How to fix a broken fence …

roses

There is an undercurrent in the media at the moment.

It goes something like this.

Muslims will be applauded if they:

  1. Condemn all terror attacks and
  2. Promote peace and unity

But the moment a Muslim goes a step further and tries to explore the reasons behind fundamentalism and terrorism, they are howled down. In the western press at least.

It’s got me thinking about the importance of having a voice. Whether it’s in a relationship, a family, a workplace or a community. Everyone needs to feel that they have a voice.

Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t have a voice? When someone has shut you down? Silenced you?

How did you feel?

Hurt? Resentful?

I am thinking back to conversations we’ve had with the kids when, as parents, we’ve made mistakes, jumped to conclusions, made accusations or spoken out of line and found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of apologising – to them.

A little seismic shift occurs. The kids suddenly see you as human. As fallible. But I think they also respect the fact that from your position of parental power, you are big enough to say “I was wrong. And I’m sorry.” And perhaps most importantly they know that they have a voice. And that is has been heard.

The flip side of this is when you don’t listen, when you stubbornly hold your position and say …

“Go to your room!”
“But I just …”
“I don’t want to hear it. Go to your room!”

Try this on …

“Shut up and be a good Muslim and go back to your suburb.”
“But I just want to talk about why I think this is happening …”
“No. We don’t want to hear it.”

Silenced. Hurt. Resentful.

Is that really the result we want?

garden 1

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the West has a less than glowing history in many corners of the world and if Obama and Turnbull et al really want to find a political, humanitarian solution to the current mess they have to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and apologise for the hurts inflicted.

Imagine you run into your neighbour’s fence with your car. Big damage.

I asked a friend today how would she set out to fix it.

“Well I’d pay for the damage.”

But I said, “No. How would you begin the process of fixing it?”

“Well I’d walk across to the neighbours, I’d apologise profusely and I’d set out to make it right. Then I’d pay for the damage.”

Exactly.

birdbath

garden 2

The most moving moment for Steve and I this week was the press conference in Western Australia with the first of the Syrian refugees finding sanctuary in Australia. A mechanic and his wife and five children. I have no doubt the PR machine had them polished and shined to within an inch of their lives. Their pictures taken. The littlies smiling. But even despite all of that, we looked at each other and said “Imagine having been on the run or in a camp in Jordan for four years and finally, finally you know your children are going to sleep safely tonight, and they will be able to go to school and you have a chance for a new start. A good life.”

And the tears welled up.

We visited Syria in 2010, five months before it went to hell. The people were overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming. We have watched it unravel for the past five years. The Syria we experienced is no more.

The father’s last words were: “All the respect. All the respect to Australia. Thank you again.”

Respect.

Respect for your voice.

Respect for mine.

18 months ago we pulled down our broken front fence and replaced it with a garden. I wrote about it here. We extended the little verandah so we could have a table and chairs out the front. Like so many Australians our focus has always been in the backyard but I can’t tell you the pleasure we’ve had bringing this little area to life, from funking up some chairs from the tip shop to planting Provencal thyme and lavenders and a curving box hedge. Last night, just on dark, I sat out there with a cup of tea and got chatting to a young guy who was walking the street, trying to settle his adorable 11 month old son who was unwell. Five years they’ve lived five doors away and last night was the first time we’d met.

marg's watercolour in the style of Edna Walling

stephen hogan sculpture letterbox

santolina

abstract shadows and light

When we’re frightened our natural response is to close in on ourselves. But I think now more than ever we need to be reaching out.

Please don’t be afraid of robust conversations.

Please don’t be frightened of different.

Different clothes. Different faces. Different ideas. Different opinions.

Different is wonderful.

Different is what makes this planet so mind blowingly beautiful.

Open your doors. Open your hearts. And make room for the voices.

There are stories that need to be told.

Stories that need to be heard.

From both sides of that broken fence.

roses

….

I’d be grateful if you’d share this one.  xo

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    10 Comments

    1. Posted 20 November 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Right on sister.Well Put. Your garden and your thoughts are just so lovely.
      Love,
      Shalagh

      • Marg
        Posted 20 November 2015 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        We’re getting there Shalagh. Thx. x

    2. donald
      Posted 21 November 2015 at 2:49 am | Permalink

      … in a world of chaos, some build a garden… beautiful idea.

      • Marg
        Posted 21 November 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        Pull down fences and build gardens 🙂 Wouldn’t that be something 🙂

    3. Ma ry Moody
      Posted 21 November 2015 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      Powerful words. Will share.

      • Marg
        Posted 21 November 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

        Good on you Mary. Thanks x

    4. Katie
      Posted 21 November 2015 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      One paling at a time… Beautifully written Marg!

      • Marg
        Posted 21 November 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Whatever it takes Katie 🙂 Lovely to see you pop by here. Hope all’s well in your camp. xx

    5. Evie Gerontis
      Posted 25 November 2015 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      What a lovely post…. Totally agree with you. The sad thing is, that we here in America were all immigrants at one time. We all left our homelands to come here to find freedom and peace and a voice. Now, we have these hateful, ignorant, and soulless extremists trying to keep out the very thing they have become. We can all do better…the important thing is… will we choose to?

      • Marg
        Posted 26 November 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Hi Evie.
        One of my American friends shared this on Facebook the other day Evie. It’s an excerpt from inside the Statue of Liberty …

        “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

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