Henrietta’s Diary 2: Listening to What we See Can Help Us Overcome Social Deafness and Narrow Vision!
[Another post from Henrietta Dubb’s Diary]
As I walk our Promenade things happen that can change my viewing profoundly.
Looking out past the Rip
Braille Board – Rip View
At the point where Rip-View Carpark looks out over the entrance to Port Philip Bay a board was erected a few years ago. It simply describes the sound-scape, the variety of possible noises and sounds that will be heard as we keep watch on this part of God’s creation. Whoever initiated this project had an uncommon appreciation of our human condition.
The board is also written in Braille. It stands as a wonderful affirmation to those with impaired sight. They too are welcome to enjoy this lovely patch of cliff above the Rip and in their own way. Here is another view (thankyou “Weekend notes” also for the copy of the Board’s translation of the Braille announcement).
Discover the Soundscape of Rip View
The sounds you hear are a musical wonderland of the various aspects of our marine and coastal environment.
The South-Westerly winds are an ever-present feature of this unique coastline. Strong gusts cause only a slight rustle in the dense, low, native vegetation, which is well-adapted to this windy environment.
The vegetation leans inland and hugs the dunes and cliffs providing protection for the birds and other animals from the prevailing winds. The seabirds can be heard calling as they hover on the up draughts.
The waves crash loudly as they tumble across the rocky platforms. With the changing tide, the water trickles over small rock pools as they empty and fill. The immense tidal movements of water creates a choppy swirl known as “The Rip” between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean. In foggy conditions, the foghorn located at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse sounds to assist mariners navigating this treacherous waterway.
At certain high tides, water levels rise to the cliff face. Beach crossings should not be attempted at this time.
And for sighted folks the board can be seen and touched and so it does a service to all who chance there and we are prompted to feel deeply about what is going on in that lovely place. But more than that. The wonder of sound reminds us of what is going on around us particularly with people who may not see. And as I write this I think of the deaf who visit this place as well and who will gain encouragement, in their way, from this board. What most of us do naturally, at least when we are fully awake to do so, we are now encouraged to do so with our hearts touched by the feel of a Braille wake-up call on our finger-tips.
This board encourages us to look again at what we see and to attend closely to what we hear. We feel the sounds now with a new wonder and the experience is a maze of sight and sound mixed together with a warm feeling, a tenderness that prods us to care more gently for all our neighbours.
And what does this have to do with our political responsibilities? Much I would say. The board is a public artefact and the person who devised it possessed of a keen and caring outgoing wisdom. The braille board conveys a warm welcome to all as they come to that spot, as they pause and consider its message. Here, by our site-seeing, we are brought up short to close our eyes and experience a place of wonder as one who was site-hearing, as a blind person might do. Not only do we deepen our appreciation for those who need braille to read, who if they travel cannot but embark on “site hearing tours”, but we are reminded that our own sight is a gift, a precious gift and we give thanks to God.
As citizens, we are those engaged in giving a welcome of due respect to all visitors. The tasks involved in hospitality and extending a welcome call forth from us projects that require creativity and imagination, love and compassion for all who are brought across our paths. The project that brought the braille board into existence has enriched my sea-side township in ways unseen.
Calvin Seerveld introduces his rendition of Psalm 19 by telling us it “declares the stunning torah of the Lord: creational order reveals God’s merciful will for our lives.”
The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The very shape of starry space makes news of God’s handiwork.
One day is brimming over the talk for the next day,
and each night passes on intimate knowledge to the next night
– there is no speaking, no words at all,
you can’t hear their voice, but –
their glossolalia travels throughout the whole earth!
their uttered noises carry to the end of inhabited land!
Reading that braille board in the context what God’s written psalm-word tells us is a stunning glory, leads us to hear it speaking loud and clear in its own glossolalia that sounds throughout the whole earth in its own way and it points to a remarkable fulfilment of the prayer by which David’s melodious psalm concludes:
Let the sayings of my mouth and the inarticulate groanings of my heart be something acceptable in front of your face.
O Lord God, my rock! the One who always come through to set me free from my bondage. (Verse 14).
We are induced to close our eyes and hear something that we may not have heard if we hadn’t come across that board. And then we open our eyes and look out over the Rip again and it is just not the same.
HD 5/2003 – posted 19.7.17
Just Politics is Not Just About Politics
When I write a “political” comment in my diary, I hear myself asking, over and over, “I didn’t start this diary to blow off political steam, did I?” It can be a struggle to find a positive tone even if the aim of my diary is simply to give myself an aide memoire.
Let me start where I am, where I will be today.
