Posted by: jkirkby8712 | March 12, 2012

Saturday, 9th March 2012 – getting angry over Syria and the like!!

It was not a good night’s sleep overnight, nor was I feeling particularly well, would I get to the gymnasium this morning?  Well, we did make it, just before 9am,  on a surprisingly cool morning, I’d really thought the weather was warming up yesterday. By the time I exited from that morning’s gym activities, I found it still quite chilly out in the air, and many people were walking around the streets in what was almost winter clothing. I was in shorts, and a tee shirt!!

Earlier, I had placed my Saturday morning piece of poetry onto my Face Book account – it was a verse or two from the pen of Australia’s best known poet, Henry Lawson, called ‘The Song of the Darling River’ [one of the major river systems in Australia which flows down from it’s source in northern New South Wales, through the western part of the state,  and eventually joins up with the Murray River. A length of 2,740 kilometres [the longest river in Australia], it is often described as the lifeblood of outback New South Wales, and is a key component of the Murray-Darling Basin, and Australia’s  ‘food-bowl’. It flows through a generally arid region of the country, and experiences booms, busts, floods and droughts. This poem was written with a view to the breaking of a drought, it’s affects via the river on the environment, but indicating a lack of recognition of it’s relevance in the overall picture. Anyway, a few lines here:-

I rise in the drought from the Queensland rain,

I fill my branches again and again;

I hold my billabongs back in vain,

For my life and my peoples the South Seas drain;

And the land grows old and the people never

Will see the worth of the Darling River.

I drown dry gullies and lave bare hills,

I turn drought-ruts into rippling rills –

I form fair islands and glades all green

Till every bend is a sylvan scene.


O this is the hymn of the Darling River


[from ‘The Song Of The Darling River’ by Henry Lawson, Feb 1899]


In the meantime, I was reading an article about the current terrible internal situation in Syria this afternoon, and couldn’t help myself, had to make a comment on my Face Book account!  ‘

When you read in today’s ‘Age’ the descriptions of the degrees and levels of torture carried by the Syrian ‘authorities’ against their own people when in detention, one is left wondering at just what stage of degradation, humanity is heading towards in 2012, while the rest of the world sits back and ‘watches’! Sickening!!!

Not surprisingly, it created some reaction from a couple of friends, suggesting that perhaps more consultation was in order rather than just going in ‘all guns blazing’ – the latter was not really my intention, I just wanted to see a more ‘worldwide’ consolidated attempt to ‘do something’ to stop the internal killing and bloodshed happening with a similar determination to what had been undertaken in places like Iraq and Libya, while at the same time learning from the errors of judgement made in those examples. Some of the responses, and my attempts at reply, follow here.

Do you think more could be done diplomatically, Bill?    In this case, I replied,  it doesn’t seem as though talking is helping much – I could say much more, but am getting so angry about these kind of situations, that best I remain mute!! Except, apart from the ‘supposed’ WMD, I wonder what is the difference between the oppression of the people in Syria today, and the cruel manner in which Saddam ruled his ‘people’ at the beginning of the 2000’s, or Gaddafi last year – the difference seems to be the kind of response of the so-called peacemakers [UN, etc]

But do you think the way the US intervened in Iraq improved things?  Or from another friend –   Look at what is going on in Iraq now, do you think we really helped over there, sometimes I wonder? Is it all political? God help us all!

My response to the first question was, no,  not for the million + civilians who died or became refugees, and you know anyway, that I didn’t approve of the way that intervention took place – but does that mean we just sit back and allow another nation to murder and torture it’s people, and create a new batch of thousands of refugees, because the UN is too scared to act because of mistakes of the past [or more likely, Syria doesn’t have the resources that the western world needs to the same degree as Iraq, Libya, etc!! Think I’ll put the paper away, and watch the horses, and hope that none of them fall over!!  And yes, true  – God help us all!! We don’t seem to be able to satisfactorily help ourselves or others!

From a longtime friend  –  I know you didn’t , Bill- you were at the anti- war rally with us!
I just get concerned our interventions are not well thought out- Libya still has a way to go- without established democratic institutions the rebels become perpetrators of atrocities later and not much stops another dictator coming to power or anarchy reigning *sigh* can relate to your frustration though, I really can 😦

Yes, it is indeed a frustrating scenario, and even more so for those of us on the outside looking in, helpless to personally do anything, or help in any way, other than voice our concerns as is happening here, because we live in a democratic country that allows us to do just that, express our opinions.  Yet another comment from a reader of my account –    ‘Syria is looked upon favourably because its regime is not aggressive towards Israel. If they are overthrown it is not guaranteed that the next Government will have the same benign attitude toward Israel. I’m pretty sure this is probably a factor in the thinking of the US.’    I threw off a one-liner to that – Yes, at the risk of fearing offending the Israelis, everyone else can rot in hell! [which earned me a light-hearted ribbing from that longtime friend   You antisemite you, Bill ;)……………..the original comment in reference to Israel  was countered with   ‘Israel is a toughie. Yes, they are selfish. Yes, they are delusional. Yes, they are paranoid. Yes, they probably wouldn’t exist if they weren’t all these things.’

It’s interesting, that by coincidence, as we were going through this little discussion, that I was sorting through some old personal papers, and came across a ‘letter’ which I’d written to a group of friends at the church [including the writer above who had commented on my opposition to the invasion of Iraq], and I thought it a perfect time to include into the above discussion, and on this page. It adds a bit of length to this contribution, but I will include it in any case, just as I added it to the Face Book discussion!

