Browse Tag

people

Seeking Asylum

Australia looks pretty reprehensible in the eyes of the international community these days, and we’re certainly not doing ourselves any favours the way we’re behaving toward our nearest neighbours. I think, sometimes, that we forget we’re a country in Asia, not a state of America or one of the British Isles.

GetUp Australia has instigated and/or spear-headed some amazing campaigns through the years, many of which I’ve watched with great interest. Their marriage equality video “It’s Time” deserved its viral status, and I still can’t watch it without a runny nose and a tear or two.

Right now they’re launching something more subtle, restrained, I suspect, but the current government’s stance on grassroots campaigning and boycotts – Letters to Asylum Seekers.

The problem with campaigning for asylum seekers these days is that the only people who are listening are the people already very concerned for refugees. The people who really need to hear the message aren’t listening, or have gone deaf.

The wonderful thing about this campaign is that the messages are being sent where they probably do more good anyway – straight to an asylum seeker, who’s probably lost all faith in humanity in the face of Australian government bullshit. I’m safe at home and I’m losing faith in humanity just thinking about what my government is doing to people who have every right to seek asylum.

It is not illegal to seek asylum! Refugees are fleeing persecution, torture, and certain death on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality or sexual orientation… They’re getting on leaky boats to face the possibility of death and the hope of a fresh start somewhere else. That opportunistic vultures prey on these people, rob them of all their assets to put them on these leaky boats, uncaring if they reach safety alive or not, is a whole other topic well worth a rant of its own.

GetUp Australia is looking for people to write letters to asylum seekers, to let them know we’re thinking of them, and that we haven’t forgotten. I just wrote mine, and I’m going to mail it tomorrow (or Monday if I can’t find a place selling stamps on Anzac Day).

I don’t know who you are, but I worry for you, and for any of your family and friends there with you. I hear such awful stories of where you are, and I think of what you went through to get there – and it’s not fair.

You haven’t been forgotten by us here in Australia, we know you’re there, and we know what our government is doing to you is wrong. Until we can make a change, please have hope, and don’t lose heart in the face of adversity. We know you’re there, and we will continue to do all we can to help you.

My name is Amelia, and I live in Tasmania – the little island state at the bottom of Australia. I study and teach at university, and my family is two cats and a dog. I don’t know who you are, but I would welcome you to my home as a friend. We haven’t forgotten you.

Please write back – let me know how you are, and who you are. We hear of ‘asylum seekers’ without seeing that you are people with names and faces and histories – but I know you have a name, and a face, and a story.

Your friend in Australia,
Amelia

The irony of this picture is perfect and poignant. For those who don’t know, it’s from the Australian National Anthem.

asylum
(CC BY-SA 2.0) John Englart (https://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/)

medium in the message

It can be difficult to get some messages across. Some messages people just don’t want to get, because it’s someone else’s problem; none of their business; too hard to fix/deal with; or what the hell can they do?

Sometimes those people don’t want to upset their privilege in the skewed status quo.

I haven’t checked the legitimacy of this video, but whether it’s real or not, the message is both clear and clever, and presented in the best way (I can think of) for those who need to know about it – the consumer of human trafficking.

Campaign by STOP THE TRAFFIC.

Yesterday, I helped a man…

Protect Our Elderly
Photo by StockProject1 @ DeviantArt.
I despair of a world where an old man, frail and fragile, flinches at a helping hand.

I was doing my grocery shopping the other day, paused at the end of an aisle to wonder what I’d forgotten, when I saw an old man, likely in his eighties, struggling with his armload of shopping. He was bent down trying to pick up a large box of chocolates, but couldn’t balance what he already carried. I saw him wobble, catch himself against the shelf, take a breath, and try again.. over and over again. I’m not sure how long he’d been trying before I noticed him.

All he carried was a large bottle of milk and a few odds and ends already in a plastic bag, but his strength and balance were failing him. Worse, I saw two people push past – one of them a member of staff – further upsetting his balance and his composure.

Before my eyes I saw him seemingly fold into himself, shrink away in fright, force a smile like it was armour against the entire world.. a world it was clear he would barely hear or see anymore.

I touched him on the shoulder when he didn’t hear me offer help. He flinched, startled and afraid.

I don’t blame him – how can I when I see how the world at large disrespects and disdains the elderly, having apparently forgotten their value to a society wholly disinterested in their past and their history.

It broke my heart, though, that an old man would be afraid of me.

He was suspicious, expecting a dupe, but I left him in charge of my shopping trolley and went to fetch him a basket. He was exactly where I left him when I came back, only seconds later, his gaze fastened to my groceries as he does his duty in protecting them for me, and I made a point to thank him for guarding it as I helped him load his milk into an easy-to-carry basket.

Yes, it felt good helping him, and yes, that should be reason enough to help someone – anyone! – in need if the very fact that you can help isn’t enough (though it bloody-well should be).

He was just a gentle old man who wanted to buy some chocolates for his friend, but even something so simple and easy to me – or you – is a great struggle when your balance is unpredictable, your joints ache, your eye sight and hearing are failing. The world is terrifying for the elderly even before you consider the belligerent youth who’ll sooner bash an old man’s head in and steal his wallet than help him across the road.

It broke my heart that he had a reason to be afraid of me, but I hope his friend enjoys the chocolates.