THEME- WHAT COUNTS AS A GOOD LIFE FOR THE PLANET FOR CITIES AND FOR INDIVIDUALS- NATIONAL SCIENCE WEEK AT ST PAULS CATHEDRAL
I am going to start by going backwards. I spoke to Reverend Stephen afterwards and he shared that 40 invitations were sent out to various schools, only 3 chose to come of senior high school students. One small event; - as a passing wind over a few fertile minds and hearts, when it needs to reach hundreds of thousands! My response to him was there needs to be a global outreach ministry to schools posing the questions discussed today, for the young to contemplate debate study and integrate into educational curricula. Posing a way for inspired future generations to take the initiative now empowering them with the Holy Spirit, which really is what sits behind inspiration. It does not matter if people are not of a specific faith orientation what matters is the desire to act, the contemplative act followed by deliberation and action, the promotion of questions and questing to find solutions and answers, for there is no one answer as there is no one solution, there must be many, and many hands make light work.
I asked what the word Encyclical meant, referring to Pope Francis recent controversial and necessary presentation to his congregation. He told me that it is holy writ that has some authority within the church and the papacy, under the advice of thought leaders and other thinkers. So the Pope presented the work but it was not fully his own work. He had the final say but the document was composed and prepared. It’s funny I only learnt at Uni recently politicians have script writers, and here was I thinking their worlds were spontaneous! I would love to see a list of advisers attached to it, especially as he is the figure head of the Catholic Church. Many words from the grass roots and from the scientific community would have informed it, the Deep Ecology field has been actively communicating such for years as has the worlds indigenous peoples. Papal Encyclicals .net defines Encyclical as “A Papal Encyclical is the name typically given to a letter written by a Pope to a particular audience of Bishops. This audience of Bishops may be all of the Bishops in a specific country or all of the Bishops in all countries throughout the world”. The pope has called his perspective an Integral Ecology. I was impressed when I heard it, I thought he was tuned in, and it came from the heart of one illuminate with insight, tuned in or riding the winds of public sentiment. Time will tell. Even now there are those who do not support his sentiments. For the full document see here http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.pdf. Fro a video trancript and moving images see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh-fTINLKsg Pope Francis' Encyclical: Chapter 1 - Section 4, Section 5, Section 6, and Section 7 by Bridges Programming.
So let us now go back to the Questions and the panellists. The Panelists are Mr Rowan Callik, Professor Peter Rayner, Melb Uni, Ms Leanne Hodyl, Melb City Council, Dr Karen Jones Uni of Melb, Dr Mike Arnold Uni of Melb, Dr Anne Elvey, Monash Uni /Uni of Divinity, Revd, Dr Stephen Ames, st Pauls / Uni of Melb, Dr Stephen Utembe, Uni of Melb.Science Week at the Cathedral brochure expresses “Men and women are created in the image of god and endowed with creative power Genesis 1 : 26-8. Technology is just one expression of the God given powers enjoyed by human beings. Will it be used in the ‘image of God’- human power that produces and sustains life in all its forms- or of an idol that degrades life?” Great questions to contemplate.
There were maybe 60 /70 students present. A couple of lay people, myself included. I had so much I wanted to say in response to all the panellists, the kids the whole thing. Yet it was not a completely open dialogue. So I listened and took notes.
Dr Karen Jones said “Good lives are necessary, lives in which agents engage in making”. The agency she refers to is the act of action itself, intervention to cause effect, the ability we all possess.
Dr Mike Arnold- said that there are questions of technology- engagements passed off to technologies “from the human world allowing us to be disburdened” engaging less as persons with the world. He asked “Which assists and which disengage?”.
Ms Leanne Hodyl- spoke about the concept of flourishing as what it means from a very individual level and in terms of housing design. She stated that future urban planning aimed to be ethical with accessibility of jobs, affordability, wealth , and spoke of apartment living , catering for a diversity of policy / decisions. She was young and expressed sentiments a bit at odds by the majority of panellists.
Rev Stephen Ames- spoke of the inherent “ selfishness by nature” of mankind. “A good life is a life lived for others a life for the betterment of the future”. Question What does a good life mean on the scale of culture? “We need to rethink agency- not just individual freedoms. Chains of dependencies, coming to know. What it means to be human and act more responsibly for other beings/ things that are not human. Training of desires in ways that are not good for the planet.
Question. "How do we get retrained versus our desires- Psalm 15 “If you worship Idols you become like them”. What counts as a good life, it takes care about where and what it worships. For the planet to go on being a massively life producing planet. Respect of living things. Cities- resilient cities that can handle the knocks and the stresses- one of the signs would be no homeless people sleeping in the streets”.
The speaker has no problem with the growth in cities and thinks it is not the problem. Pace not the problem but the form that they take. Feels we need to be smarter.
“To hell with future generations (sarcastically)- she referenced the Iroquios 7th generation rule, (Karen Jones), calling it a great moral crisis – we are not thinking in terms of what we owe to future generations”.
Stephen. “Prosperity but at what cost?”
Mike Carter Paints a cosmological scenario. How people lived sustainably over 30 million years now we have 6 billion people and space travel colonization ambitions. ?? [ paraphrased poorly].
“What’s the pathway to a sustainable life? that is the question. It’s not a question of do we have the tec, do we have the political will and shared view of life on the planet. Divine Economy. Life for all. Or do we want some other economy to run the show?”
“Political Will – Political imagination is what is needed. Human hearts and minds. Slow down or speed up. Who runs the agenda for how fast we run our life? Why are we running so fast? Who dictates? Growth and finitude needs to be held”- Anne.
A thought form the young fella who posed the question. “Look left look right to the people with us and we look forward”.
My commentary. We need to look above for divine wisdom and insight, below to the earth and foundations for all life, behind us to our collective traditions and knowledge our ancestry, before moving on into the uncertainty we face. And to our fellows left and right.
Question. Re development of definitions. “Have we or haven’t we already gone already gone too far?”Nicola, Nicloa raised the point of earth overshoot day, how we are consuming more than earth can sustain. For information on that go herehttp://www.overshootday.org/. In summary earth overshoot expresses how we are consuming more per year than the earth can replenish of its primary resources and that this reality is critical, critical for global realisation and seeding of action to remediate..
Views expressed were “its already too late. It does not change the obligation to work for a sustainable planet”. That there is a “Call from many people from all cultures to choose action- and make the difference. We must not give in to despair”. My apologies, as it was hard to track 100% who was speaking as the conversations got lively and different speakers spoke so all efforts made to try and preserve what I heard but as I write this now, it is a bit later on.
Anne referenced the Popes encyclical http://www.papalencyclicals.net/ as a critique, but must be looked on with hope. She advised to bring your gifts to bare on the issues and respond. Wise advise.
Question. Kalin Student- “How can science and religion unite to enhance a good of life?” Answer “Political and Individual will- to give voice to what we are not prepared to stand for” [ in the arena of human and global political affairs].
“Science [ contains the ]power for good or for ill- money /research- [ is used for ] ill uses, military industrial useless stuff. Religion has good and bad modes. How do we tap the good stuff?”. Rev. Stephen.
Mike- Healthcare we are healthier due to techo science[ really at what cost?]Techno optimists argue [ that the ] reason is techno science, that is why we are healthy, [i.e. increased life spans, ability to treat conditions that would have wiped us out years ago, agriculture etc].
Question. “With the help of technology moving into the future would you still be living a good life?”.
Answer. “Tech can be used to enhance agency (Karen Jones ) What matters is the relationship in which we stand to this form of knowledge and technology. The mode of engagement”. [It’s not just how you use them- we have always had them Where were they created? The ethics materials Long term effects].
Anne – “consumer turn over and disposability . This is the good life (sarcasm) waste waste waste”.
Rev Stephen mentions carbon costs.
Transhumanist question over receiving better legs, having perfect legs but wanting to get better ones because they are available. Rev Stephen- warned of the “seduction of human spirit. What is the vision of a good life? Mechanical excellence? What’s it gonna take to get that?”
My response in poetic form was
Be the tree who’s roots
Are planted firmly
so all my shelter under your roots.
My closing thoughts. I attended a few such events this week and all the conversations were centred around the things I have been writing about and the reason why we create the Triple Ecology gathering; is that there is a call in the realm of human affairs from within and from divine powers beyond us asking us to rise in defence of life, for all beings because if we do not rise to the challenge and make changes our current path is self destruction and the sixth great extinction via human agency.
What constitutes a good life is a life in harmony with all beings, with other nations, traditions and ways, other orders of living beings on a clean energy planet where every soul can reach potential, where wars are a thing of the past and the foundations or life are revered and used wisely. A life where we work towards balancing what we have done together because we did not know the consequences of our discoveries and technologies. But with foresight now we can prepare and at least attempt to lay a smoother path for our descendants because it is our duty. It is our future karma, For our descendants will be us reincarnated. It is the time of great tribulation, the age of Kali Yuga, the realm of maya (illusion), the great reckoning, transition, the apocalyptic age, it is called many things. It is the end of one age and the beginning of another. This era has been called The Anthropocene. Read about it below. How the Anthropocene plays out will depend on all of our actions and decisions now. The strata that gets deposited in the cosmic memory bank by todays humans will be an interesting thing to analyse some future time that’s for sure. Then we may look back and say we were crazy, we gambled too much and took everything for granted because life was all about industry and economics, not being and the foundations necessary for interbeing . http://anthropocene.info/index.php . I look forward to engaging with more young people so they may develop their minds and hearts to become stewards for the future, carers for the commons. It is after all our collective heritage on earth – for it to be a good life we need mass action. Every bit matters. After all, was it not mind over matter, now we have lost sight of matter we had better find our minds and quick smart or we may not find matter suitable for a foundation of life.
