Tennant Creek: Meeting People at the Caravan Park

On Monday I decided to do some blogging and then go for a walk around Tennant Creek. It was nice to see so many indigenous people around. As in my previous blog, I spoke of all the people I met along my way.

In the evening I set up my computer in the kitchen and decided to edit my photos. It is a lot of work to bring the size down. I have people stopping and chatting with me, so I put them first and my work second. Although I am able to edit as I talk. Multitasking I guess.

I met some young German guys traveling around Queensland/Northern Territory. They were finding it hard to get work. They said they had to. They also had car troubles. I tried to instill in the young man a sense of adventure, that all will turn out and one day they will laugh about the hassles. I said that is part of the trip. They said food prices in Australia were more expensive than Germany but Petrol was cheaper. One euro buys 1.20 AUD. So it is slightly stronger. One young man said that Germany was not his country, he didn’t own it. It was an interesting way of expressing. He went onto say it is his country but he didn’t own it. I tried to find out what he meant, but maybe he didn’t have a stake in it. I spoke to another German about the world and he spoke of a world without currency. He thought that was a possibility. Some speak of a one world currency, but I can’t see that happening in the near future, it would certainly cut out arbitrage on currencies (profiting from currency rises). I spoke to them about living sustainably and self sufficiently. Also there was a discussion about the EU and the entry of Italy and Greece. The issue from my viewpoint was corruption and how do societies erradicate this phenomenon in business and politics. With proper representation and indeed real representation then countries can be inclusive and help each other as part of Global citizenship. I’ve often viewed the EU as a microcosm of a larger world system where there is one currency and shared responsibility. I like the idea of rotating leadership and I am sure different cultures are added complications to communication and understanding. yet if we are to work as one united world, we have to find ways to cooperate and work out problems as a global commons. So perhaps the Europeans can show us the way, or perhaps succumb to a world order run by corruption. That would be the cross roads. The International Criminal Court comes to mind.

Many people I’ve spoken to from other countries, comment on the friendliness of Australians. I think that is true. We are probably more outgoing I think. It is nice to hear back that people are helping out. The German guy said that an Australian grandfather he called him, helped when they broke down, towed them to a mechanic which was nice.

I met a lady who was Vietnamese and we were talking about a dispute she was having with her co-traveller. She was bringing two cars to Darwin and a Fijian guy was helping her by driving the other car. She covered the petrol I believe but he had to pay for his own expenses. She found out recently he had no money. So she was buying him food as well. She said that wasn’t the deal. She also was offended by him as he was denigrating Buddhism and quoting the bible to her. He apparently wanted to talk to her after they had words but she didn’t want to. He became more aggressive trying to pull the window down in her van and then she rang the police. She saw the aggression in him and she hated it when he got angry. We both talked about ways to speak with respect and find ways to resolve the issue. She told me normally she doesn’t listen but she was listening to me. I said it was because she was ready to hear. I felt to she wanted peace not hatred, and it is never easy to keep taking the peaceful path. I was to find out why she had deep anger as we ended up speaking for a further 5 hours.

This lovely lady was in her 60’s and she recounted for me her very tragic story as a child. She grew up in Ho Chi Min City and her mother was a wealthy socialite and her step father was the chief of intelligence in Vietnam. He was her step father and extremely violent. Many people went missing by his agents. She told me it was her mother who was violent and I was to discover later that the mother was raised by a mother who was cold. She explained to me the Chinese don’t show affection. I was surprised to learn that. In her early childhood she adored her mother but she explained as she became a teenager she became competition in her mothers eyes for the step father. Apparently the step father adored the mother, they had known each other since 14 years of age. She was constantly forcing him to prove his love and if any woman was attractive (even barely attractive) she would parade the woman in front of him or tempt him with her. She did this to her own daughter and pushed her forward and said do you find her attractive. It was very sickening for this daughter to be treated as some sort of competition. Her mother would instruct the step father to beat her up and she said she was beaten black and blue regularly. She was also hit by a hard object which took her a month to get over the head injury. Apparently her mother pointed a gun at her and she started running in terror she said she could hear the click as the hammer was pulled back. She said she was waiting for her life to end. She dreamed of taking revenge on her parents, It was probably what kept her alive, that is the will to live otherwise would have taken her life. She was sent to the best schools as they were wealthy but she felt no childhood. She never played and was constantly in fear of being beaten or tormented in some way. The way she described her relationship with her mother, there was no love exchanged, just violence. She revealed her mother was into control and the step father was her slave. All the servants would do exactly what she said so she had absolute power.

