Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sticks and stones may break bones but words……..

As we head towards our walk on the 10th of May, highlighting violence towards women in particular, acts of violence seems to be an issue on the rise. The Chief Commissioner made a statement a few weeks ago that there would be 60,000 reported cases of violence towards women this year, and I dread to think what the unreported number is.

This cause has highlighted for me how violence in our society seems to be on the increase. And we are just not talking about physical, but emotional and verbal also.
I reflected on three recent incidents in Melbourne where individuals on public transport, who were clearly driven by hate, went on tirades. If you hear the video/audio footage of one of them it is quite appalling. The only good thing was that none of these ended in physical attacks and I would assume these individuals may end up in court.

I wonder what makes people snap in this way? How much hate must they feel towards others to make them actually verbalise it publically?
Sadly this happens in all societies, often against those who are seen as different or belonging to a minority group and often for no real reason at all.

Only last year we saw the increased number of attacks on cab drivers, particularly Indian drivers, and the impact was felt at government level.
My Indian parents lived here in the early 60’s and it was a time when the White Australia policy was well and truly alive. Often when they got on a bus or train as my mum says the “white” person they sat next to often moved. This was a culture that existed in the Australian society which at the time was sanctioned by the government. Even to this day my mum feels intimidated to some extent by her past experiences.

When I first moved here in 1982 I faced issues that caused me grief at the time. I was an easy target for fellow students in my boarding school. It did toughen me up, however I know of others who were in similar situations and unfortunately had breakdowns because of it.
I remember in the late 80’s going to Victoria Street for dinner and we played spot the “skip”. We thought we were really cool being one of the few mixed couples that went there. Now we see Australians there who are clearly in a mixed relationship.

My kids are of mixed race and we often joke “halfies” are the best, (they certainly are good looking!).
This country at some point in its journey will be lucky enough to have a large number of “halfies”.

Even though we have diversified as a nation, it still seems that being different- whether it is your colour, looks, disability or being alternative- has a price. The stigma is born out of ignorance, lack of understanding, fear and hatred.
The danger I believe is when the lack of understanding, fear and hatred becomes so intense it turns into nasty attacks that have tragic consequences for all parties.

This ugly element will always exist in society and it’s up to us to constantly stand up and say violence in any form or of any type is not ok.

I want my “halfie” kids and those who are seen as different or alternative to be able to feel safe where they live, work and play.