These issues I seek to address and promote in all my workshops and artistic practice, heal person heal community heal planet. Thank you. Catherine Meeson
The Festival for Healthy Living- A Melbourne Children Hospital Inititiave
I was extremely grateful to be recommended for the Festival for Healthy Living by a wonderful lady in my local community Centre. In 2014 I was employed as assistant artist and the focus was divided between well being and Arts assistant facilitation all rounder one could say. 2015 I was more engaged as an Artist per say in community Arts facilitation.
The Festival For Healthy Living program is a 3 year program that visits regions identified as having special need at community level. In this case it just happened to be my home town, an area of low socio economic status with ample community issues. The focus is for Children and also includes the larger community in capacity building.
We worked as a majority of the schools in the local region with thousands of students all up over two years of work shopping, and it may just continue next year.
The Workshops are held at both Primary school level and High school in a mix of art modalities. The focus is arts health engagement, how the arts can serve as preventive mental health mediums and to increase the general well being in the community, by assisting (intentionally) enhanced peer, family and social relations, more inclusiveness, affect on self esteem/ self worth and dealing with a range of identified issues. We worked with issues such as racism and bullying, literacy and so on.
The children were given the opportunity where possible to choose art form. They got to sample drama, performance, dance, rap, song, music, writing, visual arts, circus with a range of contracted professional practising artists. Even Hoola hooping!
River of Life as Closing Ritual at Staughton college - with community issues and identified personal resources
Engagement levels varied with artform, school and artist teams and the activity its' self. I was engaged across the board assisting with circus stuff, The Sisters and Brothers Project, Visual Arts, Drama and Music. At Melton South Primary school we made masks first as paper mache then as an extended cardboard and mache process which ended up as our wonderful bird heads in the opening parade for the stilt walkers at the Dream Big festival culmination day.
Coburns had all the artists teams. I also worked with Sisters and Brothers, Circus and running an Improvised drama session.
At Melton Secondary we worked in the gym which was a bit of a challenge with sound. Marnie made the wonderful big Wedge tailed eagles with her group, that are a feature animal out on the western plains and of course connected to the Aboriginal creator dreaming story -Bunjil.
Melton South Primary Mask making
It is the opportunity that is important for the children. Sport is a well publicised and supported part of long term health care but the arts, as yet, are not widely understood for their long term health benefits. Whether a person chooses to become a professional artist or just to express themselves, as hobbyist crafts person etc, engagement is the key, self discovery, promoting a sense of joy, risk taking, promoting positive self worth and esteem. It is not about producing finished products of high art, even though we worked towards a grand finale in the second year as the festival event in the big tent, where all schools came together and contributed. See pictures below.
The Day the Circus tent came to town to Dream Big- featuring Shadow play, Melton Secondary college Wedgetailed eagles made by Marnie and co and Kris' tree made with Staughton college kids
The best part for me was not only getting paid, meeting new artists and having the perfect job that was an intersection of my skills, but seeing the kids have a go, learn new skills, make new friends, discover things they did not know before, about themselves, and the arts. Everyone in the community was very proud on our big day and I am so proud of all the kids for their fantastic work, we hope that in some small way or maybe a big way, their encounters with these art forms in ways which are not prescribed curricula, my enrich their lives. It is about having fun, trying and being engaged promoting positive mental health in the process. Who knows maybe we sprouted a few life long arts practitioners in the process, or at least encouraged them on their journey?
Thank you to the amazing and inspirational John Lane, The Royal Childrens Hospital, Linking Melton South, Regional Schools, teachers, Education department and Health workers, and all the fantastic artist teams, what an wonderful project to be involved in, I learnt heaps!
I am a girl from the North who lives in the South...a Minstrel of melody, a wordsmith, creatrix extraordinaire! I Compose sonic tapestries and create visual delights, and tantalize with tales from other times! Multi modal Artist/ Creator with Words, Pictures & Sounds. Ambient Music composer & singer songwriter. Artist/ therapist/ healer.