Government neglect made Martin Place homeless inevitable

The tent city in Martin Place arose out of a perfect storm of events. Events which not only result in an inevitable rise in homelessness, but also tend to make us all feel more fearful of the future. People are noticing a widening gap between the rich and the poor. They are wondering why a relative few receive increasingly huge salaries while their own pay packets remain stagnant in the face of rising costs of living. Rising house prices and rents leave many fearful that they are only one pay packet away from catastrophe. A significant proportion of homelessness can be attributed to the housing crisis. With mortgage rates at record lows and many families being in debt, my guess is just a small increase in interest rates will add many more people to the list of homeless. Seeing pictures of the tents in Martin Place must leave many people with a nagging feeling in the back of their minds: “This could be me”. The face of homelessness is already changing. Up to 40% of all homeless people now are women, many with children, escaping domestic violence. One bright spot amid this societal gloom is the public concern expressed over the plight of those genuine homeless in Martin Place. It shows that compassion for the underdog is alive and well, even amongst those whose economic circumstances are not a source of concern. I know many wealthy people are very worried about the way they see society heading. They understand all the authorities can do is move homeless people on from one place to another. Like Moses looking for the...

Dalai Lama’s religion will outlast the Chinese occupation of Tibet

Take a look at this photo. Take a careful look. The face of Lobsang Lozin. When I first saw it I was struck by the kindness reflected in it. It’s a very compassionate face, yet there is an element of devil may care in it too. It’s like the face of someone who would go to the wall for you.  Strong, cheeky and brave. To me, it’s the face of a son every man would love to have and every mother would treasure. I looked him up on the internet to try and gauge if I was right and all I got was “Lobsang who has been described as an exemplary student with an excellent track record in his monastic studies set himself on fire at around 12 noon near his monastery’s main prayer hall and began walking towards the local Chinese office before falling down.” I saw his face on a wall in the Tibetan Museum in Dharamsala. His was one of 147 faces of Tibetan monks who had self-immolated in protest over the intolerable burden of being under the Chinese Government’s occupation of Tibet. We all know today that Tibet is basically a Chinese Government gaol. The native Tibetans are being strangled in their own country. They have no freedom to be themselves and they are being overrun by countless foreigners being moved in to make a minority of the very people who have lived there for countless generations.  They are punished if they even have photographs of their leader, The Dalai Lama. The pain they must be suffering both psychological and physical cannot be described. Yet,...

Give a child a better future

You might not realise it, but your support is giving impoverished children one of the greatest gifts of all – the ability to read and imagine a better tomorrow. It’s already happened to over 3,000 kids who’ve completed my Bill Crews Charitable Trust MultiLit Literacy program. Just last week 11-year old Susan proudly turned to me and said: “I can go to university if I keep this up!”. She can and a future way beyond her wildest expectations awaits. The kids are in poverty It all starts with 6 months intensive reading tuition in one of our centres. Because the kids all come from such poor backgrounds we don’t charge any fees. That’s why your ongoing support is crucial. A group of three young Aboriginal brothers recently completed our program. The poverty they suffered is hard to describe, but spite everything they had a drive to succeed. One by one they learned to read and the eldest boy won the Northern Territory Chief Minister’s Award for the greatest improvement in literacy. I had tears in my eyes when I was told of it. Their potential needs unlocking If you give, our successes can be limitless. I have lost count of the number of mothers who’ve thanked me for the change in their son or daughter. I love helping these kids and their potential needs our support to be unlocked. When that happens the results are remarkable. One of our students went on to get a post-graduate degree in medicine. Many others are at university. Former students from our Gladstone centre have grown up to get great trade jobs and...

My hour with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Yesterday I went to visit my old friend, His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Tibet. It was an absolutely beautiful morning as I spent time waiting for His Holiness on the veranda of His residence. I could see He was in a side room being filmed in conversation with a group of people. As He came out of the room His face lit up when he saw me. “My dear friend from Australia” He said, “Come with me” as we hugged tightly and I kissed Him on the top of His head. He led me to a large room at the end of the veranda. On a carpet were two lounge chairs and a coffee table where He motioned for me to sit. There were only two other people in the room. Chimmi, His private secretary and a translator. They were seated on smaller chairs near the wall. As we sat down He motioned to the cups of tea, looked at me and said “Welcome to my home, my dear old friend”. He then told the interpreter and Chimmi how I had called Him a good Christian (and I think He is) and how He thought I was a good Buddhist (which I am)! As we were sitting He drew a beautiful watch out of a small bag. “This was given to me by some people at a conference”, He said, “And I want to give it to you”. He tried to put it on my wrist but the band was a bit too tight. He was determined to put it on properly. “It’s okay like that”, I...

Being brave enough to lose yourself

Every now and then I get tempted to put one of my sermons up on the blog. A rush of egotism I feel I might have something worthwhile to say. However, when I read the transcript I realise all I am reading is just words. You see, religion is not words, it is more than that, it’s not beliefs, it’s more than that. It affects the core of you that is you. It is what you do with the knowledge that core has given you that’s all important. The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who was raving about someone’s latest sermon. From what I could see it was all words. This sermon went into minute detail explaining the meaning of words going right back to their ancient Greek roots. All well and good but without action these words mean nothing. They are just an interesting way of talking about the evolution of language. Many sermonisers also like to quote philosophy or philosophical passages. They can be helpful but what I have found is just because people agree with the sentiment behind philosophical concepts it doesn’t mean they practice it. Just because we recognise something is good for us it does not mean we automatically do it. There is a vast gap between recognising and doing. I think about that a lot particularly in today’s world where we are bombarded by words. It is almost as if silence is not acceptable any more. It has to be filled with either music or words. I have noticed in many charismatic church services many people become captivated by...

We are leaving refugee children to die in the snow

The whole operation began on Calais station before the train arrived. I noticed a team of armed police arrive, followed by security types and then a policeman with a large dog on a leash. They grouped around the stairs leading up from the station platform and hesitated as though they were not sure to which platform the train was arriving. They gathered in two small groups at the top of each stairway to the two platforms each looking hesitatingly at the other and then began to lounge around waiting as people on a mission are want to do. The onlookers were slightly bemused by this, “All they’ve got to do is look at the platform indicator” someone said in French and then slunk off, not wanting to be singled out as a troublemaker. It was then I noticed not all French people like what’s going on. But they know very well to keep their thoughts to themselves. I didn’t notice the train had arrived until it was too late. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. The two groups flowed into one and disappeared into one of the roofed stairways and emerged surrounding what looked to me like a youngish teenage boy. He was so short and thin.  He was wrapped in an overly large winter jacket with a white fur trimmed hood.  This framed his young (terribly young), dark face with two large overly darting eyes, the whites of which stood out as much as the white trim framing his small, dark face. The boy was very quiet and resigned and quietly walked within the surrounding gang who...