Thursday, February 07, 2008

Welcome the Rat - Gong Xi Fa Chai!

Today begins the Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Fa Chai to you and yours! I hope this year brings peace, good health and a richness of ideas, creativity and hope, as well as financial security and wellbeing, for you all.

This marks the beginning of the Chinese year of the Rat, also the first year in the Chinese 12-year astrological cycle. The Rat is identified a the protector and bringer of prosperity and wealth, which are values also traditionally consistent with Chinese desires for the New Year.

My wishes for this year are a slightly subversive take on this traditional desire for prosperity and wealth, only because I would like to pause and think about the implications of the desire and pursuit for unbridled
material wealth and prosperity at the expense of our other needs, and the sustainability of our society and ecology.

I can't argue with the sentiment of the Rat protecting our prosperity, though, as I certainly hope that the growing impact of interest rate rises, overblown credit and mortgage stress coupled with rising inflation don't overwhelm the financial security
of today's households. But I would like us to reflect on our expectations and what it means to be wealthy and prosperous in today's culture.

This period is also a time for families to gather and celebrate, strengthening their bonds and renewing their families. I am thinking of and missing my parents and my sister and her family at this time, but I have my own immediate family here in Melbourne, and I'm certainly not as affected as the millions of people in China who are stranded far away from their home towns due to the weather-induced collapse of the rail network. It is very painful for them to be away from their families at this special celebration. I am also thinking of them at this time.

[The image is by What What (cc), of a stencil reputed to be by renown street artists Banksy on a street in the UK.]

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