Is it not time to change?

Recently a woman by the name of Toyah was brutally murdered in Northern Queensland while walking her dog. She was walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon. This was just another woman that has died due to violence in 2018. This was just another woman who has died while going about a regular daytime task, a task that she should have been safe, but she wasn’t. Tonya’s death, her murder started the discussion and the standard disagreement over social media about men needing to change.

So before I begin this controversial post, I want to say a few things. Not all men are murders, not all men are violent, not all men rape women, not all men abuse women, but some men do.

I shared this post by Kon K on my facebook page. It was mostly well received, except for some upset comments from some men in my life.

Kon's post about Tonya

After posting this picture, I was sent an article by a friend about more men being murdered in Australia than women. This article was sent to me with the following comment “why are female deaths such an outrage, when in 2017 60 more males died to violent deaths than females did. 108 compared to 48.” All of these deaths were tragic and could have been prevented, and yes there were more male deaths, however, 82% of these deaths were alleged to perpetrated by men. I am not saying that all men are the problem, but what I am saying is that statistically more men commit violent crimes when directly compared to women.

However, I don’t think that all men are inherently more violent.  I believe that society and societies expectations of men force them to be. In 2018 gender roles still remain so prevalent, and masculinity still remains socially expected. With this in mind, men can’t help but react differently to women in social situations. Men aren’t supposed to show emotion or talk about their problems, and when they do it is seen as taboo. This needs to change. Gender roles, and a toxic level masculinity leads to so many issues and problems; without a change in the way we view men, a change in the way men view other men, we will never escape this cycle of violence.

Recently I watched two social experiment videos on youtube. Both videos were about leaving children without adult control in a house for 5 days. These two social experiments had one key difference; one had 10 boys, the other had 10 girls in the social experiment. The results of each experiment were interesting, in both experiments, there were cases of bullying, isolation and lots of sugar consumed. However, personally, the most memorable feature was that the boys absolutely and purposefully destroyed the house in which the social experiment took place. The girls while causing drama, mischieve, and accidental damage, did not necessarily cause purposeful harm or property damage.  Is this just boys being boys? Or is there an actual underlying issue here?

I personally believe that there is an underlying issue. Men are still taught that they cannot cry, they cannot show emotion as previously mentioned, also femininity is still used as an insult; ‘don’t be a sissy,’ ‘you throw like a girl,’ ‘be a man.’ This has implications on both the men and women of society. Men are taught that there is something inherently bad about being a woman, and women are taught that being a woman is inferior. Women are still taught to be gentle, and sweet and kind. Whereas men are taught to be strong and smart. In school, we were sat down at lunchtime and told that the way we were sitting in class (in our dresses that had to be longer than knee length) was distracting male students and teachers, the boys were never told to change anything they were doing. When I was attending a church summer camp the girls were told to be mindful of what we wore as our ‘brothers’ were built differently and we had to be respectful to their needs. Is this not problematic? As children, we were told to react and change to cater for the men in our lives but this was not taught to our male counterparts. Society seems to be raising boys and girls differently, and not in a progressive or productive manner. Yes, we are improving, yes times are changing but Australia still has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment and assault in the world, maybe this can be related to the lack of respect that is taught to us as children. Maybe we should be changing and speaking out against this. By we, I mean MEN and WOMEN, because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it.

Furthermore, I see a level of disrespect towards women so often in my everyday life. At university, I have been faced with male students talking over and interrupting me as I speak, as if their opinions and arguments are more important than mine. I have faced disrespect within the workforce, being called Sweety, and Princess by a male colleague, to which I confronted, and he didn’t see the problem. I have been involved in conversations with young men about women’s health, as they believe they have a say over what women do over their own bodies, and instead of having reasonable arguments they have informed me that I am obviously just not loved. I have seen women be physically abused on the streets in broad daylight and stood there shaking as I called the police. I have held my friends as they sobbed because they had been violated by men. I have been catcalled when walking in the middle of the day by groups of men driving past. I am also sure that many other women have experienced similar experiences because it happens every day.  Women deal with prejudice that I have not seen men have to deal with, but not only that, everything I have mentioned from my personal experience stems from a lack of respect towards women. I am not disregarding men’s struggles, young men are the most at risk category for suicide and are less likely to receive custody of their children, but I believe these are overarching social issues, they do not stem from a lack of respect towards men.

