Category Archives: community

You do you

Every single day we are bombarded with images on social media, news websites and on television of bigotry, hate and violence. Every single day acts associated with these are carried out because of a perceived point of difference. Perceived differences in religion, in education, in opportunity, in resources, in cultural background, in physical appearance. As I sit here and write this now it seems to me that all of these stem from the insidious, creeping, doubt fertiliser- fear of the unknown. What do we do when we experience fear? We feel threatened. What do we do when we feel threatened? We fight. With everything we have we seek to diminish the perceived threat.

With the advent of the internet came a veritable flood of information. It sweeps us along in the comfort of our lounge rooms. It creeps into our train rides, our lunch breaks, and sometimes even our bathroom breaks. We are exposed to a massive amount of commentary from all around the globe. We have access to an incredible volume of knowledge. We can learn about other cultures, we can see lands we might not ever be able to physically visit, we can learn about topics that our grandparents could not have dreamed of learning unless they went to university. We can even talk to people from all around the world and further expand our horizons, we can truly grow and become a better species, more understanding and compassionate. Except…

Wherever you look there are people criticising, judging, mocking and castigating others for how they look, live, express themselves, for what they believe in. It seems that you can’t express a single thought without the crushing weight of objection and differing opinion being forcefully thrust upon you, publicly halting you in your tracks, minimising, reducing and nullifying your perspective. We have forgotten how to have an intellectual conversation and explore ideas and we are left with, thanks to being relatively anonymous and faceless on the internet, bullying and closed-minded expressions designed to shut down rather than encourage conversation.

I’m super tired of it. If you are reading this I’m sure you are too. We’ve seen the really interesting article and told ourselves not to look at the comments… why am I looking at the comments?! Oh I hate humanity, we’re the worst, a true cesspool of self-important filth, surely a genetic accident. It’s not very helpful. What would be far more helpful I think is interesting dialogue framed in such a way as to encourage conversation. Instead of “you f***ing ignorant bastard, shut your face before I shut it for you” perhaps a “that’s an interesting perspective, why do you think that?” or “I don’t see it that way, I’m more of the opinion that…”. Perhaps then we could do away with labels and even anger and start to hear each other. Call me a dreamer but I think that doing away with fear and self-righteous indignation could soothe many of the worlds ills. Curiosity before fear would go a long way towards helping as well.

Then there’s the big stuff that shouldn’t even be a thing. Racism. WTF is with all of the racism? I saw a legend of a woman talking about racism (on the internet) and she is an educator. Her message was that we aren’t born racist, we learn to be racist and the stupidest thing about racism is that there is only one race, the human race. We are all the same race just with differing levels of pigmentation in our skin. But someone decided that it benefited them to plant into small minds this idea of difference and we ate that rubbish up for breakfast. Can you imagine a world without racism? Jon Lennon tried. We would still have rich and varied cultural differences and how wonderful if we could be curious about one another cultures instead of feeling threatened by them.

There are always, thank goodness, curious folk in this world who do not subscribe to fear and bigotry. There are always those who work to create conversation and effect positive change in our global societies, but they are still the exception, not the rule. Until the day comes when we can be curious, compassionate and loving beings as the norm rather than the exception. Until the day we can identify and appreciate our sameness. Until the day where we can allow one another our differences and not feel threatened. I say, you do you. Be wholly yourself. Shine your light, share your views, be curious about those who come at you from a place of anger or resistance and start the conversation. The movement has been around since the beginning of human time, but just maybe you’ll help someone finally see that there’s more joy and peace in live and let live.

“Hate cages all the good things about you.” ~Terri Guillemets

To write or protest? Both

Democracy definition: A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.

So this is why I care, why I bitch and moan, why I protest and email politicians and why I sign petitions. It is why I care most passionately when I hear that  the government is trying to pass legislation to make public protests illegal. It is why I share content about sneaky laws that take away our democratic rights and most definitely ignore the will of the people.

The most core basic tenet of democracy is that the country is run by the people, through elected officials who represent the peoples wishes. This implies that those officials MUST listen and respond to the wishes of the people. It does not imply that  they steam forward with their own questionable agendas in the face of outcry, questions, protests and civil disobedience. These are the few methods through which “the people” can be heard.

Once upon a time, if there was an unfavourable piece of legislation that lacked popularity. The Government had no choice but to put it out to a referendum. I haven’t seen a serious referendum in a long time. Day light savings? I don’t care. Late night shopping? Nope, still don’t really care, but I said “no” along with everyone else and  our government stormed through legislation to get around it anyway. I’d like to see a referendum of substance, the response to which is upheld.

A referendum of substance right now would look like the people being asked if they are happy to have coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef. It might look like are we happy as a Nation to respond or not respond to human rights violations of people in our custodial care off shore- yes, I’m talking about asylum seekers. Not to be mistaken for these imaginary boat people we keep hearing about. A worthwhile referendum might also ask the people if they are happy to have all of their phone/movements and internet use monitored, stored and kept for an undisclosed length of time, at an undisclosed location, and extremely high cost to the tax payer (and therefore community services) for vague reasons to do with something about monitoring terrorism and paedophiles.

I could go on about that last piece of legislation, and I will only briefly. It appears to be a very thinly veiled population surveilance. I am not usually this pessimistic but come on- even I know that anyone trying to do something dodgy is better equipped than a straight forward net connection. They won’t be caught and this expensive endeavour isn’t about terrorism or paedophiles. It is about keeping big corporations happy because if you’re a torrent user who has upset HBO by downloading the next episode of Game of Thrones you just couldn’t wait for, our government will happily pass over your usage history and your ass for legal action. This is their way of getting around the problem of ISP’s not wanting to spy on you. The Government will. For a pissy little thing like TV. But the UN makes damning claims about human rights violations and the Government is all like “the Australian people are sick of being lectured to”. The Australian scientific community says that coal mining ports will destroy the Great Barrier reef and the response is “fuck off, we like coal” (I might be stealing from Jim Jeffries, but it works so well).

In extension of this environmental landscape there are Global movements and countries around the world calling for investment in renewable energies and decrease in extractive energy production because of it’s harmful impact on the entire global eco-system and our Government responds with “climate change is not a real thing”. Most damning of all they are disenfranchising the most disenfranchised members of our community again by withdrawing essential services from remote aboriginal peoples communities and calling it a “lifestyle choice”. The Australian Government has a shameful history in its care for the original peoples of this land and holds no honour for their important roles as custodians of the earth here. They are proving once more that corporate motives are still stronger than  their connection to their intent to “close the gap” in health, education and quality of life for aboriginal Australians.

So here’s the thing. Our Government here in Australia is not working as a representative of its people. Not any of its people that I know of in any case. It is working to line the pockets of big corporations and to get brownie points with someone other than the people they serve. They have withdrawn funding from social services that support our homeless people, our elderly have taken a pension cut, they have no regard for the importance of key environmental systems for future generations and they aren’t listening to the people they represent. In my opinion, this is not a democracy. We pay lip service to it through elections, but either way you vote, you end up with the same scenario. Prove me wrong. I’d like to have my hope reinstated.

 “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” ~Richard Armour