Photo by Yelena Odintsova.
History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.Seamus Heaney

As we watch the directions taken by the newly sworn-in Australian Government, we experience encouraging anticipation that hope and history might rhyme more closely.

Areas that have invited our passion and commitment through the past decade – the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, the climate crisis, the accelerating wealth gap across our countries, abuse in families and Church, and the increasing threats of homelessness, continue to impel us.

The emerging directions from Government, which are indicating positive signs, call us in this particular moment to redouble our efforts to bring about justice for all.

The particular focus for Social Justice Sunday on 28 August is Respect: Confronting Violence and Abuse. Covid, the Royal Commission, and the Plenary Council have named explicitly a number of areas that call for our response, on the ground, and in our advocacy for structural change.

Perhaps we could take as pointers for our engagement:

  • The increasing family violence highlighted by Covid, and the resulting threats of homelessness and insecurity.
  • The challenge to take practical action against violence and abuse in families, Church and our communities.
  • The outcomes of the Plenary Council, particularly in the areas of the call for equality, recognition of the Uluru Statement, and the dignity of all.
  • The summons of the Laudato Si’ Action Plan.

Seamus Heaney echoes the Gospel in reminding us that we must hope this side of the grave. It is an imperative we can’t ignore if hope and history are to rhyme.

Jan Barnett rsj
Josephite Justice Co-ordinator
Josephite Justice Network