Category Archives: Thoughts

United States of Arrogance.

I started high school as the girl who would always defend the US. “It’s unfair to label an entire country as stupid based on the actions of George W. Bush”; “not everyone in America is an uneducated hick, some of them even know where New Zealand is!”, statements I do still stand by – but now, I see fewer reasons to defend the US. The arrogance of many of its citizens is truly embarrassing.

Something you’ll find many Americans shouting out is “America! Greatest country in the world!” … Really? What evidence is there of this? The Human Development Index? Sure, you rank 4th, behind Norway, Australia and New Zealand. What about the inequality-adjusted HDI? There, you rank 12th. So, perhaps not the HDI. Perhaps your lawmakers are paving the way, making progress and setting an example? Hm. Your healthcare laws are only just now beginning to catch up to laws made by most other developed countries decades ago; your abortion laws are going so far as trying to criminalise abortion, something most developed countries chucked out, again, decades ago; your far-right nutjobs enjoy holding your Congress hostage and making loony demands. Of course, Australia has Fred Nile et al, but their influence, compared to the Tea Party’s, is limited. Then again, I’m sure most sensible Americans will agree with me that the Tea Party are not representative of the entire right wing of politics, let alone the entire nation. I’m simply mentioning them because their actions earlier this week could have led directly to a dire global economic situation again. Really great.

This rhetoric is present even in the speeches of well-meaning, left-leaning celebrities, such as Matt Damon: “This is the greatest country in the world; is it really that much worse if you pay 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it: you get to be American.” I mean really, what? Overly-patriotic rhetoric coming from any nationality makes me ill. This idea of America being number one is reminiscent of freaking colonialism – we’re number one (like Britain), so we’re going to exert power over smaller nations and use up their resources and terrorise the locals (India) or send our unwanted criminals there to drive out the native peoples (Australia, many other island nations…)

America’s reputation in the last 100 years hasn’t been so hot. Japanese Internment, the atomic bombs, Cold War, Korean War, horrible treatment of African-American citizens, Vietnam War which led to Pol Pot committing genocide in Cambodia, all the invasions of the Middle East, terrible presidents, etc. Ergo, I can’t find much historical justification for this notion of America still reigning supreme. I really think the time has come for America to step down from this pedestal it has placed itself on – you aren’t ideologically or politically superior to many countries now, guys. Check out Scandinavia. They’re on the ball. I don’t hear Norway constantly harping about how it’s ‘the best, stuff the rest’? And they have many more reasons to have such an attitude.

I’m not saying there is one greatest country – quite the opposite, I simply do not think there is one ‘greatest’ country. I think that this rhetoric, even if said by well-meaning people defending increased taxes, or said in jest, is dangerous, and reminiscent of decades past, when we had the First World, Second World and Third World. I think this sort of arrogance is pretty juvenile, and for a country as old as America, that’s a shame.

I pick on America because I simply don’t hear this sort of rhetoric in such volumes from anyone besides Americans. Face it, America – there are few countries who still find your actions admirable, and few who look up to you in any way. Unfortunately, Australia has taken to being your lapdog – hopefully we can grow out of that soon, though I’m not holding my breath. I doubt most of Europe look up to you, when there isn’t much you’re progressing further than them in; I doubt the Middle East much respect you, considering you seemingly enjoy occupying their lands and involving yourself in their territorial disputes for your own interests.

So, in conclusion, I think that from now on, you won’t find me defending America as much as I used to. Why should I? In the eyes of many Americans, I, as an Australian, am almost second-class. I have American friends, who are great, and there are certain American cities I still love dearly – New York being the main one. It’s quite contradictory, because while I’m developing this attitude, my love for New York is virtually undying – so who knows, maybe I will move there one day? Hopefully I can avoid patriots and overzealous Christians and Tea Party members, though.

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Filed under Global, Politics, Thoughts

Rest in Peace.

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you

Who can say if I’ve been 
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you…
I have been changed for good. 

Today, our school learned that one of those among us had passed away. A beloved art teacher passed on early this morning, and the loss of her presence truly is a loss for the world. She was my teacher in years 9 and 10, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a teacher have such strong faith in every single one of her students. She was always there to encourage, and give ideas, and lend a hand, and provide support to those who needed it. Every single day she had a massive smile on her face, greeting everyone she walked past. She truly loved people, I think. I believe she was one of those people who found it hard to see the flaws in individuals – instead, she focused on their brilliant qualities, and tried to nourish those so they become the strongest ones in each person. She had such life within her – she was so quirky, and fascinating, and energetic. To anyone who had her as a teacher, she quickly became a sort of motherly figure – she definitely treated her classes like her children, and she would nurture them as if they really were.

