Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 20, 2011

Monday, 19 December 2011 – Angry!! Yes, I’m, angry!!

This was the Editorial in today’s Australian Newspaper –

NOT that the concept would mean anything to them, but the people-smugglers who pocketed $10,000 for every man, woman and child who drowned off the Javanese coast early yesterday are morally culpable for the deaths. Without a skerrick of concern for the safety of the passengers or crew, a fishing boat never intended as a passenger vessel was loaded with about 250 people, mainly from Afghanistan and the Middle East, bound for Australia. Like the overcrowded boat that splintered off Christmas Island a year ago, the vessel was a deathtrap. Those who survived by clinging to its debris until they were picked up by fishermen have told how panic among those on board made the vessel even more unstable as it lurched from side to side before breaking apart.

For a second year running, on the eve of the Christian season of goodwill, hope and peace, Australians will share the pain of the victims’ families as they grieve for their spouses, children, parents and friends. For the next few days, attention must focus on the rescue operation in the hope some of the 160 missing people might yet have survived. And the survivors must be cared for, especially the children.

Political recriminations would do little to help such a sad situation, but there can be no side-stepping the implications for the debate in Australia. Blunt as a front-end loader, former Labor leader Mark Latham yesterday blamed “so-called compassionate” politicians, who support onshore processing, for the deaths. At the other extreme, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s hand-wringing contributed nothing constructive. It was Cardinal George Pell, a consistent advocate of a compassionate approach to asylum-seekers, who pinpointed what must be the next step when he urged the government and the opposition to agree promptly on offshore deterrents. This is the first time he has endorsed offshore processing, and it is a sign of how far the ground has shifted. The cardinal is right — for mainstream politicians to risk another tragedy by refusing to put political point-scoring aside and take a bipartisan approach in the national interest would be unconscionable.

The Australian also takes a compassionate view, which is why we support Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s push to increase the nation’s official intake of refugees by 50 per cent from 13,750 to 20,000 a year. As a rich country, we can afford to be more generous. There is nothing humanitarian, however, in failing to do everything reasonable to stop the deadly trade that is now responsible for well over 500 known deaths at sea — including yesterday’s sinking, the wreck that claimed 50 lives off Christmas Island a year ago, the SIEV X tragedy when 353 lives were lost in 2001, and the five people killed when the SIEV-36 exploded and caught fire near Ashmore Reef in April 2009.

Nor is it acceptable that Australia’s borders are now so porous that more than 14,000 people have arrived by boat since Labor abandoned John Howard’s border protection regime.

Australia’s main political players were lying low yesterday, but unless there is an enormous shifting of ground they are unlikely to agree on a site for offshore processing, with the Coalition committed to using the Australian-built facilities on Nauru and Labor favouring the so-called Malaysian Solution that was scuttled by the High Court on August 31. What they must agree on, as soon as possible, is to pass legislation amending the Migration Act to allow the government of the day to enact offshore processing in the location or locations of their choice. Unfortunately, it is now probably too late to recall parliament before Christmas, as we suggested in recent weeks, but an agreement between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to pass the necessary amendments as soon as possible would send the necessary signals that Australia is not prepared to remain a soft touch as hardened criminals put more lives in jeopardy. Temporary Protection Visas and increased naval patrols would also help. Australians have been lectured at length against offshore processing by the Greens and social justice advocates, but yesterday’s events render that position indefensible. The people-smugglers are responsible for the deaths, but the onus is on Australia to do everything possible to stop the boats”.

So there we have it, the national newspaper wants our politicians to go back to offshore processing, as if that is going to stop the refugees from getting on unseaworthy boats – if they can’t come here, they will try and go somewhere else in desperation anyway. So what has Australia gained –  oh yes, we have removed the responsibility of having to worry about the  boat people, they are going somewhere else, someone else’s responsibility. We can get back to worrying about gay marriage rights,. And other ‘important’ insignificant issues!! Yes, I am angry, even with friends who seem so willing to accept the spin of politicians and certain media types that refugees are evil people, totally to blame for their own misfortunes!!

