I turn on my phone and I read about Charlottesville, about atrocities around the world… I feel helpless. What can this person that I am do to ignite change and inspire love? What difference can I make to the world? I’ve not got substantial amounts of money to donate, or time to give or even much of a sphere of influence. I read, I cry and I pray but as a person of faith I believe I am also called to action. As a builder of community and kingdom, I believe that whatever it is I can do, I need to do. Thus, I need to take stock of what I can do, and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. As Arthur Ashe’s well known quote is drummed into my memory, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”, I go ahead and make a list.
I write. I read. I parent. I communicate. I participate. I love.
Then I need to focus on that which I value, and which of those need yet another voice. Also, for which of those I am the right person to be that voice. When I look at what I talk about, what I write about, what I take photos of, what I’m drawn to, I can see where my heart is, what I value, what is important to me. A young poet at the Perth Poetry Festival’s Multicultural Panel recently reminded me, “Art is inherently political”. I also read in Adrienne Eberhard’s article ‘Politics of Poetry’* the idea that poetry that sings a place aligns with activism; that it rallies for us to care about ourselves, the past and the world in all its forms. In a country where there are certainly many atrocities, is poetry or writing that draws attention to place making any shift in society and culture at all? Eberhard poses the question, “do we need to be political, or simply moral?”
Homelessness, indigenous incarceration, refugee and asylum seeker mistreatment, a generation of children disconnected from the natural world, family breakdowns, rise in suicide are just some of our nation’s plights.
I can educate myself on these issues, to a degree, most I won’t experience firsthand so my point of view will be secondary. There are many plagues in modern day Australia. It is not possible for one person to actively foster change in all the spheres. Instead, sometimes I think we need to look at where we do make a difference and what we can change. I cannot do it all but I can read, write, parent, communicate, participate and love.
I see a sea of children losing their connection with the earth which sustains us, a generation that doesn’t know how to sustain the earth that they need. As a parent, I see it as my task to learn the ways we can nurture the earth and then to pass this on to my children. I reconnect them to the days, the nights, the seasons, the outdoors as much as I can. Oftentimes this means educating myself in new ways and learning right along with them. Growing habits and a culture of calm, connectedness and stillness is a challenge but a worthy one. So, here in my home, I inspire and ignite my three children, their future laced with the fruit of what we plant now. The way I speak about issues, other people, what I say matters because it is shaping the views of my children. If I stop to check with a homeless person to see if they are okay, my children notice. If I acknowledge Aboriginal land, my children notice. If I care about other’s rights, sufferings, plights, my children notice. If I honour my privileges, my gifts and my life, my children notice. As a parent, I am shaping the world with the way I am.
*Eberhard, A. ‘The politics of poetry’, Blue Dog, Vol 6 No 11, Ðp69-76
Gabriela Antonini chronicles snapshots of her moments on her Instagram @g_and_tribe, in between racing one of her three lively children, sharing chocolate with her theologian husband, feeding her ever-hungry progeny or singing lyrics wrong with the hubs. She is often found with her nose in a book, at the beach, up a tree or carrying around a teapot. Born in Slovakia, a childhood spent in Melbourne, she now lives in Perth heartily appreciating its exquisitely mild weather.