Lessons Learned From 2020

Image: Carla Rogers and Aunty Munya Andrews with their book, ‘Practical Reconciliation’

As this extraordinary year draws to a close, we asked Evolve co-Directors, Aunty Munya Andrews and Carla Rogers, to share what they have learned this year. In this article, they uncover some of the learnings we can take forward into 2021 to create a kinder, more inclusive, Australia.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before 2020 started, what would it be?

Carla: “In 2020, the world will change in ways that you currently think impossible. Go with the current and everything will be OK”.

Aunty Munya: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s 2020 or not. My advice remains the same:

  1. Believe in God.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Don’t believe the BS.”

Carla reflected that her unpreparedness for the challenges of 2020 was spectacular. 

“I recall looking at a colleague as though he was speaking a foreign language when he asked me what my COVID lockdown plan was – the same look that I frequently give my accountant! That could explain why I went without toilet paper for weeks…”

“But seriously, there was a COVID lottery and its impact varied greatly with circumstance. While that lottery initially resulted in the cancellation of over a hundred bookings with Evolve, it provided the space and time for a rethink – which has resulted in a complete reinvention of not only program content, but the way we engage with people. It also gave us the space to write and publish our book, Practical Reconciliation, and a soon-to-be launched Dreamtime Course.”

Throughout the upheaval, Carla found comfort from the works and words of Aunty Miriam-Rose, Tosha Silver, Byron Katie and more recently Dr Kristen Neff, a keen proponent of self-compassion. She shares some of the specific words that helped her through below:

“Happiness stems from loving ourselves and our lives exactly as they are, knowing that joy and pain, strength and weakness, glory and failure are all essential to the full human experience.”

– Dr Kristin Neff

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”

Byron Katie

“Eventually the individual ego’s drive to “make things happen” falls away, replaced with a relaxed, trusting openness to answers as they spontaneously arise.” Tosha Silver

“We are River people. We cannot hurry the river. We have to move with its current and understand its ways.” – Aunty Miriam-Rose

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

How have the events of this year impacted Reconciliation in Australia?

In 2020 we saw thousands of Australians, from all backgrounds, support the Black Lives Matter and Free The Flag movements as well as growing support to change the national anthem.

As Carla observes, “more and more people are understanding the need for change. They’re relating to others and taking the time to understand how they might feel, and want to be part of the solution.”

But it’s important to remain focused on what’s important.

“They tell us there is a growing consciousness and awareness of these issues but we need to critically analyse woke culture as well,” Munya cautions. “The silencing of diverse voices is of concern here. There are many views and opinions and they all need to be respected. Switching one form of cultural blindness to another is not the answer.”

So how can we prepare for, and move forward in 2021?

“Now more than ever we need to remember the power of human connection – that it not only empowers but comforts us in times of need,” explains Aunty Munya. 

“Life is all about connection,” reflects Carla, “and as a dear friend said to me just before he passed: ‘It is about the moments’.”

“Having said that, today I am feeling such grief and loss at the news of the passing of another dear friend of both Munya and I. My last communication with him was a text message in response to his call to say that I would call him back. I was devastated to realise that that was two months ago.”

“In among all of this reinvention I have been busier than ever, and at times prioritised this ‘busyness’ over connection. It is a reminder for me to capture those moments – not to put off that phone call – and right now to bring in a good dose of self-compassion. I was doing my best at the time.”

Munya adds, “It’s especially important to remember our humanity – what makes us human. We were not born with masks or staying metres away from each other. We seriously need to question these practices and the long term effect on our mental health and human evolution. Indigenous wisdom and cultural practices have much to teach humanity about caring and looking out for each other.” 

Economist Noreena Hertz has coined this century as ‘The Lonely Century’. With this, and COVID, Black Lives Matter and more it would be logical to think that now more than ever we need allies – and the support of others. 

If you want to be an ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in 2021, but you’re not sure where to begin, Evolve offers a range of products and services to help create a kinder, more inclusive Australia, including their recently published book ‘Practical Reconciliation’ get started here.

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