Not only are many Australians ungrateful for the privileges and the way of life this country provides us, writes Daemon Singer
in this guest post, but they also wish to deny others from enjoying the
rewards of our country too. Although many of us are appalled at this,
we keep electing governments that perpetuate the cruel policies towards
asylum seekers. Where are our hearts? asks Daemon.
It doesn’t really matter how many times I come in to make comments,
not only in Independent Media Australia but almost across the board
amongst left-leaning blogs and information sharing sites, there is an
ongoing process where we as a group do little apart from dump on Tony
Abbott and his Liberal/National party mates; calling for their removal
or whingeing about their destruction of our country. Yet few of us take
the time to be thankful for what we do have even as we complain about
what we don’t have.
I was driving through Moorooka the other day and the streets are
filled with people from Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, who have
successfully sought and been given refuge here in Australia. I sat with
one of my clients over coffee discussing the situation in Moorooka and
he feels locked out of his community because as the Muslims have been
relocated to this fairly quiet Brisbane suburb, they have taken over the
commerce and he feels quite confronted at times when he needs to buy
something at one of those shops.
I wonder if ever in those places and situations, one of the former
refugees, now Australian resident, ever stops to say ‘thank you’, and
think where he or she would be without what this country has done, both
for him or her, and for his or her family.
I joined a process sometime back called ‘couch surfing’, where one
provides a bed for somebody traveling around the world or around the
country and in the recent couch surfing situation I found myself talking
to a pair of American guys aged in their early 20s. One of them was
finding being 23 and adrift from home and family somewhat of a challenge
and we spoke at length about what one experiences as one goes through
life and how much one learns not only from friends and teachers but also
from one’s family.
Last week I reveived a long email from him, thanking me for taking
the time to sit and talk as a mature man to a young man in the way his
father never had. The only real advice I gave him was ‘trust yourself
and forgive yourself’.
He is now launching off onto the next phase of his journey (to Asia)
and getting that letter of thanks has made me feel quite special, simply
because it is so rare for somebody to sit down and make a concerted
effort to thank somebody for a direct impact on their lives. I wonder
how much of that lesson we can all learn from?
Certainly, Tony Abbott is doing Australia no favours and one has to
consider that he actually has no idea that what he is doing is negative
to the long-term future of our country. We describe ourselves as a
‘sunburnt country’ and our national anthem proudly states we have room
to spare. However, Galaxy polling tells us that people in the 64 to 78
age range think asylum seekers should be treated more brutally than they
already are on Manus and Nauru. In both of which situations we are
expecting a former protectorate to again do as it is told on the back of
a bunch of aid money.
As a country we have much to be thankful for and it’s my view that we
spend precious little time being thankful for it. Personally, I am
thankful that we have a choice in religion – I choose not to follow one
and no one comes running after me to question my dedication to that
religion. That is certainly not the case in many of the countries where
people originate who are seeking refuge on our shores.
Further, I am thankful that I have not only the skills but the
ability to follow my own path in terms of employment. No one in
Australia is going to hold up their hand and say ‘sorry, you can’t have
this job you’re the wrong religion’. That is not always the case in the
countries from which asylum seekers originate. I am pleased that were I
to have children; boys or girls or both, I could send them to the school
of my choice, knowing that they would get something resembling a decent
education irrespective of the government of the day. I further enjoy
that my children would be safe on their way home from school on the bus
and wouldn’t have to put up with some nutter getting on the bus and
shooting them in the face because they represented all girls being
educated. And this happens in many of the countries from which asylum
It doesn’t matter how many times we complain about the government of
the day not living up to expectations. When we go to the polls we should
understand that really there is no difference between the Liberal
National party and Labor in terms of their appalling treatment of
refugees and if you ask them why this treatment is necessary, they will
say it is being done to protect our borders from these people. For the
life of me I can see nothing that they bring to this country that I
require protecting from.
But one thing I am most thankful for of all things is that every
three years I get to be part of a process in choosing will represent me
the next time. I hope in my heart that Labor will understand that most
Australians actually don’t want people treated like this in our name. We
understand Tony Abbott does that because he doesn’t really understand
very much at all, but it is a sad indictment on us as a country that we
have now put in place four separate governments who decided that the
best thing for Australia would be to have people killed in Manus Island
in our name for no other reason than they are asking us to abide by our
signature on a treaty that has been there since the 1960s.
That is the greatest gift that we all own and when we go to the polls
next time at a Federal level we need to make a decision whether to go
for Labor or Liberal or do what Indi did and find ourselves a
representative who listens to us, as voters, individually, and isn’t
going to be bent to the will of the party, rather than the will of the
people they represent. Our single capacity for choice in terms of who
represents us on the world stage is the greatest thing our forefathers
ever did for us and for which we should be eternally thankful.