Blog Exodus

blogexodus

For the past two weeks thanks to Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, @imabima who dreamed up #BlogExodus, I have been tweeting my thoughts. So here are my mini #BlogExodus offerings.

#blogExodus Believe: There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

#blogExodus Tell: When you tell one word of truth in a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence it sounds like a pistol shot.

#blogExodus Enslave: You enslave yourself when you worry more about what other people think of you, rather than focusing on being who you really are.

#blogExodus Free: Decide what it is that you need to be free from, then say “no”, let go of the familiar and be willing to risk uncertainty.

#blogExodus Prepare: Some events in life are so unexpected that you cannot prepare for them. That’s when you need humility, hope and faith.

#blogExodus Clean: What do you need to clean out of your life to make it better?

#blogExodus  Bless: Blessed to be sharing #BlogExodus

#blogExodus Learn: What do we need to learn?

#blogExodus Ask: Ask yourself: do you want to live a bitter life, or a better life?

#blogExodus Leave: Sometimes the only thing more unthinkable than leaving is staying; the only thing more impossible than staying is leaving.

#blogExodus Count: If the way you count people as being ‘in’, is not socially inclusive & does not respect differences, then you can count me out!

#blogExodus Redeem: True redemption is seized when you accept the future consequences for your past mistakes.

#blogExodus Change: Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change. Then it becomes swift and unstoppable.

#blogExodus Be:
Your personal Exodus.
Leaving your own Egypt
escaping your own Pharaoh.
Crossing your own desert
to BE free to BE you.

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Just in (the) case

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It’s the weekend. The cat carry cage sits by the front door, the dog leash on top of it – just in case.

Smoke fills the air and the fire front is 20 kilometres away, but with strong, gusty 65-kilometre an hour winds, if things get out of control it could arrive in 20 minutes.

The day is extremely hot and dry with windy conditions. The grass is brown and the so-called lawn crunches underfoot like it does when there is a heavy frost. And it’s not looking good.

The official fire danger rating is ‘Extreme’. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) says “If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving. Spot fires will start, move quickly and come from many directions”.

When I moved into the property I had a lovely chat with a fire fighter at the local fire station, and after looking at where the house is situated he said, “Naah, it’s not defendable. The safest thing would be for you for you to leave”. And so the decision was made.

There’s smoke in the air, and the sound of fire-fighting choppers is both comforting and scary.

A cool change is predicted, with a wind change from northerly to southerly, which would change the direction of the fire’s path – taking it away. And sure enough it comes. It’s a relief, but it doesn’t make you feel happy, as you know the fire is now moving on a path towards someone else.

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Having belongings sitting next to the front door ready to up and go at a moment’s notice, took me back to my childhood.

Grandmother Gafnit Z”L, kept a small bag packed in a cupboard next to the front door – just in case. In post-war Europe this was not uncommon. As she said, “You never know”. Sadly, our family knew first hand what could happen if you waited to see if things got better.

As a child, there was no overt warning not to get attached to what we today would call ‘stuff’. But there was definitely an unconscious assimilation of this knowledge. It has never left me.

So, what would you put in your ‘Just in (the) case’? Identity documents, important papers, a change of clothes, a toothbrush and medicines? What do we really need?

For me, the ‘fur kids’ are the most important, and ID documents – everything else can be replaced.

In the end between the tireless efforts of the wonderful CFA fire crews aided by the weather change, there was no need to leave on that day – others were not so lucky. And when the ‘All Clear’ was finally given at 7:29pm three days later, you could physically feel the relief flow through you.

I have the greatest admiration and respect for these fire-fighters. They are volunteers and there are almost 60,000 of them across the state. They give up there time all year long, they get called out to floods and accidents as well as fires. They put themselves at risk, they get injured, and some make the ultimate sacrifice. Their families also make many sacrifices – with partners keeping the household together, not knowing what is happening to their loved ones, and kids missing their parents who are in the middle of the action.

For me last weekend brought the concept of sacrifice, smoke and fire a little too close for comfort. I didn’t have to leave this time, maybe next week, next month or next year will be a different story. You never know.

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Violence against women: our most shameful secret

WhiteRibbonAustralia_CampaignOath

One in three girls worldwide will, in her lifetime, suffer violence directed at her simply because she is female.

