Monday, August 28, 2006

Honesty and law-breaking

Being truthful can be hard especially when the outcome of being honest is something pretty annoying. Right now Alex and I have decided to be honest about something we really don't want to be and the option to not be honest is pretty tantalising and from a convenience standpoint is a lot more appealing.

I think that we are both going to have periods of regretting our honesty and getting frustrated at God that he even asks this of us in the first place.

I think we often think that being honest will give us a warm fuzzy feeling of doing the Right Thing - but often to be truthful is hard and the outcomes plain rotten. In a strange way despite the consequences we both sighed a sigh of release when we realised what we should do- and that we would do it.

It's funny because I told my mum about the whole thing and she was really shocked that we decided we would tell the truth and take the consequences. She assumed that because I've been an activist I'm, in her words, "into breaking the law..." . Mmmm well I have done a few things in my time which I'm not sure qualify as breaking the law or not. (who are you kidding Rachel?) Which does make me wonder again about whether it is justified to break a worldly law in order to bring about Godly justice

I think it is. If the government banned church going or praying I'm sure many would (and should) break this law. The things that I am perhaps guilty of breaking the law mostly revolve around making known injustices and abuses of human rights that have been made federally lawful. These are areas that the Bible speaks clearly on "defend the cause of the weak, fatherless and widow" "love mercy and justice" etc.

I understand that I am to respect the law and authorities placed over me - but I wonder if I can respectfully dissent and respectfully break the law ? I have personally shouted at John Howard (not at the television- at the actual man) and looking back that was disrespectful (of another human being as well as a Prime Minister) and also achieved nothing in terms of bringing about justice. But being a dissenting voice in a rally/protest/march is respectfully saying that a policy is wrong, visiting refugees in detention centres is a voice saying (with respect) these people are human with human needs and should not be treated like (worse than) animals. I suppose as I am getting older I am seeing that there is a line (be it sometimes blurry) between respectful and disrespectful dissent. To be wise is to be thoughtful and not get carried away with the emotion or anger that one may feel (which I have regretfully done on many an occasion) and consequently break the law. But perhaps if one thoughtfully and respectfully breaks the law then it is OK.

I have an image of Jesus in my mind pushing over all the tables in the synagogue, angry, indignant. (respectfully) law breaking?

I have an image of Jesus healing on the day of rest - respectfully dissenting?

I have an image of a man on a cross deemed the biggest lawbreaker of his time -(respectfully) dying.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why fair trade isn't really fair.

We all want to or try to make the most ethical choice when we buy our coffee or cocoa etc so we buy fairtrade thinking to our selves -"Hey, at least that poor farmer/grower isn't getting ripped off". And we go away and eat the yummy chocolate and it really is the best chocolate we've ever eaten in our lives and we're happy because we hope that by us buying the chocolate/coffee someone somewhere is getting treated fairly and they can feed their family and maybe their family's family and we're also happy that a big corporation is not benefiting from our chocolate eating (except if you are eating Green and Black fairtrade chocolate that has been bought out by Cadbury!)

I have been thinking a great deal about fair trade since writing papers on (ineffective) aid delivery to Papua New Guinea. What started my thinking about fairtrade was the constant description of 'poor' PNG communities that were always described as 'reliant on subsistence farming for survival' in a negative light. And for a while I went along with it. I thought "Yeah, these poor Papua New Guineans are only surviving on the food they can grow". But it dawned upon me that the alternative to subsistence farming was much worse (fairtrade or not) - cash crops.

Cash Crops are usually a first world market driven enterprise. When you rationalize cash crops in comparison to subsistence farming it's ludicrous. Eg. In another country they love to drink this yukky drink that we don't drink so I will pull up my vegetable plot and chicken run and plant as many coffee plants as possible and sell them to people who will sell it overseas and with this money I can buy all the food I would have originally grown myself had I not pulled them up to buy coffee (I do not mean to sound patronizing to Papua New Guineans as I think that the pressure to cash crop is largely coming from the ludicrous but often well-meaning developed world)

I do understand that there would be a financial surplus in cash-cropping but such a surplus
does not equate to the subsequent community and intrinsic value of growing one's own food (eg fulfillment, community building through bartering and local markets etc.)

The facilitation of fairtrade on a macro or micro scale is often driven by a developed world market with underlying capitalist agendas. Cash crops and other fair trade arrangements may very well fall through once peak oil becomes a more tangible reality. What hope is then left for both the developed and developing world when the reversal of globalization takes place? It may be a return to subsistence farming on a global level and those who are successful in growing food for survival will not be looked upon as the poor- that is certain.

