An Age of Influence

kindOn the weekend two of my sons had a bit of biff baff. I didn’t know. It is not unusual for brothers to come to blows. Young kids can have a bit of argy-bargy. Except my sons are not little, they are grown men.

I didn’t know. Being Deaf I am oblivious to what is happening in the rest of the house. I was in the backroom watching After Life with Ricky Gervais. I was having a little chuckle as Ricky threatened an 8-year-old with a hammer if he should so much as touch his godson again. Then one of my sons came storming in, red-faced and puffing.

“Why are you puffing?”

“He is a maniac”

“Who?”

“They are my friends not his”

“What, what, what you on about?”

“He tried to hit me, he is nuts!”

After about 10 minutes conversing in this vain I pieced together the puzzle. The short story was one was playing Playstation online. The other did not like it, because it was with his friends. One said, “They like me better…” The other didn’t like that and tried to forcibly turn off the Playstation. Then BOOOOOOOOOOM – the biff baff started. Somewhere along the line one screamed – “You do that again and I will put you in the ground.” I deciphered all this, eventually, while at the same time trying to keep the peace.

This bout of brotherly love bothered me. It made me question myself as a parent. What have I done that makes this sort of behaviour remotely possible? I get angry sometimes and swear. I can be aggressive at sport. Throw tantrums at golf. I am far from the perfect being. But I am not violent towards others. I don’t punch people. I certainly don’t threaten to, “Put them in the ground.”

Nevertheless I realised that certain elements of my behaviour would have influenced my lads. I can be loud, I can swear and I can punch things (not people) when frustrated. I recognised that a little of the hot headedness in them comes from me. I needed to take responsibility for that.

It was a weekend of violence. Over in New Zealand a crazed Australian gunman shot dead 50 people and critically injured just as many. The world is in shock at this terrible act of violence and needless loss of life. The gunman was a white supremacist. His target was Muslims and at their place of worship.

At the place they probably felt most safe he shot them. He shot them knowing full well they would be sitting ducks. It was a senseless and incomprehensible tragedy.

In the wake of all this an Australian politician, Senator Fraser Anning, blamed Muslims for their own death. He said if we had not let them immigrate in the first place none of the deaths would happen. He basically said “You came here, so it’s your fault!”

Unsurprisingly this caused uproar. There were  calls to remove Anning from parliament. A petition was circulated on Social Media calling for his removal. It, apparently, received in excess of 1 million signatures. Politicicians came out of the wood work to condemn the attacks. Many of these politicians, including our Prime Minister, had previously expressed anti-Muslim propaganda themselves. Let us look at some of the things that they have said.

  • In 2011, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, February 17, 2011 – Scott Morrison, our now Prime Minister, urged his party to capitalise on the electorates growing concerns about Muslim immigration and the inability of Muslim migrants to integrate,”
  • On Wednesday 3 January, 2018, Peter Dutton claimed that Victorians are scared to go out to restaurants  because of African Gang Violence.
  • Phil Coorey writing in the Financial review quotes ex Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, defending people’s rights to be anti-Muslim. Abbott is alleged to have said, ” Islamaphobia, unlike terrorism, never killed anybody. (People in New Zealand would beg to differ.)
  • SBS News, 23 March 2017, Pauline Hanson calls to ban the Muslim faith altogether.
  • The last word to Dutton,  22 November 2016, ABC news claims Dutton said ex Prime Minister Fraser made a mistake by letting in Lebanese Muslim migrants in the 70s.

Let’s not forget Sco Mo claiming that migrants are responsible for the congestion in Australia’s major cities. Not poor planning, just too many migrants.

Just yesterday David Koch on Sunrise attacked Pauline Hanson for her anti-Muslim propaganda. He virtually blamed her for the rise of hate speech and white supremacist. True, but Sunrise for many years have allowed Hanson to spout her bile. I don’t see them taking any responsibility.

And that’s the thing. Politicians and the media have to take responsibility for promoting the very propaganda that fueled the views of this deranged man who cold bloodedly murdered Muslims in New Zealand. If I can accept that my actions contributed to my sons behaviours, then our politicians and our media have to accept their role in these murders. Including Koch, who was more than happy to share a TV screen with Hanson for many years. He can hardly blame her for all of it.

Consider this. New Matilda, March 3 2018, claims that Murdoch Newspapers printed 2891 stories trashing Islam in a single year. And if it is not the trashing of Islam it is the white privilege bias. The picture below is from a British newspaper but it could well be an Australian Murdoch press.

