I’ve given a great deal of thought to this piece over the past weeks and have come to realise that what I am feeling is more than just the outrage at the lack of understanding from so many for the plight of a young girl who was assaulted and found no justice due to the level of alcohol in her system. It is the anger that this is systemic of all that is wrong with our society socially, morally and yes politically. Therefor as a result that while I will begin my story there it is not where I am eventually heading.
The final frustration began with an online conversation with a man who appeared to be an extremely decent human being, one who showed great contempt and anger for the person who had harmed this young woman and the lack of result she received from the police.
However woven through his message was this line that perhaps if she had been a little more aware of her surroundings or less inebriated then the situation would not have occurred. I tried to explain to him that THIS attitude is what formed the ultimate barrier to true justice for crimes against not just women but all those who were in ‘vulnerable‘ situations and yet I failed to make a dent in his heart of hearts.
He gave me examples such as ‘going swimming with crocodiles which was asking for trouble‘ and yet when I pointed out that people weren’t crocodiles and food chain wise we’re actually on the menu as opposed to the obviously naive idea I had that people weren’t likely to dine on you at the local swimming hole. Sarcasm on my part failed also I’m afraid
Trying as a last resort I asked the man that if he saw a drunk with his wallet sticking out, or a young man/woman too inebriated to care for themselves would he simply steal the wallet or take advantage of the person in their compromised state?
Of course not, because he was not an animal, he was a person who knew right from wrong, good from bad and had a sense of protection to those who due to their own actions may have left themselves open to harm from a number of different circumstances.
He of course agreed with me ‘in principle’, never seeing the ugly truth of ‘by their own actions’ which showed sadly his heart held a festering seed of condemnation or contempt for those who found themselves harmed as a result of such circumstances AND still he could not see it was that we were fighting against every day in this world.
From the very practical social example I’d like to move to the issue of the morality of such condemnation, not just with victims of crime but all those who are victimised in some way especially those who often seek comfort in our churches. In a way it is worse to see this festering seed at work in places of supposed shelter and odd to watch it amongst our religious leaders who ‘suffer the weak to come unto them’. It makes one wonder just what does weak imply in the hearts of these men and it does seem as ‘suffer‘ is something that must be endured by those helping not those in need of such aid.
We watch as the condemnation and the penance for promiscuous behavior, lewd language and perhaps an overt lack of respect for the trappings of the churches and their spokespersons seem as a type of damnation of the weak and needy and even those who support their causes [those nasty lefties].
What makes it even harder is to watch is often a lessor form or penance or censure levied at those who appear successful, lacking in the ‘smell [so to speak] of the poor or the weak’. We see almost comradely berating, finger wagging on one hand and the collection bowel in the other against those who steal for gain not for need, who harm not to defend but to dominate, who labor to build mansions on earth bit give nothing to those who are without homes in the here and now. It is here again that I feel and see that festering seed of blame has become entrenched even in those whose entire life is meant to be that of service to those in need.
Please understand that I do not speak against religion and church as a whole but more the extreme groups who seek to enforce a code or behavior that not longer represents the flock they are meant to protect. We have wonderful examples of charity with the incredible offering of Sanctuary by so many churches from so many denominations around Australia. The wonderful support from the Anglican Bishop of Gosford for support his priest and his parish in his ongoing messages of support to those trapped in offshore detention.
It is here again that I would like to talk about the festering seed of victim blaming at the heart of so much that we see day by day in this world. Before we discuss the truly obscene game of victim blaming going on at a federal level I would like to talk about the two most distressing occurrences that have occurred on Australian watch in my lifetime [that I know of] and that is the immolation of two asylum seekers, one dead and the other in critical condition ;unlikely to survive.
The utter exhaustion, hopelessness and finally simple loss of any reason to live in world that no longer make sense. Dutton would like us to shake our heads and mutter – Oh I’m not sure about the way he went about that and feel deep within ourselves that festering seed of blame for the victim. The words of another writer, Jenny Geale, have expressed my heartbreak at what happened in this past fortnight and I hope you take the time to read her work.
Our Immigration minister would have us believe that our inner soul wrestling was unneeded and by him unheeded for according to Mr Dutton these were not acts of desperation at horrific living conditions, nor exhaustion from endless, fruitless delays of ‘legitimate claims‘, let me repeat that these two people had been found to be genuine refugees. A young Somali woman named Hodan and Omid Masoumali are dead and dying for no reason other than complete and utter despair. Omid had been there or over 3 years and was told that morning he would remain there for another 10 unless he returned to his country of origin first signing a waiver making Australia in no way responsible as to his eventual circumstances upon arrival when he arrived back in the place he fled in fear of his life.
Over and over we’ve had it forced down our throats until we choke on the idea that these interlopers, these queue jumpers, of which they are neither, are trying to cross our borders for whatever nefarious schemes they must have. The truth of course is much less palatable – we’ve been lied to again and again and again for nothing more than political point scoring from both sides of the spectrum. Between the ALP and LNP we have created the first official concentration camps since World War II. The UN, The Australian Human Rights Commission [back in 2014] and the Supreme Court of PNG [not to the surprise of their government] have found that these centers are unlawful.
Yet appallingly our government relies on YOU to be so afraid of these people and the possibility of a massive influx [which never existed in Australia] of those arriving by boat to let this travesty continue. They rely on that little festering seed of doubt in your heart that surely they must somehow deserve this. Or it is somehow not at as bad as it sounds [oh it is and worse ] and if only they just went home, then we all wouldn’t have to worry about it any longer.
But this festering seed of victim blaming goes much further than some islands offshore, its coming home to roost ladies and gentlemen, right in our backyard and wallet. We have a government who seems to think that the disabled, those on pensions and those seeking New Start or Austudy are somehow weaker, slacker and at blame for all that we face in our lives. Those who face violence in their homes or on our streets are somehow to blame at heart. Our Minister for Disability Christian Porter [nice name pity it’s not apt], sees those on Disability as a burden and has made it his mission in life to ‘strip the fat’.
This government has even gone as far as to convince the average worker that there are evil pensioners out there scamming millions from honest hardworking self funded retirees all the while there are figures showing that welfare fraud across the board [all types of welfare fraud not just pensions] is at 0.7%. While they’re busy driving these upstanding citizens into a frenzy at the thought of all those bludgers and cheats this government is quietly chopping away at our penalty rates, health care, education and social welfare programs. We now have a situation were the Premier of VIC spends more on domestic violence than the entire federal government which is a disgrace but perhaps a little example of the festering seed in the heart of our federal government for those it considers less or weak. Surprise,surprise – you didn’t think it wasn’t any of your fault now did you???? Well it is to an extent but it is a fault that can be cut out of our hearts.
What we need as a nation, perhaps as humanity itself is to look into the black heart of ourselves and admit that it is easier to blame than to help, that it is easier to begrudge our assistance because we feel that surely those that require it must be at blame somewhere.
How about we raise men and women to help those in need rather than harm, to offer aid rather than take advantage and for the love of all that remains of our humanity dig that festering seed or blame, resentment, betrayal, anger at all those who have done you harm and cease using it as a reason to do harm, even in your hearts, to others.
Below I have included an excerpt from the documentary Chasing Asylum, by an Oscar-winning director who has worked in war zones all over the world – it will be shown around the world and will further damage our reputation internationally. No more Australia – The Great Country with Great People: and Australia THIS is what we have come to by allowing that festering seed grow within our hearts until the atrocities committed seen here have become a part of we have been led to believe is needed for our society to function, like so many federal cuts coming are needed.
Ask yourselves – if you dare – just when do you recognise your own fear and fight it instead of those who need your help.