Is it not time to take a second look at the manner of our celebration and what is appropriate in the timing of this event?
Depending on how far this article travels, I expect to take a bit of stick from some quarters, but if it starts a movement then, it’ll be worthwhile. As Australia Day 2014 approaches I’m beginning to feel the onset of cultural cringe again and attribute that feeling to my sense of discomfort for what this day represents. I have long felt uncomfortable about using the 26th January to commemorate the birthday of our nation. After all, it was that day in 1788 an occupying force landed in Botany Bay, a force that sought no dialogue with the indigenous inhabitants nor cared for any. Our white ancestors just barged in and assumed control with no interest or concern for the civilization that was already here. We now use the anniversary of this day, long regarded by the descendants of those inhabitants as a day of infamy in their culture and…
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Some vital information here….
In 2014 The AIMN will be broadening the range of articles we bring to you. We have become very popular for our discussions on politics, media and climate change, as well as the short stories and book reviews we offer. In 2014 we will be introducing Camille McClane as a guest author who will be writing about Internet business opportunities, which I for one, and many of our authors and readers have a deep interest in. Here is Camille’s first article, The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business. For those of you who have your own business or website, I hope you gain as much from this article as I have.
Websites can only be as good as the marketing content introduced. However, the recent developments in the parameters for search engines have required that websites provide higher-end content in order to be accessed easier online. The…
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Right now, there’s a battle royal going on between believers in climate change and climate change sceptics. Most of the sceptics don’t believe humans cause climate change. It’s a position somewhat reminiscent of the Flat Earth Society; but even if it’s not, they still believe human activity doesn’t cause the Earth to warm. Well, that’s okay. I understand their position entirely. For over fifty years I believed in miracles, I believed in the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, I believed Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. I believed in Saints and Guardian Angels. I believed all that. So, why I ask, is it so strange that there are people who still believe they can defy science and cling ever so tenaciously to a myth that corresponds to a god belief and the mistaken premise that we are here for a reason and therefore we could not cause such damage as would threaten that belief? If pressed hard enough, I suspect most of our politicians would acknowledge Christianity as their faith, whether they believed in God or not. Of course, not too many would have the balls to say they did not, even if it were true. They are after all, politicians. So, it is likely that they would also profess to believe in most of the above mentioned Christian fundamentals I once believed. They accord science its due of course but only in the areas where it is undeniable. When science dares to theorize, it must go through the most stringent of tests before it is accepted as fact. There’s something odd about all this, isn’t there? Sceptics won’t accept scientific theory until it is proven fact, but will happily profess belief in the great unprovable of all time: that God exists. They say we get what we pay for in world leadership, but in reality we don’t even get that. For the quality of governance we enjoy today, our politicians are woefully overpaid. What is hard about engaging a team of consultants to give us advice on what we should do? What is clever about receiving that advice and then ignoring it? Political parties the world over never look too far into the future. They govern for today. Let someone else worry about tomorrow. The future of the planet is on the line, the quality of future generations is threatened and all our leaders are concerned with is their re-election. Why do I care, you ask? Because I have grandchildren. Because I don’t believe in God and I care what we do as tenants on Earth. I don’t believe that we are here for a reason or that some divine solution will save us in the nick of time. That is fantasy. There are others who will follow us for centuries to come, and I care about the inheritance we leave them. We know we are polluting the Earth. That fact alone should jolt us into action.
Back in January 2009, amidst all the blissful, idyllic, rapture that we saw both in America and around the world following the election of Barack Obama, I was forced to ask: what will happen when the euphoria fades and America waits in eager expectation of the much promised change? What sort of change do they expect and how long will they wait?
Americans have always struggled with their image and that, by definition, includes the issue of race. They struggle primarily because their ancestors created the circumstances that brought about the race issue: kidnapping free Africans and bringing them to a place where they were committed to slavery, all of which irks the collective conscience. It’s not all that far removed from the difficulty we as white Australians face in confronting our race issue. Our white ancestors just barged in and assumed control with no interest or concern for the civilization that was already here.
In both cases it is an inheritance of white European ignorance, a lust for wealth and power, and a belief in their own superiority. It existed then and it still exists today. That is why, I think, for Barack Obama, fighting the war on terror will be relatively simple compared to the difficulties he will face convincing Americans and the world in general that he is up to the task. In a nutshell, Barack Obama will have to perform twice as good as any former white president, simply to be judged their equal. The first faltering will bring a multitude of doom and gloom merchants out of the woodwork. Can he live up the hype and expectation?
To succeed, Barack Obama will have to somehow end the war in Iraq and do it in a way America retains its integrity. He will have to outshine Richard Nixon’s clumsy but welcome exit from Vietnam.
He will have to restore America’s economic credibility. That means regulation; something Americans have, in the past at least, abhorred.
Then he will have to address America’s disgraceful record of health care; all this, as the world struggles through a major economic correction his own countrymen caused.
These are his goals, but to achieve successful outcomes, he is going to have to stare down a lot of powerful people. The Military won’t like admitting defeat in Iraq. Big business won’t like him interfering in their wealth-creation agenda, and even a Democrat controlled Congress will gasp at the cost of establishing universal health coverage.
