Like a torn kite in a storm

Our friend, Donal, has had a posthumous book published. His author’s name is Daniel.

Donal died in January this year after an arduous and serene dealing with terminal cancer.

Donal’s book is titled Dancing to My Death. It chronicles the last months of his life. We saw Donal as he was about to start on his book.

We have seen reviews of the book in Australia and we have ordered a copy of Dancing. We have all Donal’s books with us. All of them were gifts from him.

The publication of the book has brought home the devastation we have felt after Donal’s death. My wife, Sue, knew Donal for over forty years. We miss him profoundly but we hope to follow his guidelines about dancing … “And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance. I hope you dance.

Vale, Donal. (Link)

An everday example of R U OK?

I have been following the R U OK? Day for a number of years. One of my interests is in the everyday question of personal well being (link).

This week, the everyday was brought into sharp focus by a friend. He wrote an open letter to someone who was having some personal challenges.

I saw the open letter as a very public way of sharing the thin ice on which we all travel.

My friend wrote:

Hi

Just going to say a little bit to support you, maybe something you can get from it. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my adult life. I’ve not wanted to leave the house, I’ve felt I was going to lose control, I’ve felt everyone could tell I was “different”.

Well, as it turns out, I am different – and so is everyone else. But nobody else can tell that by looking at you.

Set yourself small goals, and if you do have panic attacks, accept that they are just part of what makes you, you. Think of all the times the bad stuff didn’t happen. But mostly, accept it is part of you.

I’ll have bad days, and if I need a day to compose myself, I take it.

Take time to accept what you are.

End of speech.

I thought this was a wonderful letter. It has a profound honesty and a clarity that have helped me think how we support each other … everyday.

Photo Credit

RUOK Mate?

Deciding to protest

A year ago, Colin Kaepernick made a decision to protest about an issue that had profound significance for him.

First, he sat during the playing of a national anthem at an American football game in which he was taking part. Then, at a subsequent game, he knelt during the anthem.

Michael Dyson wrote about Colin’s courage:

Kaepernick has been accused of being unpatriotic, a traitor to the nation, a disruptive, self-aggrandizing narcissist, and a loathsome human being who disrespects the military. Kaepernick’s situation highlights just how little progress we’ve made in this country …

He added:

What some critics are missing is that Kaepernick is the best kind of American there is: one willing to criticize his country precisely because he loves it so much. Kaepernick is not a traitor; he is a true patriot.

Kaepernick has bravely touched the third rail of American sport, one that we have not yet contended with, and the issue that we continue to deflect. When a black athlete bravely speaks up, we punish him.

Michael is a sociology professor at Georgetown University. His reflections on Colin took me back to Harry Edwards’ discussion of the black power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.

On the podium that day was an Australian athlete, Peter Norman. During the medal ceremony, Peter, who won the silver medal, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge. Tommie and John have shared that on that day, Peter said to them “I’ll stand with you”.

Steve Georkakis (2012) noted “the salute effectively ended Norman’s career”.

Steve notes:

Australia was not a crucible of tolerance. Norman, a teacher and guided by his Salvation Army faith took part in the Black Power salute because of this opposition to racism and the White Australia Policy.

In 1972 he was overlooked for the Munich Games even though he had on numerous occasions made the qualifying time. Norman’s name does not appear in books which talk about the 100 greatest Athletes or the 100 greatest moments in Australian sport.

Peter died in 2006. He received an apology from the Australian Parliament six years later. The apology reads:

That this House:

(1) recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver medal in the 200 metres sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06 seconds, which still stands as the Australian record;

(2) acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute;

(3) apologises to Peter Norman for the treatment he received upon his return to Australia, and the failure to fully recognise his inspirational role before his untimely death in 2006; and

(4) belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality.

Tommie and John were two of the bearers at Peter’s funeral. Their shared story and the ongoing debate about Colin’s protest are powerful reminders about the courage needed to protest, particularly in sporting contexts … and the moral clarity that invites us to join together.

In his eulogy for Peter, John said:

We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat and he said, ‘I’ll stand with you.’ I expected to see fear in his eyes, I didn’t. I saw love… He never flinched on the dais, he never turned his eyes, he never turned his head. You guys have lost a great soldier.

 

Photo Credits

Kaepernick (Brook Ward, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Black Power Salute (Angelo Cozzi (Mondadori Publishers), Public Domain)

Tommie Smith and John Carlos at Peter Norman’s funeral (The Conversation, 13 October 2012)