Meanwhile, I made a few points on Face Book this morning regarding this issue, following just a simple general reference of sympathy for the victims of the weekend refugee boating tragedy. I guess I took offence [perhaps an over reaction] at the comment of one friend, where she said   ‘Thought the comment on radio interesting also, when one guy said if the folk can spend all that money to the ‘people smugglers / angels’? it’s criminal they don’t also spend a little on life jackets – at least for their children’.

My reaction to that was along the following lines:-  “Interesting comment, yes, but typically prejudicial against the bulk of these desperate people who are generally forced to give everything they have to these people smugglers, there’s nothing left over, and for most, getting on those boats is their only hope of some kind of future – it’s easy to blame the refugees for their own misfortunes, we are not in their position. It’s about time a bit more blame was placed on their homelands that so often create the environments that lead these people to have to ‘escape’ in the first place, as most of them I think you would find, would much prefer to have the kind of ‘choice’ that we in Australia – to remain in our own homes, without fear of persecution, etc”  “And I wonder if that ‘commentator’ bothered to mention that the boat crew took all of the life jackets that were on the boat, with them, as they made their escape, leaving their ‘passengers’ behind!!”  My fellow correspondent conceded that,no he hadn’t!  Friend Ruth at this point, came in with the comment that “Or that the seas were so huge and rough that even with jackets you would not stand a chance- not being sailors, most of us probably cannot comprehend the power of the sea”.

I further noted that “Well. my views have constantly been made on this issue, and people are no doubt sick of them! However, I am disgusted with how gullible many Australians are to be so willing to readily accept the spin of politicians and certain media commentators constantly seeking any minor point to denigrate the refugees of this world. People making those views, and those so quickly prepared to accept them as ‘gospel’, will never be that situation themselves because they were born or live in Australia – so easy to be ready and quick to criticise others who live in the less secure parts of our world, from the safety of your own little loungeroom, protected from the realities portrayed on the TV screen!”  To which, Ruth remarked that “I guess you’ve gathered over the years that you and I vote for different political parties but that is of no consequence. You consider issues as a humane and compassionate person and seek to be well informed. You are, some would say, a true Christian but most of all you are a good man x”.

In an attempt I guess to wind up the ‘discussion’, I noted that “Thankyou Ruth, but sometimes, I would perhaps be wiser, simply to ignore what goes on in the world, let others think what they want, and keep my views to myself!! Find that difficult on this issue, though there is much written in these pages on other matters, that I manage to ‘bite my tongue’ and keep quiet, though what I’m reading angers and disgusts me at the time. Maybe a 2012 resolution for Bill – no more responding, just read, relax, enjoy my music and radio, and my supposed retirement. Let others do the debating, lol :-)”, which maybe wasn’t a bad idea  –  allow myself a much more relaxing lifestyle, not worry about the rest of the world. The reactions to that from my two co-correspondents on this occasion, quickly convinced me, that I ‘simply couldn’t do it!!!  Ruth said: “No, Bill- ” it’s better to burn out, rust never sleeps”  while Christine later added “”simply to ignore what goes on in the world,” NO Bill so many do that…it’s not you and I enjoy being informed by you! I hope Ruth doesn’t think me inhumane or without compassion. We’re a big country and are the hardest for refugees to successfully come to I think. It’s a huge question of HOW we should accommodate them & I was merely reporting what I’d heard this-morning knowing you’d make an intelligent comment! I also heard one say we should just cut out the need for the ‘smugglers’ / angels’ and send planes to Indonesia and Malaysia to bring the refugees here.

