Tuesday, September 02, 2014


On sunday I went to a memorial for one of the genuine great human beings it was my privilege to meet. Scott was kind, said Colleen when she burst into tears, and I think there in that moment you have greatness epitomised. There were also two of the first Temporary Protection Visa holders released from Woomera detention center that Scott answered the Fitzroy Learning Network's door to, drove down to the Supermarket and bought packets of biscuits for to make them feel welcome.

And the FLN crammed all those 20 new students into classes with pencil and papers on the same day, again to make them feel welcome.

It's one of those illusive truths, that the greatest acts of kindness and courage, the most heroic and meaningful actions we can take in life are also so simple and practical. There are no doubt incredible circumstances of Scott and others lives that ensure they are in the position, and have the opportunity to extend this hospitality and have this impact. A hidden set of values, social ethos and orientation just as complicated but far less exposed than the huge social machine that produces the kind of people that create the mandatory detention and temporary protection visa policies.

And one of the things I learned on Sunday was an antonym of Xenophobia, something that stains Australian culture. That word is 'theoxeny' a greek term for 'friend of the stranger' the speaker said people of Island nations get and embrace this concept, knowing that with a change of winds, they too could easily be the stranger. It is the very embodiment of empathy. It is a recurring theme in Greek Mythology, and Zeus the mightiest of gods was sometime titled Zeus Xenios, protector of travelers.

It is akin to 'there but for the grace of God, go I' and this man that passed, was a friend to the stranger. There to listen, there to care, there to find solutions. One of the last times I spoke to Scott was when Zamin's daughter had died, and he was tremendously comforting then. Just calm, present and a lender of perspective. And I was just one of many volunteers who very occasionally dropped into the network.

It's one of the few funerals where it could be said that the person's reputation was not improved by death. Scott was what people presented him to be in the eulogies delivered. Any admonishment to 'not speak ill of the dead' was entirely uneccessary with him.

Thus it was an intense privilege and opportunity to have met Scott and conversed with him. He is a rare and important role model, I think for anybody, and particularly men. He is gone now, but it's hard to feel anything but loss. There is no deprevation, or being cheated with a man so kind and generous.

Remember theoxeny people. Don't move away from xenophobia, so much as towards theoxeny.

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