A message from the Associate Vice-Chancellor NSW/ACT Professor Marea Nicholson:
ACU is once again a supporting partner for the Lights of Christmas in Sydney. The annual Lights of Christmas is held at St Mary’s Cathedral Square and takes place every night from Wednesday, 6 December until Christmas Day. The event is an impressive sound and light show with a changing annual theme.
One aspect of the theme of this year’s show is titled The Gift of Time and is described as “a journey that will demonstrate the importance of putting down technology devices and taking time to appreciate your surroundings, your friends, and your family”. An original soundtrack accompanies the story, which emphasises to the listener, the overarching theme of time.
This theme also relates to Pope Francis’ recent challenge to “lift up your hearts, put down your phones”. His request was part of his weekly teachings and readings to a crowd at St Peter’s Square in Vatican City in November. Pope Francis has discussed the effects of technology previously. Last year in Amoris Laetitia he reminded us that phones and social media "cannot replace the need for more personal and direct dialogue, which requires physical presence, or at least hearing the voice of the other person. We know that sometimes they can keep people apart rather than together, as when at dinnertime everyone is surfing on a mobile phone, or when one spouse falls asleep waiting for the other who spends hours playing with an electronic device."
This is an important message as we spend time with our families and friends over the Christmas season. It has significant value, not only for us personally, but as a University, and aligns with “Impact through Empathy”. To have empathy we need to connect with one another on a personal level.
As we break for Christmas, I hope that you will have time to have conversations around the dinner table, call a friend rather than texting them and visit friends and family. Technology should not replace the joy of spending quality time with loved ones at this special time of the year.