On a brighter note, Adam’s ‘harness racing’ horse ‘Dimensions’ raced again this afternoon, up at Maryborough in Central Victoria – competing in Race 3 [the VHRSC Snowball Series Semi-Final for 4 years old & upwards, over 2,190 metres. A field of 10, which Adam described as fairly strong, don’t expect too much from our horse, which finished a good 2nd up at Charlton last Monday, in a heat of this particular event.  Dimensions stayed up within touch of the front group of favourites, and while not in the finish for a major placing, came in equal 4th today. I imagine that the Trainer together with Adam & his co-owners, would have been reasonably happy with that outcome.

Meanwhile, the dreaded ‘ankle problems’ – much better this morning, and throughout the day, although I continued to nurse it to some minor degree – anything risky like going for a daily walk, was avoided, as too much pressure was creating elements of pain, and it was obvious that the usual 24 hour cure turnaround was not happening this time!! What  happened on Saturday was as severe has it has been for some 5 or 6 years!  In fact, from memory, it would have been Christmas Eve, around 2004, that I was given a quartazone injection in an attempt to remedy the then problem.  I think I have decided that it might be an idea to have a set of crutches permanently on site at home, in order to avoid the situation last Saturday night, where I was virtually immobile But enough of that!! 

Monday night, saw this writer [and radio presenter] out again for my weekly late night program of Blues, Folk, Country, World, Show and Jazz music amongst other things. One of those ‘other things’ tonight was to read a couple of selections from a 1981 booklet called ‘Outback Christmas’ which had been put together by writer and Pastor Norman Habel, and the now deceased Australian painter, Pro Hart.  As indicated on the inside front cover, this book attempted to portray the nativity of Jesus Christ in the bold images of the Australian outback. Most of our Christmas art and verse have been inherited from English and European sources, but the Christian message is universal, and other cultures commonly portray the characters and events surrounding Christ’s birth in line with local custom. That’s what this book was doing – from an Australian outback perspective. The authors in fact stated that ‘The ideas and images of this book reflect the search of many Australians to make Christianity in Australia an Australian Christianity…..Australians have sought to express their faith in language consistent with the Australian experience’.  The verse art in the book represented a serious attempt top portray a bush nativity as a reality for Australians.  So we see the influence of the Outback beyond Broken Hill [where Pro Hart was located through much of his life, in the far south west of New South Wales] being very evident in the landscapes depicted in the book by the artist, while the evocative ‘down-to-earth’ verse of Norman Habel complements the Australian background to the timeless story of Christmas. The following is the actual description of Jesus’ Birth, as written by Habel, and based on the New Testament reference in Luke 2:6.

After the long anxious ride

through the smothering heat

to Bethlehem;

after the long loud night

                                       of shouting stockmen in the pub,

                               of brave old drinkers hanging on,

                                      of shearers telling wild tales,

                                   of endless baudy bush songs;

after the last slow dingo howl,

the last call of a hopeful bird,

the last long vicious pain

that broke my body open,

the night was silent

 

In the silence of dawn

Jesus burst from my body,

gasping for life

and shedding his robe of blood,

Joseph grasped the warm child,

cut the pulsing cord

that still bound me to my son

and wiped the blood from his face.

We wrapped strips of torn cloth

around his soft shivering body

and laid him in a feed box

where the horses eat their hay.

 

In those few moments,

Jesus felt the first plunge

                                              of air into his timid chest,

the first splash of light

into his womb-blind eyes,

the first brush of rough male hands

against his quivering flesh,

the first odour into his lungs

                               of horses, straw, and last night’s beer,

the first open space

                                      of a wide threatening world

                                      outside his mother’s body.

 

The Silence was broken,

my son had been born

and God was a parent

………………………………………….at last.

As the ‘authors’ note in their Preface to the story ‘In the last analysis these paintings and poems also reflect the Australian background of their authors: Pro Hart as a lover of the Outback beyond Broken Hill, and Norman Habel from Western Victoria where bushfires could rage at Christmas time’. I don’t really know if anyone heard my reading tonight, as there was no acknowledgement of the fact, but it was a little part of the program that I wanted to include on this last Monday night before Christmas.

 

 

 

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