I woke up with a word in my head: lucky, and a post I thought, about choices. What the day came to was a post about opinions. Everyone has choices & opnions: they’re the privilege of an affluent, democratic society. What if you’re not part of an affluent, democratic society? You get to make immediate, critical choices, and everyone gets to have an opinion about it.
It all started later in the afternoon at a birthday party, when someone asked the G.O. where he was working. He does civil earthworks and has been for a year or so at a site for an “immigration detention facility”. Suddenly opinions were being ventured on the consequences of being too indulgent of “them”.
For a minute, I sat mute and muttered shhhh to my sister beside me, thinking the discussion would peter out. However, the G.O. sensed an entertainment opportunity, oh dear, and said he thought a lot of money was being spent unnecessarily [from a construction point of view]. Sensing accord, the discussion amplified.
we can’t afford them
they’re making it easy for them
they’re inviting them
there’s too many of them
they’re giving them too much
Risking unpopularity, oh well who gives a f#^k, and with a muttered apology to my sister, I invited for consideration “them” are people with individual lives and stories who can’t be judged generically.
I suggested we need to figure out who and what we have a problem with & an opinion about because it’s not all one big problem or the same issue. There are lots to choose from.
asylum seekers, ie individual people
“boat people” collectively
anyone who wasn’t born in Australia
anyone who wasn’t born in Australia who isn’t of the same ethnicity as you
Australian government policies
overseas governments’ policies
individual politics of originating nations
Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott…
I wasn’t feeling kind so threw in meaningless trivia about Canada’s average 8 day asylum seeker processing turnaround vs Australia’s 223 day. Numbers sound authoritative, and they didn’t contest it. If you Google search the trivia you’ll get heaps of hits… and somewhere amongst them the quotation about damned lies & statistics 😉
We were in a regular, safe neighbourhood at a birthday party, family around us, and those absent weren’t in another country, imprisoned, tortured or executed. There were all the trappings of the life of the great Australian dream.
After silence reigned, I observed to my kin they didn’t appear personally to be disadvantaged as a result of the indulgence of “them” they were worried about.
In hindsight I might have been a bit harsh. I shouldn’t have been surprised but was. The G.O. said I shouldn’t be, they are who and of the generation they are. The people expressing these opinions are run-of-the-mill people. More, I am disappointed & saddened. Happily, there was one recounted conversation with, and compassion for a man encountered who didn’t have [identity] papers from his own country or Australia… Imagine that.
Courtesy of democracy, in Australia we have the freedom of differing opinions and just as some denizens fear impact on their accustomed way of life due to imprudence, I equally fear over-discretion. For me, it’s I’ve met and conversed with asylum seekers & their children via volunteering at a community asylum seekers centre and inside a detention centre. That’s where I got the notion of “them” as individuals. Otherwise I too could perceive burden in the masses.
Looking for perspective via an opinion from the G.O. ever the devil’s advocate, I got: are we only the lucky country for those already lucky, some descended from those sent by the English government on big ships, below-decks in balls & chains? Although the crimes of many were petty in today’s terms, how do they compare with those who now come on leaky boats?*
I know there’s more to the politics and the rights & wrongs than I’m aware, but I also know if I had to escape my country it would be nice to have somewhere to flee to, and the kindness of strangers.
I don’t believe me and mine will ever have the choices people who flee their country have. Thank God.
My sister also posted this link on Facebook today. Interesting.
12 thoughts on “everyone has an opinion”
I like the poem and the illustrations.
Eternal dilemma. Keep the peace and shut up or confront prejudice and stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves?
[Totally irrelevant, but got distracted for a minute – just missed a mosquito who landed on the screen 😦 – thought I had him too]
With more boat loads of asylum seekers coming in courtesy of people smugglers from Indonesia, it’s likely to become even more controversial… Chilly & wet in Sydney – mozzies must be in Gib 😉
Mostly people smugglers bypass Gib and head for Spain, but same syndrome with them struggling across on flimsy rafts (pateras). Then there is a real issue because they can’t send them back and they can’t give them nationality/residence. Bizarre. Or at least it was like that a few years ago when I was more up on it, maybe it’s changed?
We have the fan on at night to deter the mozzies. I abhor the chemicals, and A abhors the mozzies, so the fan is our compromise!
Good on you for having the courage to express your opinion. And also for having something constructive to offer beyond just an emotive argument, which is where I tend to get stuck if I ever venture into this kind of conversation.
You’re right – it’s so easy to lump everyone into the same category, to forget that besides Aboriginals everyone in Australia is technically some kind of ‘boat person’, and that many other countries are faced with the same situation but deal with it far better and more efficiently than us.
Thanks for the thought-provoking post. You have a great blog – will definitely be back to read more. 🙂
Thank you for your comment & nice words. I usually get stuck in an emotive argument as well. I did on Sunday! Writing the post was good for me as I moved from being worked up to working through it. I’m lucky to have people around me who keep my awareness levels raised on many issues.
Excuse my ignorance, but I didn’t know Australia has an immigration problem.
It’s ok, I’m unaware of many issues myself… It’s topical in Australia at the moment. We have, particularly currently, a lot of people entering Australian waters in boats [usually facilitated by people smugglers, via Indonesia], who then need to be housed somewhere while their asylum seeker claims are assessed. The other problem is some of the intended asylum seekers don’t arrive because that transportation method isn’t safe. Thnx for the comment.
Interesting. Thanks for the education.
Our news covered the recent trend of children crossing the Mexican border into the States ALONE! Some as young as 6-years-old. The end to which people will go to find safety is astounding.
I think it takes lots of courage to express a dissenting opinion when everyone else is agreeing. Good for you! And maybe you got a few people to think about their opinion. 🙂
You are brave, sounds like something I would do, my husband would most definitely do that, good on you. That’s what I say, it is good to stand up and say what you think.
Thanks. I feel better knowing it’s not just me who feels the need to speak up. I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who keep me on my toes, and make me think. Some are like minded & some not 😉
I’ve really enjoyed these last several posts, Ella. Sorry you didn’t win the trips, but it’s been great to have the opportunity to read your thoughts on these issues – both as a way of getting to know you, and to know there are young people who’re participating in the ordinary business of caring for what’s right against the tyranny of the mob. The Buddha is supposed to have said: “a generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” – a wonderful way to live our lives, I think.