated experiences of police brutality and oppression felt across the world.
Especially deaths in custody and the killing of unarmed kids.
In my home state, a 22 year old woman, who was in prison for unpaid court fines, died whilst in custody. At the same time, a man safely walked away after his foot became stuck in between a city train and the platform.
Guess what got the most news coverage?
Guess who was white?
It’s not just a rough personality or mentally unstable individual within the police force that results in repeated situations of police brutality within specific communities. It is systemic.
Since it is systemic, the whole of society needs to take responsibility for police brutality.
Aamer was one of the students I stood beside at many student protests and I think he clearly sums up the concept of systemic oppression and the pervasive nature of ignorance, which is most definitely linked to the ugly beast of police brutality.
It’s never just one rotten apple that spoils the barrel. The barrel itself needs to be examined.
I came across Sreejit’s blog whilst searching for Amma online and loved it so much that it inspired me to take the plunge and venture into the blogging world… The jury is out about how I feel sending my thoughts and feelings out to the yonder (they have a hard enough time swimming in my head!), but, reading the Dungeon Prompts, I feel like a little kid desperately wanting to join in a fun game, so here we go!
Concepts of God: What are Yours?
In 2005, my dad had a massive stroke following a trip to the Chiropractor, which left him paralysed and brain damaged, but fortunately still alive.
Thanks to the phenomenom of neuroplasticity, the area of his brain responsible for ‘dad jokes’ seemed to thrive, but a massive amount of damage was done to the right side of his brain, since the clot came from a rupture of his carotid artery, and consequently the left half of his body was almost completely paralysed.
As common with a brain injury, my family entered a whole new world of depression and colourful verbal profanities…. And worse ‘dad jokes.’
It had been a pretty intense time, particularly because my Dad’s identity, and my Mum’s for that matter, was totally defined by his engagement in sport and doing whacky physical things like running marathons. He was known as the strong, reliable, polite, hard working and healthy man.
In an instant, everything changed.
There was a lot of pressure and stress in the air and, being the responsible daughter that I am, I took off to Asia towards the end of his six months or so in a neurological rehabilitation hospital.
A few kind of cool spiritual things happened in this period of time, often whilst I simultaneously witnessed some horrible things.
In the weeks before writing what’s written below, I’d had a bad experience volunteering at an orphanage and quit my volunteer role, I saw a person die on the roads and I had frantically argued with a fellow hotel guest in Phnom Penh who was taking a tiny three year old girl, dressed up in a pretty pink party dress, off the streets and into his hotel room.
After futile attempts to do something, I went to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and I did nothing.
The old temples and their overgrown foliage generously gave me respite from my angry and frustrated response to the suffering that seemed to be so abundant in the world.
This was written after being driven out of those temples at sunset in the back of a tuk tuk, seeing the beauty of everything that was struck by the sun’s warm glow. I think it describes my concept of God.
21st Nov 2005
Seeing God is like looking at a sunset.
The beauty comes not from looking at the sun itself, but from looking at the things that the light touches.
In fact, our eyes can’t look at the sun directly. It hurts and we are blinded by doing so.
But the beauty that transpires when a beam of sunshine hits a tree, a face or a cloud as dusk crawls through the sky is amazing.
We see the sun set everyday. We look to the sky as evening approaches.
At different times and places it is more beautiful than others, but there is always a beauty there if you take the time to look for it, even when the sun is hidden by dark rain clouds.
We see God in everything that this light touches.
We see God when we let this light be the love we share with another person, animal, plant or tree.
We see the wonder of it when we project love onto others and in return- see God within ourselves, as we are all really one.
It sounds very lovey-dovey, but it is so true.
There is that space for us to jump across that allows us to see incredible beauty and experience a tremendous peace.
Taking the leap is the hard bit.
After that- if you do it properly- it all becomes so clear and so easy.
You learn when you are ready. You see what you are prepared to see.
To do more than this may scold your soul like the sun scolds your eyes if you don’t focus on the beauty it inspires around and within you… if you are continuously missing the real beauty of a sunset by only trying to look directly at the sun.
I revisited The Lands in the Central Australian Desert for work last year and made a collation of clips and photos using my iPad. I thought it would be a good choice for my first ever blogging attempt considering how this place has forged its way into my heart.
The Lands are a special part of Australia rarely frequented by people other than those who are living or working there. Occasionally there will be a grey nomad in a Prado or an ill-equipped backpacker in a soon to be wrecked Sedan, but it is not unusual to sit for hours by the dirt road and see no sign of human life besides the tracks left from the vehicles that went before you.
There is a resonance on The Lands that comes from the earth and the sky, through the wrath of a dusty wind and then its cool gentle stillness supported by the coarsely silken ochre sand. Your soul can not help but sink deeply into itself. Spectacular and strong, simultaneously abundant and barren, The Lands has everything contained within its immense breadth and power, with utter contradiction and clarity. Coming from the city to be on The Lands is to make a journey into God Herself, whether you want to or not! Even the most hard hearted are struck down with a depth of awe by this place.
I respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of The Lands and am grateful for the permission which was given for me to live and work in this special place. This is often a tag-on sentence written or said to be politically correct, and I admit that I do like to be PC, but I absolutely mean this with my appreciation, respect and gratitude.
and FYI- the music to the video clip is ‘Badimo’ by Xavier Rudd from the album Koonyum Sun- not a musician from this area, but a common soundtrack for many a long, contemplative and bumpy troopy ride!