Violence against women is not just a women’s issue because that woman is someone’s grandmother, mother, sister, daughter, other family member or close friend.

And the myth that ‘there is nothing we can do to stop violence against women’ is just that – a myth.

Some people think that rape and domestic violence are inevitable – because men are just ‘born that way’ and violence against women is the product of biology or genetics; or because those people who use violence are mentally ill and cannot change.

However research shows that violence against women is the product of learned attitudes and norms, and social inequalities.

The vast majority of violent men are not suffering from mental illness and could not be described as psychopaths. Most abusers would appear to be respectable people who are very much in control. They are represented in all occupations and social classes and the violence is usually manifest only within their relationship with their partner and children.

So why don’t women ‘just remove themselves from abusive relationships’. Well it’s not that simple.

There are many reasons women stay in abusive relationships. They include fear that the violence will escalate, financial dependence, social stigma, lack of self-confidence, isolation, religious and moral values, love and commitment and concern for children, family pressures and lack of community support, including affordable accommodation.

A man who is using violence against his female partner typically uses a range of strategies to encourage her compliance and dependence, such as monitoring her movements, destroying her self-esteem, and encouraging her to blame herself for the abuse. These dynamics too make it hard to leave abusive relationships.

And although I have used the term ‘man’ don’t for a moment think violence only occurs in heterosexual households – it occurs in same sex households too.

It is never the fault of the abused woman. Responsibility for violence must rest solely with the abuser. Most abused people try to do everything they can to please their partner and avoid further violent episodes.

Violence does not only happen to a certain sort of woman. Research has repeatedly shown that violence crosses all boundaries and happens happen to women of all religious beliefs, level of education, sexual orientation, occupation, community position, cultural/ethnic background, and family situations.

In Australia, violence is the biggest cause of injury or death for women between 18 and 45. One in three Australian women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Among women under 45, intimate partner violence contributes more to their poor health, disability, and death than any other risk factor, including obesity and smoking.

White Ribbon Australia is uncovering the nation’s most shameful secret; the extent of male violence against women. White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls and to promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

As a part of this global movement, White Ribbon Australia, works towards creating an Australian society in which all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.

It is Australia’s only national, male-led violence prevention organisation, and works to examine the root causes of gender-based violence, challenge behaviours and create a cultural shift that leads us to a future without men’s violence against women. Through education, awareness-raising, preventative programs, partnerships and creative campaigns, it is highlighting the positive role men play in preventing men’s violence against women and inspiring them to be part of this social change.

Chairman of White Ribbon Australia, Lt. Gen Ken Gillespie (Rtd) said, “The high incidence of male violence against women in this country is very alarming. Not only do one in three women over the age of 15 report having experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives, violence is a major cause of homelessness for women and children and costs the economy US$14.7 billion annually in Australia.

“It is important to understand how every act of male violence against women can have serious effects on women, families and society as a whole. Male violence against women can happen anywhere and can take many forms; including physical, sexual, emotional and financial violence and has a profound cost across the personal, social and economic sphere.

“The issue of male violence against women is real, it’s worrying and, in many instances, remains hidden. Every woman, and man, can make a stand and speak up about the issue.”

As part of their work, White Ribbon Australia have launched a new TV commercial Australia, land of secrets to give a voice to the everyday experiences of violence that occur all around Australia. These acts, from inappropriate behaviour or harassment to physical and emotional abuse, are part of a culture of violence in Australia.

Lt. Gen Gillespie (Rtd) said, “Australia, land of secrets calls on men, women and the whole community to help uncover Australia’s secrets, raise awareness and stop violence against women.”

Today, across Australia, thousands of people are taking the White Ribbon oath; “I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath”.

Whether we are men or women, we can all help put a stop to violence against women. So, please don’t be afraid to stand up and speak out.

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No Longer Vulnerable

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“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability.”
—- Brene Brown

I refuse to be vulnerable with anyone, anymore.

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The Next War

Poetry can be moving in many different ways. WW1 poet Wilfred Owen’s works are some I like the most. On 4 November 1918, Owen was killed while attempting to lead his men across the Sambre Canal at Ors. The news of his death reached his parents on 11 November, Armistice Day. With 11 November being the Day of Remembrance my first offering is his poem ‘The Next War’.

Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen

The Next War

Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
Shrapnel. We chorused when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.

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