Casey Conway is a former professional rugby league footballer of Aboriginal Australian descent. After his retirement in 2005 due to a shoulder injury, he came out as gay. He speaks against the lack of acceptance of homosexuality in Aboriginal culture and is a youth worker performing outreach for homeless kids. Wikipedia
Casey Conway tells his story about being gay and playing rugby league after the NRL participated in the Mardi Gras for the fifth year
World Vision CEO Claire Rogers on the boldness of being human first, politician second
The last week has been one of shock and grief for the world.
As I write this reflection, 50 people are dead from Friday’s lethal attack on Christchurch and 34 remain in hospital.
What has been a shining beacon through this time has been the New Zealand Prime Minister, 38-year-old, Jacinda Ardern.
The leader’s strikingly unique blend of resolve and genuine compassion has provided the international community with a new blueprint for what leadership can look like.
Instead of focusing on the perpetrator of the terrorism, Prime Minister Ardern focused her energies on the victims, their families and a nation in need of healing.
In declaring “they are us”, Ardern set the tone for how New Zealand, if not the world, should respond to this tragedy.
So often in the darkest of times we witness the best of humanity – but so rarely it comes from our politicians. The traditional script for a world leader reacting to a terrorist attack on home soil is one of retribution, but Ardern chose to be a human first and a politician second.
When the story was still unfolding she was strong: “You may have chosen us, but we utterly condemn you”.
Her strength wasn’t drawn from pandering to populist politics by stirring fear of outsiders after the attack on the city’s Muslim community, but by a return to the Christian values which have underpinned societies like New Zealand and Australia for centuries – inclusion and unity.
As a Christian, I have been heartened by hearing Ardern tap into the deep hunger for values-driven leadership.
She urged school students to show outpourings of love to ensure there was “no environment for violence to flourish”.
“Gather together, send that strong message, look after one another, but also let New Zealand be a place where there’s no tolerance for racism ever,” she said.
She even told US president Donald Trump that the best support his country could offer was “sympathy and love for all Muslim communities”.
As a Christian, I have been heartened by hearing Ardern tap into the deep hunger for values-driven leadership. In doing so, she has set a new standard in politics at a time when the world is listening.
And as the first female CEO of World Vision Australia, it’s inspiring for me to see a woman charting a new path in the top tier of politics.
Even before the Christchurch tragedy, Ardern has been a game-changer in a world where most countries are run by men.
“In a world that too often tells women to stay small, keep quiet – and that we can’t have both motherhood and a career – Ardern proves how wrong and outdated those notions of womanhood are,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg last year, when Prime Minister Ardern was expecting her first child.
“She’s not just leading a country. She’s changing the game. And women and girls around the world will be the better for it.”
In recent days, photos of Prime Minister Ardern hugging the grieving and donning a respectful headscarf have been beamed around the world, with her compassion attracting international praise.
So, was Ardern’s “feminine” response because of her gender? Perhaps in part. But values-based leadership where human dignity and empathy take priority over polls is not dictated by gender or religion. And sadly, it’s too often lacking in our corridors of power.
Our society’s foundation of free will and moral equality is laid out in the New Testament.
Veteran Christian social commentator, Os Guinness, says we are so divorced from the values that our society was built on, we are becoming what he calls a ‘cut flower’ civilisation.
“The roots of Christian culture have been cut and the flowers are beginning to die on all sides,” he says.
So what are these values? Our society’s foundation of free will and moral equality is laid out in the New Testament. They were taught by Jesus Christ and developed in the writings of Paul – such as the central Christian teaching that regardless of apparent worldly inequalities, we are equal in the eyes of God.
As Paul explained in Galations: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Christianity began in a world where almost half the population was in bondage. In the 18th Century, Christian leaders such as William Wilberforce and others led the Abolition Movement.
At the time, slavery was still an acceptable social practice, until Wilberforce had the courage to stand up against conventional thinking. Like Ardern, Wilberforce demonstrated values-driven leadership – and eventually, the world saw he was right.
Throughout most of human history, we’ve solved our problems locally. But now, global problems – such as terrorism – require global solutions.
We know we must work together. But sometimes it’s hard to see exactly how in the context of a backlash against globalism, and open hate speech against people of different backgrounds.
We’ve been hearing the toxic rhetoric of fear and division for so long that reaching out to our fellow human beings with compassion seems politically courageous – even radical.
Leaders like Prime Minister Ardern can light the way. She is showing the world that authenticity and kindness matter.
Claire Rogers is CEO of World Vision Australia
© AAP ImageCrusaders coach Scott RobertsonIrritated Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has called for patience in the debate over changing his team’s name, saying any decision should wait until a degree of calm returns to Christchurch.