She tried to escape and study overseas but her mother refused to let her go. She was desperate to get out of the violence. There was no warmth or kindness. She said the only person who was kind to her was the maid. She would take this young girl out and buy things for her. She showed her love. So she had a person who loved her and she deeply loved this maid. Then apparently the maid fell in love with an officer and they wanted to escape to Cambodia to marry and she would be a free woman. Her mother saw this young woman as a rival for her husband and this woman was killed. She was devastated at this woman’s death. She said to me she tried to kill this step father, she found the gun and pointed it at him sleeping then she said her mother somehow intuitively came up stairs and took the gun off her. She said she was so terrified of pulling the trigger not because of the fear of killing him, it was the fear of him living and the violent repercussions for her. She was afraid somehow she would miss, even though the gun, she said, shot broadly. How sad this was I felt, she said she could have become a criminal as she was thinking in this way all the time. Just so terrified that he would beat her.

She told me of a situation where a woman was being interrogated and they hung her upside down and there was blood all over her. They commented on the blood running to her face. Apparently when they sought information from her, she bit off her tongue and spat it at this intelligence officer. He was covered in blood, this woman said it with some cynical joy. She said the woman so hated him, she was anti-communist and they were after their group. She would rather die then give information. It made me think of the brutality of the intelligence community and how violent these people are and the backing of governments who sanction this invisible criminality. She said they were like the KGB. In this moment Guantanamo Bay comes to mind and god knows what other places that are hidden from public view across the world. All in the name of some illusive national security which is never secure. Violating the very principles and human dignity they advocate to society to uphold.

She saw her parents as criminals and she said her mother was high society and everyone thought how nice she was. But she said it was her mother that incited her father’s violence, to make him impress her. She said when he beat her he enjoyed her suffering. She said he was a poor person when he met her mother and the mother was upper class and always he felt she was too good for him. So he spent his life trying to please her, she never loved him. She told me there was a case where she was speaking to a young man, I don’t know what transpired between them but apparently the step father sent someone to get rid of him. Somehow because she was his family he was protecting his honour. She said it had nothing to do with protecting her, it was all about him. Apparently the family of this boy came to plead for his life to her mother, but to no avail.

I talked to this woman about her life and how it is understandable how she feels this hate inside. I actually found her remarkable to not have hurt anyone or suicided and that she tried to practice Buddhism. She felt some guilt about her hatred in Buddhist company, but I explained they hadn’t had her experience. She was actually a very kind person but she was deeply traumatized in a way that was heart breaking for me to witness. I found it so hard to relate to a mother treating her own daughter as a prostitute, somehow parading her in front of the step-father and then having her beaten mercilessly for no reason. She said they saw the hate in her eyes and they didn’t like it. She said her mother had no idea of a normal life, had no idea how dysfunctional she was. Had no idea how to raise children and provide for their needs. This woman had none of her needs met, she was virtually a prisoner in a violent home with no escape.

She said years later when they became old they were happy to see her and she just couldn’t bring up the past as she was terrified they would revert back. I felt this deep sorrow for her that she was unable to make peace or find resolution or at the very least receive an apology. I wondered at the terrible abuse in the world where there is simply no compassion for the other. I see it so often in this life, and it is hard to understand. The only sense I could make from that situation is that the mother never received love from her mother and simply copied it. The step father was clearly a violent and powerful man in his community and had no feeling for the suffering of others. Yet he was a servant to his wife. That revealed how truly powerless he was and insecure. The insecurity was deep in both. The wife needed him to keep begging for her yet she didn’t love him, just wanted to be the power, to feel strong.

Wow what a story. I felt somehow humbled that she spoke to me and I sought ways to give her courage. I reflected back to her her own strength and courage. The courage to be alive. I told her to keep practicing peace and I referred her to Byron Katie to try and question the really hateful thoughts and somehow release from it. People who have traumatic lives like this keep living the trauma so they never leave the torture chamber. It is not easy to let go but it is essential for happiness.

I gave her a hug and she told me that she felt healing with our conversation. She felt that god had sent me to her. I turned it around and said she attracted the help she needed. To have been of some use did bring joy to me. How do you help someone with such a tormented life. It is not my experience, although I’ve experienced people who feel nothing for the suffering of others, there I can meet her. I felt such love for her. I saw the beauty in her and the courageous spirit that was unbelievable. She was an extraordinary woman and a loving person today, hopefully she writes a book about her experience and teaches the world why peace is so important in every family. Why children need protecting, to equalize society and why it is necessary to break up power and share it evenly throughout society. So people don’t get consumed by their own power and treat others with disrespect or control.

So I left her and crawled in to my tent. Reflecting on such a person. In close proximity I could hear the German guys talking. I wondered if I would sleep, I am a light sleeper and it is not easy. So for a while I tried to drift off but to no avail. I went over and politely asked them to quieten down. They said okay. They chatted for a while and then finally stopped. The dogs started up and some loud car, but fortunately I got to sleep. Such is the life camping in a caravan park.

You never know who you meet in this life and what happens next. However, I value every person and if I can help I will try. I deeply care about the suffering of others. Maybe as a clown I can give something joyful to those who may not feel it.

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”