The inspiration and lessons of this story go beyond riveting real-time TV and lives saved. In my view, what we saw during that gripping week in July was human community at its best: individuals finding their place—indeed, finding the meaning of life, for a time at least—in the pursuit of the common good. And what we saw was a challenge and a contrast to so much of what passes for matters of importance among the chattering classes.
Thursday 30 August 7:30-9pm
Yarra Theological Union Study Centre via 34 Bedford Street Box Hill Download the flyer
Bernie Geary OAM Former Victorian Commissioner for Children & Young People
Bernie Geary OAM has been involved with children and young people for most of his life. He was Victoria’s first Child Safety Commissioner from 2005, and was appointed Victorian Commissioner for Children & Young People from 2013 until late 2015. He has returned to the Youth Parole Board, and also sits on the Mental Health Tribunal.
Astonishingly, some people are still not convinced about the dangers of climate change, despite frequent reports of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and record global temperatures. In close collaboration wit climate scientists, Pope Francis is in no doubt about the reality of climate change, and highlights our moral responsibility at this time of acute peril. Francis did not mince words: “the pace of consumption, waste, and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes”, leaving future generations “only rubble, deserts, and refuse”.
In the maximum security section, we were made up of white, black, coloured (mixed-race), and Asian South Africans. We represented all the world religions, as well as a confirmed atheist (who preferred to describe himself as a radical humanist). We ranged in ages from 19 (a mentally disabled young man who did not comprehend a police order to a crowd to disperse) to 76. We formed a close community of mutual support and service. I remarked to a fellow detainee, an Anglican priest: “Isn’t this experience a paradigm of what a united future South Africa could be like?”. His response: “Even more, it’s an experience of what the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached, will be like!”.
We find the man of courage, who, while always trying to maintain dialogue with the oppressors, was fearless in denouncing violence wherever he found it, whether on the armed Right or the Left. But when he defended the right of rural workers to organise, and thereby signalled that he was on side with their land reform agenda in the name of the Gospel of social justice, he was quickly marked for assassination by the militias. His fate appears to have been sealed when he told the soldiers of the military government in March 1980 that they did not have to obey the immoral laws and commands under which they were sent to kill their brothers and sisters.
Aboriginal people are basically a peaceful race, and had no idea what was about to happen. When we were moved off country we had lived in for thousands of years, the places that had been handed down through our bloodlines for EVER, we collapsed in a lot of ways, especially spiritually. So, when we learned of the story of Jesus from the missionaries, we understood. We related to the story of persecution, of being in a helpless situation. We gravitated to these teachings, because they were also beautiful stories of faith, of hope, and of love and acceptance. It is what we were looking for. We are growing stronger in our spirituality and our faith, but it has taken a long while. At the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, we are endeavouring to walk a path that we are creating as we move forward.
None of the nuclear-armed states are fulfilling their legally-binding obligation to disarm. Some hopeful but uncertain developments in relation to North Korea notwithstanding, no disarmament negotiations are underway, and the nuclear-armed states are collectively investing over US$100 billion annually in refurbishing their weapons production complexes and modernising their nuclear weapons, making them more accurate and ‘usable’. They are deploying and exercising them more aggressively; increasing the range of circumstances in which they might be used; and justifying their indefinite possession. The cold war is widely recognised to be resurgent, and earlier this year the hands of the Doomsday Clock were moved to 2 minutes to midnight, as far forward as they have ever been.
Rebecca Harris, David Bowman, & Linda Beaumont
To the chagrin of the tourist industry, the Great Barrier Reef has become a notorious victim of climate change. But it is not the only Australian ecosystem on the brink of collapse. Our research, recently published in Nature Climate Change, describes a series of sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience… Australia’s average temperature (both air and sea) has increased by about 1°C since the start of the 19th century. We are now experiencing longer, more frequent and more intense heatwaves, more extreme fire weather and longer fire seasons, changes to rainfall seasonality, and droughts that may be historically unusual.