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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Words and silence

We are going to render an account to God,
not only for our idle words,
but also for our ill-considered silence.
- John Trithemius

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

How wonderful to find such a picture with an Australian flavour.
See here.

I count the prophets of the eighth century as among my best mates. It is hard to choose between when it comes to favourites but, if I am forced, I will choose Amos, shepherd turned reluctant prophet. Christine Sine, that Aussie resident in the USA who comes home very often, has written a wonderful justice prayer over at Godspace which is partly based on Amos. The prayer has also been picked up at The Breadblog.

God let your justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry
Please help those of us who are rich to be honest and fair just like you, our God.
May we who have such abundance be honest and fair with all your people, especially the poor.
Let peace and justice rule every mountain and fairness flow as a river that never runs dry.

God let your justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry
May we your people defend the poor, rescue the homeless, and crush everyone who hurts them.
May we be as helpful as rain that refreshes the ground, to those who are treated unjustly.
Let the wholeness and fairness of your kingdom live forever like the sun and the moon.

God let your justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry
Because you our God rescue the homeless and have pity on those who hurt
May we who are rich stand up for the poor and let peace abound until the moon fades to nothing.
Let God’s kingdom of justice and fairness reach from sea to sea, across all the earth.
God let your justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry

When you can do nothing else: bear witness

Monday, July 21, 2008

They have been referring to Australia as having a two-speed economy for quite some time now.
Perhaps it is about time we focussed on a society for us all.
When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another piece of the pie?

Photo: The Age

The Wall Street Journal now dedicates a full-time beat reporter, Robert Frank, to cover what he calls Richistan. Richistan did not suddenly appear on the American scene. Our top-heavy era has evolved from a heavily bankrolled effort by conservatives and corporations to instill blind faith in the market as the magic elixir that can solve any problem. This three-decade war against common sense has preached that tax cuts for the rich help the poor, that labor unions keep workers from prospering, that regulations protecting consumers attack freedom. Duly inspired, our elected officials have rewritten the rules that run our economy--on taxes and trade, on wage policies and public spending--to benefit wealthy asset owners and global corporations.
From The Rich and The Rest of Us in The Nation

That's the view from the USA. Meanwhile back in the Land of Oz, The Age has begun to-day a five part series titled The Sum of Us.

Like Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the UK, Australia - under both Liberal and Labor Governments - took on Milton Friedman's monetarism as the western world moved away from Keynesian economics. Never no mind that the work of John Keynes had real runs on the board: extricating the world from the Great Depression as well as bringing post-World War II prosperity.

And where has it got us? More wars and less peace in spite of the end of the Cold War. More rich and more poor in the world - in spite of more nations getting autonomy across the world. Solutions to the chronic problems of our society have been consigned to the so called "trickle down effect" where the wealthy try to convince us that their wealth and their getting richer would be better for everybody because it would all magically "trickle down". Instead, the dollars moved another way.

What has really happened - and it is there for us all to see - is that there has been a "trickle up" effect as money is syphoned away from the poor and the slightly less poor and the not quite middle class to build a constituency of wealth supported by sufficient numbers of middle class people to provide a constituency within democracies for all this to happen. Please note that this does not take into account the state-sanctioned robbery of public assets, the massive social change, and the mass corruption in Russia and China.

And so to the picture of the pie. Paul Keating used to tell us that the solution to all this was to build a bigger pie: trying to tell us that as we built a bigger pie there would be enough for the rich and the rest of us to benefit. But pendulums have a habit of swinging. Balloons inflate and deflate. At the moment, pendulums are swinging enough to give one motion sickness and balloons are popping or about to pop across multiple sectors of the economy.

Don't let any one pull the wool over your eyes again. Too many politicians over the last thirty years have spoken as if economic laws are immutable. They are as sure and as certain as the sun coming up each morning. That is not true. Human beings make the economic laws as we know and experience them to-day. Human beings can make bad decisions and they can make good decisions. They can make decisions for sectional interests and in a corrupt manner and they can make decisions for the common wealth and the common good in a clear, unfettered and unbought manner.

So let's keep watch. Let's not allow all those hood-winkers to get away with it again. Let's hold them accountable: for their lies, their corruption, their kow-towing to the wealthy, and - above all - their incompetence against the common good. Let's build a society for all of us.

