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Letters from Downunder


Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

We were twinned lambs that did frisk I’ the sun, and bleat the one at the other; what we changed was innocence for innocence; we knew not the doctrine of ill-doing, no, nor dreamed that any did. Shakespeare, The winter’s Tale.

(9/2016) Recently we have had some shocking revelations here in Australia over the treatment of aboriginal children in detention. Indigenous peoples here have always been treated as second-class citizens, more often as non-people with very few rights. There is an analogy here to the treatment of the descendants of slaves in your country, with both over-represented in jails, in low standard housing and jobs, in gangs on drugs, with distrust and dislike from whites and a desire to have them out of sight and mind.

The practices exposed in the past month by investigative journalists and aired on television have shocked the public and sent politicians scurrying for cover. We all knew, or guessed, that the treatment of adult natives was pretty ordinary, but probably justified as they were booze-addled no-good riff-raff who deserved what they got – but when the images of fifteen-year-olds strapped to chairs, hooded, left in solitary, being thrown to the ground, stripped, handcuffed, kicked and slammed in to walls went to air the outcry was immediate and loud.

It soon became apparent that the relevant politicians and police officers had known about it for quite a while, but were either too stupid to realize the outcry if it was exposed or convinced that it was in the interests of safety, law and order, and thus mandated by society. Maybe both, but the federal government finally got the message and have now appointed a royal commission to look into it. After many years of ignored reports, inquiries and pleas, such is the state of out political parties at present, (almost equally divided in the lower house, minorities holding the balance of power in the senate), there is no chance of it being swept under the carpet ever again.

Sickening as that revelation was, it is, by comparison, far less evil than the training of child soldiers in Africa. These youngsters will never be ‘human’ in the normal sense of the word, for children are permanently moulded by such overwhelming experiences, and the destruction of their innocence will leave them without the ability to know the difference between the right to have life and death, or to look on others as trusted friends, to raise their own children with understanding in peace.

Roumania tried this kind of thing after the second world war when they deprived babies of human contact, while many children have been, and are exploited and fatally desecrated by the pernicious sex trade, or made to become drug mules or – the list goes on and on in heartrending detail – but there is one practice that, to my mind, far outweighs all these horrors. That is the introduction of children to the world of firearms.

Not to turn them into soldiers, not to exploit their innocence for gain, but to mould them to a way of looking at society as being dangerous, inimical, and threatening. The worst aspect of this is the learnt conviction that if they ARE threatened they can take their gun and kill the person who they believe is threatening them. That it is morally right, legal and justified. That their own safety is top priority, that others matter less than them, and that asking questions can be done after the deed. This is so illogical, so contrary to every value and teaching upon which civilisation has been built that the outcomes upon society and community can only be contemplated with horror.

The consequences for the children themselves can only be much worse. To teach children that the value of a human life is theirs to determine is to place upon them a burden so heavy that sanity will decay, compassion be erased, and paranoia become the norm. It may be introduced as a game, or as a necessity to preserve their life, which is to instil the concept of ‘me first, second, and before all else.’ The stuff of megalomania, not relationship; of superiority, not cooperation – and that is an outcome too terrible to think about in everyday life or in international policy.

Except think about it we must, because the American gun lobby has become feral , both in its pursuit of profit and dismissal of the consequences. The welfare of children and families is secondary, the heartrending outcome of innocent death upon the families involved a minor price to pay, the descent of society as a whole into meaninglessness is morphed into a gulag of glad acceptance. For this is the consequence – society is perverted when children are abused. Any and all children, with the adoption of guns as a way of life an abuse approved by government.

That is the real repulsion of your society: That state sanctioned death by individual is condoned and accepted. One of he purveyors of this sickness could become your president, lending a Mephistophelean image to your world presence, the boast that he could go and shoot someone and not lose support being worse than anything Hitler or Stalin ever dreamt up. Consequences have always been a deterrent, the outcome of murder being the most severe, but not, apparently, in this case, meaning the rule of law is broken, that lawlessness reigns, and that the gun lobby is right.

What a sad conclusion about one of the greatest, noblest and most tolerant countries to have existed. That children, living in innocence and love, are made aware of the existence of the doctrine of ill-doing, that life is frightening and dangerous, that the lights of fairyland are actually from a laser rifle sight. My heart breaks at such a picture. I hope yours does too.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker