The Aboriginal Ten Commandments

Australia Day certainly brings out many emotions. Pride. Passion. And I’m sorry to say, racism. I saw plenty of that on a couple of Facebook pages today. Here’s one:

Happy Australia Day ….. , Yes I know some of you will say invasion day, citizens day, genocide day ….. however I do not care… you nay sayers can go root a unicorn and fart out rainbows for all I care.

Charming. What a wonderful fellow.

Among the follow-up comments telling this racist chap how amazingly funny he is or how brilliant his statement was, came this equally ignorant quip:

If it wasn’t for Captain Cook none of us would be here . . .

Racism is a choice. Ignorance isn’t. But having said that, perhaps some people chose to remain ignorant. Like the commenter above.

Now here’s one from a real Aussie hero who didn’t like the idea that a particular person opposed the Government’s asylum seeker policy:

you sound like a big cry baby sore loser.

just accept the fact that half the country doesn’t want boat loads of leeches coming in here looking for a free ride (we have enough of our own thank you).

if you care about these “asylum seekers” so much, why don’t YOU take them in to YOUR home and look after them? put your money where your god damn mouth is, punk

But enough about the idiots. Just as there was some absolute bile on Facebook today, there was also a fair amount of the opposite, such as something posted by an Aboriginal friend: The Aboriginal Ten Commandments. It had no hate, no patriotism, nor racism. It simply spelled out what sound like some wonderful rules to live by. It was too good not to share with you. Here they are:

Honour and respect the Great Creator, the one who is above all.

Honour and respect the Earth for we are physically and spiritually connected to all living an non living things as we are in their custodianship.

Honour and respect our ancient philosophy whereby ‘what is good enough for one is good enough for all’ as no one is above another, for all are equal.

Honour and respect all members of humanity for we are all one ancient family, united and related through our kinship systems.

Honour and respect every person’s right to freely practice and express in their own way their unique forms of spirituality, faith and beliefs.

Honour and respect our ancient rule of sharing with one another so that no one is ever left without.

Honour and respect our ancient rule of caring for one another so that no one will ever feel alone.

Honour and respect both our Elders and Youth for each are very important when it comes to generational change and the advancement of our Peoples.

Honour and respect that violence ad substance abuse have no place within our lands, homes and families.

Honour and respect other peoples home boundaries and never walk into the home of another without first being invited in, as it is our ancient way.

Ten Commandments

Sacked, for believing in climate change

The sacking yesterday of three public department heads signals that the Abbott Government fully intends to politicise the Public Service. In that regards they follow in John Howard’s dreaded footsteps.

Those sacked include Don Russell from the Department of Innovation and Blair Comley (pictured) from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET).

Here’s where I think their sackings were politically motivated.

When the Gillard Government disbanded the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency in March, the climate change functions were absorbed into the Department of Innovation and the energy efficiency functions into RET. Is it a coincidence that both these department heads have now been sacked?

I have only met Don Russell a couple of times but I’ve had the pleasure to hear Blair Comley speak on a number of occasions. His commitment to addressing climate change was one of his great drivers and he possessed a passion that also drove others. His devotion is unmatched by anybody I have ever met.

Further, his knowledge of international and local initiatives on energy efficiency techniques alone made him an asset to the government.

His other great passion was Indigenous affairs and he fought tirelessly in his portfolio to address the social and economic disadvantages of Aboriginal Australians.

Is it any wonder Tony Abbott wanted to sack him?

Blair

I would have liked to have done something else

In my working life I only had three jobs that lasted more than five years; a cabinet-maker, a finance manager, and a public servant. Most of them sucked, although the last two I mentioned were very enjoyable.

However, each one was a job and not a career. I would have liked to have done something else. Something I had a real passion for and one that I could have spent my whole working life devoted to.

If I could start all over again there are a few that would fall into that category and I would pursue a career in them relentlessly.

Given the chance, I’d be an astronomer. I studied it for a year at university but the first six months were the most boring of my life. We were drilled with small structures of the universe; things like photons, bosons and muons. They are not exciting, only a fraction more exciting than the equations a half a metre long that we had to damage our brains on. I was more interested in the large structures of the universe; planets, galaxies and anything that might dwell in them.

I threw in the towel.

Second choice would be a paleontologist. Yep, digging up old bones tracing the evolution of we humans or the odd dinosaur. I’m very interested in ‘things’ we know little about and would loved to be involved in new discoveries.