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Contemplation, Witness, Resistance

Christine Valters Paintner over at the Abbey of the Arts has given us a link to her article: The Practice of Contemplation as Witness and Resistance. Please take time out to read this since it provides a balanced view of the contemplative life in modern practice. Such a life is not mere navel-gazing but the seeding of an active, prophetic life. The post is here.

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Are you a Christian?

I have snitched this quote from Sacred Threshold who seems to have got it from inward/outward. It is from Henri Nouwen.

You are Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in, so long as you emphasize the need of conversion both for yourself and for the world, so long as you in no way let yourself become established in the situation of the world, so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come. You are Christian only when you believe you have a role to play in the realization of the new kingdom, and when you urge everyone you meet with holy unrest to make haste so that the promise might soon be fulfilled. So long as you live as a Christian you keep looking for a new order, a new structure, a new life.
When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Garnaut Report: No Pain, No Rain

The Draft Report: Garnaut Climate Change Review
available here.
I sometimes wonder if there will be a time when we look back on the eleven years of the Howard Government as a period of lost time, lost opportunities.
This is almost certain to become obvious in relation to Climate Change. Ross Garnaut, in to-day's speech launching the Draft Report: Garnaut Climate Change Review, said "Now is not the best time to start. That was years ago. "
In other words, even if we start doing all the things we should do right this very minute we are behind the eight ball. And if we daydream about putting all this stuff in the too hard basket or waiting for China and India to come on board, then Garnaut has news for us.
  • Postponing now is not avoiding a decision. It is making a decision.
  • Delaying now will eliminate attractive lower cost options.
  • Without early and strong action before 2020 we will realise the consequences of failing to take action.
  • Rich developed countries, including Australia, have undertaken to do something first prior to the developing nations coming on board.
  • We will not get developing nations to do what they need to do if we do not honour commitments first

In fact, on the question of how our own attitudes can put Australia behind the eight ball, Garnaut pointed out that our seven decades long adherence to:

  • Protectionism
  • Xenophobia
  • Bureaucratic trammelling of the market

set the nation back economically.

Now, Miss Eagle says a "yes, but" to the last statement. There were some sound values embedded in these policies: self-sufficiency, self-support, defending things we valued, establishing fairness and even playing fields. Trouble is that some of these sound values did not work themselves out in equitable ways. The untrammelling of the marketing, for instance, does not always support these values - and some of us find that hard to take.

Not that Garnaut does not recognise values. He points out that some of the economic modelling does not, cannot and will not tell the whole story. For instance, any future loss of Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef can mean an economic loss due to projected fall offs in international tourism. These can be modelled. However, Australians themselves would experience a loss which the economic modelling cannot reflect.

Garnaut also placed a shot across the bows of the deep green ecologists. Any slowing of living standards, he points out, is no answer here or in Asia or in developing nations Their decline would be quickly translated into our own.

Garnaut emphasised Australia's unique location and the opportunities it might generate. He quoted Putin's comment that perhaps Russia might benefit from a couple of degrees increase in temperature. Australia, Garnaut points out, would not.

We are already a hot, dry country.


When you can do nothing else: bear witness.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Queenslander - Queenslander - Queenslander

Israel Folau (Melbourne Storm) in action for Queensland

We did it! The Maroons did it! We beat the Cockroaches and we did it on their home turf of ANZ Stadium, Sydney. 16-10.

The final Origin 2008 was magnificent. I don't think Queensland has ever put up a more consistent, fast-moving defence ever. A commentator in the second-half (a NSW one, needless to say) said that Queensland had no Plan B after Scott Prince's broken arm and other injuries. This, mind you, at a time when Queensland had it well over NSW in terms of possession. I agree that there might have been little evidence of a Plan B - but we saw a well co-ordinated team aggressive and speedy in defence and with the ball in their hands more often than not.

Ah, well - Queenslanders never have expected objectivity from Cockroach commentators have they?

Miss Eagle does not want to diminish the efforts of anyone in the Queensland side but, as an expatriate North Queenslander she wants to send big bouquets and thank-yous to Johnathan Thurston, Sam Thaiday, the wounded Scotty Prince, and - my hero - the beautiful Billy Slater who scored the deciding try on a set-up by JT in the second half. Breathtaking!

And - to all of you who wonder what the fuss is about with the State of Origin series - go read my uncle's book:


When you can do nothing else: bear witness.