The call and the need have never been stronger
Palms Australia will give greater emphasis to its mission in Australian communities. The mission at home has become urgent as street violence, terrorism and draconian legal responses appear to deepen cultural divides around the globe. Our vast network of returned volunteers is being mobilised to sow the seeds they have reaped from crossing cultures and living simply. They will work with Australian communities “… to advance mutually enriching and challenging relationships of understanding, acceptance and care – to the point of sharing worlds of meaning in the deepest sense – with people of a culture different from one’s own… ” 1
The call is highlighted by Fr. Neil Brown: “Affluence draws a curtain around us … (that) … shuts out the real world. This curtain is our own high standard of living which hides from us the deficiencies of our own policies and actions towards our own marginalised people and debt ridden poor nations.” 2 We can assist Australians gain perspective on real needs, as opposed to those flashed before us in our consumer culture by well paid marketers that sustain “… a false sense of the self, of the world and one’s relationship to it. (p.115)” 3
One thing that Palms Global Volunteers all notice upon return to Australia is the incredible waste that is generated in the way our culture and economy panders to false wants by providing such unnecessary choice. Enormous amounts are spent on advertising products that go well beyond catering to essential needs. It is particularly galling to returned volunteers who have experienced working in health, education and food production in a majority world economy where basic resources to ensure survival of mother and child at birth, or for the children that survive to be fed and educated, are not available.
Launching a multi-pronged strategy
In the past we have allowed ourselves to be exasperated, talking amongst ourselves about the issues, but not taking action. Since our organisational review in March this year we have been building strategies that draw on all our strengths and genius to allow Palms to launch multi-pronged action over the next six months: evangelising action that promotes love, humility, justice and solidarity in all our relationships, but particularly cross-cultural relationships. The strategies implemented so far include:
- The re-launch of the Palms’ web site www.palms.org.au to explain aspects of the program.
- The development of training services that provide a variety of professional development and educational programs for businesses, teachers and students, concentrating on vital values for moving across cultures.
- Communication with Australian Bishops to assist a Pentecost launch of Palms CommUnity Partnerships, which will become the centrepiece of Palms home mission. (See inside this edition of Palms Post)
We are also planning a major project to bring the message of Palms’ mission to the street. It will provide a tremendous opportunity for removing the curtain that shuts out the real world, for inculturation of gospel values in places where “a love that does justice” is not fully cherished. As with our mission overseas it will require imaginative use of the forms and practices of the local culture and sub-cultures to open up new vistas and possibilities for building relationships in which we love tenderly, walk humbly and act justly. A Palms experience gives one the responsibility to do this now, to play a part in achieving the solidarity the world urgently requires.
1 Schroeder, Roger (2003) “Entering Someone Else’s Garden: Cross Cultural Mission” ACLRI Mission Conference
2 Brown, Neil (2005) “A Love that does Justice” ACSJC Catholic Social Justice Series No. 55, North Sydney
3 Hamilton, Clive (2003) Growth Fetish, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest