Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-3-5134 8556

+61-4-1349 7828

December 2006 # 3

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Back to Editorials 2006

Our Legacy

We are at a crossroad this Christmas. As a society and as individuals we are entering a period of time in which technology, politics, law, morality and wealth all collide, collapse and engulf each other. The battle lines have been drawn and it is going to be a tough fight. We have to ask ourselves, “When I’ve left this battle, what legacy will I leave for those who follow?”


Since the beginning of history, in our quest for understanding, the human species has tried to manipulate its environment in order to shape it into something it can grasp. Something not ephemeral but something real and tangible.


To that end we have gotten out of bed and gone to toil in fields, factories or offices. We have found some expression of love and made children we hope one day will inherit the world we are trying to recreate. We have tried to better our economic or whatever status in the token system we live under. We have participated in joint, volunteer endeavours with colleagues, neighbours and friends. We have died asking ourselves, “what did this all mean?”


Who was it that said, “peace is a messy business”? We are, supposedly, entering into the season of peace and goodwill. A time where we stop for a moment and reflect on the year past and try and define our hopes and aspirations for the year hence. For some this year, this quiet time will be like a dry sponge soaking up their souls and draining them of emotion. They are the ones who will, this Christmas, not be able to share a future with their loved ones.


As a species we have advanced to the point, technologically, where we can shoot missiles hundreds of miles and never have to witness the rendering of a human bodies to atomised pieces. Technological advances also allow us to sew up the holes in bodies where limbs used to attach. We have evolved politically to the point where we have abdicated personal responsibility for the direction our society takes and the collective decisions it makes to hand picked individuals who will only represent the party ideology they adhere to.


These same ideological adherents then find themselves locked into a system that exists for its own protection and therefore ensures that it controls the ability to sanction those who dissent from its goals. These laws are promulgated in the name of ‘morality’ or ‘values’ or ‘the Australian way of life’ when in reality they are nothing of the sort. The ability to carry out these reactionary programs is supported by the sweat of our brows as they claw from us taxes, charges, fees, levies and tolls.


My country has become infected with a virus that is spreading virulence unknown and unseen in previous times. We are being betrayed by ourselves and have accepted a collective self-delusion so grand it threatens to swallow us whole.


In my country, as I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, I heard about the great vastness of the land. I was told, “get a trade son and you’ll work till you retire”. I was able to travel with school friends who were Greek, Dutch, Italian, Lebanese and German without fear or consideration of race. Sure, we Protestants hated the Catholics, but we knew they were going to hell anyway. And I think it was the day I realised the absurdity of this particular ideology that I began to reflect on the real world around me.


Catholic, ‘Asian’, Afghan, Muslim. It doesn’t matter what the label is we use to classify the individual or their group, all of us carry baggage that prevents us from totally being able to ‘connect’ with the stranger. It is this baggage that causes us to fear what might occur if “they” took over. This is the terror of the Old World. In our New World, this one being shaped, in part by us, is one in which there is no effort being made to unpack the baggage but, in fact, to stuff much more baggage into it!


The same technologies used by rescue workers to rescue to blokes from deep under the cold Tasmanian soil is used to locate other men whose fate is sealed in a ‘bunker buster’. The politics of loathing concoct the orders to carry out this abysmal act. The legal fallacies of “we will decide who comes to this country and the conditions under which they come” are still used in an attempt to justify the unjustifiable.


I find it ironic that after all the history of the human race that precedes us, we are entering a time in which, for all our technology, laws, politics, moral philosophy and ability to create wealth, we will, collectively, spend this Christmas in a far more fearful and timid state than I can remember. So I ask you, for whom are we making the world safe from terror? Certainly not the children of Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Sudan, Palestine or, so it seems, the children who play on backyard swings in the suburbs and towns in Australia.


Two paths are before us in 2007. On the first we face a potential reality that is more harsh, more extreme and more isolating than any previous time we have known. On the second we can create a much better reality. One in which justice, fairness, creativity and love prevail. If, in our endeavours we willingly work for the first, why is it we are not willing to work even harder for the second? Both are possibilities and the first, at this time, seems likely to prevail. However, if you, like me, are not content with blindly accepting the status quo and are feeling the rub of those baggage straps digging into your shoulders, then could I suggest you join in the great struggle to overthrow our fears and terrors.


Finally, in offering you my Season’s Greetings could I suggest that, for one meal this festive season, you set one extra place at your table. That empty place can be your symbol of unity with all those families who this year will spend Christmas without a loved one. You can read into that act any other symbolism you want.


Whether its for those killed by US, British or Australian bombs in far off lands, or soldiers killed by resistance fighters, or young men and women killed in car accidents in your town, or the victims of drug overdoses in the back streets of your city or death by old age surrounded by family and friends, it’s not really important. The point is to remember that death comes to us all eventually. It’s really about what we do in this life that is important and it is the lingering effects of the deeds we do in this life that will be our legacy.

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