This afternoon I dragged out and dusted off my social conscience. To make room for it, I had to shove my apathy and cynicism in the back of the cupboard.
I attended a peaceful rally against the Australian government’s current approach to asylum seekers and refugees.
It was quite a gathering of groups who are not always united; the Greens, the Labour party, refugee support organisations, community groups, Atheists, Muslims, Christians, Marxists – across all generations.
I love that a common desire to end an injustice can sometimes transcend religious and political differences.
I know I don’t know all the factors to consider when it comes to resettling asylum seekers and refugees. I know I don’t understand the intricacies of politics and policies. I know it’s not fair to criticize what I don’t understand.
Although it seems to me the way we are currently doing things is inefficient, ethically questionable and financially irresponsible, I accept I could be wrong.
I’d like to understand the other side of the story.
For understanding to occur (for me at least) there needs to be a conversation without political rhetoric and fear-based hyperbole, and that’s what seems to be lacking.
Show me the value placed on humanity. Help me to know how the government’s policies build stronger local and global communities. Demonstrate how offshore processing and onshore detention centres have a financial and social return on investment.
In Australia we’ve got a lot. We have a healthy minimum wage, paid annual leave and sick leave. We’ve got an abundance of land and wealth. We’ve got affordable health care. We’ve got peace and security regardless of our religious or political beliefs.
I’d like someone to help me understand why we aren’t sharing that better.