Dear Inner Circle,
Sitting in our café, I paid little attention to a young fellow who sat beside me until he rested his head on my shoulder. At first, I wondered if a substance was causing him to find it hard to stay awake, but it became clear that he was holding his head in a deliberate act of affection. No words had been said. Not all dialogue needs words. After what felt like some long minutes, we turned and looked into each other’s faces.Still without words, I got it. A fellow who had been doing well, was in a lot of trouble. “Can we talk?” he said as he got up and walked outside. It took a while to free myself from what I was doing, and find this fellow standing alone across the other side of Hughes Street. When the words started, they gushed. “Trouble” hardly begins to describe his situation. It was hard to understand how anyone could fit so much trouble into just a few weeks. The last time we met, he had the freedom of looking everyone in the eye. Today his eyes scanned every direction all the time, not just looking for cops; they are the least of his worries. I hugged the bloke and said, “Mate, you did this to yourself. There is no upside to this.” There was some more dialogue with few words. I hoped he could see his emptiness and my lack of words put us both together in a state of loss and grief. I hope by now he’s turned himself into the cops as he’d be a lot safer with them than just about anywhere else. My parting words were, “I’d rather be lost with you than saved without you.” We hugged once more and I pointed and said, “The police station is that way.”
I’m relieved that the same-sex marriage issue is resolved. None of us emerged from this period of debate well. The process has demonstrated with new clarity for me the polarising effect of the debate. The agony of these past weeks has been to see how people clustered together to push their point. Both sides, offering opposing arguments and gathering ever greater conviction of their own rightness. “All real living is meeting” and this has been a process of watching people increasingly close down, all sides feeling victimised. Let’s have a month where every day we find something to love about those who hold a different view. Imagine spending as much time community building as we have spent dividing into the “us and them”.
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