I wonder if, like me, in such a privileged situation in South Australia, life seems to have returned pretty much to ‘normal’ over this last month. I’m sure that is not the case for everyone in our seeming Covid-free State, particularly those who have lost jobs. And not for some other parts of Australia. Who knows what ‘normal’ means for the many countries who have little chance of getting on top of this virus.
The danger for me as an Aussie is that I’m pretty good at managing the tangible, but not so good with the things I can’t see or touch. I think the cultural tendency is that if I can’t see it, it’s not there, it’s not real, and I see no reason to change my self-interested behaviour – unless I’m in danger of a fine!!
One of my hopes is that the spiritual intangibles of kindness, thoughtfulness and appreciation of others, having been so evident during the bushfires and at the beginning of the pandemic, will continue to influence us and grow stronger among us, shifting our values away from a dependency on self-interested consumerism. In one way, the virus has forced us in that direction, despite fights in supermarkets for toilet paper early on! But clearly, unless there is a change to the way we depend on ever-increasing growth to sustain our economy, unless we change the way we view what is important for a good life, in all likelihood, post COVID, the spiritual gains will be lost to the hegemony of competition and the dollar, winners and losers and the ills of social dislocation.
The theme of this edition may well be ‘Compassion’.
We begin with some light satirical relief from the BBC – The Mash Report – a comedy sketch about the visit of a ‘northerner’ who went about traumertising Londoners by saying hello.
Steve Parker reviews the film, ‘God of the Piano’. It is an Israeli movie about parents living their lives through their children.
Psychologist Patrick Wanis offers us practical advice: 10 strategies for surviving isolation during the COVID pandemic.
I introduce the next segment by giving some background to the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on the theme of Compassion: his exile from Vietnam in the mid-60’s to his relationship with Dr Martin Luther King, and their move toward non-violent protest.
In doing so, I introduce a book that has been influential on me, simply entitled ‘Compassion’ by one of my spiritual mentors, Henri J Nouwen. Nouwen introduced me to the etymology of the word: ‘com’, meaning ‘together with’, and ‘passion’, meaning suffering.
This segment provides a synthesis of Buddhist and Christian understandings, which have flowed out from the Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the 60’s to today’s practices of non-violent protest across the world.
Finally a song written by an exponent of non-violence: ‘One Love’, by Bob Marley; performed by a touring band of international artists, coming together as part of a commitment to raise money for music and drama schools in developing countries. The network, on YouTube, is called ‘Singing for Change’.
I hope you enjoy it. Follow me on this website if you want to keep in touch with new editions as they arise. They are not regular. I only share when I think there is something worthwhile for me to say (in my humble opinion!). And I always appreciate your feedback and suggestions.