On the one hand the white man who killed people in New Zealand was once an angelic little boy. On the other hand a Muslim responsible for the same kind of atrocity in a gay night club is somehow an ISIS maniac. Just born that way, you see. By virtue of being a Muslim. Yes, the media  have a lot to answer for.

Which brings us to Egg Boy. He is the guy that smashed an egg over Fraser Anning’s head. He is just 17 year old and who for his trouble copped a punch or two from Anning and was more or less beaten up by Anning’s minders.

Egg Boy has become an overnight sensation. Every one loves him and Social Media is in overdrive encouraging people to egg Anning just as he did. Egg Boy is even so much of a sensation that he has made Washington Post and late night TV all over the world. He is also quite astute and had this to say,

” Let me inform you guys, Muslims are not Terrorists and Terrorism has no religion. All those that consider Muslims a Terrorist community have empty heads like Anning.”

So Egg Boy is a hero. But should he be? Well no, in my view he shouldn’t be. While I can empathise with his views, addressing violence with violence is never the answer. Yes, smashing an egg over Anning’s head is violence. If we have learnt anything over the last few days it is that violence leads to tragedy. We should not condone it in any form. No matter how strong our feelings are about Anning.

So I wont be joining the Egg Campaign. I certainly won’t  be encouraging others to egg Anning, or anyone for that matters. I am certainly going to be more aware of the language I use. For example, I called Ableist people swine (pigs) in a recent post. Violence is in many forms, physical and verbal. I have to acknowledge that I am also guilty of that.

My take from all of this is that we all of have more influence than we care to acknowledge. It’s fine for us to blame politicians and the media but we are now part of the media itself. Through Social Media we have the ability to influence and even be complicit in violence against others. A violent photo. A sexist meme. Racist comments. All of these influence others, probably just as much as Murdoch’s 2891 anti-Islam stories.

We can change this, simply by modelling and doing the right thing. Be kind to each other, because this is the age of influence.

” Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napoleon Hill, American Author

 

 

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The World that We Live

Picture shows former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, at a rally alongside a sign that says ditch the witch.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.

Maya Angelou

Happy International Womens Day. I have been lucky in life to grow up and work with strong women. Nearly all my bosses have been women. I am married to a woman who is very strong, scarily so. She is never backward in reminding me and our three lads when we are sexist. My mother was a person, while old fashioned, who taught me to go out there and take the world on and never take a backward step. I have learnt from the best. I am lucky.

Sadly for all those women that were my boss the person above them was nearly always a man. You can have women as managers but the ultimate prize at the top of the organisation is nearly always a man. Even when I have sat on Boards the President has nearly always been a man.

I am a social worker, It is a profession that employs mostly women. You know helping and caring is womens business in this world. Wanting a better world and empathising for the disadvantaged, puzzlingly, is seen as womens business. Nurses are predominantly women. Teachers are predominantly women. Yet even though this is so the people at the top, the CEOs, the school principles, the managing directors and so on are still overwhelmingly male.

This is what I am reminded of on International Womens Day. I am reminded that men control everything. Men are paid better. Men pull the strings. And when a woman does manage to get up to the top they face insurmountable barriers and prejudice.

Who can forget what happened to Julia Gillard. She dressed poorly. She spoke badly. She was barren because she didn’t have children. The then opposition leader Tony Abbott proudly stood in front of a banner stating, “Ditch the Witch” It was disgusting.

None of this is ever experienced by a male. If they do not have children they are career driven. If they are single minded they are tough. If they are ambitious they are hardworking. But not women.  Nearly always these so called strong traits in men are considered a negative in women.

Yet despite this Julia Gillard was, arguably, the most effective Prime Minister that we have ever had. Even though she presided over a minority Government she had a rate of passing legislation in parliament higher than any Australian Prime Minister in history. She was not just tough, she was effective, skilled and a supreme negotiator. History will be a lot kinder to her than politics was. Or men were for that matter.

Compare her achievements to the current Liberal Government that can hardly get any legislation through Parliament. When they fail it is because of a hostile senate and not because they are a male dominated Government that are well – SHIT! Excuses abound but the reality is that they are rubbish. Julia Gillard set an example for them to follow and they have failed miserably.

