Friday, April 16, 2010

My Address at the Memorial Opening on Saturday

I wonder if we realise how truly blessed we are?
We live in Australia, not just one of the best countries in the world but also one of the safest.
We enjoy a lifestyle virtually unmatched by any other nation on earth.
At least in part because we have a continent all to ourselves and don’t share a border with any other country we enjoy great security and safety.
We may be guilty of taking these things for granted, of not truly appreciating just how well off we are.
Further to that, we live in Busselton, a quiet little seaside town, a jewel on the beautiful coastline of the near perfect south west of Western Australia.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say there are few better places to live anywhere on the planet.
But twice in the last few years, Busselton’s heart has been broken by events in other parts of the world.
There is a huge gap between the world’s rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, and this has served to reinforce the differences and inequalities between peoples and nations.
The world is greatly troubled, conflict is widespread and many resort to acts of violence, destruction and murder as weapons of terror.
While we live in peace, many other countries suffer at the hands of terrorism, war and violence on a daily basis.
In desperate circumstances, corrupt and evil forces can and do seduce the weak, the unwary and the gullible.
Some have come to believe the lies; that murder and terrorism can enable them to achieve their aims.
Fuelled by ignorance mistrust and hatred, religious fanaticism has manipulated desperate people into committing heinous acts of evil and terror.
Carol and Brendan are just two of hundreds who were killed maimed or injured in Bali and countless other places.
Beautiful Busselton suffered doubly and many of you here experienced a pain too unimaginable to contemplate or describe.
How do we respond to these awful events?
What can we do?
We have cried many tears and mourned our dead. The pain has diminished but slightly.
We have only our memories to hold on to, to enjoy, to draw comfort from.

Now we have a place. A special place. A place dedicated to the memory of Carol and Brendan. A place conceived, designed and constructed by their family and friends as a tribute to their lives and their memory.
Here on our beautiful coast we have a place we can come, to remember, to contemplate, to pray. I hope that this will be a place of peace and friendship and honour and even celebration.

But, I believe we have to do more.

I don’t believe we can just hunker down in our safe refuge and ignore the problems of the world.
In possibly the greatest message ever preached, the sermon on the mount, Jesus said something I believe to be completely applicable to us today.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”.
Let me elaborate on that simple statement.
Jesus didn’t say “blessed are the peacekeepers” but rather the peacemakers.
We are familiar with peacekeepers in the modern world, armed soldiers sent to places of conflict to keep warring parties at bay. Their role, though vital to safety and security, is only to impose peace through superior force. It does not produce lasting peace because it does not resolve the root causes of the problems that lead to conflict in the first place.
I believe we need peacemakers.
In fact I believe we need to be peacemakers ourselves.
That means we need to actively, consistently and persistently work towards making peace.
Where there is conflict we need to work for peace, whether that be in places of war or in our school or workplace or in our own homes. To make peace requires hard work. To make peace requires us to listen, and understand and empathise with both sides and to promote reconciliation, restitution and forgiveness.
It’s not easy to make peace but ultimately when we do the impact is greater and longer lasting. We personally can’t resolve the conflict that leads to terrorism but we can work to learn about other people, to see inside their worlds and to look for ways to cooperate, co-exist and work together. We can choose a path dedicated to living at peace with others.
I’d like to think that Carol and Brendan’s memories would be honoured by such actions of peace making on our part.



jacqui said...

that was wonderful Marcus, and so right, we have to have peace in our families, before we can expect peace between nations.

II saw the goal several times on the news, it certainly was fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Dear Marcus:

I sit here, in New York, in my corner office, a block from the former site of the World Trade Center.

I believe in peace, and I believe that we all need to actively need to make peace. Your address is beautiful. But, sitting here, in New York, in my corner office, a block from the former site of the World Trade Center, I am reminded of something that my daughter did a few months ago.

My daughter loves the Pixar movie "ratatouille." She wants to see Paris in the worst way, and she thinks of all cities at night as Paris. one day she saw a picture of New York at night, pre September 11th. She said to my wife: "Look! Paris!"

"No, that's New York City."

"Like where Daddy takes the train?"


"What are those big buildings?"

"Those are the World Trade Center Towers"

"Are those near Daddy's office?"


"Can I see them?"


"Why not?"

"Bad men took airplanes and knocked them down." (why my wife said this I have no idea).

Later, Eleanor climbed into my lap, and hugged me tight and asked me if I was hurt. I had no idea why she thought I was hurt. She explained to me that bad men had knocked down the big buildings by my office.

I hugged her tightly. I have never been so moved.

But I also remember that there are people who think that their way is the only way, and that our way - American or Australian, British or Spanish - is blasphemy.

Until they open their hearts, there can be no peacemakers. Except the bombers and the guns that bear those names.