19 July 2016

In defence of institutions

We live in an age of great scepticism for institutions.

It’s not surprising, really. We are disappointed by periodic reports of abuse caused by paternalistic institutions of church and state. We are frustrated by old ideologies that don’t work anymore, defended by creaky structures and dogged vanguards. We are bored by dying associations that are concerned more with staying alive, than with doing anything much good for the community.

And yet, institutions are not going to go away. While many of us are inclined to run a mile from the nearest AGM, the reality is that if we don’t build our own institutions that embody the kind of values we would like to live by, then the institutions of the status quo will run our lives.

Injustice, war, inequality and consumerism are all institutionalised realities. The organisations of government, market and civil society conspire, consciously and unconsciously, to make sure they continue on indefinitely with as little opposition as possible.

We cannot defeat injustice, war, inequality and consumerism with momentary declarations of peace and equality, or even momentary acts of protest. What is required is the disciplined, sustained embodiment of an alternative reality, that defeats injustice piece by piece. An internet mobilisation of individuated, disembodied voices is no opposition to institutionalised evil, even if they all turn out for the day at the State Library. It is just another way of doing individualism.

What we actually need to do is build our own institutions, which can be formidable forces in the battle for a world defined by love.

If you are like me, you will not like the sexist, racist, hierarchical institutions of old. This is where we must challenge ourselves to not abandon ship, but to create the kind of institutions that begin to embody the reality we are seeking for our world.

My challenge to you all? If you haven’t already, join a faith community, sign up to your union, or become a member of a local community group. If you don’t like any of the ones around you, be part of the long, slow and often painful work of creating better ones.

We have to commit to this work, or else be content with the institutions of the status quo dictating how this world will be.


17 July 2016


It’s not exactly a reptile, but Oscar had a cuddle with a dingo puppy at the Reptile Park yesterday. All the cutes!



10 July 2016

What’s that embedded in my toast?

I’m so lucky.

In fact, it could all be summed up in this very moment. Let me describe it for you… in detail.

Right now I’m eating two slices of toast.

One has homemade marmalade spread thick on it.

This marmalade was given to me this morning by my loving grandmother who is lucky enough to have learned her skills in the kitchen, have the appliances and electricity to make tasty foods, and lucky enough to have close friends and family to make things for, knowing that it will be appreciated.

I was lucky enough to visit my grandparents this morning because I’m lucky enough to have Sundays off, I am lucky enough to own a bike (that’s older than I am!), fit and healthy enough to ride said bike, live in a place with quality roads that I can ride it on and where it’s generally very safe to ride.

I was able to visit my grandparents because I’m lucky enough to still have them around in good health, I was able to have a wonderfully interesting conversation with them because they’re both still sharp and spent their lives caring enough to think deeply about the world so that their thoughts and ideas are still captivating.

The other slice is spread thick with homemade peanut butter.

The peanuts were only four dollars at Coles and my beautiful wife was lucky enough to pick up a second-hand NutriBullet cheap from someone who was lucky enough that they could afford to buy it fully price. We could pay for both because we’re lucky gainfully employed in jobs that we enjoy.

I was lucky enough to be able to make the peanut butter in less than a minute because of the energy, engineering, science, economics, investment and physical labour that was all embedded into the process of getting me peanuts, a blender and electricity. I was lucky enough to get this all at such a low cost of my time, money and effort.

Oh, and to add icing to the cake a beautiful day.

I could go on to talk about the $3 sourdough bread, the toaster, the roof over my head and all of the luck right back to my lucky draw in the ovarian lottery but I’ll stop with one final point.

It is undeniable that there are a lot of things in the world that could be better and that fact gives me a healthy dissatisfaction and a desire to share my luck in life. However, in this very moment I’m acutely aware of how lucky I am and hope that I am lucky enough to remain mindful of that fact in as many of the moments left during my short time on earth.

So what is embedded in my toast? A whole lot of luck.


July 2015



December 2013

tea for free


March 2012

A Good Story

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