Category: politics

The rainbow elephant

I might be a little late in coming to this conversation. At least in the written form. But I’m here now and I’ve had a bit of time to think and listen and observe and try to absorb too.

It’s been personal. I’ve felt attacked and rejected by some of my dearest people. For me in a different way to others. But yes for me too. Less than others I’m sure. But I was surprised. It’s about love after all, not about me.

I might be more used to the personal is political mindset than some. There has been an undercurrent that the Question is a referendum on the very value of a whole segment of society. From that segment too has been a sense that “its us against the rest of you”, and “either your with us or you are against us”. All the nastiness and extremism of trying to generalise a few bad examples or rogue statistics as representing the whole. All the judgement and all the fear that goes along with being a minority, through no fault of one’s own. It hurts. Keeping all these segmentation up hurts too. Individually and collectively. It may have become political but Questions like this don’t have to stay like that. But that’s a tough balance.

The background

Within Australia at the moment we are having an ongoing debate regarding same-sex marriage or marriage equality as it has been dubbed. It’s been a warm and getting hotter topic for years. The Question: should same-sex attracted couples be included in the Marriage Act (which currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman), and more recently, if there is to be a change in the law, how do we go about doing it.

Any revision could have been done by a revision of an act by Parliament which at least until recent dramas would have probably been simpler and cheaper. It is also outside a Constitutional change so falls exactly within the role we commission our elected representatives to do. They are charged to lead and govern our country, We “trust” them for a term to debate and decide the difficult and the easy; not deflect difficult ones to opinion polls which are not binding.

Whatever my view of the Question Let me say that I think Australia has lost its sense of statesmanship and become all too reactionary to opinion polls and the deflecting of responsibility for leadership. The decision was taken to elect our current Prime Minister and his view was clear. His job was to listen and lead the government and parliament to a consensus.

So we are having a plebiscite which is a cop out in my view. All the opinion poll will do is take a snapshot view of a politically jaded country. The Act will still need to be debated and drafted adding delay and drama whichever way the plebiscite goes.

The debate has been hard and cruel in both directions. Given my situations I have been attacked quite viciously from vocal, fundamentalist members of both main camps. The misinformation and generalisations coming from both directions has been hard to watch and has affected my thinking.

Part 1
I have a faith in God. My faith which feels more alien to what is being touted as Christian than ever informs my take on social justice. I’m less judgemental and more liberal as regards many issues precisely because of my faith. I also believe that it is not for people who are not privy to my understanding of God to represent their views as mine or are tell me how I or anyone should interpret scripture. A brother or elder is allowed to offer correction and instruction , but no one speaking in this debate has that role in my life. So stop telling me how to decide Rev/Fr never met you just because I have a faith. Jesus is my middle man to God, if I need one, not you, and his approach to love (and a whole lot of other stuff) was quite radical. Y’know stuff like Judge not let Ye be judged, love your neighbor as yourself. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. *I don’t think love can ever be a sin, but even if even if it is, by fundamentalist theology we all have to face our Maker and our reckoning will be between that person and God. It is not up to me to judge. Or you.

We don’t sit in harsh judgement of whether a straight marriage will work to anywhere near the extent that some of you do with a same-sex relationships. The stats are not good for straight couples, leaving plenty of couples missing the Good birth influence of one gender. The same-sex stats put us to shame. Families are built based around who loves who, not who sleeps in what bed. Common sense says that divorces of all types will happen, and when they do, they do. We are all human beings. The sky will not fall. Many kids of straight couples have had a rough upbringing. There will be some kids of same-sex marriages if it comes to that who feel the same. But if we mainstream it, the stigma will go and that will help all kids be kinder. Growing up I would fantasize that everyone had a crappy left arm and a head tilt…… just so I felt normal

There are the full range of people in all communities. Pedaphilia is in the straight world as it is in the gay, just as much if not more. Both sorts are in all the Churches and outside. The good the bad and yes the ugly are across the board. We are commanded to love and not to judge. By our fruit will we know each other, and knowing is different to judging which is in God’s hands. My suggestion is that we are generally built with two ears and one mouth. Let’s try and use them proportionally?

