Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Here's to the ANZACS

Today, 25 April, is a solemn holiday for Australians. It is the day that we commemorate the Australian and New Zealand military who have fought in the numerous wars since the beginning of Australian Federation in 1901. Our men and women were in South Africa (Boer war), World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and now in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Solomon Islands and in Timor. Thousand upon thousands of lives were lost in these conflicts, and countless thousands more wounded, maimed, or suffered from post-tramautic stress, to say nothing of the families and mates left behind.

I am a migrant to this country, and I have found the ANZAC day ceremonies, the history and the legends quite moving and makes me pleased to have become an Australian citizen.

But I also wonder why Australia has opted to fight in all these conflicts; it seems the only one that made any sense at all was Australia's deep involvement in WWII in the Pacific theatre, for obvious reasons. And I can understand the military's involvement in the Solomons and in Timor, acting as peacekeepers there while these fragile nations build themselves up.

Eric Bogle, an Australian singer-songwriter has captured the feeling best of all I think, with his songs "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda", and "Private William McBride", both about the senseless carnage of the first World War. The songs are moving and stirring.

I suppose we could ask the question: does the building of a national identity have to be based on the foundation of the citizens' blood? One day perhaps not...

I salute all the brave men and women who have fought and suffered for this country, at the behest of governments of all persuasions. May the flame ever burn lest we forget.

PB White

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Reflections at Easter

Easter is the celebration of the most significant Christian mystery -- the resurrection of Jesus, and consequently this is deemed to be the most sacred holiday in the Christian calendar. It's difficult to recognise now, of course; we are swamped with chocolate, eggs, bunnies (and if you're environmentally conscious in Oz, bilbies) and very long holiday weekends. Just like Christmas, when we're swamped with millions of things wrapped up with string and somewhere in all the hype and the jolly fat man in the Coca Cola red suit is a brief mention of the birth of Jesus.

Ah well, the Christians stole the holidays from the pagans and put the Christian messages into the existing feast days. Easter was the celebration of the coming of Spring and Christmas dovetailed nicely with the Roman Saturnalia feasts. So turn about's fair play? But this misses the main point perhaps.

Somewhere in all of this, I think the essential message has been lost, which is the basis of all the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and that is the sense of fairness, justice and kindness to oneself and to one's neighbours.

Somehow in all the commercial dross and political point scoring from all the above religious persuasions, this message has been lost and we are the poorer for it.

We are all Samaritans to each other -- reviled by some as we try to make our way in the world. We have all suffered injustice and prejudice and lack of kindness by others; I suppose that at least makes us able to share our sorrows.

Perhaps we can learn from these commonly experienced woes, and as humans have over the past millenia, pick ourselves up and try to live the messages that the Old Testament prophets, Jesus and Mohammad gave to their people.

May the rule of hospitality govern our actions.

PB White