The Six of Pentacles represents compassion, generosity, and cultivating good karma. This card reminds you that your true quality as a person is not measured by how much you impress the powerful and influential people of society. Instead, it is measured by how you treat the outcasts, the penniless, and the “least of these.” When you show kindness to those who you would probably gain “nothing” from, you may find that you walk away with a gift far greater.
Caroline Chisholm was born in Northampton, 30 May 1808. This was a time of turmoil. On the continent, Napoleon was wreaking havoc, and the wars undertaken to defeat him were sapping Great Britain of her resources. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and by the late 18th century there had emerged a massive underclass of “deserving” poor, many without means of subsistence. To deal with the poverty, a support system loosely based on the Christian principle of charity was espoused.
Born in 1808 into the reasonably well-to do family of William Jones, a yeoman farmer in Northampton, Caroline Chisholm received an education that reflected the times. As a young girl, she visited the sick of the neighboring village, providing them with help and care, and was, in the words of one biographer, educated to “look on philanthropic labor as a part of her everyday life.”
At seven, she displayed a passionate interest in immigration. Having heard wondrous tales of far-off lands in what has been characterized as an enlightened household, she invented an immigration game. Using a wash basin as the sea, she “made boats of broad-beans; expended all [her] money in touchwood dolls, removed families, located them in the bed-quilt and sent the boats, filled with wheat, back to the friends.” This early interest in immigration would later provide a focus for her rising philanthropic passion.
When she arrived in Australia in 1838 she was horrified by the desperate situation of single emigrant women who were exploited when they first arrived. Often when emigrants arrived they were taken advantage of by people who would rob them or take their money on pretense of getting them accommodation or employment. The situation was particularly bad during the depression of the 1840s. Her advocacy for homeless girls and poor families during Australia’s formative years caused her contemporaries to see her as ‘the indispensable woman of the time’.
Fast forward to 2022 and one cannot help but wonder what a woman like Carolyn Chisholm, whose name is used by so many organizations working to address homelessness, would make of the situation facing so many people. In Victoria alone, on any given night, there are approximately 1,100 people sleeping rough and older women are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia.
What would Caroline Chisholm do?
Suggestions Caroline Chisholm might offer about making a difference to homelessness in Australia in 2022
Imagine you are a journalist and you have the opportunity to interview Carolyn Chisholm. Research and find out more about her, the opposition she faced and the contribution she made. Upon meeting with her, ask five open ended questions about actions she would take to alleviate homelessness. See if what she says to you resonates with the suggestions being proposed here.