“Wind will not cease even if trees want to rest” Mao Zedong Directives on the cultural revolution: 1966-1972
The tree had shed all its leaves,
I couldn’t see any mirages on the horizon
but the intensity of the heat reminded me of their shimmering presence,
much like the Corona Virus this summer: invisible but palpable.
I went to the supermarket to buy groceries.
Walking from my car, I saw a notice: “No entry without a mask”.
I checked my car for a mask – but couldn’t find one.
Since I couldn’t enter a shop without a mask (not even to buy a mask)
I drove home.
At home the wind blew up.
Trees were dancing.
A branch snapped off one of the trees and I could see a birds nest.
There were no chicks, but the empty nest
reminded me of the Barn Swallow.
The Barn Swallow is famous for flying from Argentina to California,
every February. They fly 8300 kms in one month.
No mountains, no trees; only sea and sky.
If they want food and rest, they take a small twig in their beak,
land on the ocean, and balance on the stick to rest.
Once rested, they take the stick with them while they fly.
Humans today are like these Barn Swallows.
We carry our masks whenever we go outside,
to put them on whenever we need.
I asked myself, “Why are humans in this situation?”
At home I looked around for a mask
and saw an origami bird on the table.
I know these paper birds never fly.
In Japan, people believe that if you make a thousand paper cranes,
they will bring you luck and better health.
When I was in the detention centre, some visitors came
and gave hope to me by showing me how to make paper cranes,
suggesting I make a thousand.
I didn’t make a thousand birds.
When I was in the detention centre
I felt surrounded by people who couldn’t understand our feeling.
When everyone was in the COVID-19 lockdown,
people lost their emotions and lives.
When I was in the detention centre I had this kind of feeling.
We lost everything from our lives.
I was in detention for 6 and a half years.
Some people were in for more than 12 years.
Now, with COVID, I believe that many more people can understand how life is
for a refugee in a detention centre.
Origami birds never fly — but give us hope.
Each person makes a small act of hope for themselves
because tomorrow they are not sure if they will wake up.
The COVID situation breaks that feeling.
It affects the hope.
It divides each person.
The first time I came to Australia I noticed that when people in the white community saw someone sneeze they said, “God bless you”,
even when they didn’t believe in any religion.
Some people say that this started during the bubonic plague.
Coughing and sneezing were some of the symptoms.
They hoped that this prayer would protect them from death
If you sneeze now — especially as a black person — racism crowds around you
and people are scared.
Even white people meet a kind of violence.
What is the reason?
We walk very far from nature.
This earth does not belong to humans
but humans think this world is just for us.
The human community struggles, is now broken.
Everyone is thinking individually
believing this is freedom
but we have lost our natural immunity.
When I was in Malaysia I had an interesting experience.
I had a deep cut my leg but I couldn’t go to hospital because I had no papers.
I was working in a farm, surrounded by Indonesian villagers.
One old man spat on my wound.
After a few days my wound healed.
The villagers never use medicine but eat natural vegetables from the forest.
They can make medicine from their mouths.
I have deeply thought about this – and about how they could make this.
I read a few books from my language – they mention the importance of the tongue.
Our tongues can make antibiotics much like cows who have a second stomach
to process and clear toxic grasses.
Humans have lost this ability.
After the second war TNT was used in fertiliser everywhere–
poisoning the land.
Every single root takes up the natural products of the land.
The chain of life broke.
Poisoned by agricultural chemicals,
ordinary vegetables have become toxic.
Because humans feed whatever they want into the soil,
we have lost antibiotics from our body.
We can’t fight any new virus.
Scientists have created a new type of robot.
The name is Xenobots.
This robot can reproduce.
Everything has a negative and positive (Newton’s Theory).
This is dangerous.
Today we can manage Corona.
In the future we don’t know if we can manage these kinds of robots.
I once heard a Chinese folk tale– (I think it came from the Jin dynasty)
One king went to visit a monastery.
He asked the monks if they would teach him agriculture.
When he learnt agriculture he returned to his palace.
After one year, he invited his teachers to come and visit his place.
When he saw the kings garden, the monk was very upset.
The king was so worried: why wasn’t the monk happy with his perfect garden?
There were no dead leaves or cluttered branches.
The monk asked,
“where is the cool air?”
“Where is the natural fertiliser in the land”
“Trees take food from land and return food to the land.
I can’t see that here.
The tree lives on compost and rot.
Here everything is clean, but it is not beautiful.”
People don’t understand what real beauty is now.
We lost beauty.
We lost happiness.
We make many viruses now.