Cruelty & Creativity

I’ve just arrived in Cairns in the north-eastern part of Australia. It’s tropical here, and I am sitting on a veranda only a stone’s throw from the ocean. All around town there are backpackers hanging out in the parks and on the beach, eagerly awaiting the Total Solar Eclipse which can be seen from the area around Cairns early Wednesday morning.

Now where did that image go?

Mim Has Always Been Part Of Australia’s Alternative Scene

I feel incredibly lucky not having to wait in some anonymous guesthouse room or sleeping rough in the park, but instead staying in a beautiful old wooden house by the sea. The house belongs to my new friend Miriam whom I met at Ponyland when she was visiting her daughter.

“Mim” is one of the many incredibly friendly people who are helping me experience Australia beyond the tourist façade. I never knew this place was so wrought with wickedness…

My first big travel out of Europe was to the South of Senegal in West Africa where I first had a human being tugging my sleeves, crying and begging me to help her kids in the name of Red Cross and all things good in the world. Heart-wrenching.

Since then I’ve worked as a Human Rights Activist in Cambodia and as a journalist for the Tibetan cause in the Himalayas, and in my travels there has generally been a theme of going to hardship countries and fighting for the cause at hand.

So when I embarked on this Australian journey I thought to myself: “This is going to be an easy trip – no Human Rights activism to do, no corrupt government, just pure and simple Western living in a democratic environment!” I could hardly have been more wrong.

For starters, the land doesn’t even belong to those in power. I knew that of course, but what I didn’t know was how horribly the British colonialists treated the traditional owners, the Aborigines, from the very beginning in 1788. The Aborigines were looking after Australia with practically no negative impact on the environment for more than 2000 generations. It took the British only 6 generations to nearly wipe them out altogether.

Now where did that image go?

These Aborigines Used To Care For The Land In What Was Known As One Of The Most Harmonious Societies On Earth.

Nobody knows for certain how many Aborigines died at the hands of the brutal Brits, but I’m finding out that we’re talking about millions rather than thousands. We’re also talking massacres rather than battles. The colonialists would simply hunt the natives down, rape, enslave and kill them, and then pretend that there weren’t any natives there in the first place.

Now where did that image go?

This Cannot Possibly Be Good For Mother Earth… Notice The Miner’s Town On The Left, I Imagine Hundreds Of Barbecues On Every Night…

Then there’s Australia’s unique and rich environment. Not quite so unique anymore with hundreds of species having already vanished to make way for cattle and vast agricultural fields. And not quite so rich anymore with a virtual pipeline of minerals and metals pumping fake wealth out of ancient soil and into the cars and kitchens of the US and China. How long will this last?

And what about the detained asylum seekers? I remember there was a story about a big old boat full of refugees who were left to starve on the open sea by the xenophobic Australian authorities, but surely that was a one-off? The short answer is no. Miriam’s housemate told me this evening of an Australian detainment centre on the sad little island-nation of Nauru, where desperate refugees are deemed unfit for immigration and caught in a legal loop-hole while the world forgets and they lose their sanity in dingy tent-camps.

Now where did that image go?

These Detained Refugees In Nauru Are Hunger-Striking At This Very Moment. 5 Of Them Have Been Hospitalised, But Together They Say They “Are Ready To Die”.

The longer I stay here, the more I realise that Australia has succeeded in painting a pretty picture for the whole world to be bedazzled by, including myself. I guess a lot of Australians only see that picture too, unable to take upon their shoulders the heavy shame of their ancestors’ and their contemporaries’ horrible crimes.

I wouldn’t be writing this, however, if there weren’t any Australians who did care about the wrongdoings by their people, to their people. In my short stay so far, I have met some extraordinary activists – regular people like you and me – who just can’t ignore the bullshit and keep consuming and watching TV.

Now where did that image go?

Even With The Majority Of Australians Saying ” Make Love Not War”, The Australian Army Is Still In Iraq And Afghanistan. Who Said Puppets Of The US?

They’ve lived in trees for months on end to stop the mining companies from destroying the forest. They’ve written thousands of letters to get the truth into the minds of the media and the politicians. They’ve taken bad beatings by police when they peacefully protested the wars in Vietnam or Iraq. They’ve risked their liberty to help victims of Kafkaesque immigration laws, escape detention in remote prisons. In short; they have acted.

Hats off to these conscious and hard-working activists of Australia! I promise I will shed more light on some these topics in my future posts, but for now, I will head out to the Eclipse 2012 festival site and spend a week in the frying-pan bush. Apparently it is all taking place in an old gold field, so who knows, I might return with a few nuggets in my pockets…

Thank you for your time!

cornelius

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: A Remarkable Encounter | Impromptu Immigrant

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