I was shocked just the other day when a friend on Facebook made a comment about how unruly the local indigenous kids were in a shopping centre; and was then surprised when their mother made a snappy, nasty reply to her judgemental comments about their behaviour, something along the lines of “keeping them in line”. She even rather politely referred to them as “our native cousins”.
And there has been further vitriol from her about the prevalence of these “native relatives” in her local area. When I knew her and socialised with her oh so many years ago, she always seemed so compassionate, non-judgemental, and tolerant – she seemed so normal.
Needless to say, I chose to remove her from my Friends list; it was nice to get back in touch with her and hear abut where her life has taken her, however I have decided long ago that I need to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and I feel that I have to let people know that I find their views offensive, and I can’t just simply excuse such behaviour away, shrug my shoulders, and say “oh well, that’s just who they are.”
So am I being compassionate, non-judgemental, and tolerant?
Probably not. But does a personal mantra of ‘tolerance’ mean I have to tolerate intolerance? I guess it does, and I’m certainly not going to bother getting into a debate with such people, or try to convince them that ‘my way is the right way’.
But I don’t need to be their friend. In fact, maybe that’s a more powerful and persuasive way of dealing with ignorance, ethnocentricity and sheer rascism. I wished my friend well, but was very clear about why I could not continue to count her as a friend.
Indeed, I know of people who have used this very same method to deal with ‘friends’ who are bullies, alcoholics, drug-addicts, and other forms of unsociable behaviours.
It may sound harsh, but sometimes getting the cold shoulder (especially from people they respect and whose opinions count) is the most effective way of bringing about significant changes. It’s the approach of “I love you, but I do not love your behaviour”.
But it also got me to wondering, at what point did we become a negative and intolerant society again? I thought we had thrown off the shackles of this kind of narcissism a few years back? And then of course, in the recent federal election we have the “stop the boats” bullshit again, where all of a sudden a few hundred asylum seekers becomes an invasion by illegal immigrants; where all of a sudden we have to be careful because cashed up foreign investors are buying up real estate in the suburbs of our biggest cities; where foreigners are buying our most fertile agricultural land to feed their own people.
All of a sudden, our cultural values are at risk. My question is: which culture is losing its values?
Have the intolerable intolerant become noisier, or have the rest of us been too quiet? I would say in the wake of the Rudd-Labor victory in 2007, those of us who can see a more positive, inclusive, and culturally-diverse society let down our guards and assumed that a government who claimed to have such a vision would do all the work.
In this we were wrong. This is not the domain of governments. The Culture Wars have no place on Capital Hill – the battlefields for such a struggle are on the streets, in our homes, and in our minds and hearts. We do not need to tolerate intolerance – let the ignorant and rude stay in their own little bubbles of hate and fear, while the rest of us walk the streets with our heads held high and our hearts open to our fellow citizens, regardless of race, creed, or colour.
Hell, maybe we should walk our own talk and actually do something constructive ourselves: give shelter to a refugee while they await their visas; help out a family in need, share our personal resources with our neighbours and friends, share in the abundance we all personally have. If we all work together in a positive manner, then we can achieve much more than any government or bureaucracy could workshop in committee.
And it all starts by telling those ‘intolerant’ friends that you can’t be their friend whilst they continue to behaviour in such a rude manner!
It doesn’t really matter what the result ends up being from the weekend’s federal election; one thing is crystal clear – the way the Australian Labor Party governs itself needs a serious shake-up.
Clearly what has been occurring in NSW over the last four-or-so years – and what was seemingly echoed earlier this year with the dumping of leader and PM Kevin Rudd – is a sign that there is “something rotten”, to paraphrase Shakespeare.
One of the named individuals in this ongoing melodrama is Mark Abib, who holds a seat in federal Parliament, and even held a minor government portfolio.
The NSW-Right faction of the ALP is seen as a serious power-broking faction, and is commonly seen as the ‘faceless men’ who pull strings behind the scenes.
One of Kevin Rudd’s assertions when he claimed the leadership of the Party in late 2006, and when he became PM in 2007, was that he was not beholden to the factions. He clearly had a vision of reforming the Party from the centre of Governmental power in Canberra. From all reports, he behaved more like a Liberal Party leader, centralising control and ignoring caucus. Perhaps this is the real reason why the Party ‘dumped’ him; not because he would have led the ALP to defeat, but because he pissed off those ‘faceless men’ who think they control the Party (and by default, the nation).
Interestingly, it seems the swing away from the ALP seems to point that disenchanted Labor voters are turning to the Greens because they are wanting a Party to give a voice to the Left. I would argue you would be hard-pressed to find many Left-wing, progressive folk who don’t now associate with the Greens, rather than with the ALP – the donations given by the ETU to the Greens is a case in point.
The rise of the Independents within the House of Representatives, and not just in the Senate, also points to the idea that Australians are not just cynical about the way our current political system operates, but maybe down-right angry and annoyed by it.
If the ALP were serious about being a modern, progressive political Party, then they need to heed the lesson that was taught over the course of this year. Indeed, all parties do; but maybe more so a party that claims the ‘progressive’ high ground.
