Author Archives: enry

The Indigenous issue…

So, I haven’t really known many Aboriginal people. A girl went to my primary school. I certainly didn’t think anything of it at the time. She was different. She had black skin, but you know..so what. A few more scattered about my Catholic high school. Mostly ‘borders’ I think. They came and went sporadically through the years and again I paid little notice to their plight. There were some in the town (had always been of course), who’s path I crossed during touch football or soccer. Some fully integrated into our the small country town and its ‘Anglo heritage’, but mostly kept to their own mob. As I aged and became aware of ‘Our History’, I took more notice —  but being a natural introvert, I never engaged in their lives at all. The occasional drunken confrontation I witnessed as long subdued issues raised their ugly heads outside a drinking establishment. Race tension and alcohol were two of many catalysts to sometimes spark the normality of Violence on any given Saturday night. All was usually forgotten or at least suppressed by Monday.

When I moved away from my home town, as a natural freedom seeking late teen, I saw fewer still in the eastern capitals that I lived. Except on the TV with the successes of Cathy, Mauboy and Gulpilil, and footballers of every variety – Inglis, Archie and Goodes. I Cheered and marvelled at them as we mostly all did. Thinking why was it all so hard to solve? But then I switch to the real channels where it showed the Third World Conditions in our heart land. Generations not stolen anymore, but lost in a transition from an Ancient world to who knows where.

Then we have September 11, the Bali bombings, Cronulla race riots, and I see the flag waved with Aussie Pride and then again with any token Royal visit and say, “Hang on, this isn’t me. These things don’t represent me.” But we also have Garrett with his “Sorry” t-shirt at the Sydney Olympics and the Stolen Generational apology and it flickers. The Reconciliation movement gains some traction before again being too hard and lost in the media cycle. Most people have, like me, had little to do with Aboriginal people. But what they have or what they see on the “News” or in the tabloids is tokenism, clichéd, scandalous or ugly. Mostly though, it isn’t covered. It isn’t talked about. Because of the shame we feel? We are a great nation in many ways, but these facts do not lie. Higher welfare, unemployment, sexual abuse, violence and lower standard of living, education and life expectancy. This is deplorable. Why is it so hard to “Close the Gap”?

What is right? How can you stay true to your ancient culture and be modern, productive members of society. Being consumers. Westerners. Is this the right way anyway? It’s the expected way. Can you do both? Do Aboriginal people think they can or do they suffer the tall poppy syndrome like the rest of us?  A successful, integrated brother or sister is a sellout. Or even worse, a “coconut” – white on the inside and black on the outer. Infighting over what is the right way for their people. How to make money from their newly won land rights. Being Developers, playing the corporate white mans game. Those in remote areas, could not fathom this way of life, either by choice or by lack of education. Decisions about their future is not something they are used to. A new Government is just someone else that changes the rules. The words ‘Prime Minister’ have as little meaning as those as ‘the Queen’ or ‘King’ once did.

Will we will ever solve these issues until we release ourselves from the monarchy and that past?  Until we embrace that these indigenous Australians are us and we are them. And they need to embrace that too. We are not what we once were, either of us. We need to look to what we want to be together.

As we move back to our town — small in many ways — we try to buy the great Australian dream.

Our new home has an elderly Indigenous man living next door. A Gentleman. We have chats over the fence about lawnmowers and pruning trees. He is frail and the community help comes and goes. A relative moves in not long after — a pleasant but troubled girl who causes havoc for the old man. Do I ask if help is needed or (dread to use the word), “Intervene?” Of course I don’t. The family politics and history are too much and I have a young family of my own. It’s not my business I reassure myself. Eventually he is gone. Faded away to somewhere more convenient for all but him. Out of sight much like most of his people. I expect I am not alone with this experience.

In our nearby small coastal holiday town, we almost have segregation. A separate area right next to but hidden from the large tourist style village. Kept away from the trendy cafes and boutiques. A sign says “No Trespassing”. They venture in to shop, some to work and some to drink. They keep to their own for the most. Sticking together, squeezed in a car, multigenerational families coming to visit this world of surf shops and caravan parks. Does this suit both of us? The gorgeous kids let loose on their bikes — a wariness of the white man already showing in their eyes. Some ready to bite before they are bitten. They have their own section of beach where theses kids can be kids and frolic like they do. They then escape back over the dunes to their world. I’d be fascinated to go over there. To be invited. But I’m chicken shit of course.

Many believe they owe the Aboriginal people nothing. The slate is clean. You must work from scratch for what you need in life. There should be no hang over from colonialism. But you cannot wipe away 180 odd years of blatant racism. You cannot click your fingers and expect it not be ingrained in both sides anymore. The fear. The stereotypes. The expectations. Not casual racist comments and jokes. Things people don’t really mean but say. Laziness and apathy.

Through the years as the ‘White Guilt’ has accumulated, I have longed for the day when our relationship — as Australians – or in whatever label it is named, is a shared joy and a passion and a pride. But is this just a dream?

Surely democracy is about this dream. Of freedom and it’s responsibilities. Surely it has to be about equality. And really, is that so hard?

