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2022 - the year that was.

This is the part of the year that we begin to reflect on the year that we are about to say goodbye to. As per usual, Christmas has snuck up on will be later this month, a little more than 3 weeks away. Also as per usual, I am not really ready for it - have done most of my Christmas shopping but haven't started with cards or the like. And when it comes to summing up the year that we've had in a newsletter, it is a bit difficult for me to nail it down.

It's been a funny kind of year, hasn't it? I don't think most of us started it with our full quota of strength and optimism thanks to the events of the last few years. I certainly didn't. Some days it is hard to hold on to your dreams and hopes given the circumstances we see unfolding around us. I could be accused of being negative, but when I look back on the year, I am struck by how much of it was less than stellar.

It has been a year of extreme weather events, affecting all parts of the world, including this Great South Land. The Eastern Seaboard, in particular, has been drenched with rain, causing floods in various parts and leaving many of our fellow Australians homeless. Hot on the heels of drought and bushfires, the rain sets us up for more dangerous fire seasons in the future.

It was the year that Russia invaded the Ukraine, a fight that has shown the strength of this small nation; something they will undoubtedly need during a bitingly cold winter without any of the infrastructure that normally helps them survive. My thoughts are most definitely with the Ukrainians who have lost their homes, family members and their freedom during the invasion. (If you feel the same way, you can donate to the Red Cross efforts in Ukraine through a button on my website).

Like most years, we have lost a host of the brightest stars in the arts from Sidney Portier to Angela Landsbury and most recently Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac. Our own Judith Durham and Olivia Newton John have also left this mortal coil after lifetimes of perfecting their art for the benefit of others. We will never again see Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid or listen to Queen Elizabeth's message at Christmas. Some of us have also lost family members or close friends, making 2022 particularly significant in a not-so-great way.

A story that I have followed throughout the year is that of Brittany Higgins - the young intern who was (allegedly) raped in parliament house. This morning I read that the case has now been dropped against the alleged perpetrator due to the Judge's concern for the "life and safety" of Brittany herself. As you no doubt know, the accused rapist has denied that any sexual activity took place and the trial was halted earlier in the year due to a (male) juror's misdemeanor. Apparently, Brittany is now in hospital receiving mental health care after what the judge calls the worst attacks he has seen in 20 years. Honestly, this all makes my blood boil, being proof, yet again, that our society is deeply rooted in toxic patriarchy. Brittany's life has been ruined and the man who made that happen will not be held accountable. And we wonder why violence against women is such a problem in our country.

On the up side, the year did see a change in government and the removal of the toxic personality that is Scott Morrison from his position as Prime Minister (and minister for a whole bunch of other things as it turns out). I am hopeful that despite the economic and other issues we still face, this will at least facilitate the beginnings of a more balanced and equitable society.

If you have managed to read this far, you might be thinking that I am definitely a glass half empty kind of person. Probably. But at the end of the year that was the timeframe for so much suffering in our world, I have significantly more hope than what I did at its start. That is because whilst I am witnessing those who don't seem to care about any one other than themselves, I am also aware of a strong shift from the ground up of what people are accepting as okay. People are resisting the toxic neoliberal approach to life that has been so apparent in the last couple of decades. Many more are voicing their desire to look after the earth, return to a simpler way of life and eliminate some of the negative influences in their lives. People are learning to celebrate the small things and operate with kindness and care.

So, at the end of 2022, the year of so much that is negative, may you be careful to focus on that which is important, nurturing and positive. May you regain your lost strength and optimism and may all of us do our part in bringing more kindness, hope and joy into the world.

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