The Old Year Ends – a look back at 2015

December 28, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in Australia, Making History, Migration, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict | 8 Comments
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2015 Behind the News ABC

Apart from my lovely family and friends, I must admit that I have not enjoyed 2015. Not on the state, national or international level. There hasn’t been very much to enjoy in the world of politics, religion, economics, international relations, terrorism, whatever.

With one of the defining images of the year being the body of a little refugee boy washed up on a beach, how could it have been a good year for anyone who looks beyond their own safe little bubble? I for one wouldn’t mind having another go at it to see if we could somehow change how it all went. Failing that, is the hope that last year was as bad as it will get.

TOPSHOTS Kurdish Syrian girls are pictur

Children among the destruction in Syria

I started to write a list of the nasties that happened through the year:

  • the terrorism in the name of religion that is not a religion;

  • the racism and violence in many countries across the globe;

  • the lack of support in many instances for the millions of people displaced by war;

  • the ineptitude, idiocy or corruption in too many governments in too many countries;

  • the failure to address global warming on a global scale;

  • the brain-dead far right-wingers who would prefer the whole world to collapse rather than help those less fortunate than themselves;

  • the destruction of our valuable, even precious, environments and wildlife, to feed the greed of multi-national corporations;

  • the extremes of weather – excessive cold and heat, floods, droughts, huge wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons and tornadoes, the melting of the polar ice caps;

  • the extreme polarisation in politics, race and religion, and the fear-mongering among our so-called leaders;

  • the overwhelming power of the arms industry, the far right press, and corporations in deciding national and international government policy.

Need I go on?

Of course there were good things happening too:

  • the rise of people power through social media, demonstrations and actions to show their displeasure at where the world is heading;

  • the rise of a pope who, against those Catholic extremists who would prevent him, speaks for the people, the environment, and the cessation of war;

  • the countries like Germany who have taken in tens of thousands of refugees;

  • the individuals who stand up for right when they see wrong.

not-in-my-name

We need the good so much, but it is demonstrated by individuals and small groups in small and seemingly insignificant actions and interactions, whereas the bad is overwhelming in its ability to create a sense of despair, depression and hopelessness.

However, I must concentrate on those small things and the ordinary people like me who do them, and hope they will add up to more than the bad stuff and overcome it. I must do what I can for my own sanity, but even more for the sake of my grandchildren. I don’t want them to live in the kind of hateful world that seems to be all too possible right now.

I must cling to the hope that springs eternal from the human heart. If it didn’t, I would end it now. So I hope with all my heart that, through good people standing up to corruption and violence, hatred and destruction, at least some of the horrendous problems we’ve had in 2015 will get better in 2016.

(c) Linda Visman

 

 

Fear and Prejudice

June 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Politics, Psychology, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 6 Comments
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Australia’s first boat people

I received an email this morning from someone I will call James – one of those circular ones that play on the fears and prejudices of people to stir up emotions that suit their cause. It came from the U.K. and I live in Australia, but these things spread like a pandemic.

Note spelling

   This one stirs up xenophobia, nationalistic pride and fear against, mainly, Islamic migrants and the ‘fact’ that they aim to make ‘our’ nation into something it’s not.

The theme of the email is, “Speak our language, appreciate and conform with our established culture and customs, leave your own where you came from, or don’t come here at all”.

  To support their cause , the writers of the email have quoted a speech they attribute to our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. In the speech, Ms Gillard is purported to have said words to the effect of, “If you don’t want to be like us, don’t come”. 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Now, Ms Gillard is too intelligent to say such things. If she had, it would be in all the media outlets and shouted out by some to support their cause or by others to denounce her politically.

I am tired and saddened by items such as this, sent on through hundreds and thousands of personal computers by people who are too eager to pass on their own fears and prejudices. In doing so, they are supporting and propagating those fears and prejudices in others. So, I wrote back to James – and all those to whom he sent the email (he didn’t BCC them!).

Hi James, and the others on your list to whom this email went out.

I just wanted to make a few comments on this email and others like it that have been circulating for some time now.

Julia Gillard did not say the things attributed to her (even if she ever thinks some of them at times, she wouldn’t say them publicly). This is a speech by some American, in which Gillard’s face and Australia’s name have been substituted for political reasons.

Have a closer look at it and you will see that it describes the US culture and political system, not Australia’s. For example, Gillard is an atheist, and wouldn’t base a speech on the Christian foundations of our nation (all that is American).

Whilst many people will agree to varying levels with what’s written here, false attribution is dishonest and destructive. It is part of the whole fear-driven agenda of one section of society to get support for their own desires and, because it is fear based, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact that these emails are so popular is in itself proof of that.

I urge all people to look behind these email campaigns to find the truth. The speech was probably made by someone, but it was not Gillard, and that is one of the things that make the whole campaign severely suspect.

Those who wish to control public opinion find that fear is their best weapon, and this is an excellent example of their rallying cry. Regardless of what any of us believe, we need to use intellect and reason, not emotion, to work out the truth of any of those beliefs.

Regards, Linda

I don’t know whether my reply to James and his friends will make any of them think a bit more deeply about what they hear and read. I may even be cut off from James’s mailing list because of it. But it had become too much – constantly receiving such destructive correspondence, and being unable t do anything about it.

But this time, I have done something – the email I sent, and this blog entry, may just get somebody somewhere to examine the bases of their thinking.

 

Do you receive emails like this? Do you read them? Delete them right away? Respond to them?

Do you like to receive such communications? Do you like to have your own beliefs supported? Or do they make you question what you believe and why?

 

 

© Linda Visman 29.06.2012

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