Fear. Why are we so, um..scared of it?

Fear is the war inside us. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Although in the world of politics, it can keep ‘us’ , the mob, motivated.
Fear in politics, in leadership and government is as old as the first political race. Since the first Caveman responding to a leadership challenge with  “Urrrr…lets invade next cave?”, fear has been used to subdue the discord and distract the masses.
So, how does it still work then? And why do we still fall for it? Well, it seems our fears have not really changed much over history. Current polls of people’s fears show death, terrorism, violence, failure, injury, being alone, (as well as intimacy), snakes and spiders, and of course, public speaking as our main threats. Although some of these resonate with us all (please add sudden, excruciating, limb ripping Shark attack for me please), the more prosperous we become as a nation, the more our fears turn well, petty. Let’s just say, the game of materialism which most of us are involved in can distract us from more salient issues.
So, how are they doing it these days. Well Fear of Invasion is the Right Bower in the political card game. Why? We are a massive island nation with a little defence and a small population. It would be pretty easy to knock us off in the middle of night. Or is it as simple as that we know how good we have it here, so we are fearful of foreigners coming to ruin (or change it slightly). So whether it be the Bloody Japanese, the Bloody Communists, the Bloody Vietnamese, the Bloody Dagoes or our current Bloody Boat People, our xenophobia certainly doesn’t discriminate. And lets not forget the original Boat People, the unBloody First Fleet. Maybe this is where this original dread feeling has come from. We don’t want someone to do what has already been done before to the First Australians.
“This time, though, it’s real.”
The current government, who so brilliantly played on these fears in opposition, had been struggling with the transition to power with their ‘if you let us cut all your funding now, we won’t need to cut it in the future’ brand of governing. With the problem of ‘illegal boat people’ or ‘refugees’ (depending on your leaning) being solved/moved to PNG, the Coalition needed a new narrative. To their relief and my cynicism, a life ring came along in the form of Malaysian Airways Flight MH17. Since then, Tony Tone has been on a crusade of ‘leadership’/’belligerence’. With nothing to lose or gain from Russia economically, our PM and his wizards thought it the perfect antidote to their struggle. And what mileage he has got from the crash and subsequent shirtfront frenzy. Remember the Budget anyone?
To the next fear of choice, Climate change. Conservatives will tell you this is the biggest Fear used in politics and it is the bastion of the Progressives. The bloody hypocritical Right wing socialists! Using fear to destroy the livelihoods of the working families in our economy!
But shouldn’t we a be society, not an economy? An economy is what we have, what we produce. Our prosperity shouldn’t define us. So this righteous belief that, if we don’t always chase the maximum dollar for our resources at any expense, it will cause a mass economic downturn and we may end up losing our jobs. To not be able to afford the new house, another car, a bigger tv, a better mobile phone. The fear is always prevalent. The cycle of wealth must continue to grow. You are failing if you’re not working for these possessions, not buying things for you and yours. Wanting more, striving to be bigger and better. Having status. Always Open for Business.
But it doesn’t end there. Ebola, Isis, And lately a fall in living standards if we don’t pass Joe’s budget. It never ends. But the Government wants us to know these threats. To be Alert, but not alarmed by them. To know they are aware of them and they are looking out for us. Making policy to curb them. This policy where You lose freedoms, is of course, to protect you. Small government that sees all and knows all and can do whatever it pleases.
But it’s not just about the economy, stupid.
And for all theses government hyped distractions, when real genuine fears and emotions surface –  including the loss of a young cricketer and the self-fulfilling prophecy Lindt Cafe siege – the national interest is consumed. And at that time, some who usually fall for it, will call bullshit to peace time propaganda.

Is this it?

So what am I doing? Of course, what and why can’t be separated. Although why is more interesting and often more important. To know a person’s motivation is the key to knowing the person. To understand their actions.

The need to connect or at least voice something. From confusion or dissatisfaction, perhaps. I want to contribute to the ramblings of discontent. Another one yes, I know. Trying not to be just negative, although I am, I say, a realist about humanity. About Humans.

“…then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman. That’s why you gotta make your own moves.”

It does not need to be so complex.

The rest of us, we look out for ourselves for the most and then our loved ones. What’s best for me and mine. This is not the problem, but just enduring with apathy as much of the world does, solves nothing. I am the same. Not apathetic but distracted by the mundane. Scared and scarred. Is this it? No, but the journey will unveil more, I hope.

So who will read this and does that matter? Does it matter who or how many? Or is it just for me? It needs to be more than that because it will consume so much of me. My thoughts and my time.

But it is for me mostly though, because of how it makes me feel. I have missed getting lost in that world of creation, selfish that it is. Time drips away like there is nothing else in the world. The isolation is exhilarating. But I’m sure I only remember the flowing times, when I couldn’t keep up with the story, the characters, themes and sub-plots as it engulfed and flooded out of me, dominating my dreams and waking me for notes to take in the dark. Often indiscernible in the light of morning. But that is fiction, a different beast.

I know the hardest thing will not be to post this but to tell people of this site, the window that it is.

But this is, hopefully, my first step. To what or where I don’t know. But at least I know why.