Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Sitting on the fence

sitting on the fence

Perched on a fence I view the world with curiosity.  I see the good, bad and the ugly on both sides.  In a world where inwardly we are ingrained with “Us and Them” but outwardly we are trying hard to mold it into a one big “Us”, sitting on the fence is becoming precarious.  I get abused from both sides.  You have to be either ‘For ‘ or ‘Against’.  I am usually For or Against.  But not always to the same side.  I pick the side as per the cause or as per the matter in hand.  I guess it’s normal for the chair umpire to get abused by both players.

Sitting on the fence is regarded as being weak and not able to take a stance.  It’s not that I am not faithful to one party or side.  I am more faithful than the barking dog. But that doesn’t mean I will not call out on the mistakes of my side.  I understand that it’s not all black and white, I acknowledge the existence of grey, but it remains grey in my books.

Is sitting on the fence is really a sign of weakness?  I think building a wall in the middle and living with assumptions of the other side is madness.  But that’s the world we are living in.  With advanced technology we are not educating ourselves, we are spreading rumours much faster than before.  With one click of the “Share” button, you can share away anything.  No one stops to think, or verify , they believe what they want to believe.  Chinese Whispers taken to another level.

I am not for the far right nor for the far left.  Thankfully I don’t get paid for my position if not I would have met the same fate as our former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  I too blamed him for not having a spine, but I guess he was forced to place his spine outside the party room.

If I speak up for racism or sexism, that’s because I don’t agree with discrimination of any kind and I will continue to call out whenever I feel that was present.  I am not religious but I do feel others have their right to their believes (as long as their beliefs don’t interfere with our normal lives).  I don’t accept people hiding behind religion to commit crime, discriminate and be hurtful.  Whichever religion you belong to, I have no room to excuse you.

I was born a Hindu.  One of the oldest religions with some amazing principles.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the mistakes of my people throughout history and now.  I am brown/coloured and I know the trials my people have gone through and are still fighting for.  But that doesn’t mean that I am free to do anything and blame it on racism.  I need to take personal responsibility for my mistakes.  And more than anything I want to acknowledge the support I get from the opposite side for my cause.  Throughout history there have been many ‘whites’ who have supported and stood by for the ‘black lives’.  I doubt any stood by them eg: Zimbabwe.

I am a female from a Sri Lankan Tamil background.  Yes, I know clearly about sexism.  Slowly but surely I am making progress in my household.  Our fights may not be as severe as in Saudi Arabia.  Yes, we can drive, study and work.  We had the first female Prime Minister.  However, in society, culturally, we still have to kowtow to men.  Just like using religion as a shield, culture is used to keep the women in their place.

However, we cannot deny that some women use unfair tactics to settle their personal vendetta.  Main victims of rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence are women.  These crimes are usually very hard to prove due to lack of evidence.  The victims suffer a double tragedy when they hear the doubt in the person listening to their story.  You can’t blame the person listening either, he/she listens to so many stories and some unfortunately have been nothing but false accusations.  So each time one of our women use this as a weapon for their own revenge she puts the cause backwards and make it that much harder for the real victim.  We the women hold a great responsibility in calling out those who perpetrate crimes against us, this includes not just the men but also the women who knowingly falsely accuse men of committing these heinous crimes.  Just because I am a woman I cannot allow women to falsely hold that sexism card.

As a Tamil who predominantly lived among Sinhalese, again I was able to take that seat on that fence.  I understood and lived with the gripes of the Tamil minority.  However, I believe that some of our grievances were our own doing.  The Caste system, Dowry and the unspoken killings by the Tamil militants of our own people.  Until we clean up our backyard we cannot throw stones at the opposition.  If I can’t discipline my own children, what right do I have in pulling up kids at the park.

I will never apologize for the colour of my skin.   I will never apologize for my ethnicity.  I will never apologize for my gender.  Nor for the way I dress or eat.  I am who I am because of all of that.  The same way I will not ask someone of another colour black or white to apologize either.  I will not ask a man to apologize for being a man.  I will not ask anyone who is different than me to apologize for who they are.

I am happy to come down to the court and have a game.  But when necessary I will climb on to that fence to get a better view.  I see what I see.

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Happy Australia Day

Australia-Day

Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Aussie mates.  Hope you are toasting somewhere by the beach or the pool with a stubby in one hand and a sausage sanga (Sausage Sandwich) on the other watching over your mates playing backyard or beach cricket.

For most Australians (Australia Day) simply represents a public holiday which gives them an excuse to fire up the Barbie (BBQ), sausages, beers a game of cricket, pavlova and pretty much talk “shit”as Aussies would refer it.  Most Australians at most times are pretty chilled people.  This has been noted by most tourists who come to this country.  We are a nation of genuinely nice people.  We may not have the polish to cover up and talk politely and be politically correct but even the guy who sounds racist is usually a pretty nice guy.

