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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Brenda Niall: Witness and Advocacy

This week on Radio National's First Person, biographer Brenda Niall, is reading from her autobiography, Life Class. This morning she discussed the biography she did of one of Australia's great artists, Judy Cassab. Miss Eagle feels a sort of affinity with Cassab - on two occasions in her daily life she has gone to work each day to come face to face with a Judy Cassab. When Miss Eagle managed the Mount Isa Public Library, it was a very large portrait of Sir James Foots, a former Chairman of Mount Isa Mines Limited. Many years later, Miss Eagle worked in the Darlinghurst offices of Leon Fink, the well known Sydney art patron. Her desk was directly below a Cassab nude.
Niall told a story of an 80 year old Holocaust survivor coming up to her at the Brisbane Writers Festival and asking her if she thought it possible that by writing a book one could help people to understand what happened. The woman said "I was in the camps and I don't understand." Niall said that she thought it was possible to give people some knowledge of what had happened. Niall said - and I might, dear Reader, not have this exactly correct but you will get the idea - Nothing comes from nothing.
This could be Miss Eagle's motto. This blog's main theme is on justice advocacy placed in the context of the Kingdom of God. In other words, justice advocacy through a Christian lens. A lot of the time, it feels like spitting in the wind. Speaking out on causes which a lot of the population don't care to think about. Speaking out - and seeing little return in terms of success, or items ticked off as complete. But, Miss E reasons, what is the alternative? Saying nothing in the face of great wrongs? Saying nothing and by default refusing to bear witness? Saying nothing and having the silence construed as consent?
Over at The Nature of Robertson, Denis is rejoicing in some success. Denis is an environmental advocate. He is not a professional but a highly dedicated and knowledgable amateur. In the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, a David and Goliath struggle is going on between the locals and Sydney Water as Sydney Water seeks to raid the Kangaloon Aquifer for Sydney. Read all about this on Denis's blog. The battle has been going on for some time.
Denis has not carried the battle alone, as he points out. But Denis has made a significant contribution. His environmental knowledge of plants and his willingness to investigate on a scientific basis has led to interesting discoveries on which to build sound argument. His public sector administration background has been helpful in putting together documents to assist in the campaign and in preparation for public, professional, bureaucratic and ministerial meetings. And not least of the tools in his kitbag has been his blog. Through the blog, photos, stories, and news have been published. Through the blog, information and social networks have been built. Through the blog, the communities involved have been kept informed. Congratulations to you Denis and all of your campaigning colleagues. A major battle has been won. Now on to winning the war!