Sunday, 17 May 2015

Irrational Pride

I've been taking a little break, to recuperate mentally, physically, literarily & motivationally from Parody Week 2 and the Seasonal Cold that's blustered in with Winter. See, at time of writing, I have written over one hundred and ninety posts for this blog. And when I hit publish, this will be my 198th blog post. Yep, two away from two hundred.
I'm excited and anxious about it. I had hoped to write two Duke Forever posts - the first one as Chapter 12 [Party Crashers], and then another "Lost Chapter" in between, since I have some corrupted files that need straightening out into narrative order. But . . . I wasn't feeling it. It's a combination of the cold and the anxiety of working towards 200, and after Parody Week I was burnt out. So, while my second hundred's milestone ought to be fun, I think it's just going to be "business as usual" for 198 & 199 (unless I can sum up the wherewithal to write Chapter 12 for 199).

So, what's on my mind? Well, two things, but they're kinda interrelated, they occurred recently, but I didn't write my thoughts then firstly because, as I explained above, I was feeling buggered. But secondly, it would be a social faux pas, after all, both subjects are in regards to Death and Australian identity, and they are about recent events in my home country. So, now that the dust has settled, I have two things to talk about . . .
The corruption of ANZAC day, and the Death of the Bali 9 Duo. Oh yeah, I'm coming back swinging. The Word of the Day is: 'NATIONALISM'.

Nationalism /'nashnəlizəm/ n. 1. Love of one's own nation; patriotism. 2. Desire for national advancement or independence. 3. The policy of placing the interests of a nation above the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.

I consider myself a proud Australian. Each people has a different way of expressing pride for their nation. Stereotypically, America is loud and bombastic about it; England is self-deprecating but steadfast about it; Europe is self-assuredly cheeky about it & Australia, well, we've always been kinda reservedly reverent about it.
Sure, you get your bogans who wear the flag like a cape, but fuck those guys, I don't think they represent the vast majority. Among the people I call friend, when it comes to Australia, there's a kind of attitude like: "Well, yeah, we're the best country, but there's no need to make a fuss about it."
Don't get me wrong, a lot of countries think they're the best, and I'm not here to say you're wrong, because the point is, I think it's healthy to have a bit of pride about where you live. Perfection is Flawed, after all, so it's good to appreciate what you have; sure, we all have flaws, but when you're watching a game of footy, or a fellow countryman becomes famous on the world stage, or it's a national holiday - sure, don't worry about the flaws, just your national identity, I get that.

However . . . I think that Australia has started to show a real nasty side with its "national pride". For starters, I want to talk about ANZAC Day. For those of you that don't know, ANZAC day is a public holiday in Australia (and New Zealand, of course, don't forget our fallen Kiwis), it falls on April 25th, because that's the day that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (i.e. the ANZACs) landed at Gallipoli, which is the first battlefield where Australia fought as part of  World War I.
The day originally mourned those few fallen men, but these days ANZAC day is more than just WW1, as it commemorates all Australian & New Zealander soldiers, from any and every military operation, that have died fighting for the freedom of this Great Southern Land.

I like ANZAC Day, for two main reasons. First of all, the "Aussie Digger" is a part of our national identity, which alongside our "slacker" culture shows that we are a people that works hard and plays hard; we relax, but we go the hard yards when there's a job that needs doing.
Secondly, there's one line oft-repeated on this day, which represents what the day is about: Lest We Forget. This line comes from the Australian version of the "Ode of Remembrance":
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them - lest we forget.
This is not a celebration, rather we come together on this day in collective lamentation, for those who died in war, and we shall not forget that war is death, and has lead to the death of these young men, and we do not wish to repeat this mistake, we will not forget.

At least, that's what I think it means . . . but people don't seem to agree with me. Yes, we say that these men suffered and we regret their death, yet we dress up those that survived, celebrate them, parade them and say we are proud of them.
I'm sorry, but that's wrong in my eyes.
I appreciate soldiers, but not because I like what they do - I hate what they do, because I do not like murder, I do not like war, or death or killing or invading foreign countries, I am in no way proud of that. But, I'm a realist, and I know that some wars must be fought, some lands must be defended and some peaces cannot be kept. So, I appreciate that there are people who are brave enough to be the monster we have to be in order to protect ourselves from the other monsters.

When I remember war, and I commemorate ANZAC day, I am proud of those that fought, but as men, not fighters or killers. I am proud that these men and women were allowed to come home, take off their uniform and stop being soldiers.
That's what we're fighting for, right? To end the fight? To live free?
So, why do we get these 80+ year old survivors of war, and force them to wear a soldier's uniform? I'm proud that these men came back to become fathers and grandfathers. We should celebrate them as civilians in civilian clothing.
When I mourn those that died during war, it's not because I wanted to bring them home, pin them with medals and call them heroes . . . I don't think of soldiers as heroes; I don't begrudge them, they are brave people, but I mourn the dead because they weren't allowed to live in the peace that they were fighting for. They can't go down to the shops and buy bread and butter; they can't make a family and live with their highschool sweetheart & they can't go to the pub and have a drink with their mates.