Why did I mention all of these issues? Why did I mention these examples? I mention them because they all have to do with how we raise our children. They all have to do with the respect towards women but also how men are taught to behave. Men are taught not to be feminine, they are taught to be strong and show no emotion, this leads to so many issues, that need to be solved. Boys need to be shown that it is okay to show emotion, and that it is okay to not always be strong. We all need to stop using feminity as an insult, and call out sexism and misogyny that we see in our society.

My call to action is this:

Men,

When you see your friends being sexist, catcalling, or violent. Call them out. Speak to them. When young men are playing sports, don’t tell them to man up, don’t tell them that they’re playing like a girl, because being a girl isn’t an insult. Being masculine isn’t necessarily better. When one of your mates, or yourself is struggling, talk about what is bothering you, find healthy ways to deal with your emotions, and ask your mates how they’re really doing. Join the discussion, ask the women in your lives what they face on a daily basis, ask them if they’ve ever been disrespected, and listen to them. Remember to be kind.

Women,

When men in your lives are being sexist, or disrespectful; speak up. If you’re being interrupted, speak up, ask to be able to finish your sentence, argument or idea. Remember to ask the men in your lives how they are really doing, and support them if they’re having a hard time. Start conversations with the men in your lives, tell them how your feeling, tell them about the issues you face, because they may not even realise. Let men join this fight for equality, and for safety because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it. Most of all remember to be kind.

Does the threat of terrorism in Australia justify recent Australian government policy responses to terrorism?

Its been a few months since I last posted. Here is an essay I have recently written about the Australian Government and Terrorism in Australia.

Since September 11th 2001 Terrorism has been a forever present threat in our modern world. However, the real question is whether the threat of terrorism justifies the Australian Governments’ policies, and legislations that respond to the said threat. It is possible to argue both ways, but the primary argument and conclusion that can be found is that the Australian Government’s response to terrorism cannot, and is not justified. First, it is important to understand what terrorism is. Then it is important to understand how the Australian Government’s actions can be justified by discussing how the majority of Australians are afraid of terrorism, as well as the media’s sensationalisation of terrorism in Australia and the world. Subsequently it is important to understand how it is not possible to justify the Australian Government’s response to terrorism by discussing and analysing the amount of legislation passed through Australian government since 2001, then the physical changes to parliament house, the changes to rights and liberties in Australia, the treatment of Asylum seekers and children in detention, the breach of human rights by the Australian Government, and as well as discussing the money spent on terrorism when compared to domestic violence even though one has greater damage on the lives of every day Australian.

To begin with, it is important to understand what Terrorism actually is. Terrorism by definition is the act, or the threat to act that meets two requirements. The act has the intention to influence, or pressure the public, or any institution through intimidation to advance a religious, ideological or political cause. AND it causes any of the following; serious danger, harm or death to person/s, causes major damage to property, is a serious risk to the health/safety of the public, and/or severe destruction, disruption, or interference with critical infrastructure (e.g. telecommunications, electrical network, water supply, etc.). (Attorney-General’s Department, n.d.) Therefore, terrorism is a serious act that many Australians do fear, however, the threat in Australia does not justify the Government’s policy response to it.

The argument can be made for justifying the Australian Government’s policy response to terrorism is the fact that over half of Australians are afraid of terrorism. In 2015 56% of Australians’ believed there would be a terror attack in the future. (Kerin, 2015) This demonstrates and explains how the Australian Government can justify their responses to terrorism as the Government is supposed to protect its people, but also put through legislation that their constituents believe to be important. Thus, the Australian Government prioritises anti-terrorism legislation that generally is seen positively by the general public. This reasoning can be argued to justify the Australian Government’s response to terrorism.