As someone who is interested in overseas aid development programs I hope to encourage and equip individual/communities to relearn skills in growing their own food and gardens both in Australia and abroad. I hope to build sustainable (there goes that word...) projects, that is projects are not reliant upon a capitalist econmic market that is very precarious/volatile. But projects that look at local needs and skills.

Thanks for trudging through this lengthy piece. Let me known what you think about Fair/unfair trade.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dear Oscar

Dear Oscar,

This is you at your very first protest! What you can't see is that behind us is a big row of cops who refused to smile for the photo and did not seem to share our enthusiasm about your first protest. You slept through most of it but in my mind it still counts that you made an appearance. This protest was a protest about greed. Many people came to Sydney to celebrate some very rich people (Forbes 500 CEO Global Conference) and celebrate all the bad things they did to get rich and we decided we should protest and say "Hey, money and greed is not the answer and is actually the problem so let's not celebrate it (in a nutshell)".

You've been in a few protests since then and I hope we will see a few more together.
love muma.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Are we all just monkeys?

OK this is sad, funny, bleak and a bit naughty all at once (some swear words for those that care).

Dance, Monkeys, Dance!

And if you wanna get cuted out watch this (no swearing just cuteness)

David's new snail

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Word Allergies...

Inspired by Andrea's blog post I have also decided to list the words that I am allergic to...

Sustainable/sustainability (It is now often being used to promote the status quo rather than bring about needed radical change)

It's all good (I think this one is being phased out but I always hated it)

family/Christian values (there is no such thing/s)

cot (referring to an adult's bed)

Little Lady, The Missus (Mrs), The boss (all in reference to one's wife)


Frickin (in my opinion this word sounds more angry and vulgar than fuck)

stay-at-home-mum and working-mum (these are just dumb and irresponsible. A stay-at-home mum also works and a working mum also works at home.)

What are your word allergies?

Monday, August 07, 2006

My dad was a bikee and other stories

(Photo by Allan Tannenbaum- and definitely not my dad! He wasn't South American for starters...)

Most of my readers (all three of you!) know that my dad passed away when I was very little. It's been an amazing journey getting to know him over my life. I am constantly learning new things. For a long time I only knew the 'Christian lived on an indigenous island /activist' dad but of late I have been introduced to the 'pre-conversion bikee' dad. The dad that left the navy (went AWOL), joined a bikkee gang, had a fling with the bikee gang leader's main squeeze, had a fatwah type thing put on his head (you find him you kill him in bikee language), worked (or more like hid) with indigenous people, met some missionaries and became a Baptist. One day I will write a book about it all as it's tragic and fascinating and is the kind of story that will one day be made into a movie. Maybe I'll have to veto that it never is. The blend of myth and reality is also fascinating as is everyone's version of events that are always tainted with their own 'stuff' (eg I was jealous , Iwas hurt, I wanted to be more/less like him...).

It has been my personal experience of history and how it works/ doesn't work; how it can not be devoid or detached from the humans that tell it/know it.

I wrote a letter to an indigenous friend of my dads recently wanting to know bits and pieces that were missing. I think I expected a three page historical account of all that was missing. But her response was so disappointing yet so beautiful " will come here and tell me story and I will tell you story. Some about Peter, and some other stories too".

I hope I can share stories with you soon Gunnipa/Dorothy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


(photo: "Garden of Eden" community garden in Albert Park (features an outdoor cob oven and attached cafe!) taken by Russ Grayson )

I am really passionate about
community gardens. If cities like Sydney are to survive post peak-oil the way of the future is community gardens. Recently my church building burnt down and there are negotiations taking place as to how best rebuild a space that will serve generations to come. This is an amazing opportunity to empower the poor in the city who do not have the money or space to grow their own food. My hope is that a community garden will be considered as a serious option of space utilisation on the site or elsewhere. Special things happen when people gather together to grow things.

My friend Jason has a blog on the way called Peak Food and it is all about his family's hope to grow over 50% of their food source.

There is website/book about a family's challenge to produce all of their own food in a suburban block. Check it out here

For those of you who are interested in the links between peak oil and food production check out this site (compliments of
Anne; ta Anne!) -
Eat The Suburbs!

Anyway for any of you that wish to get inspired about gardening here are a few of my favorite sites: Eden Seeds, Seed- Savers, Jackie French, earth garden