On Sunday I was blessed to have the opportunity to listen to the Dalai Lama XIV speak in Perth regarding ‘Spirituality in the Modern World’.
The Dalai Lama shared his wisdom with the 14,500 strong audience, speaking of the benefits of living a compassionate and holistic life – and holistic in the sense of the world, not just within ourselves or our own countries.
“From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”
As I write this I reflect on his words. At times I feel that my heart could break, thinking of those who have, or are suffering and struggling in the world. This is so much more poignant given the airing of a 3 part series on Australian TV called ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’. In my lifetime, I do not believe that I have ever seen a TV show that has stimulated so much open discourse on such a powerful subject.
For those not in the know – or in another country perhaps – ‘Go Back to Where You Came From’ is a series whereby ‘six ordinary Australians agree to challenge their preconceived notions about refugees and asylum seekers by embarking on a confronting 25-day journey. Tracing in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to reach Australia, they travel to some of the most dangerous and desperate corners of the world, with no idea what is in store for them along the way.
Deprived of their wallets, phones and passports, they board a leaky refugee boat, are rescued mid-ocean, experience immigration raids in Malaysia, live in a Kenyan refugee camp and visit slums in Jordan before ultimately making it to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq, protected by UN Peacekeepers and the US military. For some of them it’s their first time abroad. For all of them, it’s an epic journey and the most challenging experience of their lives’.
Reality TV – yes. Produced with intent – yes. Powerful statement – of course. Within Australia, and many countries I have travelled to, there is always one common thread that stimulates ‘passionate’ discussion between people, and that is immigration. Over the last few years, this has been increasingly prominent within Australia, especially with the rise in people seeking asylum and the apparent increasing amount of boats approaching Australian shores carrying ‘illegal immigrants’ (or so the media would lead us to believe) trying to ‘skip the queue’.
I have very strong views on this subject. I have friends who are refugees, or have come to Australia for a better life. I am actually from a family who came to Australia for a better life – although we did not have to flee from mistreatment and injustice. I am not one to lecture (or am I?). All I can say is that I am thankful for this TV series, as it is challenging the atypical view that the mass media seems to perpetuate almost daily. I do have hope that it will succeed in opening up discussion and some people’s eyes. I hope that it strikes at the hearts of people – and that, as the Dalai Lama stated so eloquently, helps with the ‘development of love and compassion’ and in turn tranquility for all.