I'm not asking us to condemn fighters; we need fighters. All I'm saying is, I don't celebrate soldiers, I mourn soldiers, lest we forget that war kills soldiers, in more ways than mere mortality . . .
Yet we celebrate them, because they are "Australian" soldiers that are "defending Australia". Sure, take the good with the bad, but that doesn't mean you should tacitly celebrate the death of Australians by celebrating Australia's decorated killers.

Speaking of "Death" and "Australians", on the 29th of April, 2015 at 12:25am Indonesian Central time, Andrew Chan & Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad, alongside six other death row prisoners. These two men were Australian citizens, arrested for drug trafficking in Indonesia, and in Indonesia, the penalty for drug trafficking is death.
As I said above, I don't like death. I don't want you for a second to think that I appreciate the death penalty, because I don't. This issue isn't about the death penalty, it's about hypocrisy. It's about nationalism.

These two men were members of the Bali 9, a group of convicted heroin smugglers who tried to export drugs from Indonesia to Australia, and were caught by Indonesian police. The seven other members of this group were given life sentences, after a lengthy legal process which threatened at least four others with death sentences, as appealed by the Supreme Court; but, ultimately, only Chan and Sukumaran had their death penalties upheld, because they were deemed to be the orchestrators of this conspiracy to traffic drugs.
These crimes are not taken lightly, if these men were arrested in Australia, they would still be criminals, and they would all receive 20-years to life sentences for what they did. However, they weren't arrested in Australia, they were arrested in Indonesia, and in that country they killed them.

However, over the last few months, the media has been waxing lyrical about how Indonesia just won't "give us back Chan and Sukumaran". They claim that Indonesia is being heartless for killing these reformed men (Chan became an ordained minister and Sukumaran . . . well, he painted flowers, I guess that means he's a good person), and for every single day for the four weeks leading up to their execution, the media would not shut up about how cruel it was to kill these two men.
These two men . . .

No. Just no, that is the most despicable thing I have ever heard about Australia.

I do not believe that Andrew Chan or Myuran Sukumaran deserved to die. But you know what? I also don't believe that Zainal Abidin; Raheem Agbaje Alaami; Martin Anderson; Rani Andriani; Marco Archer; Namaona Denis; Daniel Enemuo; Rodrigo Gularte; Tran Bich Hanh; Sylvester Obeikwe Nwolise; Okwudili Oyatanze or Ang Kiem Soei deserved to die either.
Those are twelve other people that were executed in Indonesia this year, for drug trafficking. In fact, two years ago, they also executed Jurit bin Abdullah; Ibrahim bin Ujang & Ademi "Abu" Wilson, for murder - I don't think they deserved to die either, because I do not believe in judicial murder.

However, as much as people in Australia talk about how this is a "human rights issue", I know that's bullshit. I know this because these two men were killed on April 29th and so were six other men. But the news media doesn't give a shit about those six other death row inmates. Even though this story has been in every news outlet in Australia, around the clock, I can't tell you which of the 12 people I listed above were the ones executed alongside Chan & Sukumaran, and I only have those names because I read them on Wikipedia.
I guess we don't care about human rights violations when those human beings came from places like Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia & Vietnam. And just as bad, the news has gone quiet. Yes, I heard about the funerals of these two men, but that's it. The "big news", at time of writing, is that there's a new, royal baby.

Indonesia is still killing people, but because none of those people are currently Australian, we don't care anymore . . . at least, most people don't. The worst part is, Australia is supposed to be inclusive. And let's be honest: "Chan"? "Sukumaran"? These men were both most likely from second-generation migrant families, so that's why this makes even less sense. It's not even a race issue, they just happened to stand on the same soil as us for a little while, yet those other people - many of whom probably wouldn't mind migrating into Australia - we don't seem to care as much about.
And don't even get me started on "Boat People" (aka what the Australian Government calls asylum seekers), I've already said my piece on Australia's crimes towards foreigners seeking respite from persecution.

Nationalism is supposed to be about taking the good with the bad, appreciating your country for what it is, because although we all make mistakes, there is pride to be had. But lately, it seems as though nationalism is more about empathy for fellow citizens and apathy for foreign persons.
We're supposed to be the young, fun-loving country, the inclusive haven for all that appreciate a few drinks around the barbeque and a day at the beach; yet, when the chips are down, we keep acting like a pack of drongos.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and for fuck's sake, Australia, get your act together. In the words of Albert Einstein: "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." - I reckon, if we can't do it properly, it's just about time we got over it.