Why is our community such an interesting one? Is it that by living here we have found the time to appreciate the variety of ideas held by those we meet? Yes, I think so. We also have time to criticise (and often ditch) our own fancied speculations. Whether we admit it or not this local community to which I have taken time to explore, getting to know the residents, is a signpost for many on a personal road to deeper political maturity – here when we engage each other in informal conversation we learn to swim together through the tides of public debate.
We discover that political debate flourishes when discussion avoids reducing issues to two dogmatic sides: my preferred option and the view of those who will oppose me. We’ve passed that. We’ve grown up just a bit. We’re open to trying to see things, political things, from another’s point of view.
Of course we had better take note of the ongoing differences between light and dark, sweet and bitter, truth and error, wisdom and foolishness, peace and terror. But who is going to draw that line when we talk informally and insist that anything we say that has a connection to politics must sit on one or two sides?
Well, even by asking that question of myself, we know very well who says that. This bi-partisan ideology oils the two major electoral clobbering-machines. And it seems to be a global virus of many, many polities.
And these firms also also spend heaps of our money telling us in effect that a multi-party system can’t work. Translated into campaign rhetoric that reads: there is the view of our opponents which is wrong and there is ours, the only logical one to have. Take your pick!
In this way policies are defined by what is faulty in the approach of the other guy.
Does this show a lack of political courage; has it not lost perspective? Is it not deaf – and not only to others but also to itself. It avoids debate; it avoids cross-examining one’s own view. How boring. But then how demeaning; how unjust?
This dominant logic “gilds the lily” of its own self interest. It knows no self-denial in the interests of the greater public good. In bolstering this system it stifles the citizenship it needs to discover and which the country needs. Voting becomes a legal requirement by which each citizen has to choose between only two alternative forms of mis-representation.
So we enter a new way of “doing politics” – whether at Federal, State or Borough levels – inviting the already powerful “movers and shakers” in public governance to consider looking for a new and fresh approach. What about a re-think of political representation? We will keep on talking about politics, since just politics is not just about politics.
HD 8/2004 (update 19.7.17)
Henrietta Dubb, Christian citizen of the 21st century.
Across to Sorrento from Queenscliff.
Point Lonsdale from Dog Beach
Toward the Point
Last week, walking through the village, I was hit by a frisbee. Hit is probably too hard a word. It glided into my reach with no fuss at all. The owner was with his friends from a day centre in Geelong. It was their monthly outing to Point Lonsdale – a barbeque lunch.
“Frisbee” said Johnno coming up to me. “My name’s Johnno. What’s yours?”
“Hen” I said. “Henny.”
“Henny,” said Johnno pointing. “Sausages”.
I saw the smoke rising from the barbeque.
“Smells good,” I said.
Johnno replied. “Me too. Lunch.”
Johnno’s frisbee partner came up.
“Frisbee” she said, taking the frisbee off Johnno and throwing it so that it almost cleared the hedge into the Bowls Club. It stuck in a branch. I reached up and threw it low toward where the main party had assembled.
“Good throw!” Shelley clapped happily. “My name’s Shelley.
She grabbed me by the arm and took me over to the main group.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Henny” I replied. “That’s short for Henrietta.”
I smiled at the three workers, busy in various phases of picnic preparation and feeding. Shelley and Johnno were the two who spoke. I was introduced to the others – Di, Gus, Rolly and Belle.
“Hi Di. Hi Gus. Hi Rolly and Hi Belle. I’m Henny. You can call me Hen.”
“No you’re not.”
Johnno wanted me to eat a sausage.
Johnno knew something more was needed.
“This is Mary.” Johnno took my arm “and this is Bill and this is Marjorie. I’m her boy friend.”
His cheeky smile went from ear to ear.
“No you are not!”
“She loves me!” Johnno persisted looking at me impishly.
Marjorie knew her cue.
“Yes I do,” she said “very much. But Johnno you are not my boy friend!”
Johnno was smiling, trying hard to look hurt.
But he giggled. Then he threw his arms around Marjorie.
“And I love you too” he said.
Shelley piped up. “Do you love me, Henny?”
Mary, Bill and Marjorie smiled at me – they knew how Johnno and Shelley loved to make friends wherever they went.
“Yes,” I said, feeling only slightly exposed, “You all make me very happy. Thanks for coming. Come again!”
“Here. Sausage” said Shelley.
Johnno reached over for the sauce bottle and squirted some on my snack which I was trying to consume in my now greasy fingers. Not to be outdone, Shelley provided two slices of bread.
After a time, I took my leave and walked on, happy. The kindness of Johnno and Shelley stayed with me as I walked. To be alive, to play, to eat, to talk, to joke is just part of being a friend. For a brief time they had invited me to be theirs.
excerpt from Hentrietta Dubb’s Diary
First Published “Rip Rumour” September 2004.
