Published: Mon Sep 2 09:45:24 EST 2002
In 1991/1992 my wife and I lived in Melbourne for a few months and we
moved back to Queensland in July 1992. It was here that I would meet a
neighbour who would change my life and also help me be set free of some
of my own personal "baggage".
One day I was speaking to my neighbour who was standing on the other
side of the fence and as he was clearly from a different country of
origin I asked him, "What country did you and your wife come from?"
I was amazed at his obvious physical reaction to this question. He
started to move uncomfortably and could hardly speak. My question seemed
to be one that struck him so deeply that he was afraid to answer.
After some moments he told me he was from Iran and as I recall it,
he seemed to be expecting me to react to his answer and possibly even
I immediately said, "Wow, your country was in a huge war with Iraq
some time back, do you have family there and are were they ok?"
At this he sprang to life and told me his family was safe and we went
on to discuss wars and how his life was here in Australia for him and
his family. He seemed so at ease at my concern for his family, not for
where he came from which at the time had often been at the centre of
media attention for terrorism attacks.
The next morning as I got into my car to go to work I noticed that
his car, which was parked a bit further along, had a sticker on the rear
windscreen that I had never really noticed before. The sticker simply
said: "Let your children grow up free of your prejudice"
This simple sentence spoke volumes into my spirit that day. It made
me realise how prejudice knows no colour or boundary, it is simply a
scheme that is used to divide people; to set them against each other and
for the most part they themselves don't really know why.
This encounter changed my life. I too had been subjected to various
forms of prejudice from my own countrymen. As a young boy growing up we
moved around a lot so I was always the kid from another town, another
state, from the city, not one of us, used to go to "that" school, lives
differently to us and so on. Prejudice truly knows no boundaries it just
hides itself in something that looks like a good reason not accept
In 1996 I went to Santa Cruz in California to attend an international
conference held at the University there. It was there that I would share
a dorm with a group of men each from different countries of origin or at
least different family backgrounds to each other. I formed a very strong
bond of friendship with one particular man in the dorm who was of Jewish
American heritage. We talked often about the boundaries that separate us
and he himself felt compelled to show friendship even to another man in
the dorm who's fore-fathers would have held some of my friend's family in
concentration camps in WWII. To see this level of forgiveness and desire
to show acceptance still stays with me today.
My friend's e-mail footer always displayed the message, "Let your
children grow up free of your prejudice", based on the story I had
shared with him about my neighbour some years before.
If there is one thing that speaks to me as a Christian living in
Australia, and that is to always reach out to those who have come here
to make Australia their home. Those following in the footsteps of
countless fore-fathers who came to this country, the Great South Land of
the Holy Spirit. To me there can be no truer Australian. Someone who uproots
their entire life and comes to our shores to try and make their life here as
one of us. To raise their children, to support local business and to pay
taxes just like any other person living here.
It is the Blood of Christ that makes us brothers and sisters and
coming from diverse backgrounds gives us the ability to share with each
other our own personal and cultural experiences - from such knowledge we
can only all grow stronger and richer.
A tradition when giving flowers has always been to give red roses as the
deepest expression of love. To me the blood-red rose always reminds me that
Jesus showed the ultimate act of love by shedding His blood on the cross for
us. No matter what our family background, country, race, creed, belief
system; we all bleed the same red blood - the colour of love.
Let your children grow up free of your prejudice
By this our children can grow up in a better world and a hope for