It’s really hard to comprehend that we’ll never see her smiling at us again, or singing happy birthday to us in her operatic way, or going out of her way to make sure we’re okay. With her, it was always others first, then herself. Even when she was sick, she would try and look after everyone else as best as she could. I honestly can’t recall another person I’ve met who’s quite like her – there was so much light in her, even when times seemed to be gravely dark. The world would be a much brighter place with more people like her in it – and without her, it seems just that much darker. I will miss her an awful lot, but I know I’ll never forget her or her personality. The best we can all do, I think, is to try and make our attitudes towards life more like hers.

I saw this poem on my friend Bronwyn’s blog, and as she said, it feels quite appropriate for today.

Between The Dash by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning… to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears, 1964-1994
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own;
The cars… the house… the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile…
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

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Filed under Life, Music, Poetry, School, Thoughts

Here Am I.

I don’t know what it is about this man, but shit, Anis Mojgani’s poems make me want to live. They make me want to speak in cliches, and speak with an overbearing brand of optimism – they make me want to breathe deeply, and live deeply; they make me feel infinite, and infinitesimal; they make me want to live out my life as a permanent quest for self-improvement; they make me want to laugh and cry and dance in the rain and drink round a bonfire and swim at sunset and drive to nowhere – they make me feel all of these things, all at once, like a spark that lights up from the first line, and grows throughout the poem until it ends and I’m left with a raging inferno of emotions. But it’s a nice inferno – an inferno that brings back so many feelings, like feelings of childhood I hadn’t quite held on to, and feelings of nostalgia for a life I haven’t really lived yet, and feelings for all the things I could do, and want to do, and should do.

This poem, “Here Am I”, reaches it’s climax, and I feel the tears building. And it’s rare, because they aren’t sad tears, or angry tears, or even teenage-angsty tears; they’re just tears. Emotions, spilling out of me, forcing themselves out in one of the few ways they know how to force themselves out of me. His words are so beautiful, and so inspirational, and it’s so hard to describe how they make me feel. But that’s okay, because I shouldn’t need to describe it. I want you to feel it, for yourself. I want everyone to feel it, not necessarily from his words, but from something. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s one I need to feel more often. And one of the best bits? They leave a lingering sense of hope behind.

“I was here / I was here motherfucker / And ain’t none of y’all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in / I’m here motherfucker and we all here motherfucker and we all motherfuckers, motherfucker / Because every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die / Because every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye / Because every word I carry is another stone to put into place in the foundation that I’m building / Because the days can erase something that I never saw / What all of us wanted and what none of us got / What we all had and have and what we all forgot / That we all wanted to be something / That we all became something / And it might not be the shit we once though we’d be when we were kids but something is still something and like some cats say, something is better than nothing / Feet are smarter than an engine / And dreams are stronger than thighs / And questions are the only answers we need to know that we are alive as I am when I have the mind of a child, asking why is 2 + 3 always equal to 5 ? / Where do people go to when they die? / What made the beauty of the moon? / And the beauty of the sea? / Did that beauty make you? / Did that beauty make me? / Will that make me something? / Will I be something? / Am I something?

And the answer comes: already am, always was, and I still have time to be.”

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Filed under Life, Poetry, Thoughts

Exciting Things.

I felt it was time for another list of things I’m excited for:

  1. 30th June – Melbourne!
  2. 1st July – Seeing Dan and Bridget
  3. 2nd July – Meetup + Alicia’s 18th + Staying at Alicia’s with Katie
  4. 13th July – Harry Potter midnight screening
  5. 14th July – Abby’s 18th
  6. 12th August – HSC Trials over
  7. 18th August – Extension English 2 done
  8. 20th September – Graduation Evening
  9. 21st September – Muck Up and Graduation Assembly
  10. 23rd September – End of high school classes forever
  11. 30th September – My 18th birthday!
  12. 4th November – End of HSC
  13. 9th November – Leave for Europe: UK -> France -> UK -> France -> Switzerland -> France -> Spain -> France -> Italy -> Austria -> Germany -> Czech Republic -> Germany -> Netherlands -> UK
On number 13: at the wedding on Saturday, Dad mentioned to a relative that there may be a possibility of him meeting me in the UK and the two of us going to Greece together. That would be beyond amazing – I was slightly sad that I wouldn’t be able to go to Greece and visit my family while being so nearby, so I really hope that works out! I’m also hoping my hints about driving around the Mediterranean will embed themselves in his mind; I’m convinced that we could drive from Athens, to the coast, get a ferry to Italy, drive to Naples, visit Capri, and then get another ferry to Spain. Or fly. Something. Anything, really, that will get me to Capri. Such a beautiful island, ugh, I miss it! We all complained for those two weeks, but I certainly wasn’t complaining about the places we visited (minus Pompeii, that was just monotonous after a while…). In my eyes, the more time spent near the Mediterranean, the better – it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world to me.

I’m in a generally positive mood for a multitude of reasons, the above potential plan being just one of them. The wedding was lovely, and it was actually nice seeing all those relatives that I hadn’t seen in so long! I’m also very excited for Melbourne – lovely friends, an 18th, alcohol! And I’m not too stressed about trials, because my most recent assessment marks are quite pleasing, so I’m probably developing a false sense of security. But that’s okay, because yay good marks! Not to mention, no school for three and a half weeks (although studying must be done during this time, but never mind that), which is the cherry on top! So content I’m speaking in cliches.

Just hoping this contentedness lasts the week, or better yet, the next few!

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Filed under Life, Thoughts, Travel

Go Back To Where You Came From.

Tonight, I’m catching up on the episodes of the three-part series broadcast by SBS here in Australia, called “Go Back To Where You Came From”. Basically, they’ve got six Australians with varying opinions and backgrounds, and are pushing them to challenge their views regarding asylum seekers by sending them to meet with refugees, sending them to refugee camps etc. It should be fascinating to watch, and this post will be my opinions, summarised during and at the end of each episode.

To start with, I’m a huge supporter of asylum seekers/refugees’ rights. I’ve attended events organised by the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, I’ve petitioned,  and recently, to learn more about the legal aspects, I did an HSC legal studies assignment on asylum seekers. Last year, I went on the Make Poverty History Roadtrip that was organised by various NGOs as a way to campaign for the government to keep their promise regarding the aid budget. To me, it’s not a case of border control – it’s a case of acknowledging and respecting the rights that all humans deserve. These people are only arriving on boats because they do not have the finances or paperwork to arrive by plane – and the number of asylum seekers who arrive by boat is so small already. These people don’t have time to ‘join the queue’, aka take the more bureaucratic route – they are fleeing for their lives, and I do not understand how people cannot empathise with those who have to do this. Politicians in Australia like to appear ‘tough’ on issues such as these, so their political rhetoric plays on the racism and hatred within the public, whether the public is aware of this or not. This pathetic notion of ‘stopping the boats’ is truly shameful – the right to asylum is one acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Convention on the Status of Refugees – both of which Australia has signed and ratified.

To then take these poor souls into our country, and lock them away indefinitely (which the High Court ruled lawful in the early 90s) is, in my eyes, a disgusting act. Human beings do not deserve this sort of treatment – to endure an excruciating and life-threatening journey, in the hopes of making a better life for themselves in Australia, only to be locked away while their claims are looked into. The fact that these actions are considered not enough by a large portion of the public really frightens me – and that’s where shows like this come in. From personal experience (watching a similar documentary in legal studies), I’ve found that personalising the refugee experience for people really brings out their empathetic side – girls in my class who previously would have swallowed the ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric were now crying along with the refugees on the video – they felt for them, they had a face to put on all of this political brouhaha. Personalising something that is otherwise presented by politicians and the media as a statistics-related issue is definitely one effective way to reach out to the Australian people.

For anyone who’s interested, you can read more or watch the episodes here: http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/goback/

On to the episodes….

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Filed under Politics, Television, Thoughts

Friends.

After some prolonged moments of pensive thought, I’ve arrived at a conclusion very different from where I started: ‘friends forever’ is a lie. Or a half-truth, if lie is too harsh a word.

