The Australian Worker’s Union was formed in Barcaldine. In 1891, restless and disgruntled shearers gathered together under the Tree of Knowledge in front of Barcaldine railway station to air their grievances. Working conditions for shearers in the late 19th century were poor to say the very least and changes were needed. Led by a company of thirteen men, over 1,000 shearers hung up their tools of the trade for four months before the leaders were arrested and the rebellion died down.

The slogan adopted by the AWU was ‘Unity through Defiance’. It has an aggressive ring to it, doesn’t it? Notwithstanding the fact that the time had come to bring about change for shearers’ working conditions, I wonder if defiance is really the best approach. Perhaps there is a more peaceful way to navigate a path through problems that can seem insurmountable. A way that will not just unite one side, but both together.

Love creates room to understand one another; to show consideration for one another. Love makes room for discussion, for hearing the heart of another, for considering the concerns of another.  Love defies the obstacles to seek unity with the other person. Defiance and aggression does not. The latter seeks no negotiation, no give or take. It wants all its own way. And  no other way. There can never be unity with another when defiance and aggression stand in the way.

If love, rather than defiance, is the platform from which we seek change, then we will have a more fruitful basis for unity. We are united to bring change through love and peaceful means, not defiance and aggression. And I would guess that the outcome will be much more successful. How are we seeking to bring change? Through love or defiance? Only unity through love and understanding will result in lasting and successful change.


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