Fear is an incredulous emotion. It makes the strongest of human beings, bend at the knee, but also drives others to do things far beyond any pre conceived thoughts. I experience fear often, and particularly around important things that are framed opinions based on my own values and ethics. Is my fear then confounded for me?
I was fearful of how my children would grow up in a single parent family, so I surrounded myself with “nuclear” families…which I see now was unnecessary, albeit contributing to enhance their own belief/prejudice on what consists of the nuclear family.
I have fear around my photography …..constantly!! Am I good enough? What do other photographers think of my work? Should I immerse myself in the photography community or be somewhat removed? Will people copy my work? Will clients come back? How do I deal with all the tensions that happen within business….and the list goes on. These fears then frame the decisions I make….are they right or wrong, I’m not really sure, I guess time will tell, and mistakes will be made.
What if our fears contribute to how we view the world in a much larger framework?
Some months ago on my personal Facebook page, I “came out”….I spoke openly about my fear of “others” entering Australia. I am not an uneducated woman when it comes to this subject……I’m a social worker and have been a lecturer at our local university. However, I am getting older, I have four children and I’m a very loyal and patriotic Australian. I worry. I worry about what is “unknown” to me. I worry about how my own community is changing and what will that mean? I worry about change. I am fearful!
On this very same day of my “coming out” I received an email from a would be client…asking about my packages and could she possibly book me for a shoot she’d like to gift a family. I responded and said…yes!! I’d love to share some information……she replied with…..great, thank you so much, they are a refugee family!!
Don’t you love how the universe works!!
Today as I drove to my shoot to see this beautiful family, I pondered on many things. Ok, so I wonder how well they will understand me? Have I worn the right clothing? I have a wedding to do in January and I need to be culturally appropriate for that, will this be similar? I wonder what they are like? Will I have to be culturally sensitive when positioning them for photo’s? After all, I recently tried to photograph my own husband and I and the kids with a remote and all the big fella did was try to grab my boobs!!! I’m guessing there won’t be any of that!!
As I walked up to them at Pallaranda, I noticed a beautiful woman dressed in red….Karema is her name. She is young. She has a baby on her lap. I try not to stare and greet the beautiful family that have been so graciously supportive of their new friends. Then I meet her husband Ali, he I worked out will be the spokesperson for his family as he has the most english…..but I want to sit with Karema. I want to ask her…how on earth did you do this? How did you let your husband, after enormous personal sacrifice of war, fear and personal tragedy, leave you? How did you know you would find each other again? How did you survive on your own in such an environment for three years? When the big fella tells me he’s doing overtime I shudder and start to dread the thought of doing two weeks without him!
I watched them interact with their friends, and each other. As I was trying to get them to walk into the bush….(if you’ve had a shoot with me, you know what that means)…..Ali and Karema started to talk, and Ali laughed. Then I heard him laugh and mention “snake”! Ohhhhh…….yes lots of people dread snakes on shoots with me!! I thought to myself…..hmmmm this is all very normal, just like any other shoot…and as I type this up tonight I feel like such a dill. Of course it’s like any other bloody shoot!! They aren’t from Mars and have two heads and spit green venom!!!
Why am I so fearful of our country letting “others” in? Why? I watched the children, they are like mine. They are soft and cuddly and interact with each other like normal siblings do. When I was taking photo’s of Karema, one of her sons Ali Sha talked to her and we all asked “what did he say”? He was telling her to smile.
I listen to people. Members of my own family. My own thoughts at times. If “they” are legitimate refugees then it’s alright, we should let “them” in, as long as they don’t jump the queue. That’s just more fear, hiding behind self righteousness I’ve learned today. As I watched Marzia who is ten, with her pretty pink ribbons in her hair, I think to myself. What would I do for my children…..honestly if you think of that very basic question, you know the answer…and yet I still want to sit with Karema. I want to ask her, do you fight with Ali? Do you have disagreements on parenting? After a long day of parenting children, when he gets into bed and rubs your foot, do you want to sigh and just roll over? How do you cope with leaving your traditions, your culture? There must be enormous amounts of grief even if it was a nightmare. You see this is why I’m scared of you? I don’t want to loose my traditions. I like the freedom we have here, it’s all I’ve ever known…..although, I have seen how we treat our indigenous people…..so it makes sense that out of our own fear we treat you just as badly.
I feel after today, I am no closer to understanding why I am so fearful, however that is from a logical perspective I think. I feel differently in my heart though. After hearing parts of your story, and seeing you and looking into your eyes, my heart welcomes you to embrace my traditions, but to share yours too, and from one woman to another, I say peace be with you.