Week 8 vigil August 5 2013

Week 8 August 5 2013

It was very wet here in Castlemaine today. I dressed in water-proof clothing expecting to be drenched by the end of the vigil however the rain calmed and I remained relatively dry. In that context I didn’t expect anyone to drop in so was really pleased to see Helen – who is doing a great job teaching English, Sue – who came from the Anglican church where I spoke on the weekend, and Elizabeth who often sits the vigil. People seem to be feeling pretty tired and burnt by the terror-filling policies that both Labour and Liberal are spruiking at the cost of the most disempowered in this community – and the world. I too felt pretty tired. But twas good, as usual to be there, and remember.

I was thinking today how this is the 8th week of the vigil. Thinking about this what become foremost in my mind was that this means it is 8 weeks or so since a boat filled with about 60 people sunk and all of the people on board drowned and the Australian ‘authorities’ decided it was ‘not a priority’ to retrieve their bodies. Only 8 weeks since those people died…. And as I write this I feel again the deep deep sorrow I felt on hearing of these people’s deaths. And the ways in which these people are spoken about as though they are just some kind of cargo, and the way that Australia chose not to give them any care or dignity in life or death.

This weekend I went to Melbourne to visit my friend Barry’s daughter. He died on the 26th of June – almost 6 weeks ago (my respects to the Priors). During that visit I was thinking about how grief comes in waves and that it takes some time to absorb the shock – and that it seems about 6 weeks (I’m sure its different for everyone) when the reality of the loss of a loved one really hits. I was thinking too about the relatives and friends of those who drowned 8 weeks ago and imagining that for those who actually know what happened to their loved ones that the grief is so raw and deep. And tonight I felt that – felt all the oceans of tears that are being shed or held inside. And again I want to open my arms in a huge embrace. And all those people who don’t know what has happened to their loved ones – not knowing ….. … there are no words!

I read about a community on the Sunshine Coast where there were a lot of families who had said they would be happy to support people seeking refuge (refugees and asylum seekers) in their community. It got me thinking that it may be a good thing to collate how many people and households in the Castlemaine community would be willing to do the same. I suspect there are quite a few. I know there are a number of people already doing this. I think the power in working out how many people and households would support people needing refuge (refugees/asylum seekers) within this community is that it sends a message to those in power that their reading of community attitudes and compassion is not what they think and promote. It also adds to the movement that is growing: ‘not in my name’. Whether people are allowed into communities or not I think it is a powerful act.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘not in my name’ movement and how powerful its potential is. And I have been thinking too ‘where did the phrase come from’? I suspect it is from Uncle Ray Jackson’s speech at the Aboriginal Passport Ceremony, September 15 2012, when he says: ‘as I have put so many times, these racist One Nation clones do not speak in my name’*. This speech has been so so important and influential and I would like to recognize Uncle Ray Jackson and thank him for making many things very clear and for giving me a framework within which to understand what is happening.

I was very pleased to be able to speak at the Anglican Church on Sunday and thank all for their kind welcome and open response.

I will be at the Market Building Steps tomorrow from 5pm -6.30pm. Please come along and sign the petition. The petition is also at the Theatre Royal, and at The Food Garden in Campbells Creek. You can sign it there also.

Ps. Do go along and see the film ‘Mary Meets Mohammed’ – tis very good.
janet galbraith

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