(THIS IS THE LINK TO HENRIETTA’S EXPLANATION OF HER DIARY)
Henrietta Dubb’s Diary began with a quote from a review of R H Tawney, a collection of essays entitled, Christianity and the Social Revolution (London. Victor Gollancz & Co 1935). It can be found in The Attack and Other Essays, Spokesman, Nottingham 1981 (Original edition, 1953 George Allen and Unwin Ltd).
“I have excerpted quotes from pages 163-166:
The watershed between creeds which this striking book suggests is not the conventional one. Whatever Christians and Communists may say and do, Christianity and popular communism – though not its official variety – are alike in holding the now unfashionable view that principles really matter. Both have their absolutes. As far as principles are concerned, the division of the future will lie, perhaps, less between different forms of political and economic organisation than between different estimates of the value to be put on the muddled soul of Henry Dubb.
“There follows a footnote to my grandfather:
H.D.: the civilian equivalent of the P.B.I, or poor bloody infantry, ie the common, courageous, good-hearted, patient, proletarian fool, whose epic is contained in the well known lines, “We go to work to earn the cash to buy the bread to get the strength to go to work to earn the cash,” etc, and who is worth, except to his modest self, nine-tenths of the gentilities, notabilities, intellectual, cultural and ethical eminences put together. I seem to remember an occasion on which a telegram addressed to Henry Dubb, Labor Party Conference, was duly delivered at the correct sea-side resort. The statement that, on the chairman inviting the addressee to claim it, four-fifths of the comrades sprang to their feet, is, however an exaggeration.
What the rules of Germany and Italy think of him we know; and I suspect that those of Japan think much the same. The Christian Church professes to regard him as a little lower than the angels, a child of God, and the heir of eternal life. But it has shown hitherto no unquenchable zeal to ensure that, in this vale of tears, he shall be treated as what, on its own doctrine, he is. … In the interminable case of Dubb v Superior Persons and Co whether Christians, Capitalists or Communists, I am an unrepentant Dubbite. So I am in the unfortunate position of being unable to applaud my friends for their vices, which – since their shining virtues will look after themselves – is what friends usually declare. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. Pondering that and other indiscretions of a neglected classic, I find it impossible to believe, with some Christians, that the love of God, whom one has not seen, is compatible with advantages snatched from the brother one sees every day, or that what they describe as spiritual equality, a condition which they neither created nor – happily – can alter, has as its appropriate corollary economic, social and educational inequalities which, given the will, they can abolish out of hand … A Christianity which resigns the economic world to the devil appears to me, in short, not Christianity at all; Capitalism a juggernaut sacrificing human ends to the idolatry of material means; and a Socialism which puts Dubb on a chain and prevents him from teaching manners to his exalted governors, a Socialism – if such it can be called – which has more than half its battles still before it.
“I don’t pretend to understand all Tawney writes about my grand-father. In many ways Henry is still a mystery to me. I remember being told that just before he died – a matter of days after I was born – he said that he had always been in God’s care, and that as much as he longed for Heaven, he also wanted to see Our Heavenly Father’s new earth where righteousness and justice and truth and happiness flower in their fullest. Granpa, had a Christian funeral – his hopes have lain dormant in my consciousness all these years until I recently read Tawney’s comments noting the
… good sense, pertinacity, nerve and resolution of the loveable, pig-headed, exasperating Dubb.
“Tawney concluded his review in these terms. As I have said, I don’t follow all that Tawney writes about him. But I do warm to one thing he says. I put it here to complete the record:
Since I am not a fatalist, and regard confident predictions from past history as mostly sciolism, I have not yet despaired of Henry. I consider it not impossible that he may one day wake up; make an angry noise like a man, instead of bleating like a sheep; and in England, at any rate, in spite of scales weighted against him, use such rights as he possesses, which he is more sensible than some of his intellectual pastors in thinking worth having, to win economic freedom.
“Can I contribute to the economic freedom which Tawney said was within the grasp of Henry, if only he would wake up? I don’t know. Inspired by Henry Dubb’s example, I, his Australian grand-daughter, am going to try. That means accepting my vocation as a Christian citizen of this place. How else? I’m writing this diary to wake myself up and anyone else who is interested enough to read my scribbling may be encouraged to wonder why things have gone wrong and how we can begin to find a new way to exercise the stewardship God entrusts to all who live in this place.”
HD March 2003
Here is the link to Henrietta’s Post, “The frisbee, the sausage and the barbecue” her initial Nurturing Justice contribution to the NDIS rollout.