An elder in Aboriginal civilisation has been defined as someone who has gained recognition as a custodian of knowledge and lore – the customs, legends and myths that have been held for millennia. Whilst there are differences within different communities, one common trait among indigenous elders is a deep spirituality – a commitment to a worldview that, at base, means that there is more to life, and indeed to the entire universe, than ‘meets the eye’, so to speak. Some meaningful connection between oneself and something much greater, that calls for a deep appreciation of oneness or wholeness and which demands the fusion or synthesis of the self with the other, of parts with wholes, of the material with the spiritual, of facts with values, of knowledge with wisdom, of actions with ethics.
Do we, non-Aboriginal Australians have, within our industrial society, any equivalent role models with similar intellectual, moral and spiritual competencies?
In this episode, our host Richard Bawden talks with someone who has many of the very characteristics of the sort of contemporary eldership that we should perhaps be seeking to seriously explore. David Chittelborough is a professor of pedology and biogeochemistry at the University of the Sunshine Coast and an adjunct Professor of the University of Adelaide. He is also a Baha’i, a congregant of a religion founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people and where the essential quest is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of nature, and the purpose of life.