So this is International Womens Day. It is actually sad that we even have to have it. We have to have a day where we remind ourselves how important women are. Fancy that? That’s quite sad when you think of it. But it’s needed because every day a woman is beaten or murdered by someone who is male. Every day women are belittled by men and treated like sex objects, and yes even I am guilty of this sometimes. Everyday women are paid less than men, often for doing the same work. This is unfathomable to me.  And I am only talking about Australia. Let’s not forget other parts of the world where it is even worse.

But this is Australia today. It’s a country that discriminates by habit. Just this morning there is a story where the Ibis Hotel in Alice Springs puts all Aboriginal people that they deem as from “The Communities.” In one of six rooms. An investigation of these rooms by the ABC found these rooms to be filthy and not on par with the rooms that privileged and predominantly white people stay. Then wheelchair users can’t get in planes and blind people cant get a Uber if they have a guide dog. It happened this week.

It almost seems that discrimination is ingrained in our culture to the point where it is acceptable. This is the world that we live.

But anyway – Happy International Womens Day to all the women in my life. As an aside, what say we appoint Julia Gillard to head the Royal Commission into the Abuse and Deaths of People with a Disability. Now that would be something to celebrate on International Womens Day. God help us if they appoint another doddering retired judge who is a Government lackey. It is the last thing that we need!

 

 

 

 

An Ableist Swine!!

Dr Tim Jones writes for the Aim Network. They are a kind of left leaning online Ezine. Like Crikey and The Conversationalist they are having a field day with the current Liberal Party who are dead on their feet. Which would make them Zombies. Except Zombies are scary and dangerous and the Liberals are totally impotent.

Dr Jones wrote a very good article about Julie Bishop. Remember her. That lovely woman who walked out of parliament the moment the discussion of the Bill for a Royal Commission into the Abuse and Deaths of People with a Disability started. That lovely woman who refused to support the compensation claims of Asbestos victims. Or the woman who voted 26 times against a Royal Commission into our corrupt banking sector. She was just lovely our Julie.

But anyway she quit. She quit and she said she would have won the election if the Liberals had made her their leader. This is common among Liberals. When they are upset about something they resign and say the Liberals will win the next election. They then proceed to shoot the party down with a machine gun. Remember Abbott – I won’t be an ex-Prime Minister who meddles or Turnbull who got his son to go about rubbishing the Liberals so that they lost his previously safe seat that had been with the Liberals for 90 years.

But anyway the good thing is that The Liberals are toast. They are done, they are finished. And good riddance to bad rubbish. This was the gist of Dr Jones article. And it was great until Dr Jones turned out to be a dirty, rotten and nasty ableist swine.

Why? Well he said this – “Their leadership is ineffective, with ProMo (Morrison) and Friesenburger (Josh Frydenberg) having the communication skills of Helen Keller”

I will give the reader a moment to digest that.

For those that may not know, Helen Keller is one of the most famous people ever. She was a disability activist, feminist, academic woman who also happened to be Deafblind. Keller is famous all over the world. Keller had a fine intellect and she wrote widely. She travelled the world. She met royalty and Prime Ministers. She was revered everywhere.

This extremely accomplished woman wrote no less than 12 books in her life time. She was the first Deafblind woman to earn a Bachelor degree. She was a philanthropist. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. More tellingly Time magazine ranked her in the top 100 most influential people of the 20th Century

In short she was no mug. She had an enormous intellect and she communicated just fine thank you very much. Very fine indeed.

Yet Dr Jones makes a mockery of her! If our Prime Minister, indeed any of our politicians, had the intellect and communication skills of Helen Keller I dare say they wouldn’t have the crap reputation and gross mistrust that they have now. If they had a smattering of the intellect of Keller politics would be better for it.

Yet because Keller was Deafblind and communicated reading lips with her fingers, receiving messages through tactile signs and with interpreters somehow Dr Jones feels that he can belittle her and how she communicated. Somehow alternate communication equates to not being able to communicate at all. Yes, let that sink in too.

That is sad. It is not just sad it is rank. It shows that this world of ours is as ableist as it has ever been. People with a disability cannot be on the same level as anyone else. We are to be pitied, mocked and disregarded. Even if we are among the top 100 influential people the world has ever known! Yes that is what you did Dr Jones!

Shame on you Dr Jones. You may have got it right about the Liberals but at the end of the day you are nothing but an ableist swine!! Let’s see if you have the gumption to apologies or perhaps you are just no better than the politicians you have just so gleefully written off!