Reblogged: “Please Refrain”

Agree with this so much. It’s a brilliant speech given by Elise Curwood, a Year 12 student at Siena College this year.

Picture this. You’re a fish and chip shop owner from Ipswich. You decide to stand up and speak about what you believe in. Surprisingly, you’re not alone. People stand behind you, encourage you. They say run for government. You’re now an independent member of parliament. You’re a household name. Incredibly vocal and passionate, you’ve landed an interview. But you don’t understand one key word that is most associated to the issue that you use as your platform. Upon hearing this common word, you say, “please explain”.

Look, say what you will about the pin up girl for Islamophobia in Australia Pauline Hanson, but she sure makes a mighty fine mirror for the Australian society. Something very important to keep in mind when you look at Pauline is that you’re not seeing one crazy woman being run by her own ideas. She doesn’t brainwash anyone. You’re simply seeing one crazy woman pooling together a culmination of ideas stemming from groups of people being told that they should be scared.

This year, we have all heard, over and over again the word Islamophobia being used on a group of people, often middle aged white men from Bendigo who are really just looking for something to be angry at when the Denni Ute Muster isn’t on. So before I tap into this group of fantastic Australians, I want to talk about the application of the term ‘islamophobia’.

The term goes back to 1918 France. Trust; and it implies a fear of Islam. This is where I have an issue with the word Islamophobia as it projects the sense that there is a mental illness, a genuine phobia of Islam. This is truly not the case within Australia, because really if you had a phobia of Islam you wouldn’t go and beat up the adherents. Applying this term to such a large number of people gives it an identity, a conscience if you will. It totally absolves the ‘islamophobic’ any responsibility of changing their view or learning more of what they’re scared of. In Australia the term is rendered obsolete anyway. Because these people who are ‘islamophobic’ aren’t scared of Islam. They aren’t scared of the monotheistic, Abrahamic religion that inspired Christianity. No. They’re scared of brown people. They’re scared of immigrants and refugees. And after 9/11 every brown person, black person, immigrant and or refugee was considered a Muslim. And because they are Muslim, they are considered a terrorist, a fundamentalist, a threat.

We have all seen the effect of a post 9/11 world. This is what my generation have grown up with. Now this isn’t new to Australia, racism is what has built our very foundation. But something new to me and my age group, is Australia’s habit of social distancing. And this social distancing has led to anger and violent responses. The fact that we label people as Muslim, that we reduce them to simply their Islamic identity shows that we don’t actually look at the as human. The Sydney Morning Herald interviewed 9 Australians on being Islamic in our country. A common thread between all these different 9 people, with different lives and professions, was that they were labeled a Muslim before anything else. They spoke of faith being important to them and that it founded their belief systems, but they also spoke of their peers being an Australian before being their faith. Muslims have been reduced to sexist caricatures, oppressed women and violent men. This labeling has led to marginalization and marginalization has led to a group of Australians being terrified to live.

We all know the United Patriots Front of Australia and their involvement in Islamic hate. In 2015, 1,000 people demonstrated against a proposal to build a Mosque in Bendigo. The best thing about the Patriotic Front is their togetherness, if one of them feels disgusted by Muslims, they all feel disgusted; to an extent, that the majority of the demonstrators at the Bendigo Mosque weren’t actually from Bendigo. They had travelled as far from Sydney, Adelaide and Queensland. Racism doesn’t take a holiday. It is time to stop excusing the actions of these people by calling them islamophobes and call them out for what they really are: blatant racists.

There is no easy way to tackle anti-islamic behavior in our modern day society. There is no pill or quick fix. We need to burn down all pre-established conceptions everywhere that there is a superior faith and a superior way of life. The fact that we are dehumanizing Australians and seeing them as just their faith shows, that no one is looking at them as a human. How can you expect people to show mercy if no one is seeing them as people. It is time to stand up and get angry. We are in such a privileged position and we are not utilizing it. To fight racists and xenophobes you don’t just remind them of the Crusades where Catholics slaughtered Muslims, that was hundreds of years ago. You point out the fact that there is nothing to be scared of. You point out the fact that the majority of Australians celebrate our multicultural nation. You tell them that Islam isn’t sexist. You remind them that the Halal Snack Pack exists and it is in that Styrofoam box of crispy chips covered in melt in your mouth meat where true happiness can be found. So please just stop the racism and replace it with random acts of kindness and mercy instead.