Internationally, world leaders will be beating a path to his office. I suspect he will no more trust them than he would the Republican Party. They want America‘s international image restored from the blundering, bleeping, slipping, sliding, stupidity that has marked the last eight years. But they won’t give an inch beyond their own national interests to help. Their leaders will, however, fight each other to get that all-important photo shot with the new messiah.
He will be urged by his own advisers to compromise at every turn and if he wilts, he will fail.
One has to look back to the election of John Kennedy in 1960 to recall someone with such youth, enthusiasm and charisma, someone capable of galvanizing a nation and leading them to the Promised Land. Kennedy tried to teach America a new way of communicating with the world. He refused to wilt and paid the ultimate price. The problem for Barack Obama is that his concept of the Promised Land is in stark contrast to those whose interests he will threaten. Meanwhile there are strong forces within the US that hide behind that thin veneer known as the ‘Christian Right’ who wait for him to show the way, and hope he will fail. Despite Obama’s electoral success, there is a strong element of suspicion and distrust among the masses; ignorant people who express their concerns in covert terms suggesting he is a Muslim, a terrorist, and perhaps worse, fear that he might just be a thoroughly decent bloke. It’s easy to recognize them. They usually begin by saying… “I’m not racist but….” Deep down, they just cannot cope with the idea of a black president, their president. Staring them down and reforming an ailing empire will define his presidency.
This is not the first time someone has tried to demonstrate the folly of our approach to tackling the drug problem in our society and doubtless it won’t be the last. I realize too, that the emotive issue attached to this disease is probably the single most difficult side-issue working against our efforts. Put simply, emotions are not going to help us in the fight against drugs. Emotions are about as helpful as the present, outdated, unworkable, inefficient laws that our governments force the police, and the judiciary, as well as Customs and Immigration to work within, and which plague our community outreach centres.
Drugs kill people, mostly our young; so do cigarettes, alcohol, sleeping pills, motor cars, aeroplanes, kitchen knives and any number of other items we use every day. Yet, of these, drugs are the only ones we outlaw, setting aside that vast arsenal of prescription drugs we permit for lots of different reasons…some good…some questionable. But, like the ones we outlaw, even the drugs we approve, can be abused and result in death.
So what have we learned from all of this? Nothing, it would appear.
In the 1920’s the United States outlawed alcohol. What did they learn from that? Mostly that it was a very expensive waste of tax-payers money. It diverted law enforcement resources away from other more pressing matters and helped foster new markets for underworld crime. Those who wanted alcohol, found it by various means. Some were so desperate for it they bought from ‘shady’ operators who sold them home-made brew. Some of it was so poorly refined, it killed people. Sound familiar?
So I ask myself: when are we going to demonstrate some maturity here? Does anyone seriously think that the present method of tackling the drug problem is working? Does making drugs illegal, work? Does that stop the drug trade? Unless you have been living on Mars this last century, you know the answer to that, particularly if your house has been broken into and violated by people desperate to fund their habit. The issue of drug related theft is just one spin-off to these laws that is out of control. There is also the issue of drug related murder, rape, white collar crime…need I go on!
Fifty years ago, 75% of adults in Australia smoked cigarettes. Today the figure is 25%. Did we achieve this by outlawing cigarettes? No we didn’t. We achieved this through education and rehabilitation. Is there anyone out there smart enough to realize that if drugs were de-criminalized and we transferred all the money we currently spend on law enforcement into education and rehabilitation, we would be no worse off than we are now? Can’t we see that such a relatively simple policy turn-a-round could create the foundation for a more enlightened approach to this insidious ailment?
No, it seems we can’t.
And what is it that stops us from seeing this? It’s the emotional approach! We think of drugs and we fear for our sons and daughters. We must protect them. Time and time again, the fear of our society going to the dogs, and the ever-present threat to our young seems to blind us to responsible, mature, decision making.
Let us for a moment imagine a world where blind fear does not get in the way of responsible decision making. It begins with recognizing that drugs will always be available and that trying to stop their manufacture, distribution and sale is a waste of time. On the contrary, by trying to stop them, we actually encourage and assist black-markets to flourish.
Why couldn’t we simply licence their manufacture, distribution and sale as three separate entities, or Government manufacture, distribute and sell them as a non-profit concern, or adopt any combination of the two. The prices could be regulated and affordable such that any black-market dealing would be unviable; not illegal, just not worth the effort. Just think of the savings we would achieve in law enforcement; and those savings would be channelled into educating our young to the dangers associated with drugs as vigorously as we have channelled funds into educating our young about the dangers of smoking, drink-driving and so on.
Would those of our young who don’t “do drugs” suddenly rush headlong, at breakneck speed to the nearest outlet to buy cheap quality drugs? I doubt it. They choose not to smoke now because we have taught them about the dangers. I suspect they would choose not to take drugs for the same reason.
Would those who take drugs today, rush off madly to obtain cheaper drugs to satisfy their addiction? Yes, of course they will! Will some of them overdose and die as a result? Yes, of course. There’s an idiot on every corner. Would we as a community be any worse off than we are now?
I don’t think so. Would we have solved the drug problem? No!
But I strongly suspect that over time, we would position ourselves far more effectively to deal with the problem and at the very least, be heading down the right path. And who knows? Perhaps in ten to fifteen years time, when the next generation of potential addicts enter the target market, they might be sufficiently educated and alert to the dangers to be dissuaded from experimenting.