Around Melbourne I keep seeing posters decrying Israel’s blockade against Palestine. Posters which scream in 50 point white outline black letters that Israel is an Aparteid country, and that we should break ties. These are written by students, full of fury at injustice and with a need to right the world.
I use this as an example for what I’m about to say.
It occurs to me that countries, like people, can only change themselves. Imagine your reaction if a friend, or perfect stranger stomped up to you and told you off for something you did. How would you react? If you were quiet and introverted, you’d shrink further into your shell; if extroverted and loud, you’d probably give them a two-finger salute and tell them to bugger-off.
But if you were left to stew on what you had done, you could choose whether you were going to repeat the action. You can choose, to put in in black and white, to do good, or do bad. You can choose to learn from your actions or to repeat them.
It’s this choice that lies at the heart of personal, domestic and international problems. And, like people, countries with their own problems quite often find it easier to point somewhere else and start making judgements against others.
Australia has a great weeping sore at the centre of its heart: that of the awful crimes perpetrated against the indigenous population. And the further inland you get, the more obvious the racism is. The whites that came to this country saw no signs of a parallel civilisation to their own, so called those living here ‘savages’. The same is true for North and South America and countless other countries.
And yet in the news we see so little about the problems facing the modern-day indigenous, but plenty about the transgressions of other countries. We spend hardly any time — apart from the gob-smackingly colonial action of the ‘Northern Territory Intervention‘ (where, surprise, surprise, only two of 97 recommendations were implemented) — looking after indigenous people; we demonise boat people, genuine refugees and refuse those running from war-torn countries like Afghanistan.
And yet, like the so-called ‘fall’ of the Soviet Union in 1990, like South Africa’s dismantling of Apartheid, beginning in 1990 and culmunating in full and open elections in 1994, the unrest in Iran during the elections of 2009, change from within has amazing impact, because it comes from those who are able to make the change, not from bullies pushing you around.
And returning to Israel, people are leading the change in the ways they can, some ways are small, some are large. It’s not for us to decide which these are: