Treaties, Climate Change and the Fight Club of the 2019 Vote

Makarrata, a treaty and 650,000 years of carbon dioxide lead to this moment, a minister walked into the Fight Club of the Australian Election.

At Ponderings, we believe in telling the stories of those who have overcome adversity to achieve positive change and to reflect, to inspire and to prosper.

When a person becomes so impassioned for the justice of others that he leaves the safety of a pulpit and walks into the den of politics- you take a breath in. He is part of our Ponderings community and has rolled up his sleeves and entered the fight club holding a torch. What is he coming with? Climate change, The Uluru Statement from the Heart and voice of the Makarrata.

He is a grandfather, a devoted husband and a beloved minister of the Anglican Parish of Gosford. This is not a man sipping his Grange from a megamansion or a lefty infuriated throwing around restless and careless words. He gives a shit that’s for sure. He set the social media world ablaze and became the talk of the world when he used his church message board on the front lawn to say “Dear Christians, some people are gay, get over it.”

What followed was advocacy and lots of it. Informed, educated, and a whole of fearlessness. It’s not easy standing up for those who need it most. Rod Bower has braved break-ins, had sermons bombarded by white supremacists and death threats come weekly. A minister of the church opening the Sydney Madigras? He’s copped it and still he marches forward.

Fast forward 2 years, and he is the representative for the ICAN party in the Federal Election; Independents for Climate Change Action Now. ICAN is a coalition of independents from across the political spectrum with some specific plans on what needs to happen to give the mechanics of our democratic machine a grease and oil change.

So I asked Father Rod Bower some questions because if you have made it to the top row in the voting ballot, people want to know what the heck you are going with that platform if they vote for you.

What do you hope to achieve once you’re in there?

In the first 100 days, I will help the parliament to declare a Climate Emergency. I will help the parliament to revisit the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This will set the cultural parameters for the term. All legislation must be climate-informed for our children to have a bright future.

Ponderings: The Uluru Statement from the Heart – is a national Indigenous consensus position on Indigenous constitutional recognition, which came out of a convention of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates in 2017.

The Uluru Statement sought a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about indigenous history. Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past.

Why climate change?

In the past 650,000 years, the carbon dioxide Level in the atmosphere has never risen above 300 part per million, with an average of about 200ppm. Today it is over 400ppm.

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 0.9 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

We can mitigate the devastating effect of global warming by becoming a zero-emissions society and by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it the ground and plant life.

In short;

The planet is warming.
We did it.
It’s bad.
We can fix it.

Why is it important to have independents elected?

The two-party system is no longer agile enough to meet the rapidly changing political landscape. The system has become so corrupt that only a solid group of centrist independents will be able to precipitate changes to election donations and establish a Federal ICAC.

How can voting for an independent positively impact government in Australia?

The Gillard Government was one of the most productive in modern Australian history. That is in part, due to Julia Gillard’s excellent negotiating skills but also to the fact that she had a group of sensible independents with which to negotiate. A minority government, where the balance of power is held by productive independents, works well because ideology has to stand aside for practical solutions.

What do you need now to get there?

To win a Senate seat in NSW a candidate requires a quota of 14.5%, that’s a little over 700,000 votes. The more primary votes we get, the more preferences we will attract. So if voters believe that a proper response to climate change is essential and a sustainable society is crucial that they can vote 1 ICAN in the Senate.

Group Q in NSW
Group K in Qld
Group M in Vic

People may not understand the vital importance of independents representing sections of the social fabric of our country in government. They help create a balanced representation, to pass legislation and stop the corruption of our democratic system. It’s a system worth protecting!

If you would like to find out more about the ICAN party and the members, you can click here.

To read about the Uluru Statement of the Heart and Makarrata you can click here and read the statement below.

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the Heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds, and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken – The Voice of Justice

Outspoken by Fr Tod Bower Ponderings Magazine Australia

by Fr. Rod Bower

 

There are twelve minutes and four seconds of my life of which I have no actual memory.

That is the length of time I stood on the stage at the International Convention Center in Sydney delivering my TEDx talk.

There seems to be a gap in the space/time continuum between the second the stage manager said ‘go’ to the moment my appointed minder asked ‘can I get you anything?’ It’s not that I am ‘unaccustomed to public speaking.’

I do it all the time. There was more than six months notice, weeks of preparation and days of rehearsals; it’s just that the bar is set so high.

There seems to be a focus and intensity to a TED talk that doesn’t exist in any other forum.

As I left the stage my response to my minders question was simple; ‘water,’ I was just so dry in the mouth that it’s a wonder that I could speak at all.

Perhaps that’s why TED talks are so popular; we are parched, thirsty for well-considered thoughts, honed arguments tested and reviewed reflections were deliberations have been distilled to their essence.

 Presentations where we know people have given deep thought to their subject and have not only already been challenged on their content, but are willing to open themselves up to further criticism.

So there was TEDx and then came a book release.

As Kirsten put it “how could you ever imagine placing a message on your church sign could lead to these things?”

Fr Rod Bower Ponder Kindness on Church Board

Kirsten asked me what inspired me to write the book. The question the strikes fear in the heart of most authors is this actual question. In my case, the superficial but truthful answer is “Penguin Random House asked me too.

However, as I took up the challenge from the publisher a deeper and more complex reason emerged.

Outspoken became an answer to a parishioners question “Why are you different to all the other priests we have had in the parish before?”

Outspoken is the story of how I came to see that social order without justice is nothing more than tyranny and how and why I felt compelled to do something about it.

I hope that by telling my personal story, others may be inspired to reflect on their own stories and learn how order and justice might be better partners in the dance that leads to a more just society for all.

Because of my story, I see everything from the perspective of an outsider. This  has given me a particular empathy for those who are marginalized by a society that values order over justice. I hope Outspoken contains something contagious for the reader and the world becomes infected with compassion.

From Penguin: “Dear Christians. Some PPL are gay. Get over it. Love God.’ On 24 July 2013, Anglican priest Rod Bower put up these words on the roadside sign of his Gosford parish church. Sparking a social media revolution. The post was shared thousands of times – suddenly the one-time butcher was on the public stage.

Today Fr Rod has close to 65,000 followers on social media. He uses this platform to raise questions about Australia’s corporate soul, to assert that we are all brothers and sisters – asylum seekers, Muslims, those identifying as LGBTI, Indigenous Australians …And for such messages, the death threats pour in. How did a shy adopted kid from the country become this steadfast conscience of our nation, preaching both peace and disruption? Part life story, part love story, part manifesto, Outspoken describes evolution as surprising as are Fr Rod’s views about Christianity.

Utterly frank, both philosophical and funny, this is a singular book by a singular person. It illuminates the life and work of the man behind those signs.” To get  your copy go to: Penguin Books

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