Before flying to Sydney for Saturday’s match against the Waratahs, Robertson and captain Sam Whitelock fielded questions about the appropriateness of the club’s name in the wake of last week’s attack on two Christchurch mosques which claimed 50 lives.
Agitation arose after it was pointed out that historically the Crusades were a series of religious and political wars between Christians and Muslims in the 11th and 13th centuries.
Crusaders management said they will consult Muslim leaders and others in the community before determining if a change is merited. That stance drew backing from the New Zealand government.
However, Robertson is irritated the topic has encroached…
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Revealed: Powerful ‘skunk’ which is 94 per cent of the cannabis on London’s streets raises psychosis risk five-fold
- EXCLUSIVE: Researchers from King’s College London studied impact of drug
- It is cultivated to have super-high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC
- This makes the drug up to ten times more powerful than ‘weed’ and ‘hashish’
- Problem so bad that nearly a third of psychosis cases in London caused by drug
Powerful ‘skunk’ cannabis flooding the streets of Britain increases the risk of psychosis five-fold, a major study reveals.
The problem is so widespread that nearly a third of psychosis cases in London are caused by the drug, researchers found.
They warned that 94 per cent of all cannabis available on the streets of the capital is now in the form of skunk.
Researchers at King’s College London found that the problem with ‘skunk’ is now so widespread that nearly a third of psychosis cases in London are caused by the drug
It is cultivated to have super-high levels of the psychoactive ingredient THC, making it up to ten times more powerful than the ‘weed’ and ‘hashish’ common 20 to 30 years ago.
Researchers from King’s College London studied 2,100 people in 11 cities in Europe and South America in the biggest study of its kind.
They found that the link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoid delusion was strongest in London and Amsterdam – the two cities where high-potency cannabis is most commonly available.
Voices for legalisation of cannabis have been growing in recent months, buoyed by the Government’s decision to permit limited use for medical treatment. The researchers warned against following the lead of Canada and the American states of Colorado and California, where legalisation has seen the potency increase.
And they said that even medicinal cannabis oil – available in the UK for a very limited number of people – should come with a warning of psychosis as a possible side effect.
The researchers found that the link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoid delusion was strongest in London and Amsterdam – the two cities where high-potency cannabis is most commonly available (the cannabis plant is pictured)
Professor Sir Robin Murray, one of the researchers, said: ‘If you are going to legalise, unless you want to pay for a lot more psychiatric beds and a lot more psychiatrists then you need to devise a system in a way that will not increase the consumption and will not increase the potency. Because that is what has happened in the US states where there has been legalisation for recreational use.
‘The critical question is whether medicinal use remains medicinal. The problem in California and Canada was that medicinal use became a synonym for recreational use.
‘You could go on the internet and tell a doctor, “I have headaches, I have back pain, I feel better if I have cannabis”. The main reason they legalised it was to try to control the amount of so-called medicinal use there, hoping that there would be a decrease in the use.’ There was not a risk of that in the UK ‘at present’ because cannabis oil is strictly controlled.
The research, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, found that skunk – with a THC level of more than 10 per cent – increased the odds of psychosis 4.8-fold in a person who smoked every day compared with someone who never used the drug. Using it more than once a week was less dangerous, but still increased the risk 1.6-fold.
Voices for legalisation of cannabis (pictured are marijuana buds) have been growing in recent months, buoyed by the Government’s decision to permit limited use for medical treatment. But the researchers warned against this
Low-strength cannabis – with a THC level below 10 per cent – increased the odds of psychosis 2.2-fold if used daily and 1.4-fold if used more than once a week.
Study leader Dr Marta Di Forti said the effect of skunk on mental health is so high that in cities where it is widely available it has a huge impact on numbers diagnosed with psychotic disorders.
If skunk was taken off the streets of London, new cases of psychosis would drop 30 per cent, from 46 to 32 cases per 100,000 people, she said.
This was second only to Amsterdam, which would see a 50 per cent fall. In Cambridge, the only other British city to take part in the study, 8 per cent of psychosis cases were attributed to strong cannabis.
Dr Di Forti said even low-THC cannabis oil, used for epilepsy and MS, should come with a warning of possible mental health effects. The research comes after a Lancet study said cannabis is responsible for 60,000 cases of depression in young people in Britain.
Psychosis is a much rarer condition than depression, so the numbers affected will be far smaller, but the consequences are generally far more serious.
Voices are growing in Britain for cannabis to be legalised. Former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg says making mild forms legally available would stop people using skunk.
Even the Royal College of Psychiatrists is reviewing its position to consider the view that decriminalisation would give the government power to regulate its strength and generate taxes.