State of Mind

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Padi fields and Mt Agung, Bali, Indonesia

I only have to look at a photo like this of Bali and a sense of peacefulness descends. Maybe I should blow one up and hang it on a wall at home? In Bali you can’t help but imbibe the more peaceful and spiritual aspects of the culture. When I say Bali, I refer to the traditional areas away from the commercial and tourist hub of Kuta and surrounds. But even there you still get glimpses into the real Bali.

Yet, how you perceive the photo is so much dependent on your state of mind. If I was to think about the rice planting and  harvest, and the back breaking hours and days in those paddy fields, my empathy gets the better of me and my mood changes.

 

 

State of mind

Finding Outrage

I watched the news and like so many other Australians, I was outraged. Three Al Jazeera journalists, including one Australian, have been imprisoned for seven (and ten) years for doing their job. How could this happen? Wasn’t Egypt supposed to be moving towards democracy? Everyone is saying the verdict is, ‘Wrong,wrong, wrong.’ There is widespread international condemnation.

 Amnesty International monitored the trial and said, ‘the prosecution failed to produce a single shred of solid evidence.’

Injustice, rage, shock, horror. So much empathy pours out to these three men, and deservedly so. Yet I wonder at where this empathy has gone when we look at an equally unjust and merciless treatment of others who are labelled as criminals when all they have done is escaped from war and terror. The country they choose as sanctuary, one that was once prided itself on ‘giving everyone a fair go’ has become one that deals out punitive measures. We aren’t talking about a poor developing nation, far from it. And we aren’t talking about high numbers of refugees. The Australian government’s policy on asylum seekers that arrive by boat is to imprison them in offshore detention centres.

These detention centers on Manus Island and Nauru are grossly overcrowded, lack adequate health services and have inadequate water and sanitation.  Amnesty International and the UNHCR have criticised them as they do not meeting legal protection standards. These refugees can be held for years while their claims are processed and in 90% of cases they are found to be true refugees. In all these detention centres, those seeking asylum, people who are not criminals, are forced to live with less and less hope. Detention has led to deaths, self-harming and attempted suicide. The asylum seekers are subjected to

 “…cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment,” according to Amnesty International.

Where is our outrage?

Where is our sense of injustice?

In trying to make asylum in Australia an unattractive option, our government is neglecting its obligation under the refugee convention and it seems that it isn’t just our sense of fairness that is at stake.

I wonder at how our perception of justice and injustice can be moulded to suit our politics, economies and nationalistic self-preservation.

 

https://scanlonjules.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/there-are-no-queues-2/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-thirteen/

Wild Weekends

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Margaret River, Western Australia

Nowadays  my wild weekends are more about the weather than behaviour. When did that happen I wonder?

In my late teens as a university student living away from home, the weekends were truly wild. I think partying hard became a culture. Then in my early twenties, with a decent income and less free time, cramming as much into the weekend as was physically possible became a way of life. Even with the move to new countries and cultures in my later twenties and thirties, weekends were still focused on enjoyment, partying and very little chill time. It must have been the onset of a family that slowed me down. No longer could I be egocentric and hedonistic, I had new duties and the great desire for more sleep. Finally I’d slowed down.

Standing braced into the wind while the surf roars and pounds, I breathe the salty air.  This weekend was all about breathing, getting in touch with the self and spending time on just being.

In what has become a far too hectic life I am relieved that my mobile phone lies switched off at the bottom of my handbag somewhere in my room, that the laptop is unattached to the internet, but there just in case I feel like typing rather than writing, and also that no-one knows exactly where we are. Of course I will turn the phone on at least once a day to check if there is a message from my family, not because I want to play Candy Crush or check Facebook.

It’s only a few hours from where I live but clichéd or not, it could be a different world. Isn’t that what short breaks are all about? A break from the life we are in.  I wonder about those who can’t afford to ‘get away’. Can you get away without actually going anywhere? Is that what meditation is all about? Did we need to drive all this way to find a space to walk, eat, read and talk, to meditate, do chi kung and tai chi, and help the energy flow more easily through our bodies?

Perhaps if I was more disciplined I wouldn’t need to travel so far to feel my body relax, my mind run free and my spirit revive. I could perhaps sit on the deck in my back garden and try to block out the hum of the highway, or rise early to meditate before the rest of the household can come into my space, or walk the beach without silently planning what I will buy in Wooolworths, or to remember to put the washer on as soon as I get home to wash my daughter’s school uniform, or even breathe deeply as I drive to work instead of worrying about the driver behind me who is texting on her phone and liable to run into me. But of course she does, and that’s another story…

 

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