Armidale Express 03/09/2008
I was six years old when my passion for social change first ignited.
I was watching the 6 o'clock news with my family and a story about an unwanted greyhound came on. The poor dog was nearly dead, having been left to both starve and be eaten to death at the same time – it was chained to a stake driven into a termite mound. I was horrified and sickened by this act of cruelty and deeply moved by the RSPCA rescuers who took the dog into care. Amazingly, the dog survived.
I was determined to do something. I joined the RSPCA and presented the 'news' to my school class. For the next year I gave away drawings of a dog with the quotation “A dog makes more friends than man because he wags his tail and not his tongue”. The drawing was rolled with a ribbon bound around it.
About six years later I was again sitting watching television - you'd think I would learn my lesson not to do this - when a Greenpeace campaign was on, showing a harp seal pup being brutally clubbed to death. I was eating my dinner at the time and nearly vomited my meal back up.
Until relatively recently I spent a large part of my life studying becaming an expert about what was cruel, unjust, inequitable, abusive and neglectful – whether people, animals, plants or the planet was effected. My poor Irish-Catholic-English convict origins may have played some part in my fascination being sparked by such injustice.
Some thirty years later I have slowly, often painfully, learnt that what is needed is a new vision, with solutions and leadership showing a way forward – rather than more awareness, consciousness and understanding of all that is wrong with people and the planet. This change greatly affected my world view and my study and work transitioned towards social wellbeing and economic and ecological sustainability. What I have said here in a sentence or two summarises one and a half decades of personal, professional and leadership development - intensive course work, group work and personal learning. It is both the most rewarding and difficult journey of my life so far.
These days I speak publicly, run workshops and facilitate strategic planning about how to better lead and enable the profound social change already taking place all over the world - towards greater inclusion, social wellbeing and sustainability.
My passion to learn and know is greater than ever, though these days I search to find stories and examples of what is working. And at the same time I strive to implement these theories into action and practice wherever and whenever possible.