Has Australia lost its heart?
Some are saying that Australia has lost its heart. It appears that this may be true when we consider the plight of refugees, the increase in numbers of homeless people, and the rising mental health issues (to name just a few of the social problems around us). Then there's the indifference, or even worse, the outright opposition to any humanitarian approaches to these issues. We hear in the media and in pub conversations words like "illegals", "dole bludgers", and "junkies" used as ways of dismissing the depth of underlying needs that people experiencing marginalisation experience.
But I am thankful that I get to hear the voices of a different Australia mixed in with these negative messages. I hear people like Jan, who was on a corporate educational walk a few weeks ago who, after hearing some of the back stories to people Urban Seed walks with, emotionally stated that she had never realised that it could be so bad and asked what she could do to help. She said that she felt deeply moved when she walked past people sleeping rough and she wanted to get involved but she didn’t know how. This opened up a good and caring conversation.
Then there was Jack, one of our Street Community, who said that the deepest need he has is friendship, for people who will treat him seriously and not as just another social problem. He thanked Urban Seed for being a place where he felt he could belong and where people treated him with respect and a caring attitude. He talked of Urban Seed as a place where he felt accepted as he was. I was moved when I heard that, because it takes people who are committed and care deeply to make that happen, people who have moved beyond indifference to compassion.
What about the group of people who gather in Norlane weekly to do the Unearth course, a series of seminars that teach the local community about doing community development work in their neighbourhood. One of the exercises is to get them talking about some positives in their locality. Sometimes it’s hard for people to look beyond the immediate problems of an area but its so encouraging to listen to them unwrapping some positive stories about living in their neighbourhood.
So, the world’s not all bad! Yes, there are plenty of bad stories, and the media seems to thrive on those, but it doesn’t take much digging to find the heart of Australia once again. That’s just one of the reasons I love being a part of Urban Seed.