Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Namaste: Hindu greeting; acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another;
'I honour the Holy One that lives in you'

Shalom:  Hebrew greeting; 
as term and message, seems to encapsulate a reality and hope of wholeness for the individual, within societal relations, and for the whole world;  peace

After sitting with the meanings of these greetings for a while, 'hello' seems to me the shittiest and most inept greeting out. Devoid of the richness and meaning of it's Indian & Hebrew counterparts.

..nozzle..(favourite word)

May you greet those you meet on your path with blessings of peace in acknowledgement of their humanity. 

For therein you will find yours.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Everyday Enigma

There are some things in history about which, we have no end of information. Moments such as Kennedy's assassination, Jesus' birth or the introduction of colour television are so well documented that we can find out where any number of people were at those moments and their thoughts, feelings and mindless musings on the matter. Endless accounts of the story, rehashed and replayed throughout time, enshrining single moments as more important than the rest, never to be forgotten by the ancestors of those who bore them witness.

However, some moments are lost. It grieves me to think that significant historical events have fallen between the C-R-A-C-K-S; Incredible people forgotten simply because their poor sod of a mate didn't keep a diary; Important factual information about how certain things came about, tossed by the wayside without a moments hesitation - so that we, living in the present day, are left to drown in a savage sea of speculation.

Whilst many a kindred fellow might wonder about more profound historical matters. I am a simple lass of everyday proportions and there is one historical enigma that troubles me above others:

Which came first, 'Orange' as the name of a colour or 'Orange' the name of a family-favourite fruit?

Seriously, were some friends sharing an orange one day, when one said to the other 'You know I don't think there's a name for the colour of the Orange we're eating but my it's delicious, unlike it's vegetable counterpart, the Carrot. Why don't we just call their colour 'orange' in recognition of the Oranges superiority!?'

Or did it so happen that a group of 7 nobles were assigned the task of naming all the fruits and vegies. They distributed the produce by colour and gave the laziest of them, Otis un Originale, the Orange items and set him to work. Otis' man-servant then presented him with the first of the orange goods to be named - a round citrus segmented fruit, sweet to taste. Otis, underestimating the magnitude of the task ahead of him responded,
'This is a piece of piss! Let's call it an 'orange' and toddle off to the pub shall we?!'

The scenarios are endless! To speculate without any real hope of knowing the truth is to suffer. Why did nobody think to make a note of it when they started calling one after the other? It would save me many a sleepless night if they had.

So, friends, the next time you notice a difference in how you refer to any given inanimate object, be a dear and scribble it on a post-it. Because in a couple hundred years, a pennyless minstrel will find it mildly interesting.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lord have Mercy

When I think of the word 'mercy' three scenes enter my mind:

[Act One, Scene One]
A lounge room. Two young kids wrestling each other, trying to inflict as much pain as possible on the other without causing long term damage. One grabs the other in a headlock, knuckles rigorously burrowing into the top of the others head mischievously screaming "Say it! Say it!" To which the other finally yields, "MERCY!" The children suddenly relax and tumble to the ground, one gloating in triumph, the other slumped in defeat.
[End scene]

[Scene Two]
A concert. One slowly descends a flight of grimy stairs, follows a narrow corridor into a dark, cavernous space. Words like 'Hell', 'Anarchy' and 'Rage' emblazoned across a sea of black T-shirts. Figures eagerly, yet somehow ever-so-cooly, await the flooding of  stage lights revealing their idol standing headstrong amid a flurry of smoke.Suddenly a thunderously bass line rips through the air; a man seemingly of mutant decent, steps forward to the microphone as the crowd approaches catatonia, and with an ear splitting "HAVE NO MERCY!" The show begins...
[End Scene]

[Scene Three]
A cathedral. Neath towering steeples, an aged few scuffle down the aisle finding pews formerly shared with late loved ones and with a slight wince their rears make contact with the hard wood. A greying man adorned with white robes rises to sombrely address the Sunday smattering. "Lord have Mercy." To which, the people, as though programmed to do so, respond without hesitation, "Christ have Mercy."
[End Scene]

For the first time in my life tonight, I pondered the word 'Mercy.' And realised that despite having three very clear pictures spring to mind upon hearing it, the true essence of the word was totally lost on me and I had never fully appreciated what it truly means. 
So, obviously, I googled it.

And basically: To show mercy is to show compassion where compassion is not due.

To look someone in the eye who has knowingly done you wrong and to say "As an act of love, I'm not going to punish you and nor is anyone else." The sheer strength of character that would take is enormous. Mercy, so foreign but so profoundly needed. How powerful! It's like that saying, "Turn the other cheek." Until recently, I have always understood that saying to mean when someone is doing something bad or hurting you in some way, you should turn away and ignore it. But rather it being a rejection of responsibility it is the opposite. If someone's hurting you on one cheek you should expose your other cheek to them so they can get all their anger and frustration on you and you take it as an act of mercy and by extension, love. True mercy - totally unheard of in a society obsessed with justice, retribution and revenge.

                        My first thought?     
                                            "...I should get it tattooed on me..."

But then, I thought, why not instead get tattooed, "Insert cliché here." How sad is it that some of the most powerful words in the English language have been corroded down to a meaningless assembly of letters.


"So I came to hate life because everything done here under the sun is so troubling. Everything is meaningless—like chasing the wind."  Ecclesiastes 2:17

We are only as meaningful as the language we speak. Modern English is like a "Dummies Guide to Verbal Expression." Wouldn't it be great if we communicated in a language like Greek where there are four different words for Love. Maybe then, words so richly profound as 'mercy' would not have me lost in superficial scenes in my imagination but awestruck by the revolutionary potential that understanding it could have on the world.

