Thoughts and Reflections of a Catholic Geographer
Thank you for looking at my pages. In them, I post thoughts on a few matters that are close to me. I hope they are of interest to you too. Some of these may seem dated. Nonetheless, I believe they contain ideas that are relevant to the thinking person of the present day.
It is my intention to treat what I have written as work in progress, with pages re-visited from time to time.
But first, let me introduce myself.
I lived for many years in the small country town of Armidale on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. It is about 1000 metres above sea level, about 170 kilometres from the sea as the kookaburra flies, and roughly halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. It is located in pastoral country. Tranquil. Scenic. Spectacular gorges gash the eastern flank of the tablelands.
Armidale is well known for its two cathedrals, its schools and the University of New England. The nice thing about Armidale is that it has clean air, an abundance of water in the Malpas Dam, for long believed to hold enough to support more than twice the present population, good facilities and everything is close by. [But alas! The region has been suffering from severe drought for some years and drastic water restrictions now( 2019) apply.]
My wife and I were both born in Ceylon, better known today as Sri Lanka. Beautiful country. Warm, hospitable people. I acknowledge my roots with joy and gratitude. I was a beneficiary of free education at the University of Ceylon, a debt I can never repay except in my work and in my heart. We lived also in Britain and in Singapore, before settling down in Australia.
Most of my working life was in tertiary education: learning, teaching, researching and writing, mainly as a geographer. Much of this was in geomorphology (the science of landforms), issues of development in south and southeast Asia; and the questions the study of peace raises. I had the privilege of initiating the University of New England’s Peace Studies programmes in the early 1980s, aided by dedicated kindred spirits.
I am a Catholic. I have always been interested in religion. It is life. And I respect all religions, firstly, thanks to my father’s spirit of tolerance and his breadth of vision, and my mother’s unwavering faith.
Furthermore, I enjoyed my schooling and reading for my first University degree at he University of Ceylon, with Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Zoroastrians as dear and trusted friends, and came to admire and respect them and learn from them.
A sense of openness to people is generated when you travel abroad, live in different lands, and try to be true to what your own religion teaches and asks of you, and to grow in it. And, you soon discover that all people are precious. This is quite consistent with the spirit of geography and Catholic vision. For, above all, we are children of the One God, whether we recognise this truth or not, although it would be a much better world if we do, and if we live accordingly.
I said goodbye to formal teaching in January 2000, and now talk to my computer, and through it I reach out to you. Some of what I say may seem trite, and much of what is said will be open to debate. But if it evokes a response on your part, and stimulates you in a positive way, these humble efforts will not be in vain.
I will probably never have the privilege of meeting or knowing you. But, my best wishes are with you. May your days be happy and fruitful. And may there be someone to whom you will be able to pass the baton, when the time for doing so arrives.
God bless and be with you.