Inner Circle


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Dear Inner Circle,

There is something of a concert going on right outside my window. There is a young woman dancing and playing air guitar, mesmerised by her own image in the reflection of our front window. The energy of this woman is contagious and so an old alcoholic gentleman has emerged from his coma to join the party. He’s bent forward at the waist and the only movement he can make is that his right hand is waving horizontal to the footpath; that’s all the moves he has. At the end of a song the horizontal hand wave extends by about 30 degrees. This may not sound dramatic but it does add a bit of class to a rather dull dance routine. Currently they are dancing to, “Take it Easy” by the Eagles.

In the cafe this morning, I sat next to a woman who had her head in her hands in a gesture that seemed to show despair or something similar. “What’s up?” I asked. “I don’t know what’s right anymore,” she said. “Well,” I said, “me sitting next to you and you sitting next to me is right”. “That’ll do,” she said. One of our inner circle members has asked me to write on the topic of right and wrong so I might give it a go soon.

I wish there was a way of showing our political leaders the depth of the damage rendered to our community by sowing seeds of fear. The human reflex to condemn another faith, another ethnic group or another philosophy is generally stronger than reason. It offers quick comfort to some to constitute, “us” as being ok compared to “them”. The problem with this cultural slide is that it never finishes with today’s measure or today’s reform but rather it’s a slide into the abyss and eventually no one is safe and everyone is under some kind of suspicion.

How quickly we forget the way of love. It’s a way most inconvenient for the fearful. The way of love suggests that there are no "goodies and baddies" but rather that there is fault to be found on both sides of any conflict. The way of love steps toward both apparent goodies and apparent baddies and finds that these distinctions fade as each group becomes more real. The most urgent need in this country today is for the self-righteous guardians of all things good to get off their high horses and actually move closer to the “enemy”.

We were shielded from the war in Iraq. We didn’t see images of what the bombs and bullets did to the citizens and infrastructure of that community. Because we didn’t see it, it doesn’t haunt us at night. Can you imagine what it means to those Australians who lost friends and family in that war? The lowest estimate of people killed in that war is in the tens of thousands and the highest estimate is in the hundreds of thousands. Find an Australian whose ethnic origin is from that part of the world or who is of the Muslim faith and see if it haunts them at night. See if you can put your vast wisdom on hold, long enough to listen. Likewise the war in Afghanistan to which we committed 10 years of combat and many precious Australian lives. I’m always supportive of our people in the defence force but it doesn’t mean that I support the decisions of the political leaders who put young Australians in harm's way. I’ve had some amazing conversations with cab drivers lately, many of whom were law-abiding, hard-working, family-oriented Muslim people whose understanding of those two wars is vastly different to anything you read in the press or hear from our politicians. I’ve heard people who are bewildered and hurt and who desperately need to be heard. I’m sure if we could listen to such people, it would do more to prevent radicalisation than all the surveillance in the world.

I’m not silly enough to deny that we have a serious problem and that we need to manage it. Nevertheless, if we want a country where a ‘fair go’ is not just an empty slogan but embodied in social policy and in community action at all levels, then we need discussion and listening. These are the tools of love. If we can overcome our indignation we may create a beautiful nation and we might be strong enough in due course to stand aside when there is an invitation to someone else’s war. The easy option is to follow the loudest voice who seems to promise the strongest action but the way of love is a better way.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,

Rev Graham Long

CEO & Pastor

The Wayside Chapel

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Previous Inner Circles


26 February: Tough love

19 February: Puffing or building

12 February: The two shall become two

5 February: Chest pains

29 January: Shear joy

22 January 2015: Fully alive

15 January 2015: Blessed interruptions

8 January 2015: A glimpse of glory


18 December 2014: Christmas hat in hand

11 December 2014: A little season of goodwill

4 December 2014: There was nothing silent about that night

27 November 2014: It's not about feeling better

20 November 2014: Gathering Moss

13 November 2014: Love the land, love the people

6 November 2014: The power of presence

30 October 2014: Paralysed by presence

23 October 2014: The joy of sight

16 October 2014: The best medicine

9 October 2014: Who would have guessed?

2 October 2014: There's no such thing as a terrorist

21 August: Saving souls

14 August: Squeaking out

7 August: A time for turning

31 July: You're okay

24 July: Happy tears

17 July: Let's aim higher

10 July: Gristle and good

3 July: The joy of not knowing

26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?

12 June: Longing for riches

5 June: When you least expect it

22 May: Finding home

15 May: Flying

8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues

1 May: Skuse the French

24 April: Lifting the curtain

17 April: Collective love

10 April: Cardiac arrest

3 April: Awe struck

27 March: You're invited to something special

20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss

13 March: It's all happening at the wayside

6 March: Love makes all the difference

27 February: What goes around

20 February: The joy of being empty handed

13 February: Loving the growth spurts

6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside

23 January: Some criminals have class

16 January: Wonderful surprises

9 January: Ready, set


19 December: Thanks for an awesome year

12 December: Mission and wishin'

5 December: The ups and downs and all is well

28 November: Kissed by the community

21 November: Our cup runneth over

14 November: A revelation from wayside

7 November: When excrement happens

31 October: I am therefore I think

24 October: We are surrounded by heroes

17 October: When you least suspect

26 September: A wayside wobbly

19 September: Knowing a gift

12 September: Advancing at the retreat

5 September: A little dose of good

29 August: Fighting with a feather

22 August: The boom is just beginning

15 August: True riches

8 August: Small is beautiful

1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views

25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside

18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage

27 June: Holy ground

20 June: You cannot take what can only be given



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