At the risk of boring everyone, if not already achieved, and in view of the mention of  Iraq in the context of the current situation in Syria, this is what I wrote to a group of friends, 9 years ago [18 March 2003] –

“I had intended to make no further comments on this subject. But I have just sat here with some of my work colleagues, and listened to George W Bush, give Saddam Hussein and his sons, 48 hours to get out of Iraq, at which point, Bush’s ‘policy of aggression’ against the people of Iraq will commence failing that demand. Earlier we heard John Howard indicate Cabinet endorsement of the American President’s request that Australia provide military assistance in any ‘war’ against Iraq. Bush claims to be setting a course for safety, as opposed to drifting along to ‘tragedy’. We will all judge that view on our own perceptions of it’s ‘rightness’ or otherwise, in the context of how the so-called ‘coalition of the willing’ intends to achieve that safely!  It deeply saddens me to realise, that despite the wide divisions of opinion within the Australian populace, virtually no individual members of our government have had the personal courage or strength to stand up against JH and voice a protest. His Cabinet and Party it seems are 100% supportive of Australia’s decision to ‘go in’ with America! I cannot believe or accept that not one Liberal Parliamentarian has a different point of view, and that on a matter of such moral and humanitarian significance, they all remain silent?  That may sound naïve, but surely we all have a conscience of some degree……………..Forget for a moment, the spin about the ‘war against weapons of mass destruction’ and against strategic military targets in Iraq, and let us think for one moment of the people who will really suffer from these imminent attacks. When it is all over, it won’t be the bodies of George W Bush, John Howard or Tony Blair lying like a slab of carcasses of bloodied meat in the streets and fields of Iraw, but ordinary families, children, mothers, etc, like you and myself – it will be their limbs, heads, mangled and bloodied bodies that will lie rotting under the bombs and western weapons of mass destruction fired in the name of peace!!!………….John Howard accepts there will be civilian casualties and that saddens him! But not enough, obviously! Our government is wrong, and I voted for them!!……………….I don’t expect all my readers to agree with me, and there are many of the arguments for ‘this war’ that it is not easy to argue against. But the ability to express a different opinion is the nature of ‘this’ democracy ‘we’ live in. This approach against Iraq is the wrong way to go, yet I admit I don’t have an alternative other than the continuation of peaceful mediation [something Bush has never been capable of, with his constant aggressive rhetoric!!!]  Maybe, but without trying, nothing is achieved. But then, it seems from the postering and war mongering speeches we have listened to over recent months, that a peaceful solution has never been the intention!………………My 18 year old son’s immediate response to Bush’s speech – perhaps typical of what you’d expect to hear from that generation – was simply ‘he’s the most contradictory hypocritical president ever, he’s only protecting US oil in Iraq’. Obviously, there’s far more to it than that, but it’s an opinion shared in many parts of the world……………….I feel angry and despairing. I pray for the lives and freedom of the perhaps many thousands of innocents who will die within the next few days, in the name of ‘Western freedom’ [or as Bush described it ‘collateral damage’]. Right now, put yourselves in the home of a normal Iraqi family, and think about it……………..May God – whoever he/she may be –  forgive us all!”

That anger and despair seems to have never gone away, just pointing in a different direction!!!

To another subject, much more warming to my heart – sport!!! I noticed overnight that our Sally Pearson had run her way [as anticipated] into the finals of the 60 metres Hurdles event at the World Indoor Athletics championships, currently underway in Instanbul [Turkey].  More on that in a day or so, but she is our big hope [maybe our ‘only’ hope] for an Olympic Gold medal in London later this year!

In the meantime, son James  [with his friendly and exuberant dog, Murphy] came over to visit this afternoon –  though ostensibly to watch the Carlton football match against Brisbane, on my computer – no TV coverage available, but we eventually able to pick up both the picture and sound of the game through the Carlton FC website.  I think he watched more of the game than I did, particularly the second half, when I was busy preparing a meal for Susie & myself [the former at work today]. The first two quarters of the game were quite even, and the halftime score showed Brisbane 6.6.42 to Carlton 6.4.40.  But from that point onwards, we really should have turned the game off –  that seems to have been what the Blues did, because they failed to score even a solitary point in the second half.Unbelievable, and yet the Carlton website still allowed themselves to feel optimistic –  ‘Blues were out-gunned in the second half, failing to add to our half-time score. There were, however, plenty of positives to come out of the match. Andrew Collins and Ed Curnow both continued their fantastic NAB Cup form, Zach Tuohy was moved into the midfield with great effect and Marcus Davies showed plenty of dash off half-back’.  Mind you, as my son reminded us, almost half of the regular Carlton players who would participate in the main season in a few weeks had been ‘rested’ for this game, so difficult to say have serious the team management was about this game – more interested in giving the young guys a guy.  Good move from that perspective, but not a good view as a fan and spectator to witness such a one-sided thrashing, in the end!!  Full time scores showed Brisbane: 15.14.104 defeated Carlton 6.4.40  [9.8 to Nil in the second half!!].

Susie home from work after 8 pm, remained quiet, and after eating, went out again, presumably around to nearby Rachel’s place, as she left her car behind. She was back in the early hours of the morning, while I had my usual unsatisfactory Saturday night sleep, having been worried all day by that persistent ‘upset’ stomach!!  Enough!!







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