When I was in Year 6 (it could have been Year 5 or 7) I wrote a poem that was published in the Australian Girl Guides magazine. It was my very first published piece. Woo Hoo!
It was called FREEDOM and it was full of idealism for a better world that only 11 year-old-girls, flush with naïve enthusiasm and the wholesome principles of girl guidehood, can articulate.
Sadly I don’t have the poem or the publication (why was it thrown out?), but think it may have gone something like this:
Freedom means an end to hate
The kind of world that would be great
A world where everyone tries to be good
Because we all know we should
(Ok so it might have been even better than my made-up version, but you get the idea)!
I was in Year 7 in 1979, the International Year of the Child, and on the strength of my obvious writing talent!! I was chosen with another girl to edit a collaborative book of submissions from children around Queensland (or perhaps they were just from Catholic primary schools in Brisbane, but you get the idea).
My friend and co-editor and I got to spent two weeks (or perhaps it was only a week) out of the classroom and in the staff room poring over the project, organizing the poems, letters and drawings into a big scrapbook that expressed how children from all over Queensland (or maybe just Brisbane Catholic primary schools) hoped to make the world a better place.
A few years later (sometime after the film’s 1982 release) I saw the movie ‘Year of Living Dangerously’ about an Australian journalist covering an uprising against the government of Indonesia in the 1960’s.
My nascent desire to be a journalist was cemented in the idealism that foreign correspondents could actually make a difference, and in the allure of a young and handsome Mel Gibson to a hormonal teen.
Freedom, the rights of children, democracy, all things worth writing about and fighting for.
My journalism career didn’t quite take the foreign correspondent path, although I like to think some of my stories have informed and inspired and even encouraged freedom, democracy and the rights of children.
(As an aside, I’ve never met Mel Gibson (sigh), although for many years he had a house nearby on the Gold Coast. As another aside, I have met Debra Lee Furness, but have sadly only seen Hugh Jackman on stage and haven’t had the chance to meet him in person. Double Sigh – no make that triple.)
Aside from the above obvious disappointment of not meeting Hugh, and not so much Mel, I feel so lucky to enjoy freedom in a democratic society (even if we don’t have to like the politics) having grown up enjoying all the rights a child deserves. I don’t take things for granted, yet I know I don’t shout out enough about our privileges.
I’m no Peter Greste, jailed as a foreign correspondent with his Al Jezeera colleagues for simply championing democracy and freedom of the press – Amnesty International has this campaign going for their freedom and let’s hope the diplomatic and legal processes will see them free any day now.
And now terror once again assaults freedom of expression with the horror attack in Paris on the Charlie-Hebdo satirical magazine.
Sometimes it is really hard to believe that freedom is ever possible, or that the world’s children will ever enjoy the rights they deserve (I know all of us are concerned with the rights of children, and if you can help in any further way, consider the Rafiki Mwema charity that I support).
And so we can go into our shells, afraid to let our little voices out so that they might swell in to a chorus of hope, change, possibility.
But fear isn’t the answer is it? This is part of the answer.
Linking up with Grace for the first FYBF of the year, adding my little voice in the mix. If we all harmonise maybe we won’t be drowned out by despair, don’t you think?
Do you hear the people sing….there is future about to start when tomorrow comes.