A mile in my shoes
An interview commissioned by the Australian National Maritime Museum
Lament for Ukraine
The bleakest of the day when volcanic tremors erupted in their heart, their world turned upside down, their day turned into night, tanks rolled in their peaceful streets, long-range missiles blew up their apartment buildings, their flight to freedom blocked, the return from the grave of the cold war’s ‘iron curtain’ in Ukraine has plunged Central Europe* into the brink of a third world war, as if the global threat of climate change, the fish kills from deadly mining pollutants, the fracking of the earth that poisons waterways, the demise of many species in our planet, the tsunamis drowning islands of habitation, the pandemic that masks our sweet smiles were not enough to terrorise our souls, the deadly dust of Chernobyl’s nuclear waste floats in the air, the lust for power triggers the requiem — where were the wars to end all wars from the smoking debris of the last century, a new tyrant has arisen hell bent to destroy a next-door nation’s sosvereign rights, to retrieve what in his mind was his country’s lost empire, autocracy has no care for the collateral damage of the loss of innocent lives, what sanctions can stop a madman to a new hell on earth, voices of protest in Russia and round the globe ring out a testament to the cry for freedom and peace, and we know deep down that, with unflinching faith and concerted action, our vision that goodness will triumph over the dark recesses of the soul, and with our embrace of our brothers and sisters in their darkest hour, the rays of faith and hope in our collective hearts can never ever be dashed.
- Note: The usage of the concept of Central Europe or Middle Europe is unstable and arguable
Russia invades Ukraine, 24 February 2022
Poem: Deborah Ruiz Wall, 26 February 2022
My time in Papua New Guinea 1972-73
My unbranded faith
What is the architecture of our thinking?
It was once pronounced in the 1970s that ‘everything is political’, and of course, we can also say in the same breath, in the first decade of the 21st century, that ‘everything is cultural’.
Or, deeper still, from my own outlook, ‘everything is spiritual’.
Even within our sphere of thinking, we set boundaries, with the effect of promulgating inclusion and exclusion. Hence, the occurrence of difference and the ‘uncommon ground’. Understandably.
But is this not a natural state of affairs beyond which we simply draw upon unreachable ideals? Perhaps. However, I see the world we live in as malleable, much like clay continually being sculpted.
Inner and outer world
My hope is to draw wider humanity’s curtain of consciousness to facilitate awareness of our common ground, to bridge the gulf between our inner and outer world. I believe this is within the realm of possibility.
Our world is not static. We have the ability to sculpt our world back into a wondrous paradise — our original face. We continue to develop, grow and evolve.
My question always is: ‘who governs our development, and who benefits as a result’?
Therein lies the question of materialising love and thus, committing to a fair share of the earth’s resources.
The notion of ‘self’: atomistic or collective?
Often these days, I hear the word ‘mindfulness’ that some people in search of a better world hope to instil in others to help heal psychological affliction.
I think we need, particularly in the developed world, to find our collective self to discover the missing link between the ego and humanity’s SOUL.
Peace is what we all seek. Creative, not dormant peace — peace that shapes the contours of our continuous becoming as a material and spiritual being.
If I drink from the mystical vessel of Creation, no need to even begin to wonder.
I would know for certain that we are ONE entwined treasure of the breath of Life’s story!
Living life in the head alone is a prison. To live life in the raw broadens our vista.
Openness to mystery
Thought must be unleashed as an open-ended question. Not uncompromisingly black or white. Life is not neutral. Light has shades and shadows, often not blindingly clear.
We make a choice. We choose our walk. Insight comes from an outlook that seeps from within. Wisdom hides there. She appears when you seek her. She shows the path.
Joy leaps in our hearts each time we choose life over death, creation over destruction, courage over fear, adventure over hesitation, joy over sorrow, work over sloth.
Faith and hope
…And perpetually holding on to faith and hope out of love for all of creation, paying homage to the grace we have received that allows us to contemplate how to be, how to become.
(A few lines to enlighten readers on the evolving architecture of my thinking)
Facing a World War of Another Kind
As if two world wars were not enough
to ponder on who we really are
after we fling a gaze at the stark ashes
that stare us in the face from a delusion
that a war could be waged —
a war that would end all wars!
We come face to face today with a world war
of another kind, a war within our collective self,
and we have begun to run, run, run the race
against time to find the elusive cure to inoculate us
against the unseen enemy within.
We clutch at straws to survive the final fatal blow
that strikes at anyone at random — young or old,
rich or poor any time, any place,
the tentacles of globalisation now truly
manifesting outreach to the ends of the earth.
We can’t afford to look away from the call
for a global cease fire, because a more pressing threat
to our earthly survival confronts us,
and deep down we tremble at the thought
of the uncertainty of life that has befallen us all:
what on earth is the new ‘normal’?
Our impaired vision borne out of pride
has shattered the borders we have constructed
against each other, and the time has finally arrived
for us to nod and acknowledge the entwined
web of our destiny, and heed the call
from the mystical abyss to draw the archetypal curtains,
open our eyes, see the broader horizon awaiting us,
sing at last from the same song sheet, and walk together
to recover a paradise lost.
Thoughts explode from the depths,
I know not where,
my blindfold ripped from my eyes,
our constructed world is a mess,
a house built on sand,
when the tsunami of flood struck,
when the merging fires ravaged bushland,
turning greenery to lifeless ashen black,
when the unseen killer virus struck,
wreaking havoc on our ordered disorder
of life on earth, a wasteland of free will,
what is left standing but a mirror
of the roots of the choices we have made,
and we have just began
to scratch the surface of our undoing.
who are we, how do we spawn the birth
of a new dreaming, a deeper listening to
the yearning of the Spirit
within us, to be One.
