Chancellor of the ACU, Br Julian McDonald;
Pro-vice-chancellor (research and
By Kathleen Carmody
Broadcaster Geraldine Doogue used the well-loved Aussie phrase “Get a
life!” to illustrate her point that work has overtaken our lives at the cost of family and relationships in a recent Lenten address entitled Spirituality and Work.
“It’s a profound thought wrapped up in
Australian clothing. Get a Life: meaning … restore balance. Ensure some fun, joy, time to chill out,” Ms Doogue said.
Ms Doogue, a respected Australian journalist and broadcaster of almost 30 years, told the
audience at Australian Catholic University the work-life balance was probably the unsolved problem facing Australians, and suggested the family sphere was losing the battle to the marketplace.
suggest 60 per cent of Australians do unpaid overtime work, Ms Doogue said. She also noted that Australia had the second highest number of people working more than 49 hours a week.
Although she admitted she
herself was guilty of working too much, Ms Doogue challenged the notion that to lead a busy life was to lead an interesting life.
“I do lead an interesting full life, but I wouldn’t dream of suggesting I have
the balance right. I have no illusions about that,” she said.
Ms Doogue said the issues were profound and too much was at stake to allow the erosion of our families and our belief in what is important.
However, she pointed out there was no quick fix, and that the issues challenged our willingness to change and posed fundamental questions for all of us.
“How do we resist the siren call of the 21st and late
20th century to work, work, work?” Ms Doogue asked, suggesting the problem was not lack of understanding of the issues, but knowing how to apply them to our lives.
“How do we lead? What do we need to learn?
How do we organise ourselves and our work? How do we make links between our personal, work and community lives?”
One problem associated with taking the emphasis off work is that for many people, work defines
them, allowing them the chance to feel important and powerful.
This can, however, lead to a situation where work ambitions are pursued over a more settled life. Add to that the pressure to keep up, to merely
survive, and internal compasses can begin to waver a little, Ms Doogue said.
“Some of the demands of long hours and overwork stems from a gritty desire to merely survive; to hang in there. But for some it is
also the result of marvellous things on offer: the chance to sit on that committee to influence curriculum – pity about the night meetings; or to take that trip which just sadly coincides with a child’s exams …”
Admitting she didn’t know the next stage of the roadmap, Ms Doogue suggested that thinking about work as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself could be a useful way of escaping an obsessive
preoccupation with “the perfect CV”.
“We (are) encouraged to consider the distinction between using our talents for our own ego versus using them for God,” she said.
Ms Doogue invoked a passage from
St Paul’s letter to the Colossians for the audience to reflect on: “Whatever your work is put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his
heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.”
Ms Doogue went on to remind the audience of Matthew (6:31) where we are told not to worry: “… do not say ‘What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are
we to be clothed?’ It is the pagans who set their hearts on these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first and on his righteousness and all these other things will
be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Ms Doogue said she hoped people might find guidance in such Biblical texts.
Geraldine Doogue started her career as a cadet journalist at The West Australian newspaper, and went on to work for the ABC in a range of positions. She has also worked for Channel 10 and radio 2UE. She
returned to the ABC in 1990 and currently is the presenter of Life Matters on Radio National.