                             My final thought?
                                                                 "...I want to be a woman of mercy."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDG's

The Millenium Development Goals (MDG's) are 8 time bound goals agreed upon by member states of the United Nations (UN) back in 2000 that, if achieved, would mean an end to extreme poverty by 2015. These goals are well off track. Easily preventable diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia & malaria continue to run rampant in children under age 5, meaning that MDG 4, 'reduce child mortality by 2/3 by 2015' is startlingly behind and yet governments seem to be lethargic in their movements to change that.

Hence, the 63rd Annual United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) conference was entitled "Advance Global Health: Achieve the MDG's." The conference sought to draw representatives from hundreds of international Non-Government Organisations (NGO's) together in Melbourne in August 2010 to devise how we're going to make poverty history

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a one of the youth delegates representing World Vision and eagerly jumped on the plane from Adelaide to Melbourne brimming with excitement about the groundbreaking steps we were going to collectively take toward 'advancing global health'. What I got, was a reality check.

I am not naive. At least I thought I wasn't. I know that there are no quick fixes to poverty. I know that there are many powerful forces that oppose the liberation the world's poorest people and I know that if it were an easy task, it would have been done by now. I thought this conference could have been an opportunity to spotlight the MDG's on a global scale and this was something I was so humbled and excited to be a part of but there, sitting in that room among 2000 people who share my desperation to see an end to poverty, I felt numb. Time and again people were stepping up to the microphone during question times to push their own personal agendas, seemingly ignorant of the fact that we were there to tackle the bigger picture - even keynote speakers deviated from the topic at hand. The lack of urgency experienced throughout the entire conference was disturbing... devastating even.

Don't get me wrong - the caliber of the delegates was amazing. I was so humbled to be in the presence of people who quietly go about their daily lives in deserts, jungles and everywhere in between championing equality, freedom and human rights on behalf of those who have been stripped of all three. Whether it be in a home for AIDS orphans in Kenya; nuns attending to the sick in the highlands of PNG or community health workers in the red centre of Australia, these people are the unsung heroes of humanity as they work tirelessly and selflessly for what they believe is just. Their actions are transforming lives everyday and it was incredible to hear their stories. Yet there seemed to be a common thread in all of these stories - a thread that Tim Costello identified in the 3rd Roundtable session.

"I know the purists among you with disagree with me when I say this, but I believe that representatives from the private sector should be here in the thick of these discussions around advancing global health."

NGO's & Governments more often than not form the framework for the discourse of advancing global health but when we neglect to include key private sector stakeholders that are responsible for a huge amount of anguish, we neglect to address the bigger picture. When pharmaceutical & mining companies are monopolising on much needed resources purely for their own gain, where does that leave the world's poor? They lay at the absolute mercy of a consortium of money hungry extortionists and paralyzed halfway to the finish line. When mining companies are ripping through areas of once fertile agricultural land, leaving only destruction in their wake and countless children are dying from AIDS simply because pharmaceutical companies jack up the prices of anti-retroviral treatment because they realise that desperate people are a profitable commodity, one has to question the humanity of these faceless giants. What I want to know is, who is holding these companies accountable? And how have they been able to get away with such atrocities for so long?

My colleagues and me with Dr Claudio "Rocks my World"
One man that particularly captured my attention was Dr Claudio Shuftan from the People's Health Movement (PHM). Dr Shuftan stunned UNDPI officials when he deviated from the pre-rehearsed Roundtable discussion, claiming that without a Human Rights approach the MDG's were not going to achieve their objectives. Whilst considered a bit of a radical by some of his peers, he was right in saying that the focus we need moreso than equality is equity. The MDG's, as they stand, only set quantifiable requirements for developing nations without placing any onus on OECD countries to set quantifiable goals for developing accountability and equity - particularly in regards to fairer trade and reducing consumption. It was so refreshing to hear someone speaking with passion and actually stirring the pot and challenging some of the ideas being put forward and bucking the UN custom of playing it safe.

"As we endure this fight, we must continue to ask ourselves: how great is our hope?" - Chris Varney

Despite the fact that I found the UNDPI/NGO conference frustrating for the most part, I remain optimistic that the global health situation isn't hopeless. My hope lies in the diligence and strength of those NGO leaders whose work we celebrated over course of the conference. My hope lies in a World Vision health worker named Sokha, whose commitment to training women in her Cambodian village is willingly privileged over every other aspect of her life. My hope lies in the passion of the youth I meet on a day to day basis who's cries for a better world refuse to be drowned out. With every one of our small victories comes a downpour of hope.

The declaration that was drafted and unanimously agreed upon last month in Melbourne is now, as I write, being presented to the member states of the UN in New York. Ban Ki-Moon, Barrack Obama & K-Rudd are probably perusing it over a cuppa right now...

The Lives You Can Save

"Every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death."


Monday, September 13, 2010

Dr Phillips

I think that when Cosmetic Surgeons become Cosmetic Surgeons they should each be required by law to change their name to Phillips.

"G'day my name is Dr Phillips. Phillips by name, I fill lips by trade!"

Everyone who's never had cosmetic surgery would laugh; everyone who has would try to join them and the world would make sense once more.
Dr Phillips.
(Formerly known as Ryan Zimmer.)

Photo courtesy of Klosterman Chiropractic. For health. For life.

Give a Thug a Hug Tonight

Photos & song title courtesy of Sam Evans