Elise Curwood – Year 12 Siena College.
Awarded the Antonio de Montesinos Award for Excellence in Public Speaking 2016.

Pay It Forward

I follow this page called Humans in Melbourne on Facebook. It’s a great page, a mixture of photography (love the shots displayed) and life stuff, about the Humanity of Melbourne (his about page contains the full, awesome description).

Recently, the page admin, Chris, has been trying to start something. After almost getting a parking ticket the other day, he resolved to “pay forward” the fine he nearly got.

The fine: $155. That story here:

On Monday, he started paying it forward by handing out a bunch of ice-cold water bottles (the top temperature in Melbourne got to 35*C that day) to people around the city.

“Money paid forward so far 27.50
Money left to pay forward 127.50”

Now there’s an idea.

I’m going to start keeping track of the good things happening that we might miss, but are the things we need to lift us up instead of drag us down. Like the initiative I posted about last week – I’ve got my badge and am wearing it.

I wonder what Chris and other Humans will come up with next…

P.S. Chris has been nominated for a Local Hero award – vote for him by midnight Sunday (23:59 AEDT Sunday 27th November)!


On Monday night I watched a brilliant, heart-squeezing documentary on Four Corners. It was one reporter, Liz Jackson, turning the camera on herself and her life, focusing on her diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. It was amazing to watch and brought up lots of feelings to the surface.

One major theme the documentary explored, as part of the journey of living through the disease, was fear – or so it seemed to me. Fear of losing control; of being unloved/ unlovable; and of losing the self: the mental and physical capacities. The title of the report was called, “Sense of Self” even. It’s a vulnerable position.

It resonated. Like Liz, I’ve prided myself on my intelligence, both emotional and cognitive. I hate the idea of losing that…even though (barring some catastrophic event) the possibility is a long way off. Years down the track, if it were to happen. As I said to someone the other night, it’s the great trade-off…long life sounds nice (in theory) but is there much point to it if you don’t know you’re that old? (For example.) I know it’s a lot more complicated than that, but it still lingers. We humans often spend a lot of time ignoring our own mortality and debilitation – to have the courage to face it, as Liz Jackson has done through this documentary, is admirable.

The show really shows how harsh a diagnosis – and the aftermath – can be. Parkinson’s disease is incurable. It comes with a range of symptoms, not just the stereotypical tremors, which can range in severity. The impressions I got from the show were that such a diagnosis is bloody challenging, especially when it involves severe unusual symptoms (as is the case with Liz). Also that there’s a lot of trust needed between people in this situation, but to trust someone with your own life can be difficult, even when you’ve known and loved them for years.

The show reminded me of a quote I read recently: “where there is love there is life” ~ Mahatma Gandhi. I agree wholeheartedly.

One journalist in the Guardian wrote his own reflection on the show – it’s a good one.

Thank you Liz and husband Martin, not to mention the rest of your family, for your bravery and your candour in creating this piece.



WT&TT: reblog – Down With ‘Show Don’t Tell’

Interesting! I love the suggestions of what advice to give instead.

As always, read more by clicking on the link.

Down with show don’t tell

Aug 22, 2016 10:35 am

‘Show Don’t Tell’ is one of the most common pieces of writing advice around (followed closely by ‘Kill Your Darlings’ which is daft but that’s another post). The problem with show don’t tell is that it’s unspecific. And also just kind of impossible.

Supermoon TONIGHT

Hi everyone!

Check this out:

Basically, the full moon is going to look really big tonight, the biggest in 70 years and it won’t get this big again for another 18 years. Apparently the best times to see it (if in Victoria, Australia) are just after it’s risen (19:40, AEDT), before the sun sets (around 20:00, AEDT). For other Australian locations, see the link above. I don’t know times/locations for any other countries, sorry.

From the article: “…those who wish to see the extra-super moon rise should go at dusk to an east-facing beach or to the highest point of a hill or mountain with unobstructed views to the east. … According to ScienceAlert, the supermoon is going to be best seen on a dark location, away from the city lights. The best time to take photos will be at about 12:52 a.m. AEST* of Nov. 15, when the moon reaches its full state.”

