Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2011 Contents 22
| Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle | www.mn.catholic.org.au
By MARGARET WALKER
A review by
WHAT WOULD YOU like for Christmas?
What do you expect for Christmas?
What do you need for Christmas?
Now ask these same questions and replace "you" with
"others less fortunate in the world". The answers are
probably very different.
There is something simple, yet powerful, which we can
all do to make the needs of others less acute. As you
make your Christmas list this year, consider giving a gift
to your family and friends that will in turn help those in
dire need of life's necessities.
Caritas Australia's 'global gifts' addresses nine areas
of need, and when you purchase any of the following
gifts you help whole communities -- clean water $10,
a healthy meal $20, treatment for HIV/AIDS $25,
sustainable agriculture $35, trauma counselling $50, a
sustainable future $65, safe childbirth $75, education
$100 or emergency relief $200.
Caritas, the Catholic agency for international aid and
development for over 60 years, focuses on making
communities self reliant. It works with local partners so
communities own the change and therefore are able to
sustain the change into the future. Administration and
fundraising costs are kept to less than 10% of annual
income so you can be assured your contribution is giving
maximum benefit to the people who need it most.
When you purchase a Global Gift this Christmas for
your family or friends, they will receive a card and
tree ornament as a token of your special gift and the
individuals and families in the communities you support
will have a gift that gives life and lasts a lifetime.
So now, instead of asking "What do I need for
Christmas?", ask "What do I need to do for the greater
good this Christmas?"
In a 2006 speech at Northwestern University in Illinois, the
then Senator Barack Obama urged graduates to talk more
about "our empathy deficit -- the ability to put ourselves in
someone else's shoes...". The question of how we cultivate
empathy and the cultural shifts needed if we are to identify
as members of a single human family are at the heart of
Humanity on a Tightrope by the distinguished American
biologist Paul Ehrlich and psychologist Robert Ornstein.
The book opens by observing our responses when watching
a tightrope walker at the circus. Most of us have never
attempted this feat, yet we squirm in our seats and tense
our muscles hoping and praying that the performer will
cross safely. Why, the authors ask, do we not extend the
same empathy when considering how climate change,
rising seas, pandemics and food insecurity threaten our
Ehrlich and Ornstein provide a thorough yet concise
scientific analysis of how the family unit has evolved in ways
that foster an 'us versus them' mentality and has limited
our empathy to ever smaller kin groups. The book's central
thesis is that a sustainable future will require a new and
global construction of family values. The authors do not
duck the challenging task of how we get there and provide
engaging ideas on the empathetic possibilities offered by
electronic communications, new approaches to education
and global government.
Humanity on a Tightrope is a bold and confronting volume.
It could not be otherwise given the scale of the issues
traversed in its 130 pages. The authors do not pretend that
the solutions they offer are either easy or possible. They are
simply 'required'. For this reason I found the image of the
tightrope walker and the appendix of resources for 'Reading,
Informing, Acting' to be the book's most important offerings
and a counterweight to feelings of despair.
Sally Cowling is Research Manager, UnitingCare Children,
Young People and Families.
If you have a photograph that you would like to
be considered for Aurora, please ensure it is
high resolution (300dpi).
Aurora on tour
For all that enfolds us
for each word of grace
and every act of care;
for those who offer refuge
for each shelter given
and for every welcoming space;
for the healing of our souls
for balm and rest
for soothing and sleep;
for vigils kept
and for lights kept burning;
A poem by Jan L. Richardson from Night Visions in
Midwives of an Unnamed Future Mary Ruth Broz &
Barbara Flynn, 2006
Compiled by DR JOHN and
NOT ONLY WAS Aurora spotted at the Great
Wall of China, but (below) mysteriously, it
appears that it was not the first visit...!
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