A man on horseback created major headlines in 1932 at the official opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now another horseman has made the news by riding his horse on the Bridge.
Glen Morris, a beef farmer from Inverell in north-western NSW stopped the traffic and attracted media attention when he rode over lane 8.
He was protesting against proposed government legislation which he warned would increase the level of vegetation clearing on farmland: a situation that was well removed in both cause and time from the actions of Capt Francis De Groot who, armed with a sword, had cut the opening ribbon ahead of Premier Jack Lang.
The latest ride produced a reaction that was in marked contrast to the way that many people seem to take for granted some rather stunning events which take place around us every day.
Our planet’s movement allowing for what is known as the rising and the setting of the sun is something that usually fails to attract too much attention.
Similar movements that assist in delivering our seasons also are simply accepted rather than being appreciated as something very special and part of a delicate balancing act.
Instant communication through devices such as computers and cellular telephones – or even the telephone itself – have been with us long enough for most people to take those advances for granted, indicating a loss of wonder at such technological developments that would have stunned earlier passengers aboard planet earth.
So much information that formerly had to be painstakingly researched in musty locations such as libraries, where being added to a waiting list was often necessary before undertaking the task, can now be assisted virtually at the press of a button.
In our own backyards there were times when neighbours would be drawn to share the excitement of viewing a newly purchased car even if, as my parents would have said in those days, it was just “an old bomb”. Our roads now are so full of high-class imported luxury cars that excitement about an average purchase on that front is most difficult to find.
New television sets formerly attracted attention, and brought additional viewers to loungeroom gatherings – and older people may be able to make similar observations about the arrivals of radio receivers.
These few examples reflecting how it’s not so easy to be attracted to “new toys on the block” may be considered rather trivial but they offer points to consider about the levels of disengagement by many people regarding some of the more important developments around us.
Simply accepting what is physical without question also may have an impact on our capacity to grasp and to analyse the spiritual – especially regarding matters of faith.
If things physical can fail to arouse interest in our comfortable societies, then does that trigger in those who wish to ignore God, who is not there to be seen, an opportunity to forget about that presence which remains so very important to those who believe?
Answers to questions about apparently falling levels of religious belief are not easy to find, but it’s worth asking questions.
Australia will have another Census next month and if its results reflect recent trends from these five-yearly population studies, it will reveal declines in the levels of commitment among Christians, creating further negative publicity about the measure of faith in this country.
Those statistics may be used by some to justify their own decision to move away from accepting and putting into practice religious belief, almost as something of a “follow the leader” response, but no figures can be placed on the depth of commitment by those who remain faithful.
Interest in the sight of a horseman riding across the Bridge today is to be expected because it’s now very rare; while the period between 1932 and the present seems to have eroded our attention to so much more that is simply taken for granted.
As we view people around us who may have changed in terms of their adherence to faith, those who are true to it should continue to appreciate a God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.