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The Home Front

April 15, 2013

One of the things that most affected me when I got home was how I could help the Palestinians I met whilst I was over there. I thought a lot about what I’d learned and what people had told me. I often got told to ‘spread the message, let people know about us.’ And that struck a chord. In Australia, we are exposed to a lot of anti-Arab media. Example think of the word “terrorist”. I bet you, you thought of an Arab. If I said the word “Arab”. the word terrorist springs to mind. To support Australian/ US interests in the region where most of the oil is, there has been a 200 year history of imperialism in the region, of which, Israel is a just a dark chapter. One of the results of these wars and conflicts has been people, in frustration that they have no other way of changing their lot or freeing their people, under take subversive acts of violence, against Americans, Israelis and other white people. I do not condone this violence, but that’s all they are doing. Trying to fight gigantic, State sanctioned violence with whatever violence they can find. Groups recruit members who have the same ideology and commitment to honouring their families and communities. Like An Army. From an early age, we are indoctrinated through movies, emotive (i.e. biased) news reports and by convenient stretches of truth by our politicians that Arabs are bad. 

We also indoctrinate kids with the idea that violence is necessary. We don’t offer our kids an alternate to the narrative that armies are necessary, violence has to be the last resort or that there are such a thing as “bad guys”. 

Confronting this violence, that happens to the oppressed, whether a Palestinian child being harrassed or shot or killed, or an Australian child being taught to handle a rifle designed specifically to wound and kill people, is my responsibility and duty as a human being. If society fails to tell people that killing people is wrong, then I have to. 

 

Yesterday at Enoggera Army Barracks I stayed outside a gate on a footpath that was no where near blocked and showed children an alternative narrative. In Guantanamo jumpsuits we challenged the story they were being told that the army is a neccessity, that spending a day learning how to handle weapons was good or even that our States have done good things in the Wars we’ve started over the last ten years. Every kid who walked past us yesterday asked “Who are they?” 

To every parent who said “It doesn’t matter”, “Bad people”, “Terrorists” “Do you want to watch a movie when you get home?” “Wankers”, I say it’s ok, you too have been brainwashed by those with money and power, that if you want power you have to do everything they say. 

To those military personnel who thanked me and challenged me thank you. Please, keep talking, keep thinking. I’m not your enemy. I know mostly you signed up because, apart from the career, you liked the idea of making the world a better place but I say, when has a war ever done any good? When has violence solved anything? Before you say “Hitler” ask yourself, would Hitler have been able to do anything if we had have stopped World War One from happening?

To my family members whom I embarrassed, I apologise for your inconvenience. Thank you for loving me anyway. 

I’m not stopping kids from getting shot, I’m not hammering a war helicopter into an instrument of peace, but I’m challenging those who tell us that violence is necessary. I’m bringing as much attention as I can to the wrong doings in our system and urging all of us to ask questions about how we can make this world better for everyone. Yesterday’s act of disobedience didn’t get me shot or a long prison sentence. I am privileged. Maybe they don’t need long prison sentences here  in Australia because we have become passive acceptors of violence, all too happy to avert our gaze from the evil our economic system causes, but I am grateful to be able to be so free in my conscience and not pay too steep a fine,

Speak Truth or die trying,

Peace.

Greg

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