by (Rev) Karen Paull
5 December 2018
‘And the winner of most items in their handbag is…Karen!’ My embarrassing ‘win’ was many years ago now, but was symptomatic of a tendency to be over-prepared. Although my handbag is lighter these days, unnecessary details and decisions can occupy too much of my time and energy. ‘Your mind never stops’, is my husband’s lament. Not that it’s wrong to consider options, but sometimes we can waste time on trivial matters.
Good decisions about important matters, however, are pivotal to the quality of our existence. Making good choices requires careful evaluation of the factors involved. Which important questions will guide us? This is where our value system clicks in. Our inherited world view is an important factor, but it is ours to accept or reject at every turn.
Advertising sends us a constant message that it’s all about satisfying our needs and our desires. Don’t be fooled by this assumption. It should not be exclusively about our personal gain, or that of those closest to us, all the time. This approach is not even good for the individual, let alone others! Community is about what is best for all of us. Looking beyond ourselves produces a by-product of satisfaction and a reduction in anxiety. Hugh Mackay’s latest book Australia Reimagined informs us:
“…belonging to a community keeps us in touch with people who might need us, and nothing relieves anxiety like a focus on someone else’s needs… it is the exercise of compassion – not merely the experience of belonging – that is the great antidote to anxiety. (p. 65 Australia Reimagined. Towards a more compassionate, less anxious society).”
So next time we are faced with an important decision, let us buck the ‘me first’ trend mainly encouraged by advertising media. Instead, lifting our gaze to consider and include those around us – our community – gives us the opportunity to build bonds and contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
Our local community has taken up the challenge to think differently. We have formed a Hugh Mackay Book Club and meet each month to discuss our response to each chapter of Australia Reimagined. How can we best show compassion and respond to the needs of our neighbours?
Rev Karen Paull is the Lane Cove Community Chaplain, employed by Lane Cove Uniting Church in Sydney, to embrace the local community and respond to its needs in a wide diversity of ways. Karen loves to help connect people socially through groups and events. She also enjoys the outdoors and is a keen sportswoman and bush walker. Karen writes a regular blog for her local community at https://www.lanecovecc.com/blog . This blog was first published on 7 November 2018.