After living as a societally marginal person, for more than half a century, in a country which I had not chosen to live in, and near my meeting with my Maker, I felt the urge to leave to posterity my vision of the inter-connectedness of humankind. My vision is reflective of both my adult life in Australia and that acculturating period of two decades in multicultural Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore).
Naturally, my perceptions were conditioned by my life as a demeaned colonial subject, yet uplifted by the metaphysics of Hinduism, and leavened by the subtle impacts of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities learning to live with one another.
Deposited by Destiny in a strange mono-cultural, mono-lingual, mono-chromatic nation which displayed contradictory attitudes towards fellow humans (derived from a misguided perception of the significance of skin colour), I have observed and analysed my fellow Australians whilst adapting, in a substantially contributory fashion, to my new home.
This record is not, however, a litany of whinges about the difficulties of life in Australia for a coloured person (especially in the early period) or even a recital of personal achievements and contributions – but some details of my personal experiences will naturally provide some relevant ballast. It will be neither effusive in gratitude, as might be expected from an imported “blackfellow” who has had, on balance, a good life in a white nation; nor will it be unfairly critical because my cultural values are, at their core, non-congruent with those currently displayed by many fellow-Australians in key areas of human conduct.
Instead, this record focuses on the realities of life in the two principal areas of human significance: inter-community (especially black/white) relations, and the universal search for the Creator. Commencing with a look at that strange sensitivity to skin colour by most adult whites I have encountered, my record moves initially onto that rather weird competitive urge displayed by mere mortals in their search for the Divine, and then onto that understandable desire by one and all to peer into the Void of the future. Finally, it touches upon the issues of a divisive tribalism, and the imperatives of an evolving new Australian national identity.
These issues remain pertinent while an urge by officialdom to increase the ethno-cultural diversity of the population prevails. Diversity, by itself, is presented as a great achievement by governments. As long as each ethnic community is small, dispersed within the nation, and thereby uninfluential politically, our Tweedledum/Tweedledee political parties can continue to rule, without any unwanted input from, or participation by, the more ‘exotic’ new Australians.
The issue of community cohesion may need attention, since a shared search for the one and only Creator of mankind by old and new Australians remains a mirage. The following is the pre-publication endorsement to the chapter in my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ on ‘Which way to the Cosmos?,’ (Chapter 4) :
“I find the concepts in ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’ most appealing, coming as they do from an agile mind which has managed to embrace cultures usually seen as competitive, or even enemies. This book should prove a precious contribution to mutual understanding”.
-James Murray, SSC, recently retired Religious Affairs Editor, ‘The Australian’