ANZAC Day 2017

I have returned from a very local Dawn Service. I love the service – a gathering of neighbours, local schoolkids and their families, the congregation of St Mary’s.

Highlights this year – we sang the New Zealand National anthem! Such a beautiful, musical anthem, we were led by a tall, handsome  young Maori from the local badass high school. My partner (who would dress entirely in Aussie flag themed attire if he could), sang along beautifully as well.

A wish for the future – that the ceremony would mention the role of women and families, and the impact of war on the community. There are plenty of soldiers in my family, including an ANZAC and a youngest son who died in Sandakan. Also a member of the Czech resistance and another youngest son – a Ukrainian who perished, location unknown, in WW2. My Grandfathers both suffered from Post Traumatic Shock, one became an alcoholic and caused no end of trouble for my Gran. The other was an overzealous disciplinarian, I remember when he died, trying to make a connection with my Dad but unable to make the necessary amends.

And the mothers! Anna Honcharova who spent her whole life waiting for Pavel to return. Did he die of the cold? Of injuries or illness? Of hunger? Was he one of the severely injured who was too ashamed to return home? Where was he?

And dear Eileen Evangeline Chase Morris McGregor – her darling Robbie died at Sandakan, nearly at the end of WWII. She was such a tough old stick, but would tear up whenever she remembered him, how they sent parcels of food to him via the Red Cross, but that it never reached him.

I wish we could hear more stories and poems from these perspectives on ANZAC Day.

Dadang Christano nineteen sixty-five

I visited my local art gallery yesterday. The exhibition: Dadang Christiano 1965 is a record of the suffering of the people of Indonesia at the coming of the Suharto regime. I learned that an estimated 1 500 000 people were murdered and many more imprisoned, beaten, raped. I also learned the reason for my ignorance: because the victims were labeled leftist sympathisers and communists (and I’m guessing because they were Asian) the West not only did nothing, they actively discouraged reporting and discussion.

Christano’s art is surely an act of faith: that despite this sorry history of denial, all people now will look and understand, will feel compassion. And so I sat for a moment in testimony, if you like. I sat and imagined ten people and then ten groups of ten people and ten times that until I worked up to 1 500 000. It was very crowded in the gallery, yet solemn, peaceful.

I can’t find an image to post that would not impinge on Christano’s copyright, but here is a link to more of his work.

peace in my kitchen

i get home from work and the dishes are dirty and the rubbish overflowing and they should have cleaned the kitchen but they are watching the tv and i feel frustration and sadness and anger.

i want to slam something and tell myself that they simply don’t care but today i remind myself that i can hold the peace here and remember that i can have order and harmony and community, remember that all i need to do is ask – and listen – gently. and i go to speak to them and see they are watching bombs go off in paris.

oh, paris!

yet there is peace in my kitchen. it’s a small thing, something i can hold

something i promise to hold and grow.

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