The argument can also be made that this fear has been extenuated due to the media’s sensationalisation of terrorism, and extensive coverage of terrorist attacks. According to a study performed by the University of Alabama and Georgia State University, terrorist attacks perpetrated by people with Islamic beliefs receive on average 357% more coverage than any other attacks. (Kearns, Betus, & Lemieux, 2018) This could be the case as ‘bad news sells.’ According to the Pew Research Centre news of tragedies gains the greatest interest amongst the general public. (Robinson, 2007) The selective discriminatory coverage of these events can help to explain the fear of terrorism that Australians feel, but also why other threats, and newsworthy events do not receive the attention that they may deserve. Furthermore, if the media had a greater, more equal coverage of world events; the general public’s perception could become closer to the actual reality of the world. (Robinson, 2007) Therefore, the current media’s portrayal of current events could justify the Australian Government’s responses to terrorism due to it being of interest to the Australian people.

It is important to note that due to the level of fear within society, the Australian Government has passed at least 70 pieces of anti-terrorism legislation since 2001. (Connors, 2017) No other Western country has passed this much legislation, and according to Michael Cope the President of the Queensland Council of Civil Liberties the more legislation that is passed, the more liberties (freedoms) Australians are losing. It is believed that tougher, more extensive legislation will be seen in the near future, (Connors, 2017) which will see to the loss of even more Australian liberties. Hence, by passing 70 pieces of legislation, a large number of liberties have been lost, and is not justifiable for the Australian people to lose gross freedoms due to the threat of terrorism. Accordingly, the Australian Government’s policy response to terrorism cannot be justified.

The loss of liberties that Australians have been facing has been condoned and announced by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. During a speech to the House of Representatives Turnbull stated that Australians would have to be prepared to give up some of their rights and freedoms to protect Australia from Terrorism. This is a completely different approach to former Prime Minister Robert Menzies who stated during World War II that “it would be a tragedy if you fought a war in defence of liberty and in the course of doing so, lost your liberties.” (Connors, 2017) Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister, (National Archives of Australia, n.d.) compared to Malcolm Turnbull who served as Prime Minister for less than 3 years. Menzies saw the importance of Australian Rights, and he saw the tragedy in losing them. This high regard to the rights of Australians seems to have been lost with modern day Ministers and Policymakers, as seen by Malcolm Turnbull. Consequently, the recent Australian Government’s policy responses cannot be a justified response to terrorism as Australian’s rights are just as important now as they were during World War II.

The extent of these legislations, and the lack of justification for the Government’s response to terrorism can be physically seen through the development and building of greater security measures and a fence being built at Parliament House. This is so significant for two reasons; in 2017 it was estimated that these upgrades would cost $126.7 million dollars, which is a substantial amount that is more than the funding supplied to domestic violence in 2016. Additionally, Parliament House was designed and built as ‘A true people’s house,’ with the intention of allowing the common man to walk above the politicians as they work. The significance of this can be noted through the fact that the free access given to the ordinary man to walk above the politicians has been deemed too dangerous due to terrorism. (Connors, 2017) These simple security changes go against the very principles that the Australian Parliament House was built on. These changes, therefore, cannot be justified as a means of protection against the threat of terrorism.

As a direct result of terrorism, September 11 and the war on terror, there has been an overwhelming number of refugees that have been displaced internationally, along with greater restrictions on immigration. Within Australia, legislations like operation sovereign borders and the introduction of offshore detention centres have seen the gross mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment of thousands of innocent people under the pretence of protecting the Australian people. According to the Human Rights Watch 2018 Annual Report refugees and asylum seekers regularly face violence, and delayed or blatant denial of medical care. Furthermore, self-harm and suicide attempts are said to occur frequently. (Human Rights Watch, 2017, pp. 48-49) This detention and imprisonment of so many people, including children cannot be a justified response to terrorism or a justifiable way of protection for the Australian people. Michael Cope has stated that “another person’s human rights are your human rights… If they are taken away from one person, they are also taken away from you.” (Connors, 2017) This quote further demonstrates that the disregard of Human rights and liberties cannot be justified by anyone, and is not a justifiable way for the Australian Government to treat any human being, regardless of the threat of terrorism.

