2020: A Year in a Life

2020: A Year in a Life

We have all heard that COVID has a silver lining

It’s reminded us of all our self-centred whining

That has filled our internet blogs and Twitter

With umpteen ways of getting slimmer and fitter

Just eat meat and salt and drink filtered water

No, eat grains -  the paleo the better

Or give up wine and spirits and beer

And get on that bicycle in your lycra gear

And women who have reached a certain age

Don’t let your cheeks look like baggage

Book that trip to Thailand, but don’t let on

Your friends will be too polite to say you look – drawn

Yes, life before COVID was serious business

So much of it was a modern version of Narcissus

Who gazed in the mirror and liked what he saw

And wished it could remain forever without flaw

But then suddenly the bush was on fire

Green turned black and it got drier and drier

Birds fell from the sky and animals burned

People lost lives and something had turned

We no longer lived in a fool’s paradise

And political finger pointing did not suffice

To bring home the message loud and clear

We only had ourselves to fear

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Abraham Conference: At the Front Line

The much talked about 'silver lining' of the pandemic is not 'front of mind' to the people at the front line in the health care industry.  That's mostly for people with a lot of time on their hands.

Doctors, nurses and social workers are in a daily race to respond to the fear, sickness and loss, as well as the isolation and economic hardship that the pandemic has wrought in the lives of countless Australians.  As professionals they require acute sensitivity and well honed expertise in performing their duties, without losing hope that we will beat this virus.

For hospitalist, Haroon Kasim, the lesson of empathy and compassion was learned the hard way, but he never forgot its impact, not only on him but on the young patient whose life was slipping away.  As a Muslim, who knows that his faith is often viewed harshly, with hijabed women often taking the brunt of bigotry, he learned first hand the power of compassion to heal desperation and despair.  

For social worker, Renata Ieremias, the often hidden work of Jewish Care's more than 300 workers, is bringing support to many people affected by Covid19 in their homes.  Age and various kinds of infirmity have intensified the impact of the virus, and social workers are called upon to provide a quick and discreet reading of their needs and the means to nurture their natural strengths in a range of settings, from complex family situations to profound isolation.  

For ethicist, Daniel Fleming, who leads ethics formation for staff at St Vincent's Health Australia, the supportive Catholic-Christian environment ensures a profound commitment to providing the most human centred approach to care.  Yet, the largest not-for-profit health care system in the country was faced with the ethical challenge, in the early stages of the pandemic, of how to allocate limited resources.  

Haroon, Renata and Daniel bring a wealth of experience and insight into how the Coronavirus pandemic challenged them, their organisations and most of all the people they served and brought to the fore their foundational values, derived from their faiths.

And yes, it seems there is a 'silver lining' to this pandemic, which is in the realisation that whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, as individuals and a society, we have the same fundamental needs of compassion and understanding and oftentimes the comfort of the faith traditions and communities we hold dear.

Join them and me for a unique opportunity to hear the best practice from three distinguished professionals who are at the front lines--or just behind them!

Sunday 15 November 2:00-3:30  Register for the free Zoom link:

Events.humanitix.com/Abraham-conference-2020-interfaith-on-the-frontlines

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Does Violence Emerge from our Beastly Selves or from a Lack of Love?

Does Violence Emerge from our Beastly Selves or from a Lack of Love?

Do you remember when you first experienced real harm at the hands of someone?  Most of us do remember the painful experiences of our childhood, when ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ was a common method of raising the young. 

In contrast, how well do you remember when you first hit or screamed abuse at someone, perhaps a sibling or a spouse, with a force that you later regretted?  Maybe it was someone you barely knew. 

Do we choose to ‘forget’ the instances we have caused harm, because it violates our self-image?

Whether you are a victim or a perpetrator, or both, may be a fairly insignificant question in your life, because your experiences fall within ‘the norm’.  But extreme violence is a big part of our world, our society, and sometimes ourselves.   Without understanding how it originates and grows, we may be condemned to live with ever escalating violence.

Paul Valent, a psychiatrist and a specialist in trauma, has spent a good deal of his professional life treating people who have suffered some kind of traumatic violence. It all stems from being a child survivor of the Holocaust.  Not only was he overwhelmed by the sheer irrationality of Europe’s murder of 6 million of its Jewish civilians, but he has also been deeply disturbed by the more recent state-directed genocides, such as in Rwanda and Cambodia.

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