We live in a brilliant place, stable country, almost all we could want for, certainly more than enough food and accommodation. It is soooo easy to ignore others whom do not have these luxuries which we take for granted. For me, there has been bubbling away for many years a concern for how we can help in a practical way. We have given $$, we have helped out with meals, but it still nags – you know that still quiet voice of how we can do more.
Bill Hybels in his recent book ‘Making Life Work’ puts it this way:
” …. how to cultivate compassionate hearts. In other words, how can we learn to show mercy and grace to the poor? How can we break from our isolation and apathy? How can we expand our hearts so we can cherish more than our own families and close friends? How can we embrace more than our little world that exists within the comfort and safety of our dorm room, our high-rise apartment or our picket fence? How can we chart a ministry, a career or an avocation that offers us a concrete means of serving the poor?
Opening our eyes – Part of the answer to how to cultivate a compassionate heart is hidden in the last half of Proverbs 28:27: ‘He who closes his eyes to them (the poor) receives curses’. The hidden implication in those words is that the first step in opening our hearts to the poor is to open our eyes to them. We need to resist the temptation to look away. We need to choose to look into the faces of the suffering. We need to make ourselves available to see the everyday reality of those whose lives are badly broken.”
For me, there is a growing responsibility awakening to not just be satisfied with doing what we have done already, but use my gifts to create visual hints/clues/confrontations to help open the eyes of fellow normal ‘middle class’ suburbia. Recently, I have been speaking the people of TEAR Australia and attended the opening of Art of Resistance show in Annandale. This was both exciting and moving to see others taking up the challenge to create images of immense meaning and love to highlight what is going on in the world we live, but so often ignore. I sincerely wish many more average everyday people could see these works. Go to http://artofresistance.com.au/ to at least get a hint of their power and meaning, but next time one is on go & talk with the actual artists themselves. It is soo worth it.
One of the several major shows coming up for me in the next 6 months is directly relating to this. I have been given a opportunity to ‘visually speak’ to our ongoing asylum seeker dilemma. My friend Jackie Benney and I will be putting ourselves out there from our middle class Aussie point of view, and trying to show the desperation, hopelessness and fear that these people must be suffering to completely uproot themselves from home and family, to put their lives in danger on the open ocean, and to be then dropped in a hole and forgotten about by us. It is with a deep hope that we can confront and stimulate white Australia (us – who after all are a bunch of immigrants anyway!!!) to open our eyes and our hearts to these desperate people. This will be in April next year (2013) at the Australian Catholic University in Strathfield, Sydney.
Please, open your eyes, and don’t take the easy option of turning away and forgetting – these are real people too.