I created this piece of digital art from a mandala I painted years ago when I lived in South-East Queensland. I took it to the UK when we moved there in 2002 but then had to leave it with a friend when we returned to Australia in 2004 as otherwise I could have had the painting destroyed due to the wood around it and Australia’s strict quarantine rules and regulations.
When I was looking at this image, I was reminded of family as wolves are renowned for their very strong family ties.
Family came up in relation to two incidents which happened around our apartment recently. We have families from all sorts of different countries staying in the apartments in our complex. At present, there are we Australians, next door are Russians, there are two English couples, further down the complex is a Pakistani family where the adults are studying at University here, there are Turkish families and we’ve also had people from Jordan and Iraq.
It’s a regular little United Nations. We all get on and somehow surmount the language barriers. But the real stars are the kids. They don’t recognise any differences between them. The Russian kids had only been here a couple of days before they’d made friends with the Pakistani and Turkish kids. Now they’re all hurtling all over the place, you can hear their laughter and watch their games as they’re playing in the communal swimming pool. They don’t see themselves as different, just part of the little family that is created in our apartment complex.
And this morning I let the four dogs ou, only to have them barking at the paddock next to our apartment. When I looked, our two white cats were making their way across the grass. It’s always the same – if the dogs see our cats outside of our garden, they start barking and we have to get them to shut up. But as soon as the cats jump the fence and come into our garden, the dogs rush over to lick them and greet them because they are no longer The Other. They’re family once more.
And of course, when you look around the world today you see conflict between groups who see each other as The Other instead of being members of the same world family. I really wish that we could learn from the children here in this complex where The Other doesn’t exist, where nationality is not a matter for consideration, where friendship is extended unconditionally, where differences aren’t seen and where the temporary family is all that matters.
When conflict arises, if only we could look over the fence and see that The Other is Us, just wishing the same as us – a peaceful future, no conflict, education for our kids, a roof over our heads and some sort of economic stability and security.
Would that we adults could learn from the children!