Through the use of offshore detention centres for legitimate asylum seekers and the implementation of so many anti-terror policies various Human Rights in the pursuit of protecting Australians have been breached. Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile” has been directly breached through the unlawful detention of thousands of men, women and children. Furthermore, Article 14 “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Has been directly breached as Australia is not allowing asylum seekers that come to Australia by boat the right to seek asylum. (United Nations, n.d.) Regardless of this, new legislation was proposed to parliament this year to allow police access to private information such as messages sent through apps or online services. (Doran, 2018) This could be said to breach Article 12 “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence… Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Therefore, this again proves that the way in which the Australian Government reacts towards terrorism through policy cannot be justified, as it breaches human rights and displaces human liberties.

Not only have human rights been breached in response to terrorism, but financially terrorism has cost Australia millions. In the 2014–15 Budget there was a $630 million counter-terrorism funding package. According to the Budget Review 2015–16 a further $326.4 million was provided to counter terrorism. (Barker, 2015) Therefore, over a two year period, $956.5 million was put towards counter-terrorism measures. According to an article written by Mehdi Hassan as of July 2017, there had only been 5 deaths caused by terrorist or extremist attacks on Australian soil in the last two decades. (Hasan, 2017) In contrast to this, over 70 people were killed due to domestic/family violence in 2016 alone. (Dumas, 2016) That is 14 times the amount of people killed by terrorism in two decades. The funding for domestic violence is exponentially lower. In the Australian Parliament budget review 2014-15, there is no specialised mention of domestic violence found within the report. (Parliament of Australia Research Branch, 2014) It is stated in the Australian Parliament Budget Review 2015–16, a total of $119.5 million over four years was allocated to National Initiatives for domestic and family violence. (Thomas & Dunkley, 2015). Therefore, in two years $956.5 million was put towards terrorism, and over a five year period, $119.5 million was put towards domestic violence. The Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism by funding $956.4 million towards it when compared to the funding of $119.5 million towards domestic violence cannot be justified as domestic violence kills exponentially more Australians than terrorism does.   

To conclude, it is possible to argue both for and against the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism, but the primary argument and conclusion that has been found is that the Australian Government’s response to terrorism cannot, and is not justified. This conclusion has been reached through the discussion and analysis of legislations that have been passed since 2001, the importance of rights and liberties, the physical changes to parliament house, the changes to rights and liberties in Australia, the treatment of Asylum seekers in detention, the breach of human rights by the Australian Government, and as well as the discussion of the financial cost of counter-terrorism measures. It is worth arguing that the response to the threat of terrorism would be tragic if, in the pursuit of protecting Australians and their rights, Australians lost their rights. In the words of Robert Menzies, “it would be a tragedy if you fought a war in defence of liberty and in the course of doing so, lost your liberties.” So with that, the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism cannot be justified due to the gross mistreatment of refugees, the loss of liberties for Australians, and the loss of the very basis of Parliament House. The importance of these liberties, and the principles embedded in Australian politics need to be remembered; until that moment the Australian Government’s response to the threat of terrorism is not justifiable.

The United Nations Security Council

This year I came into studying political science believing that the UN was this magical organisation that saved the world. I was incredibly idealistic; but I’ve come to understand that the UN and all of its other substitutes are still human organisations, and therefore they still have flaws, some of these critical flaws.

The biggest thing that I have learnt so far is about the UN Security Council, the P-5 and the Veto power. The UN Security Council is a council consisting of 15 members from 15 states. 10 of these members are from various countries that are on two year terms, ultimately they are rotating members and change every two years. The other 5 members are the P5 or Permanent 5 members which consist of Russia, The United States, The United Kingdom, France and China. The P5 members do not rotate and are awarded an extra level of power called “veto.” This power allows the P5 member to deny any resolution put through to the UNSC, even if there is a majority that want said resolution to occur.