A friend of mine who came over from North America was amazed how random people just opened up to her in the bus or the plane and were super helpful.  I recollect a time when I went to Canada with then my two very young children, I went via Hawai.  My youngest was a runner/escape artist.  So I had  to hang on to him on one hand other with all the luggage.  Had three passports and all other documents to hold as well.  Unlike in Australia there were too many check points.  And each time I think that’s the last of it and put the passports back in the handbag and then come across another check point.  Ughh! They had no sympathy for a mother with two young kids, instead they would get irritated that I didn’t have the papers ready. Same treatment when coming back, I was on this constant stress mode when I arrived at the Sydney Airport.  Waiting for my bags to arrive and keep the young one on check, a middle aged man standing next to me said to me “love just stand here and point me to your luggage and I will get it for you” and he just did that, packed all my luggage carefully on the trolley and put my boys in it too.  I got to the counter and as there was no queue in front of me I didn’t get a chance to get the documents out.  I was again on panic mode trying to get them out.  The lady at the counter “love take your time, it’s ok” and she started to chat to my kids.  I thought “I’m home”.

I am a migrant from Sri Lanka, I arrived here twenty eight years ago and became an Australian Citizen 26 years ago exactly today.  Hubby and I were expecting our first child and the Citizenship ceremony took place in Hornsby, NSW.  It was really an awesome day.  It felt like the beginning of many great things to come by.  And it sure did.  A conscious effort was made to make us feel welcomed and a new chapter was opened in our lives.  Even so, I think within me for a long time I felt like a guest.  I was happy where I was staying but didn’t feel it was my place.  When ever I mentioned “back home” it meant Sri Lanka.  I think the first time I referred to Australia as my home was on this return journey from Canada.

Hear me out completely before you cast that stone “ungrateful”. I wasn’t ungrateful, far from it.  As each year notched I became more relaxed in my new environment and I could feel a shift in my mannerisms and way of thinking.  I was becoming used to the Aussie Larrikin and was starting like him/her.  I am still a mixed bag in terms of my identity.  When I am asked “where are you from” at times I would say “from Sri Lanka” but there are times I have caught my self saying, we are originally from Sydney, then we moved to Adelaide…”  I have no shame or issue of my ethnicity.  Do I ooze with so much pride that I refuse to call myself Australian? On the contrary, I feel so much pride in saying I am an Australian.

So much so, I am comfortable calling out on the mistakes, errors and simply things we should rectify.  I am no more a guest, I am now a family member.  I will support, I will stand up for, I will protect but I will also call you out when you are wrong.

The great debate at present – should we change the date of  Australia Day? 

For the first Australians the Aborigines this seems to be very important, as this day represents something very dark in their history.  It wasn’t the day that English really landed in Australia however throughout history, on the 26th of January the English set up or did horrible things to Aborigines. There was even once a Beach umbrella type thing set up called the ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ as to represent ‘Aliens on our land’  They kept reminding them with their actions that they stole this land from them and now they are foreigners in their own country.

The aborigines lost their land, their identity, their language, their families and eventually their self worth.

I do not believe in punishing or blaming the current generation for the mistakes of the old.  We all need to move on.  But for the victim it is easier said than done.

I know many fair minded White Australians despise the way some Aborigines behave.  Using the past issues as excuses for their drinking, gambling and unemployment.  As a fellow tax payer I can understand their frustrations.  The only way forward is education, empathy and mutual respect.  All these actions has to be two way.  We need to educate ourselves about them and them about us and same goes for empathy and mutual respect.  It goes well past not calling each other “white fellas” and “Black fellas”

For me 26th of January is an important day as that was the day I became an Australian legally.  However, happy to move the celebrations to another day so everyone in this country can celebrate it.

I even have a day for that.  February 13th.  It was the day we said “sorry” to the aborigines.  It was day that moved the first Australians and descendants of the first fleet Australians. “Sorry” is a simple word but a damn powerful word.

After the big riots in 1983 in Sri Lanka when the whole country went on a rampage of killing innocent Tamils no one said “sorry” not even close.  The country’s then President J.R Jaywardene went on T.V for his first press conference and explained that the “Sinhela people reacted to the 13 Army soldiers being killed by the militants in the north” not one word to say that this was in fact something wrong. pointless, mindless act.  Not one single word, the whole speech almost condoning the actions of the masses.  Months later my friend Lalith sent me a letter, it was not a long letter, it simply said “I’m sorry, I am ashamed” he went on to ask if I was okay, etc.  But none of that mattered.  The only words that keep ringing in my ears were “I am sorry”.  He was just a young teenager at that time.  But he was sincere, he was courageous, He was respectful.

If we are serious about reconciliation we need to start with respect.  Even if you do not care about reconciliation and simply want them to get off their back sides and do a days work and get off the dole, this is the only way – RESPECT.

The day we said sorry to them was a great starting point.  Let’s start there.  Let’s remind ourselves each year, what we did on the 13th Feb 2008.  Let it be a day that we are all proud of.

Time for another piece of Pav.

 

 

https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2017/01/18/10-things-you-should-know-about-january-26