Monday, 17 January 2011

ON BECOMING STRONGER


“Sometimes in tragedy we find our life’s purpose - the eye sheds a tear to find its focus.” - Robert Brault

It is nearly three weeks into the New Year, and although as with every New Year, we expected that 2011 would come to us bearing promises of success, happiness and prosperity, instead it gave us some immediate misfortunes: The bushfires in Western Australia, the flood tragedy in Queensland and Brisbane’s inundation, quickly followed by the Victorian floods, which tested the best amongst us. Although our College campuses in Queensland were spared, many of our staff and students were victims of the disaster and we are experiencing some difficulties in returning to normal operations. The effects on our College and its community are considerably less than what the State of Queensland and the City of Brisbane will face in the near future. Northwestern Victoria is also reeling from flood-caused devastation. Longer-term repercussions of the disaster will affect us as a nation, as a community, as a financial entity in the international scene.

It is important in times like these to remember that within our own small community we are a microcosm, a reflection of the Nation at large, and also the whole world. We are reeling within our communities as we come to terms with our colleagues’ and students’ loss of loved ones and property. We are trying to maintain normality and our routine operations, even as several key areas of our infrastructure are suffering. To this end we are sticking together, gaining strength from each other and providing support where it is needed most. This is what is happening in Brisbane, in Queensland, in Victoria, nationwide, in fact.

The volunteer efforts in Queensland have been remarkable in the face of the flood tragedy, and similarly within our community we are seeing offers for help and support amongst our staff and student body. On the Melbourne Campus we already started a donation drive and many of our staff have made generous personal donations to the flood relief appeal. More fund-raising activities will follow. Strong leadership by the Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, has meant that flood-affected Queenslanders have been assured of open communication channels, good support, comfort and encouragement in their misfortune. Within our College, the leadership of our CEO has meant that we have also been able to overcome this crisis through her efforts.

A sense of perspective needs to temper our emotional response to tragedies such as those recently experienced by Australia. Immediately the Queensland floods and the Brisbane deluge started to claim lives and property, news broke of the terrible calamity in the Brazil floods and mudslides that claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed whole towns and villages. Our own catastrophe seemed to be easier to cope with, knowing that other people in the world were suffering in a similar way, and on a much greater scale. One’s own personal cross is harder to bear, of course, and it is little consolation that other people have to bear heavier crosses. Nevertheless, we should be consoled somewhat in the knowledge that we shall be able to overcome the crisis easier than other, harder hit communities.

Our college campuses survived intact, however, other institutions in Brisbane were flooded, and of course many residential properties were completely inundated. We are dealing with some post-flooding issues within our College, but this seems to be a small price to pay, with our staff and students showing a great deal of patience and understanding. By sticking together, helping each out as much as we can, providing support and encouragement where needed and acknowledging people’s best efforts during a stressful and difficult time we can overcome this crisis and look forward to better days.

In Japan, when an object is mended, the damaged part is highlighted by decorating it with precious metal. The presence of the flaw highlights the history of the object, with its value and beauty perceived as being greater than before. We too shall repair ourselves and wear proudly our scars, as if we are adorned with gold. We shall be whole again; stronger and more beautiful than before.

4 comments:

  1. This is so lovely. We here in Cloggyland have been following the Australian news with interest. Sorry to here that the flooding caused damage to your college. What a wonderful spirit you all have, though. And I loved the cultural info of the Japanese. Thanks for sharing this, Nicholas. And best of luck to you and your staff with the continued clean up.

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  2. This is a very poignant blog full of hope and optimism. I love the part about the Japanese mending broken objects and considering more beautiful afterwards! This post is chicken soup for the soul, Nicholas!

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  3. Beautiful blog!!!!!
    I hope everyone recovers and gains strength from their experience.....

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