For that reason I could easily take a career in Egyptology or archaeology. Not much work in Australia for the former and little of interest in the latter unless it’s Aboriginal archaeology. I knew a girl who studied archaeology and ended up in a career researching Australian verandah designs in the 19th century. I guess when there’s nothing else around you take anything.

Which is what I’ve done all my life.

Would you do anything different given the miracle of another chance?

All Aborigines are drunks!

I think most people would have seen articles in the news lately about a particular racist Facebook Group. Aboriginal Memes was created purely for the purpose of targeting Aboriginal people with racist taunts and the propagation of negative stereotypes aimed at damaging public opinion. In essence, the site ‘celebrated the destruction‘ of Aboriginal people, portraying them as inferior drunks who sniff petrol and bludge off welfare. Rightly, there have been questions raised as to whether this site is in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act and much of the offensive material has been subsequently removed.

I’m sure that most people would also be aware that the current Opposition, if it wins Government, has targeted the pertinent section of the Racial Discrimination Act for repeal as it is their view that it undermines the right to freedom of speech. So in 18 months such racist, hate-driven sites will be lawful.

Get ready for the onslaught. We might will be bombarded with all sorts of myths.

If we can’t stop the rubbish, maybe we could do our best at dispelling the myths.

A post I wrote almost a year ago attempted to do exactly that. As the subject is now topical because of the publicity surrounding Aboriginal Memes, I’ve dusted off the cobwebs to again promote what I consider to be an important message. It’s about the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunks.

I heard the phrase consensus reality while listening to a recent talk.  I liked it.  It stuck with me.  I also liked what it defined, when explained, that it is a shared, social construction of reality that we believe to be true.  It doesn’t have to be true; we just need to nod our heads in agreement that we believe it to be true.  A bit like herd mentality, really.

Can you think of any examples?  I can.  Many, in fact.  The pages of history are filled with them.  The earth is flat!  The earth is the centre of the universe!  God created the earth in seven days!  Or some more contemporary ones: The dingo didn’t do it!  All politicians lie!  All dole-bludgers are lazy!  All gay people die of AIDS!

One I used to hear a lot in my former line of work always put me on the front foot: All Aborigines are drunks!

This is the horrible perception shared by the majority of non-Indigenous people in this country.  The consensus reality.

Let’s face it, we’ve all seen Aboriginal people drinking or drunk in parks, yelling at each other or intimidating passersby.  These may be the only Aborigines that many city dwellers see on a regular basis and hence they fall victim to consensus reality.  Every Aborigine I have seen has been drunk, so it must be true; they’re all drunkards.

I’m quite happy to tell you that it isn’t true.  More the truth is that Aboriginal people drink in open areas, whereas non-Aboriginal people tend to confine their drinking (and unsocial behaviour) to enclosed areas such as hotels, restaurants, clubs or their or someone else’s home.  For every one drunk Aborigine I’ve seen in a public park I’ve seen 500 drunk white people in a public bar.  Further, for every Aborigine I’ve seen drunk in a public park I’ve seen hundreds of sober Aborigines in country towns or remote lands.  I for one don’t share the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards, yet this is the stereotype often reinforced by the media and the wider community.

There is an element that are, but this is not the purpose of this thread.  Nor is the important reason why some drink, notably due to loss of culture and identity.

Now let’s look at some facts on Aboriginal alcohol consumption:

Contrary to public perception surveys have in fact found that proportionally fewer Aboriginal people drink alcohol than whites do.

29%  of Aboriginal Australians did not drink alcohol in the previous 12 months, almost double the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

Aboriginal people are 1.4 times more likely to abstain from alcohol than non-Aboriginal people.

Further statistics I have found, which are similar to those that were produced while I was at ATSIC show that:

By comparison with non-Aboriginal people, a large proportion of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all and, in some Aboriginal communities, alcohol consumption has been banned by the residents.

Up to 35% of Aboriginal men do not drink alcohol compared with 12% of non-Aboriginal men.

40% to 80% of Aboriginal women do not drink alcohol compared with 19% to 25% of non-Aboriginal women.

In the Northern Territory, it has been estimated that 75% of Aboriginal people do not drink alcohol at all.

So why do we perpetuate the myth, the consensus reality that all Aborigines are drunkards?  I am certain that events such as the Northern Territory Intervention helped perpetuate the myth.  But it is about as far from the truth that the earth is flat.

Our Indigenous brothers and sisters deserved better than of the image society has created of them.  Let’s not stereotype all Aborigines because of the visible ones.  The invisible ones are a proud people.  Perhaps that’s the consensus reality we should be promoting.

Let’s make our voices louder than the Aboriginal Memes of the future.