Thursday, April 6, 2017

Something to Say

I'm writing this from my hotel room in Adelaide (I'm on holidays), wearing my T-shirt from the Adelaide Zoo and my PJ pants.  I've been having a marvellous time.  I will start a new series next week called "Postcards from Adelaide" where I will tell you all about the great things I have been enjoying this week.  But today, there is something much more important that I have to write about. 

I don't usually write about politics or share my political views with too many people.  I usually listen politely to what people have to say about current affairs and inwardly form my own opinion.  However, I can't stay silent on this topic.  If you don't like political stuff, maybe you should click off now and come back next week for my usual light hearted notes on life and my imagination. 


This week, the Seran Gas Bombing of Syrian civilians (including many children) has been shown on our news (click link to see videos of The Project: a popular news program in Australia).  In between Flooding in Queensland, Bob Hawk's Brewery, Theatre Programs and countless fluff pieces, the news has broadcast some disturbing footage of babies and children dying in the arms of their parents.  Children gasping for air, foaming at the mouth, covered in sores and open wounds - all symptoms of Seran poisoning.  This poison was released into the air by the government of Syria.  The GOVERNMENT! They did this in their fight against terrorists in their country.  This is abhorrent!  This is beyond wrong.  The government of Syria should be doing all they can to protect their citizens. 

The issue here is that Syrian refugees (and many like them) are being denied asylum in Australia.  The opinion of many (not all, but many) Australians is that anyone seeking asylum in Australia should be turned away.  The attitude of so many Australians is simply ignorant and selfish.  The complexity of granting asylum and accepting refugees into our country can not be reduced to a catchcry and I'm not going to try.  I know that there are many facets of the issue and arguments for and against.  The thing is, the country is divided and regardless of which side they sit, most people back up their opinion with one or two very simple sentences.  Most people rely on arguments about "queue jumpers", "job stealers", "community takeovers" and "terrorists". Only, the majority of  asylum seekers are people who are fleeing the horror of living in a world where even their government will kill their children for the sake of catching one terrorist! They are seeking a life where they can go to work, their children can go to school, they can go to church (or their mosque or their synagogue or their temple) and worship as they please.  More importantly, they are seeking safety. 

Australians are so very lucky.  We know what it is to be free.  We are free to choose how we spend our money and our time.  We are free to say what we think.  We are free to worship or not.  More than any of those things... we are safe.  We are safe from war, bombings, violence, extreme poverty (although there is a huge population of homeless people, they are not the ones protesting our immigration policy).  Our government is not able to gas us in our homes.  They wouldn't dare try it! We are so lucky.  We are complacent.  We are selfish. 

The word asylum means safety.  Asylum seekers are seeking a place that is safe. They want to feel safe.  Doesn't everyone have a right to feel safe? 

I'm so saddened by the images I have seen on the news today.  I'm saddened and angered by the failure of our diplomats and elected officials to sanction Syria's government for their heinous acts against their citizens. I'm disappointed in world leaders for cow towing to it's electorates and refusing to provide sanctuary to ordinary people who simply want to be safe.  More than that, I'm disappointed in my fellow Australians who think they have the right to deny sanctuary to people in need.  I'm aghast at the bigotry shown by people who are simply misinformed.  I'm disgusted by people who paint their world with the broadest of brushstrokes (making sweeping generalisations of everything from religion or culture to policy or ideas).  I can not see a future where every human living on the Earth will know what it is to be safe.  I can not see a better future and I weep for humanity. 

I know that this is a far cry from my usual storytelling, informative, picturesque, fun loving craziness.  I had to say it. I started AGT because I felt I had something important to say to the world.  Today, what I had to say was serious and sad.  I hope it was also thought-provoking. 

My Prayers are with the Parents mourning their Children, the Children mourning their Parents and All those seeking safety