Help needed

September 18, 2013

For close to 40 years the poem “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” by William Stafford has been a constant companion for guidance and purpose in my life. These are the lines that speak most fervently:

“… I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider –”

“it [is] important that awake people be awake,”

“the signals we give — yes or no or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.”

The “darkness” I see around me is climate denial, fundamentalist religions, entrenched misogyny, economic rationalism, conservative political dogma and the public’s overwhelming willingness to remain uninformed of anything beyond sports, movies, music and gun laws.


The light that breaks through this suppressing, depressing darkness is the ongoing work of the global network of social and environmental activists. Even though working against the odds and against time, they are awake people desperately trying to wake up the masses.

They consistently stand outside their comfort zones and use their artistic, political, social and/or environmental credentials to help shift the world’s “business as usual” model away from its destructive actions to a more socially just, environmentally thriving and spiritually fulfilling world.

Yet even these strong people falter at times. Last week I received an email from a globally recognized author who wrote that recent despair had led him to a suicide attempt.


Another friend from Zimbabwe wrote this poem:


The truth is……………
I feel the spirit of nature thinning
deep in my soul
the slender mongoose who used to run the paths on Monavale
no more
our bi-annual sighting of cobras hasn’t happened for a year and a half
our family of bush babies is reduced to two lonely males
the properties around us – that had been left to the wilderness
have been sold
the habitat that has been home to the wild things – who gifted us with their presence
is being halved
I write to the sound of chopping trees
piles of brick and sand appear along our road
this is the present we are being called to live alongside
this place just a fractal
reflecting our current relationship with our mother home
the truth carries with it a deep pain
aching cracks
like the fissured earth being fracked for the future
this hill, this magical place
the wildness that grew our children
already diminished
a different home for our grandchildren
who will know nothing other than this present
and old stories of ‘what used to be’
the truth is …………………
my spirit sometimes falters at the challenge before us
to keep the balance of the beauty of this present
this magic we are being called to bring forth
knowing of what is being lost
looking at the world through clear eyes
Bev Reeler


I despair at their despair.

Both these friends are committed activists and certainly “awake” and fully cognizant of the fact that the darkness around them is deep. Bless them for putting their lives on the edge for the rest of us; for a willingness to walk past their comforting grassed back yard, out through the protective gate and into a chillier world.

A justifiable anger rises and steams through me when good people needlessly suffer — not at the hands of those that cause darkness — but because of the lack of a sufficient number of other helping hands.

There are many well-off, highly educated and skilled people who are “awake” to the situation of the world, yet daily refuse to use their talents to bring about a changing of the guard. And this bothers me greatly.

Let me appeal, therefore, to these people who hide away, refusing entry of any discomfort into their lives. Get busy. Move out of your comfortable homes, families and life styles because the world needs a critical mass of support. Now. Quickly.

New growth is urgently needed.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Grace Walker September 25, 2013 at 4:41 am

what a beautiful prayer honorarium to Ross Langdon/ElifYavuz

Steve Biddulph September 19, 2013 at 5:34 am

The care and support of ourselves as activists seems a high priority, and one that I really am committed to. I am quickly refocussing my life to being Tasmania based, as we consolidate this as an island of resistance, of nature and peace. Peter is right, we need to redouble our efforts, and embrace the joy of struggle for the green earth, as that struggle intensifies. And we need to look after each other fiercely.

bev reeler September 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm

thank you Peter – for listening to the world so deeply, for caring with an open heart, for not being afraid to really look.

Ian Fraser Brokenshire September 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I’ve have never worked harder than this year, Peter. This farm is one offering I’m making. It’s a big change from what was. The berry crops, the seven veggie plots.. 12 apricots., cherries, apples… Etc plus the hundred year old house that needed a lot of love…
We are engaging with the community… Especially Woodbridge and the channel living group. There is real momentum here for resilient community. People are asking for the change you speak of. It feels good to make this transition start to really happen. Long way to go but moving in the right direction. I love biodynamic farming…
Wish you well there. I’m still looking forward to making back one day when I have some free time. Getting closer. All the best mate, Ian

maggy September 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm

with you in all these concerns

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