Hasn’t it been quiet here? I can now reveal to my 5.3 readers, that the reason for this silence is that my family and I have been out of Afghanistan that last 3 or so weeks. We had a conference in Thailand, then I flew home to Australia briefly to visit my mother, then I had another conference in Sri Lanka. Now in Delhi, soon to leave for Kabul.
Some gathered reflections:
– a relative said to me, while back in Perth, ‘We’re so glad you are doing this work in Afghanistan on behalf of us, Phil.’
Me: ‘It’s not on behalf of you.’
Relative: ‘I think it is.’
Me: ‘It’s not. There is a moral claim on you too.’
From the conference in Sri Lanka: It was good being a meeting dominated by Asian development workers. Nepalese, Indians, Cambodians, Laotians, Sri Lankans. Great to hear some Asian development theology from Rev. Ebenezer, also. But – and this I don’t get – many of the presentations were from white-skins. While us whities were only 8 out of the 120 people, we gave maybe half of the talks and workshops. But the whole conference was organised by Asians. Did we simply volunteer to give the talks more? What about the full depth of indigenous expertise there? What was going on?
As Julie noted, whilst in Hong Kong, and it is true here too: an incredible number of people travel plugged into iPhones, iPads, Kindles, etc. Too bad if you want to start a conversation with someone.
While I enjoyed being in (parts of) Australia (mostly the bush in the SW), and seeing my mother was good, I came away discouraged by what seems to be dominant trends in my country. Insularism, racism, material aspiration. Is this the new Australia? I used like Australians. I found us hardbitten, humorous, resilient, economical. What a whinging, small minded, worldly, spiritless lot we have become. As a friend said to me, in Perth, ‘I think (Pauline) Hanson won, in the end’. Perhaps.