The Science Alert article has more details, including this:
“During the event, which will happen on the eve of November 14, the Moon will appear up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an average full moon.” (The Science Alert article also explains why that occurs and so on.)

😀 Perfect timing!

* = The articles quote “AEST”, the acronym for Australian Eastern Standard Time. In NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, we’re on AEDT, Australian Eastern Daylight (Savings) Time, so the correct time for those states will be 01:52 am.

Apparently if it’s clear enough, we’ll be able to see landmarks like the Sea of Tranquillity with our naked eyes! *Glances outside* Come on, clouds, clear by tonight please!


Take to the High Road

Yes, I’m doing one of “those” posts, the sort that many people on social media are doing at the moment. Why? My reasons are that I am a global citizen (and a woman, at that) who is affected, even peripherally in Australia. I am also a bit of a politico and a proud social justice advocate and friend of different people. So, this stuff matters.

I was pretty pissed off about the results when I first heard. I mean – seriously? Trump as President??  O_O

I’m disappointed because of what that means.
I’m also disappointed because I liked Clinton. I didn’t agree with everything she said, but I liked her. She’d have been good. Now, America will go from two great terms of a great President, Barack Obama, to a wanker like Trump?

I’ve seen things going around on Facebook saying “If you voted for Trump, unfriend me”. I’m not doing that. In part because, looking at my feed, I don’t really have to – pretty much all the people I regularly see things from are on the same page as me. I am able to ignore any who aren’t – I have that privilege.

Unfriending and ignoring is a good strategy in the short term to avoid being swept into a pile of bad emotions. That’s my first thing: if you’re rattled by what’s going on atm, step away, as much as you can, at least for a little while. I’m doing that. Engage with people around you who share your views to build support. We will eventually need that support to unite and fight back (globally, in our different areas) against the separate-but-connected stupid sh** that’s been building in different places.

Another reason why unfriending purely on voting won’t quite work is that I recognise that this situation occurred from a mess of factors/reasons and that some people who voted Trump voted for legitimate (i.e. not sexist/racist/power-hungry/other stupid fear- & control-based) reasons. Like – the anti-establishment feelings and all that, especially in places where industry has been down and people have felt left behind or forgotten about? I get that. Unfortunately, they’re lumped in together now with the -ists mentioned above, the ones who I wouldn’t want to have on my feed in the first place. Trump et al – as I see it – have only used that anti-establishment support to shore up his ugly sexist/racist/etc. base. That challenge will have to be negotiated at some point: I don’t think your “great America” and his are the same. (For those whom it is the same, well – that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)

I am going to draw close to my “tribe” so to speak. If there’s something this has reminded me of, it’s how we can support one another. I’m also going to choose to, as my friend put it, “see the love not the hate”. Which does not, as she explained succinctly, mean ignoring hate – it means calling other people on their sh**, while “spending my life turning today’s ****storm into something worthwhile” by helping others however we can. For example, the “Take My Seat” badges initiative. I’m getting on board!

As I saw elsewhere on Facebook: “We must keep doing this, and other things, and other things, because we clearly have to take responsibility for connection and community into our own hands. No-one in power is worth a tinker’s cuss when it comes to this stuff. How people get to run the joint when they have the emotional intelligence of a kilo of lead poisoning is beyond me. But there you go. And those of us who have some, well, obviously we need to share it around.” ~ Fiona

We’re in for a bumpy ride as global citizens in the next little while (with bumpiness increasing in certain directly-hit areas). We can pull through though – and be the change we want to see. Let’s harness that – the power of kindness, rather than fear.

So cuddle your pets and hug your friends and family, arrange meet-ups and just generally affirm each other. Walk through nature and share funny/cute/etc. things – seek out joy and hope. We’ve been knocked a few times this year, but we’ll keep fighting.

You know what? Something I really hope for is that these events, this year – if they’re not the peak, then they’re the start of a crest of unpleasantness. My second hope is that the events will cause us progressives, in all forms, to unite more strongly, more globally, and see off the sh**. Maybe it’s a long shot, but sometimes, that’s the best shot. (The link is an awesome song I heard yesterday when searching for distractions.)

Thinking about this just made me remember this, too:
The important quote starts at 0:43.

Sums it up well, I reckon. There are a bunch of other quotes from different fandoms I could use, too.