To quote @frbower Fr Rod Bower

“For the religiously inclined to participate productively in the public discourse of a secular democracy, there is required of them the ability (and willingness– JN) to translate theological specifics into universal values, accessible to all people regardless of their faith or lack thereof”

Part 2
My only request ok, two requests of those fighting for marriage equality: just as you don’t like to be tarred with the paedophile brush on the basis that some of you have been, please don’t judge all of those who claim a faith as being homophobic or for that matter are or condone child abusers. We come in all shapes and sizes too. Some of us are saints and some are down right bastards. Some are loud. Most are not. We are all individuals. Generalisation is dangerous and insulting. Some churches are preaching their view, but you are also using the venues open to you to advertise (as you should). Passion for an issue can be lovingly expressed, by all of us.

My second request is simple I hope. Talk to us all, don’t yell at us. We didn’t choose the plebersite. Issues don’t have to stay political even if they start there. We have had to recognise minorities before in less than ideal ways. We will have to again no doubt. Alienating won’t help your cause or Australia . We are all humans. We have had struggles, which may be different to this or not. You are not alone. I for one am not the enemy. Please talk to me like you are my neighbour, my sibling, best friend, my doctor, my accountant or my barista; about your love and fear and hope and plans. I’ll be listening and so will others.

All in all right now I’m simply ashamed of being a human being in Australia …..We need to behave better . I’m confused, and sad that it came to this.. This has hurt my faith and my faith in people tremendously and that’s not a good place to be if we are discussing love. Is it?

just my 5 cents.

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The other race that stopped our nation

In Australia, we have an idiom for the big horse race, the Melbourne Cup. It is known as the race that stops the nation. It is run annually on the first Tuesday in November. It is, regardless of whether you live in Melbourne or not, more or less a national holiday. Offices hold sweeps and long lunches breaks, women who wouldn’t normally wear a hat become fascinated with fascinators and even normally fairly serious news presenters and politicians are dressing up and talking or tweeting about their tips. These tips are often based on very random criteria, rather than any sort of history with the form guide. After all the fuss, the people who can and do stop to watch the race do so for the 3 minutes or so it takes to run and then return after a bit of celebration to merry-making or work.

In years past, the US election has been held in the same week as the Melbourne Cup. I recall 8 years ago, watching the horses one day and Obama’s speech the very next.

This year it was the week after, and more so than any other election “over there” that I can recall, ordinary Australians were glued to the news channels on Wednesday as the news came in. I was at an airport way ahead of my flight and everyone was talking about it among themselves and even to complete strangers. It was shock and disbelief. But we were glued to it for a good couple of days later. Friends who I don’t normally talk politics with were expressing shock and degrees of discomfort at the idea of Donald Trump as the leader of the free world and what that says about our global mindset and future. I’m sure there are messages there to be examined even before he takes command in January.

The last time I remember seeing Australians glued to the tv for events overseas like they were a week ago was when the World Trade Centers went down. Seems we tend to be the onlookers to the crashes we can’t tear ourselves away from.

My recovery method has centred around becoming hooked again on the West Wing. I know it is fiction but it has to be based on some degree of reality or it wouldn’t work as a drama right? I want to use my intellect more and use it for good .

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Tuesday tidbit: wish I’d known

Wish I’d known about below the line last week. And had electoral commission staff patient enough to let me decide between above and below the line myself (as I have every other election) without pressure and with a proper privacy screen.

For those wondering about my broader reaction to the election and/or my voting experience, I’m working on an email to a disability org so a post or two will no doubt come out of that. In short: could be better, could be worse.

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True to our word.

I want to stress something and then then let the rest of the post speak for itself.

The big thing I want to disclose is that I haven’t made up my mind about my position on the so called “asylum seeker” issue that is at the forefront of the Australian political scene with the election on September 7.