The burning bush
The burning bush in our sights.
Too close for comfort,
Dancing flames encircling our hearts
Terrorizing our souls,
The roar of nature’s fury
Engulfing my shrinking imagination.
Where will my Dreaming dwell
When the barks of trees
Are reduced to ashes,
When thunderous silence replaces
The sweet tweets of songbirds,
When my vision of a verdant landscape
Is erased by a fiery formidable wind?
Where is the place I can call home
when the flaming red sun has crowned
the sky like a ball of fire foreboding a tragic loss?
The enemy within
Treasure each precious moment
we spend with the people we love,
the ‘other’ becomes us, even the unloved,
covid-19 pandemic’s global proportion
has brought us together to face the enemy within,
the need to walk hand in hand
to expel the fatal threat to our collective survival
imposed by the unseen, time out in our isolation
to reflect on the pointlessness of geopolitical
and biological wars, the quest for total control,
the vandalism of nature, our fatalistic faith
that the market economy will solve all our problems,
the practice of modern day slavery,
the marginalisation and disempowerment
of our fellow human beings.
Lest we forget the story of stories,
the return of our original face!
retail shops look like a ghost town,
people hiding in their nesting places,
running away from deathly pandemic,
once in a while, the harbinger of Death
visits the earth reminding all souls
of the fragility of material life,
forgetting when they emerge out of the womb
that what fundamentally matters
are the footsteps they choose
to take till their last breath.
What is LIFE? What is DEATH?
Why are we here? What is the bottom line?
After the storm that struck fear
in our hearts has gone,
will they return to the landscape
Stillness (Sleepless in Newtown)
Darkness is not void.
Fertile shadows of my mind.
The sound of silence roars.
I am here and not here.
In between spaces of fullness.
I declare my Love.
The Universe speaks.
It is mutual.
Surge of waves invade my head,
the sky at Wentworth Falls lake mirrors my unease,
my desire to escape a chattering mind.
I’m mesmerised with an effervescent stillness,
an uncanny pause pulling me inward,
drawing me into a stream of consciousness
lost in vacant space.
Kylie Kwong, food and Aboriginal ingredients: a “force for positive social change”
Acclaimed Australian chef and restaurateur, Kylie Kwong declared her vision for the 2020s — food as a “force for positive social change”!
A decade ago, she had no Indigenous friends and did not know how to connect. The challenge for her came when world-renowned chef, Rene Redzepi from Copenhagen asked at his keynote speech at Sydney Opera House why he was not seeing native ingredients in the dishes being prepared in the restaurants.
Now what she related at ‘Each for Equal’, International Women’s Day celebration 2020 yesterday (4 March 2020) at Yerrabingin, was a turning point.
She had since met her first Indigenous friend, Aunty Beryl Van Oploo, a Kamilaroi woman. It was Aunty Beryl who introduced her to the traditional way ingredients were used. Kylie learned to adapt native ingredients to her preparation of Cantonese dishes. Aunty Beryl introduced her to Clarence Slockee, a Bundjalung man who is a bush-food horticulturalist, educator and performer. Kylie now works with Clarence and his business partner, Christian Hampson, both directors at the Yerrabingin native rooftop farm at South Eveleigh. Kylie will use a lot of the plants from the rooftop farm at her new eatery which will open soon.
Aunty Beryl Van Oploo celebrating a 21st century fusion of ancient culinary traditions: Aboriginal and Cantonese in collaboration with South Eveleigh Ambassador, Kylie Kwong
Bundjalung man, Clarence Slockee with Kylie Kwong
Kylie’s entry into the food industry began when she worked as an apprentice for celebrity chef, Neil Perry at Rockpool and Wockpool. Prior to working with Neil, she worked for six years in the advertising industry. She later became the Head Chef at Neil Perry’s restaurant and eventually ran her own business, Billy Kwong at Surry Hills and Potts Point for nineteen years. She employed sixteen females and eighteen males from diverse cultures. Her years of experience in the food industry taught her the importance of cultures.
Her next journey in her new eatery will be culture management that will embody the values she believes in: “equality, inclusion, and diversity”. This approach will trickle down with her attention focused on the Head Chef and floor manager to run with these values so the rest of the staff will feel empowered.
Another keynote speaker, the founder of OzHarvest (ozharvest.org), Ronni Kahn AO is taking her company global. She has grown OzHarvest to become Australia’s leading food rescue organisation after the law was changed making it safe for companies to donate surplus food. Her main message yesterday was: leadership today needs to serve. Look after each other. Choose the right people. Prepare nourishing food with love.
Aunty Beryl Van Oploo with OzHarvest founder, Ronni Kahn AO
When journalist, Caroline Baum asked Ronni why she was wearing a spoon earring on one ear, she explained,”There are three things people do when confronted with fire: run away, write an angry letter or, run to find a bucket, a glass or a teaspoon. I want to proclaim the Order of the teaspoon.”
Little things make things grow, that is, even a teaspoon of change makes a whale of a difference.
(L) — Aunty Ali Golding, Kylie Kwong’s mum, and Aunty Beryl Van Oploo: three guests at Yerrabingin making a ‘culturally diverse collective individuality’ fashion statement.