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Joel McKerrow’s “Hope For Tomorrow”

I have heard it said, that the best way to destroy a people is to take away their stories. To make them forget. Get lost in the smallness of their own predicament.

Today it appears as though we have indeed lost ourselves somewhere between the Western dream rat-race and our desire to be part of something larger. Many years ago I made a decision that whatever I do in life I would seek for it to be part of this something larger. To look beyond myself. To draw people beyond themselves.

I began seriously writing and performing poetry about five years ago, after five years of running a course in spiritual and identity formation for Young Adults at Tabor College. A large focus of this course was moving young people toward holistic engagement with their faith and with the social issues of the world. To help them both understand themselves and move beyond acts of charity into a lifestyle of justice and advocacy. My poetry has since sought to help people make this exact same movement. To understand their story. To live for a larger story. To remember who they are.

A number of years ago, out of this desire, I founded an organisation called “The Centre for Poetics and Justice”, the work of which took myself and other Melbourne poets into many different communities to help their young people tell their own stories. Through my vocation, as a performance poet and community arts worker, I have since performed and run workshops all over the world. From New York City, Paris, the Sydney Opera House, to sitting in basements of drop-in centres helping the homeless write poetry. No matter the audience, the point is still the same – story reminds us of who we are and what our place in this world can be.

If a people can be destroyed by having their stories taken away, then let us again tell our stories. Remind each other of who we are. By such a telling, may the small stories of our lives begin to be caught up into one that is much larger.

It is out of this desire that I have partnered with TEAR as an Artist Ambassador. To join with an organisation also focused on helping people remember who they are and moving them beyond just charity into actual lifestyle change. An organisation focused on calling people into the larger story that God is writing. His dream for what the world could be.

TEAR is part of a movement of people who are remembering the future. Seeking a different tomorrow by acting today. My desire is that this “Hope For Tomorrow" poem would not just stir within us the hope for what may be, but that it may evoke within us the courage to take the small steps in our lives to see it become a reality.

If a people can be destroyed by having their stories taken away, then let us again tell our stories. Remind each other of who we are. By such a telling, may the small stories of our lives begin to be caught up into one that is much larger.

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Joel McKerrow is a performance artist, writer, educator and an Artist Ambassador for TEAR Australia. www.joelmckerrow.com