I’m pretty powerful.
I’m an educated citizen in a democratic country. I live in an electoral division that could be won by a couple of parties. I have free speech and a twitter account. I’m enfranchised and privileged.
But right now I feel absolutely powerless.
I want to stop cruelty being done in the name of Australia. I want to help people who need help. I want to treat asylum seekers with compassion.
But I feel like I can’t.
I sit here in front of my high definition internet, reading about boats full of desperate people bobbing around in the tropical seas, and I can’t think of a single thing to do. And I am as angry, if not angrier, than I have ever been.
My taxes pay for the drones that go looking for asylum seeker boats to turn back, for the barbed wire that surrounds those that already slipped through, for the immigration officials that make the policy tick, and the elected officials who set the whole thing in motion. I can’t think of anything more infuriating.
Why so cruel?
The idea that we can prevent future asylum seeker boat arrivals through cruelty to asylum seekers who already left was always a grey area. A very dark grey area.
It’s not unlike the medieval idea that you prevent social decay by cutting off hands and stoning people. It seems to be the ends justifying the means – and ignores a strand of enlightened thought that goes back a long way (esp. in western christianity) suggesting we should be merciful to the weak.
But the philosophical objection is not as powerful as the practical. The arrival of two boats recently shows that our regime of deliberate cruelty is not even working.
I went to a protest on Saturday, to say at least something about the current government’s policies. It felt utterly impotent.
There’s a lot of policy in the world I disagree with, but very little – not even public transport policy! – that gets me into such an emotional state as the way my name and tax dollars go to mistreating asylum seekers.
It’s unfair and I feel like there’s nothing more I can do.
Powerless. This is how much of the world feels, I guess.