I do think that it is a humanitarian issue not a defence of the realm issue. I am also a fan though of processes (as anyone who has lived with me knows) and due process so queue jumping of any sort annoys me.

But.

Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history’s page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share,

With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.

Emphasis mine

The other thing is I make no comment here on whether the above should be our anthem. It is.

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As the dust settles

Yesterday NSW had an election. It was a landslide. that many others will no doubt talk of for many days to come.

Picking up on a post from Mary over at HAT, yes I think she might be right. From what I saw in the literature, there was a higher number of “baseline” accessible venues.

But I never left the house to vote.

I iVoted. At home. On my own laptop. More privately than I did more than once at a polling place.

Designed for people with vision impairment who use screen readers and various other disabilities – they broadened it out to allow travelling folks to feel included too.

The information on the iVote website read:

You can vote before Polling Day using iVote if:

  • your vision is so impaired, or you are otherwise so physically incapacitated or so illiterate, that you are unable to vote without assistance,
  • you are unable to vote without assistance or have difficulty voting at a polling place because you have a disability (within the meaning of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977),
  • your real place of living is not within 20 kilometres, by the nearest practicable route, of a polling place; or
  • you will not be in New South Wales throughout the hours of polling on polling day

.

The process was painless enough for the fact it was hard to see the bigger Legislative Council in its entirety, and I had to do this sequentially as opposed to top and tailing it as I normally do.

Yes I would do it again. But my question is; is this going to simply be a work around so the various electoral commissions don’t need to improve the distances to and percentages of accessible venues. I hope not. But sadly I fear so

 

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Quote: may I be

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu

I am blessed. I have needed heavy doses of strength and courage in my life. I have had those that loved me “just when I needed it most”.

The courage I have needed in the last few days might well surprise some folks. In fact I know it has. In ways that has damaged at least two friendships.

But the courage I needed was not physical. It was of integrity. I needed to own my truth and recognize that for me at least loyalty to a broader cause was not my highest calling. It was to a principle, this time one of inclusion. I assessed each woman on her merits as I was asked and on the issues I was asked about I spoke as I saw.

IT was worth it all.

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equal anti-discrimination human rights please Senator?

Gay rights to marriage is the topic de jour nationally at the moment and we are debating it for good or ill. That’s ok, great in fact.

A New South Wales Senator Doug Cameron from Australia’s house of review made an an interesting couple of comments in an interview in favour of what “we” are calling “equal marriage rights legislation”. I was listening tonight via podcast.

He talked of discrimination against people on the basis of sexual “preference” as legalised apartheid. I’m just saying that I think the lack of choice offered to other groups, other minorities in the country might also be seen as the same thing, but if you’ll pardon the pun it might be a little less sexy perhaps to argue on the basis of limitation or age. Remind people of weakness and the inevitable ageing process?

He argued that we shouldn’t be discriminating against gay people because they are ordinary people. “People are people”. Indeed again not the only minority with that argument.

“We don’t just live in a economy, we live in a society and society means you have to build a good society (my emphasis) and ending discrimination is one way to build a good society”

Meaning it takes moral leadership to equalise the playing field and perhaps the ability and courage to take a stand, and perhaps heaven forbid say ummm no to some things?

And key.

“I don’t think human rights are ever a fringe issues.

Good then. Fight for all human rights please

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both disappointing and good

While the announcement itself is good, I’m personally a little bit disappointed that this is the first comment I have heard from Jan Mclucas; our newly minted Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilitiesty and Carers.

a couple of things to notice;
Despite the wording of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of catalogue on People with Disability and the fact that carers are given a title case and personhood in her ministerial title, those with disabilities are not acknowledged as people. Secondly, as soon as she gives her title she then launches into howp roud she used to support all the carers. I really am glad she’s proud of that, but you need to be proud of both parts of the full portfolio and be clear on the different needs of both parts. Because although there are indeed similarities in the needs of carers and people with disabilities, there are differences too.

it really does go to show that once the group gets organised to advocate for itself in a cohesive manner politicians do listen.

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