Right now I am far too upset to be able to write logically.
Today I would rather offer thoughts on COMPASSION – and the lack thereof.
I often speak of compassion and the need of compassion (and kindness) to help the world to keep functioning in the best way possible. But what of all the LACK of compassion that is being shown lately?
Particularly relating to Australia.
For anyone who is not in Australia – or who might be in Australia, but living under a rock – the latest announcement from our Prime Minister, regarding asylum seekers who are currently rotting away in off shore prison-like detention centres is that (& I quote from last Sunday’s newspaper): ‘ASYLUM SEEKERS WHO ARRIVE BY BOAT WILL BE BANNED FROM SETTING FOOT IN AUSTRALIA FOR LIFE – EVEN IF THEY ARE GENUINE REFUGEES’
Did you read that correctly?
‘Asylum seekers’ – people fleeing from persecution and SEEKING ASYLUM, will be banned.
And not banned for this week, or for the next year, but banned FOR LIFE.
Even if they are GENUINE REFUGEES.
Can you believe that?
Read it again and take in the implications.
Take in the harshness.
Here’s the official wording:
(This law would) “…prevent unauthorised maritime arrivals (UMAs) who were at least 18 years of age and were taken to a regional processing country after 19 July 2013 from making a valid application for an Australian visa”.
What cruelty; what total LACK of COMPASSION.
While I am one who is horrified and upset over this announcements, it seem like I am in the minority – or at east in this part of the world.
That is, my relatively small part of the world – because in the Letters Page of Sunday’s paper, where people are invited to email their opinions, I was dismayed to read comments, sometimes boarding on hateful, in response to our PM’s announcement.
In amongst seven brief ‘views’ appeared this:
‘Harsh , but fair enough’ (‘Fair’? I wondered)
‘Good. And send the current lot in detention home….’ (‘Home’? Most have no home left)
‘About time too. We should be able to have a say who we invite to come and live in our country…’ (‘Invite’? Do refugees fleeing death, have time to wait for an invitation?)
And, on the same note:
‘Excellent. Finally we will have some say as to who comes to this country.’
That’s possibly a big enough sample to demonstrate what I am trying to say.
Interestingly enough, the people who sent in these comments are only brave enough to give their names as: ‘Steve’, ‘Brian’, ‘Paul A.’ ‘Pam’ and ‘Ray’. No surnames or addresses, to identify who they are. (And ‘Pam’ was the only female name in amongst them all, which possibly suggests that either the letters’ editor prefers male correspondents or men have less compassion than women).
With relief, on the same page, I found a considered letter, thoughtfully written (by a woman) and signed with name and address, offering the reverse opinion. This writer asked how people who think like our immigration minister ‘can be so cruel?’ She mentioned people who were ‘desperate enough to try to come here by boat’ and how they are being ‘treated like criminals’. But it was one lone voice.
Where I live is a beautiful part of Australia. It is warm and sunny most of the time. There are beaches and forests and friendly people, but it harbours an underbelly of racist ultra right-wing opinion spruikers who I find extremely difficult to relate to.
Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking we only have an ‘underbelly’ of racists, as more and more it seems as if that attitude is becoming more mainstream.
Is it similar to the Trump phenomenon?
A shift to the right? I can understand, while not agreeing. But why be so devoid of compassion towards your fellow man?
A glimmer of sense (and hope?) came from Nick McKim, Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania, who wrote:
‘The government's politics of fear, hatred and division must not triumph. We need to stand together and remind our politicians that Australia is a welcoming and accepting place.’
Can we please listen to this voice of reason – and compassion?