Do not be afraid on Harmony Day

| March 20, 2015

The stories we see in the media can make us fearful, but how we live our lives creates the community we live in. For Harmony Day Sue Ellson encourages us to not be afraid of what we don’t know and to share our wisdom and ideas to inspire the good.

“Do not be afraid” and its variations appears over 350 times in the Bible.

As Harmony Day arrives on 21 March 2015, we can reflect on the past 12 months and acknowledge the bravery of so many people who under the circumstances could have chosen a fearful path.

The shootings in Paris on 7 January 2015 saw mass rallies of people who boldly declared ‘Je suis Charlie’ – they felt compelled to express their views about the right to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The hostage siege in Sydney on 15-16 December 2015 saw mass waves of empathy, condolences and a social media campaign around the hash tag #illridewithyou – this time encouraging Australians to accompany anyone who felt unsafe on public transport.

The Joining the Dots non-profit organisation continued to expand their Welcome Dinner Project initiative and they now have hosts in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Tasmania, Perth and Darwin.

Newcomers Network, which started in 2001, continues to provide free ‘Living, Working and Networking’ events on the second Wednesday of every month in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane and in 2015, will be hosting the 10th Annual Christmas Day BYO Picnic Lunch in Melbourne (this annual picnic started spreading to Sydney and the other capitals in 2010).

Welcome to Australia continues to host walks that bring together people from all nationalities with a growing list of foundation partners and supporters and an extensive profile and range of influence on social media.

Whilst these modern initiatives continue to change conversations, open hearts and challenge conventions, there are many other programs that have continued thanks to the generosity of individuals who are determined to make the world they live in a better place.

We should never forget the ongoing commitment of interfaith groups, migrant associations and local council, government funded and voluntary projects.

Acknowledging achievements through awards and recognition in the areas of diversity, social inclusion, equality, access and equity for people of all faiths, abilities, backgrounds, heritage, culture, language and gender reminds us to pause and celebrate how Australia continues to change and grow.

These individual and collective efforts demonstrate how these people are not afraid. How they are willing to commit to harmony and a better society.

Every time you personally choose the ‘right’ thing to do rather than choose what your own personal upbringing or bias suggests you do, is a moment you can acknowledge.

So, on reflection, what could you do in the year ahead?

  • invite someone new to dinner
  • attend a cultural event
  • connect with an indigenous Australian
  • encourage a person to accept a leadership position, particularly if they are from a minority group
  • ask someone with a different background to you how they feel about issues you are passionate about – they may give you a new perspective on the topic
  • be honest, ethical, authentic and genuine in all of your interactions
  • stand up for someone who has been bullied because of their ‘difference’
  • speak up even if it is easier to stay silent (but do it in a positive, not critical way)
  • comfort someone who is facing challenges that you do not face
  • realise that just one simple act can make a huge difference – pay a gesture forward
  • thank people EVERY time they are nice or kind to you
  • touch someone’s hand if they are in distress and ask, how can I help?
  • smile – it is the universal language that everyone understands

Whilst the stories we see and hear in the media can make us fearful, the lives we live create the community we live in. You can choose to take from your community or share with your community.

Social media, Open Forum and many other online initiatives enable us to share our wisdom and ideas, to inspire the good and defeat the evil.

Let’s celebrate 15 years of ‘Living in Harmony’ in 2015 by sharing the best of ourselves, in every interaction we have with another person, both online and offline.

We do not need to be afraid of what we do not recognise or know – we need to live in harmony.


Previous Articles on Harmony Day by Sue Ellson

Harmony Day Australiawide

Harmony Day States



Sue Ellson

Sue Ellson is the Founder and Director of Newcomers Network, a socially responsible enterprise providing information, events and advocacy for newcomers and networkers in Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria. She has published three books and can be found via LinkedIn or at