2015 has not been a pleasant year. Extremism has reigned. At the start of the year we had a mad gunman hold people hostage in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney. Sadly hostages died as the gunman was apprehended, apparently from friendly fire. We have had ISIS in the headlines every day. Last Month ISIS extremist carried out a series of attacks in Europe, notably in Paris, killing hundreds. The common denominator in both these examples is that the crimes were committed by Islamic extremist.
The funny thing about extremism is that it brings out extremism in others. As ISIS carried out its terrible crimes xenophobic extremist fell over themselves to blame all Muslims. Tony Abbott didn’t miss a beat, fear mongering against and chastening Islamic people at every turn. Donald Trump in the United States has called for Muslims in the country to carry identity and others to be banned from entering the the United States.
Closer to home we have had the exceedingly embarrassing Reclaim Australia Rallies where fanatical Australian’s were telling all and sundry that if they wanted to live here that they had to be like Australians. The reality is that they were telling people of Islamic faith to get out of the country. And anyway if that is what being Australian means, they can shove it some place where the sun don’t shine.
It shits me. There is no other word I can use. What is it about some humans that makes them think that they are superior? What is it about nations that makes them think that their way of life is superior to other nations? When did we become so arrogant that we decided that our own way of life was the only way and everyone had to live that way or fuck off? It is appalling.
And Christians? Were they not those wonderful people that gave rise to the Crusades that killed millions. Christians that gave rise to the Klu Klux Klan who use Christianity to justify White Supremism and lynchings of African Americans. Christians who gave rise to the Westbro Baptist church and its warped views and actions against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people. Christians who cover up sexual abuse in the Catholic church so much that an ex-Prime Minister refused to condemn a Cardinal that had been central to the cover-up. When did we become so holier than though? People in glass houses should not throw stones as they say. (And please Atheist, do not come on here and say it is all the fault of religion. For all its extremism there is much to admire about the values that of love, acceptance and support that are central to most religions.)
But I am tired of the negativity. I am tired of the racism. I am tired of the intolerance. Mostly I am tired that we give so much attention to arseholes. It’s Christmas soon so let us end the year on a positive and look at some of the great things that have happened this year.
- Young Australian of the Year is Deaf – We have to celebrate this because Drisana Levitzke – Gray has been an absolute ray of sunshine. At just 21 years of age she has carried the Deaf community this year. Did you see her performance on Kochie’s Angels? How did someone so young get so much wisdom. She was talking about domestic violence and the need for specialist and culturally appropriate services for domestic violence victims of the Deaf community. We are very lucky to have such a young, intelligent and passionate person to be leading the way for the future of the Deaf community.
- Deaf Nyle DiMarcio wins America’s Top Model – I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this one. But like Drisana Nyle has used his success to advocaate for the needs of the Deaf community at every turn. The coverage and attention he has brought to the needs of the Deaf community has been matched only by our own Drisana. How down to earth was he? Said Nyle, ” I just want to say that you are complaining about your hair. Do you see me complaining about my deafness? No I am not. I feel like you guys are complaining about something so simple.”
- Jamie Brewer becomes the first model with Down Syndrome to model on the prestigious New York Fashion Week. She apparently stole the show. Said Jamie, ” Young girls and even young women see me and say, HEY, if she can do it so can I!”
- Alastair McEwin becomes Chair of the Disability Council NSW. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer man and the fact that he is deaf is the cherry on the top. Alastair and I go back a long way. I’m gonna take some of the credit cos I interviewed him and sent him to an Australian Association of the Deaf Youth Camp way back in 94 or 95. He hasn’t looked back since. Good on you Alastair! Just another example of Deaf people making it to the very top.
- Let’s Talk About It – Deaf People and Mental Health Conference – I have to mention this one. With my partner in crime, Melissa Coe, I wrote the submission that secured the funding for this conference. Why is this notable? Well because it was organised by Deaf people for Deaf people. From top to bottom the conference was organised entirely by Deaf people and the stars of the conference were the Deaf people themselves who shared their very personal and harrowing stories. Through their courage we sowed the seeds to create a better mental health support system for Deaf people. The conference was from the grassroots up, deaf people taking control and this is how it should be. It was attended by Deaf people and hearing people alike from all over Australia! Without doubt one of the proudest moments of my career. Who can ever forget that Poem by Kate Frost that debuted at the conference? It has gone viral. Watch it again below.
There is so much to celebrate yet we hear so very little of it. I want to end this year on a high and I want 2o16 to start and finish that way. Let us no longer give a voice to the negative extremist from both sides. It is time for humanity to take control. We can do that with simple random acts of kindness – to ourselves and others.
So have a happy Xmas everyone. Even if you are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist or an Atheist come join us in celebrating Xmas. If any non Christians out there would like to invite me or others to join them in their own religious ceremonies, I would be very honoured. A little bit of respect can go along way!
Here is to 2016 – A better and brighter year. What better way to start it than with the Australian Deaf Games!
So by way of a Christmas Card I present you all with this video – Just Random Acts of Kindness – Try it sometime!