In most recent times Russia has used their veto power twelve times to deny any action from the UNSC to act or intervene in the Syrian Conflict. (BBC) This has led to 7 years of conflict. SEVEN ENTIRE YEARS. Not only this, but it has also led to 11 million people being displaced. (Syrian Refugees) So instead of the UNSC being able to act or create change, Russia has prevented any action from occurring.

This leads to the realisation that these P5 have this extra power, but they still have their ulterior motives, they still have their Home Country’s interests as a primary motive, they do not act for what is the best action for the world or other states. So it leads to the thought, why do these P5 members have this power? Should the veto power be rotated? Should all members of the Security Council be on two year terms? Why is it fair that these five states have more power than the others? I am left with all of these questions that can’t be answered simply, all I know is people are dying, people are losing their homes, children are losing their childhoods and their education, and that Syria was once a beautiful country is losing everything – if this conflict does not come to an end soon, there will be nothing left.

Analysis of the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ By Barbra Low Fisher

 

This is an analysis of a speech/article presented by Barbara Low Fisher, this is an essay I have written for assessment and it touches on the topics of freedom and vaccines both topics which I believe relate to my blog. The original article can be accessed here.

The article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ by Barbara Low Fisher discusses mandatory vaccinations and how they impose on the freedoms of parents. By starting with an overview of Fisher’s article, analysing her concepts, and exploring an alternative argument it is clear that Fisher has a strong opinion about forced vaccinations backed by harsh language and personal anecdotes, however, she fails to consider both positive and negative freedoms, and doesn’t list any actual facts or statistics. Therefore due to this analysis, it is clear that forced vaccinations do impose on the negative freedom of parents but in contrast, allow for the positive freedom of their children.

Vaccine Freedom of Choice is an article that uses strong first-person language, personal anecdotes, invokes emotion and paints health professionals in a negative light. Fisher relates to audience by using first person language such as “among US parents,” “If WE cannot be free,” and “WE believe in liberty” as a few examples to connect with the reader on a personal level; she is drawing the connection with parents and people that can relate to this topic. She uses a personal anecdote about her own son Chris to further this connection with the reader and as a form of evidence as to why she has her opinions against mandatory vaccinations beyond its impact on freedom. Conversely, this can be noted as bias as it is emotional. This leads to the next use of language and topic of discussion – emotion. Fisher quotes an inscription at the Holocaust Museum in Washington that says “The first to perish were the children” this quote draws emotion and it represents a very dark time in history. Furthermore, she makes statements like “vaccine roulette with a child’s life” which would invoke emotion from any parent. In addition, she paints health professionals in a negative light by telling the reader that babies are dying due to health officials calling for more mandatory vaccinations, and that any deaths that are caused by vaccinations are simply “acceptable loses” to health professionals.  Regardless, all of these techniques convey Fisher’s concept of why mandatory vaccinations are bad and how they impose on negative freedom and more specifically the “free(dom) to make informed, voluntary decisions.”

Fisher is successful in explaining why she believes vaccines impose on negative freedom. It is stated throughout this article that mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, more specifically they impose on negative freedom. Therefore, it is important to understand what negative freedom means. By definition negative freedom as the absence of external constraints or restrictions on an individual which allows them freedom of choice. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Fisher uses the phrases ‘legal right’ and ‘legally forced’ when describing vaccination decisions and mandatory vaccinations respectfully; this has direct links to the basic level of negative freedom as it demonstrates restrictions put on individuals and their freedom of choice being taken away. Furthermore, Fisher extends on this idea when she says “If we cannot be free to make informed, voluntary decisions… then we are not free in any sense of the word,” discussing the direct link between decisions about vaccines and the freedom of individuals. She also continues to extend on this when she declares “There will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away” ultimately insisting that she believes that if mandatory vaccinations are enforced, then all individual rights could be taken away as well. Fisher clearly has an in-depth understanding of negative freedom, or at least the freedom of choice and strongly believes that mandatory vaccinations impose on an individual’s freedom to choose. However with all of this in mind, she does fail to acknowledge the child’s right to health, and their positive freedom to be their best selves.

