Gathered thoughts as I fly back into Kabul

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.’

Relative: ‘…’


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.


9 thoughts on “Gathered thoughts as I fly back into Kabul

  1. Phil, good to have you back in cyberspace. I find visiting Perth is the issue, rather than Australians per se. A wise man once said to me there that ‘it’s very hard to build community life in a city built on extractive industry’. I find the trip west harder each time.
    It was ten years this week since the sinking of the SievX and tomorrow we will gather at the memorial and everyone I talk to here seems to care.
    Peace and strength to you all as you resettle. rach x

    • hi Rachel.
      Interesting comment about WA and the extractive industry. Maybe I would have a different sense if we were in Melbourne. Good to be reminded of that, and that people are remembering the SIEV X too. Thanks for the thoughts and the thinking. P

  2. re: your comments on moral claim, because it is an issue I trouble over often… Personally, I am not physically capable of fulfilling my moral responsibilities as a (relatively) affluent member of the capitalist system. So how do I fullfil my responsibilities? Can I do it by supporting the work by the more robust like yourself (and advocacy, etc)? Or is my excuse just that, and should I go and… die, or be worse than useless out of impairment…

    I think you write beautifully. I was glad to see you on again. And welcome to your newest ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. We are in Perth now ๐Ÿ™‚ from Alaska to Australia!!

    We’d love to meet up with you if you are back here again in the next couple years! having been an MK with chaotic furloughs and meetings, no worries if you don’t have the time ๐Ÿ™‚

    Blessings… His grace… Renee

    (A life of balance)

    • Hi Renee
      Since I worked out you were in WA, I had thought it would be neat to meet up. I’m not sure when we are back in Perth next, but when we are, I will let you know. Thanks for taking the first step!

  4. Interesting perspective. I didn’t know that the whites gave half the talks and workshops. But I guess that was the reason they were there. But anyway, I came back feeling that I conquered. It was the first time for me to see a big percentage of Asians compared to the whites. I was inspired and encouraged especially in the working environment that I’m in. And of course, you did a great job in your presentations. And if you were talking to me on a flight, of course, I’ll get engaged in a conversation. But it’s not always the safest for a single woman travelling, if you know what I mean. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Hey Phil! Just for you to know. I’m really having a hard time navigating your blog. It suddenly shuts and for many times too. Then sometimes it says that the page cannot be found. Or is this just my problem?

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