Can we see these blokes – alongside the Greens and Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon – as the new guardians of democracy in our nation?
I think we should all start really looking at voting in independents into our parliaments, and see the end of the tyranny of Major Political Party.
I am sure there is a lot one or all of these blokes would say/believe in that I would disagree with; however I am confident – based upon this very simple elucidation of their ideals and and opinion on how parliament should really function.
And listen out for Bob Kattar’s beautiful, and poignant, comment at the end: “We’re moving out of the 19th century and into whatever we’re in now”.
Apparently there could be a problem with Wyatt Roy’s election as a member of the House of Representatives.
Here’s the relevent section within our Constitution
This lad is 20 years old – the section states that a candidate must be 21.
But it also states that “must be an elector entitled to vote at the election of members of the House of Representatives”.
So can any Constitutional lawyers let us know if this Bieber-lookalike is legally valid as a Member of Parliament?
This whole hung parliament gig could prove interesting.
All of a sudden, Australian politics has become interesting again. Could it be that the immense popularity of the Rudd Government meant that all the drama had been removed?
Even if Gillard forms government, the fact that the result was 50/50 is inspiring – it gives us the opportunity – neé the moral responsibility – to take the complete piss out of cashed-up bogans, slack-jawed yokels, and brain-dead hillbillies.
Having heard now interviews with a couple of the independents, I am truly heartened that our democracy is in good shape. These individuals are making very wise and balanced statements about their new-found importance in the parliament, and irrespective of their decision, I personally believe we are in good hands – and yes, even someone as mad and maverick as Bob Kattar!
We need diversity in our parliament, just as we have diversity in our culture. The duopoly held by by the ALP and the Lib/Nat coalition has hamstrung our nation from progressing onwards and being the world leader that we could be.
Well, Swine Flu hysteria has hit our shores, and is reminiscent of the hullabaloo during footy finals time.
As an almost-TCM practitioner, I have to wonder about the messages going out over the media-waves – especially after reading a memorandum from the Health Dept to all Health professionals, which was a lot calmer, a lot more factual, and a lot more re-assuring than what is being bandied around by public and broad-casters currently.
This memo stated categorically that those who have contracted the H1N1-A virus (it’s true name: certainly not as sexy as “swine flu”) have recovered successfully without the use of Tamiflu – yet this drug is being pumped into people like its some kind of anti-viral messiah. And yet, no one mentions studies recently (in the last year or so) which showed Tamiflu to be useless against “swine flu”.
Don’t get me wrong: influenza is an illness that requires attention – my question is, how much attention?
Interestingly enough, TCM is certainly capable of treating patients who come in with ‘the Flu’ – and whilst there is currently debate on the theories in TCM forums I am a part of, our paradigmatic framework has the capacity to understand the pathogenesis of, diagnose, and treat Influenza. One of the oldest extant medical texts in the world, the Shang Han Lun by Zhang Zhongjing deals with treating disease that is contracted from externally-derived pathogens. The first few clauses of that text describe symptoms that are those common in ‘Flu’:
Abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, fatigue, and body aches, cough, sore throat, blocked or discharge from nose, fatigue, ill appearance, and sometime diarrhoea / vomiting.
These are also the symptoms listed by WHO, and Health Dept’s around the world, including Australia.
This text also goes on to describe all the possible complications and how to treat those – in fact over 50% of this rather large tome is devoted to Taiyang disease: i.e., illness caused from an attack of an externally-derived pathogenic factor.
The treatments are simple: herbal prescriptions, and in some cases basically says to have some soup, get in bed with a lot of blankets and sweat it out!
The other thing about all of this is some other research that is around but generally unknown or ignored. Here are some interesting links:
Herbal soup fights flu A, perhaps useful to guard off swine flu too? – this study looks at one of the most basic herbal prescriptions – Ma Huang Tang – which was described in the Shang Han Lun.
Of course, to fight off any external pathogen, we basically need healthy and vigorous wei-qi – i.e., immune system. In TCM, this is dependent on the harmonious and efficient functioning of our Fei-zang and Pi-zang – our respiratory and digestive systems, from which we convert oxygen and food-nutrient, and convert it to Qi, which is the dynamic energetic force that the body requires for all functions. Healthy lifestyles, nutritious and balanced diets, and healthy eating habits are a fundamental key to an effective and efficient immune system. This will determine how well you fight off an infection such as Influenza, and how quickly and well you recover from it.
I think quarantining is a good element to all of this – in fact, the idea of staying home when you get sick is brilliant! This is what should happen all the time – not only does it restrict the spread of illness, but it also gives the body time and space to fight off illness in a natural way, thus making it stronger and more able to cope with future infection. Every successful defeat of an external pathogenic factor means the body’s natural immune system is improving and becoming stronger. Food and medicines should be only used as complementary to the body’s own defences – their job is to augment the immune system, not replace it!
So when you get sick from now on, stay home, eat good hearty meals, and make yourself happy and healthy!