Due to Fisher failing to acknowledge a child’s positive freedom it is important to understand what positive freedom is. Positive freedom is the development of human capacities, self-realisation or self-mastery. (Heywood, 2017: 30) Ultimately in its simplest form, it is the freedom to do things and be the best person an individual can be. So with this in mind, when children are prevented from getting vaccinated due to parents personal beliefs their positive freedoms are imposed upon. This is because they will be prevented from attending schools and day care facilities as mentioned by Fisher. Furthermore, these children could become dangerously ill from preventable deadly diseases such as whooping cough, measles, and polio; and ultimately they could die from something that is preventable. This is a huge disadvantage to any child and it is quite easy to see that children cannot be their best selves if they are permanently disabled, uneducated or dead. It is also important to consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which demonstrates that people need to satisfy their lower order biogenic needs like hunger and health before their higher order psychogenic needs like creative arts and self-actualisation. (Elliott, et al., 2012) Fisher doesn’t consider that children will not have access opportunities if they aren’t vaccinated and fails to ultimately see the bigger picture of positive AND negative freedom.

It is clear that mandatory vaccinations do affect the negative freedom of parents but subsequently protect the positive freedom of their children. Through the article ‘Vaccine Freedom of Choice’ it is evident that Fisher believes mandatory vaccinations impose on freedom, and it can be proven that they do impose on a parent’s negative freedom, as it does not allow them to make the decision. However, she fails to see how vaccines protect children’s positive freedom and help them to become their best selves. She doesn’t acknowledge that if parents are allowed to prevent their children from getting vaccinations it imposes on the child’s positive freedom. Fisher is entitled to her opinion, and so is everyone that may have an alternative view, but the concept of freedom is so broad and ultimately it comes down to a decision of what is more important; whether it be the negative freedom of parents and their decisions over their children, or the positive freedom of the children and their opportunity to live their best lives

References

Elliott, G., Rundle-Thiele, S. & Waller, D., 2012. Marketing. 2nd ed. Milton: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.

Heywood, A., 2017. Political Ideologies. 6th ed. London: Palgrave.

 

Seeing Through the Agenda

So today I was driving in my car and Nowhere Fast by Eminem came on the radio. It got me thinking about the situation that the world is currently in. Nowhere fast talks about the NRA in the US and the gun violence that is running wild right now. He even goes on to say:

They love their guns more than our children

This lead my mind to something I’ve been seeing a lot about lately; The Parkland School shooting. If we reflect back to earlier this year you may remember that there was a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. 17 people died that day and it sparked walk outs across the nation and outrage across the world.

Heart breakingly this wasn’t the first or the last school shooting of 2018, as of March 23rd 28 shootings had occurred on school campuses across the US (Source). Congress has not implemented stricter gun laws of any kind, but rather Stoneman Douglas High School, the school in-which 17 people died has implemented a new bag policy; Clear back packs. Students individual privacy has become a matter of scrutiny. The students? They are upset and finding their own way to protest, they are standing tall and saying this is not enough. See below

This is their solution? Blood continues to be shed, and individual privacy is being attacked, where is the liberty for these students? Where is the uproar all over the world about the lack of action in Congress? Eminem seems like the only artist that is standing up and calling out the NRA and making a mark on popular culture. Where are the other stars, the other role models?

In Australia instead of the media following this story or talking about anything with real meaning, our media was plastered with a ball tampering scandal which featured this image and video all over every screen in the Country.

This scandal was the leading story all over the country for almost a week. The question is why? There are so many other issues all over the world except this was deemed most important? In my opinion this demonstrates what is classified as important by society, and can show how easily an entire nation can be distracted by a simple sticky situation.

