Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When was it, shall we say, that we became radicalized?

There are some aspects of modern living that are so completely opaque to me that to even consider them manifestations of an evolving civilization would be to launch myself into a deep, dark chasm of terrifying self-revelation that has no escape chute inherent in its design.

The American faith in the selling of guns for public consumption is one such abyss, but there are others so much more immediate in their criticality, so crucially undermining to the myth of a shared humanity that we must construct to be able to have any will at all to continue living consequential lives, that to deny naming them is to deny that there might yet be a measure of salvation for us.

Will we say to our future generations that we became radicalized when we saw the sceptre of absolute and calamitous devastation wrought upon the people (and their children) who were systematically terrorized for being trespassers on their own land in the fifteen years since the 2nd Intifada of the Palestinian people began?

Will we say that we became radicalized when we saw tumultuous waves of terrified and desperate foreigners (and their children) descend upon our paved streets and pretty waterfront chalets to bring us face to face with our 500 years of economic and physical predation of their erstwhile lands?

Will we say that we became radicalized when we shamed and cut down people (and their children) because they were less fortunate, less able-bodied, less adept at negotiating the ways of a treacherous world of elite exclusivity?

Will we say that we became radicalized when we saw the fatal effects of a staggering dehumanization of a whole race of our neighbours (and their children) by the guardians of society, whom we pay and put our trust in to protect all of us, for no other reason than how different they looked from us?

When was it, shall we tell our children and grandchildren, that we became radicalized?


Friday, July 3, 2015

You can't eat the weather

There should be a word for this kind of living - one that encapsulates various lifestyles, all extremely leisurely; one that unremittingly strives to go beyond what is romantically alluded to as an 'utopia'; one that makes that smile forming at the corner of your mouth as forcefully garnered as the enjoyment you are expected to feel at a beautiful day, no matter whether it's spring, summer or winter, on the water (some water, any water); one that feeds the sense of belonging to a cult of sensual-gratification worshippers more closely matching the famous description of, 'Shiny Happy People', than, probably, any other community anywhere else in the world.

The living in Western Australia's capital city of Perth is a dream wrapped in a cocoon of exclusivity presented in a gigantic steel bucket filled to the brim with ice, sans the gleaming green bottle of celebratory bubbly - 'Sorry, mate; you should have brought your own', says the sticker on the side. Long regarded as a sun-drenched and tradie-hungry haven for those escaping the class-ridden daily humiliations of Great Britain, the city is slowly beginning to capitulate to an idea of the world that allows for all those inscrutable black, brown and yellow bodies to take a servile part in what is locally regarded as genteel society, but is rudely coming up against the competing idea that some of 'them' might actually begin to live like 'us' if 'we' allowed them to.

Australia is too dependent on the kind of skilled migration that has long been spoken about in parliament and corner shops around the country in hushed tones, to wish to antagonize the large community of expatriates, temporary residents, and permanent residents who have chosen this beautiful country to try to make their futures in. But in less-scrutinised hubs such as Perth, far removed from the bustling crowds at Dandenong Market and every other shopping centre in Paramatta, the outrage at these 'others' moving in, and buying everything in sight, including smug markers of prosperity such as boats, double-storey Mcmansions, and the latest caravans, is gradually beginning to manifest itself in the shutting out of people from professions in which they have a direct propensity to contribute, and earn a living by. Subjective judgement about what constitutes expertise, experience and communication standards, cultural bias, and racial prejudice, drives most recruiters' instincts when considering CVs, and the unending renewal of short-term contracts for professionals used to a much more demanding work ethic in their home countries doesn't lend itself to a sense of security and belonging, and contributes to a wider alienation among them that consequentially fans the communal flames at the heart of the current citizenship debate in Federal politics.

Australia is surely trying to come to terms with what kind of immigrant nation it wants to be on a national level, but the effects of that debate are being felt in its distant townships and suburbs, on the beautiful white-sand beaches and verdant parks far, far away from the hubbub of Parliament's musings on Australian identity. And those effects are not good.