The other day, I was reading through this autobiography we had to make for school. At the front, one of our parents was asked to write a foreword, and in the back are messages from our friends. In mine, there are about 7 messages, most of them saying something nice and ending with “Cathy will always be my best friend!” or “I know Cathy and I will stay friends forever!” While the sentiments are appreciated, and I’m sure at the time they were true to some extent, I’ve learned that those sentiments don’t last long. One reason being that you never stay the same as you were at the age of 13. Some lucky people grow together – from childhood to adulthood, from their teenage years to their old age. Those people are indeed truly lucky – to have someone who knows them so well, and knows their past. To have someone they can always lean on, and run to, and call in the middle of the night – that friend who’ll be around, always. Forever.

I’ve definitely had my fair share of ‘best friends’, but they moved on. They grew up, matured, in a different direction, and I suppose for most, that’s inevitable. That definitely didn’t make it less hard, however. And ever since, I’ve proclaimed my feelings on the topic loudly for all to hear: I don’t feel the need for a best friend, I’m content with many close friends. But I think I was kidding myself, really. That feeling of being needed by someone else, of being able to tell another person everything – it’s the friendship equivalent of a long-term relationship, I guess. It’s a great feeling, and that feeling of consistency definitely eases the mind. It’s fairly sad that I don’t feel I have ‘another half’, per se; almost all of my other friends will be graduating this year with one other person to share it with – hey, some even have two people they consider their best friend, their closest confidante, etc. But me? Well, I think my post-graduation plans speak for themselves: finding myself on the fringes once again, I’m travelling alone.

It has meant I’m at peace with being on my own, though. Sometimes, I’ll talk feelings out to others, but mostly I just feel like a burden. I try to work through things by writing them out; writing forces me to organise my thoughts enough so that there’s a structure to them, and it helps. But I digress – what I’m trying to say is, that at least from personal experience, I’ve lost my faith in the belief that friendships last forever. Both past and recent experience have conditioned me to almost keep people at a distance – you let a friend get to know you too well, and you’re vulnerable to pain later on. You’re friends with someone for years, and a tiny issue can spiral out of control and destroy everything you’ve been building up over years of friendship, and it’s awful. It’s an obvious defence mechanism on my part, however – some friendships are definitely worth being that open with someone. And I’ve most likely got friends like that now who deserve that level of honesty, but my self-consciousness always gets in the way; I fear I’m a burden, or that I’m annoying, or a manic-depressive nuisance, or all of the above all at once.

I’m not quite sure that I arrived at the point I was attempting to make to begin with. I think my stance changed halfway through this post. I’d love to think that some friendships can last through anything; however, the fragility of high school friendships has led me to believe otherwise. Who knows. Maybe when we grow up (I refuse to believe that just because we’re turning 18, we are mature), our friendship will stand a better chance. Maybe, eventually, I’ll find a friend who’ll be around forever. Until then, I should just appreciate the few that have made it this far.

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Filed under Life, School, Thoughts

Conform.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

You’re born. Standard childhood with the nuclear family. High school, good results. Decent course at the best university money can buy. Get a job. Find a guy. Settle down, exotic honeymoon location, come home. Have kids. Raise the kids. They go through the same process you did and end up coming out… the same as you.

Allow for some slight variations to the mould outlined above, but basically, that’s the standard. Aspire to be rich, and happy, as if the two are mutually exclusive. Aspire to marry rich, or marry looks. Hope for both. Hope for attractive children, hope to have enough money so you never have to work again – so you can do what, exactly? Be chained to your home for the rest of your life? Raise the kids, pack their lunches, drive them to school, and soccer, and ballet. Did I mention the two storey house in the suburbs – maybe even one of those gated communities, so you know your neighbours are the right kind of people?

This kind of life sounds so mundane to me, that I think if the choice ever comes to upper middle-class suburbia and death, I’ll take death. Interesting that we’ve progressed so much since the 1950s, but the dreams of our children still seem to be the same. “When I grow up I want to be… a housewife!” I don’t mean to attack anyone who aspires to this life – though if you do, you’ll probably see this as an attack anyway.

To me, this kind of life just seems to be a life spiralling downwards to one thing  – death. Birth. School. Work. Marriage. Children. Death. Admittedly, every life ends in death – but this kind of life seems to be preparing for it.

By all means, mould your life to this plan. It is, after all, your life. But is this really what you want? Or are you settling because society, or your parents, tell you that you need to? “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” There are so many things out there – and if you have the means, I really recommend experiencing at least some of them before giving your life to please others.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one 
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there’s doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky 
And they all look just the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

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