There are children all over the world being murdered, and throughout history the media has been an effective tool to limit suffering and end conflict. However this doesn’t seem to interest modern day society anymore, we need a call to action. We need people to tell their leaders that violence and blood shed is not okay. We need to show the media that there are so many more important issues right now than ball tampering and tabloids. We need to show children that we love them more than we love our guns and that their lives mean more than our egos.

For the people in the US: see through the NRAs agenda of funding politicians, and realise that your children’s lives are worth more than the guns in your hands. Realise that although it is your 3rd amendment right allows you to own guns without infringement – their already are infringements. Realise that if you’re a law abiding gun owner, you have nothing to worry about.

For the people of Australia and the rest of the world: see through the media’s distracting and pointless reporting. Look past the surface stories of ball tampering and famous stars activities. We are better than that. Look for the real news and the issues that really matter.

Political Freedoms and Protesting

I’ve been learning a lot lately. I’ve learnt a lot about the UN, Syria, WWII, The Cold War, Freedom, Equality, Democracy and so many other different things in this world that I feel like it has truly opened my eyes.

One thing I’ve learnt that has really hit home is in countries with totalitarian regimes and violent and oppressive leaders citizens; are not afforded the same luxuries as someone from a country with a peaceful democracy. I know this sounds straight forward and may seem quite obvious but have you ever thought about the fact that in Australia you can protest and no real harm will come to you? In Australia you can take to the streets, voice your concerns in a peaceful manner and the worst that could happen is being arrest and taken to the watch house. You won’t be shot on site or killed for standing up for your beliefs; not everyone gets this luxury, not everyone can take to the streets to peacefully protest without risking their lives. With this realisation, I thought it was important to voice it and show whoever will listen how fortunate we are, and how far the world still has to come

George Orwell wrote an entire piece on the effect of peaceful protest called Reflections on Gandhi which in short says that for peaceful/non-violent action to be effective one must presume compassion from the perpetrator, simply put there must be a certain level of freedom and a level of compassion. This is something that I have never considered.

All we have to do is reflect back to China in 1989 where thousands of people (mostly students) took to the streets in protest for the end of corruption, peaceful reform, economic reform and political reform. These protests saw thousands of people detained, imprisoned, tortured and executed. This peaceful protest turned violent and it is known as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. These citizens expected their Government to listen to them, to do right by them and to change, however instead they were murdered, tortured, and imprisoned.

In more recent times we have the case of Syria. In 2011 many people took to the streets to Protest Bashar al-Assad’s presidency, the rate of unemployment and the high level of poverty. They were basically asking for more freedom and a higher level of dignity for themselves and all citizens of Syria. They wrote songs, danced in public squares, gave roses to soldiers, and peacefully protested for their beliefs. The Government and it’s forces retaliated by murdering activists, shooting protesters in the streets and ultimately starting this civil war. The protesters then took up arms and began defending themselves. This was roughly 7 years ago and this civil war has grown and become a conflict that is so complicated that I won’t go in to it any further (in this post at least). For more information about the Syrian conflict, here is an article by the BBC.

In both of these examples of China and Syria you have a leadership that lacks compassion. The al-Asad regime has been accused of using chemical weapons on their on citizens and China in 1989 was a heavily communist society with high levels of poverty and corruption. You can see how these societies lacked compassion and it is just shown further in their reactions to civilian protest. These citizens lacked the freedom to be able to use non- violent means, and their Governments failed them in not showing them the compassion to do so.

How is it that in the 21st century civilians cannot take to the streets to make themselves heard?

In Australia, people are awarded the luxury to protest for their beliefs. Marriage equality, refugees, pro-choice/pro-life, Adani are all topics in which people have tried to have their voices heard. People have taken to the streets in protest, they have had banners and marches – people didn’t die, no one was shot, people were able to go home and hold their families. These Australian’s had the privilege to speak up against their Government with no (or little) consequences, if nothing else I want everyone to realise how privileged they are, and how lucky they are to be even given the option for that.