Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

Exile-erating exoperience

I went to a fantastic conference last week. It wasnt that it was held in Byron Bay or that it was hosted by the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Social Justice from Southern Cross University together with the Centre for Public Culture and Ideas at Griffith University, although that should be enough given we need to be acting locally at every opportunity.

It was called Landscapes of Exile: Once Perilous, Now Safe and discussed issues such as the exile of indigenous people in their own land, other nationalities in exile in Australia and overseas, different age groups in exile, the mentally ill as exiles, place and exile, expressions of exile, and refugees.

What is interesting about conferences like this is that they tackle the difficult issues that are avoided in everyday life. Alienation and what that means for individuals, families and even whole communities is not sexy or dramatic so the regular media, other than perhaps the ABC, SBS and the odd community newspaper, dont like to talk about it. Politicians skirt around it and it is hardly the stuff of a couple of schooners at the bar or a latte and cappuccino at the corner caf. It is hard to understand that there are thousands of people in society who are somehow alienated, in exile from their family, their community, themselves, their land, their country.

This has dimensions of incredible sadness and sometimes tragedy that we can all understand. But some of the conversations and messages at the conference were also about hope. That somehow we can find a way to understand, to reconcile and to give.

I was also overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of many who are the victims of being exiled. In fact, they refused to behave as if they were victims. Instead, with great dignity, they looked towards hope, the future rather than the past although we should all acknowledge that the past exists. For the still traumatised I can only point towards forgiveness and reconciliation.

A really engaging conversation with a colleague at the conference got me thinking hard about how we limit ourselves in coming to grips with the important things. My colleague said he worried about how in this fast-paced, do it all now, instant gratification society, we rush towards answers.

This is so true. We think we need answers to our dilemmas so quickly that we fail to really think in any depth. We have become so good at this that we ignore the evidence and the facts, and forget to ask the important questions. Expediency is the catch-cry of the 21st century. For this I use the term SADD Society Attention Deficit Disorder. Me, I am joining the go slow society.

Great conference Baden and colleagues. We need more of these great experiences.

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