I usually do not post about politics, but recent events have forced my hand and I hold the principle that not saying what you believe in when those beliefs are under threat is an affront to oneself and their soul.
Yesterday, on 21st of August, 2021, protests erupted in Australia, where thousands had marched on the streets chanting for freedom and going against the public health orders that were imposed on them by their respective state governments.
Unfortunately, this eventually turned violent, and there is footage circulating online showing police officers in riot gear, firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd, and pepper spraying protesters. Protesters responded in kind, with violent trampling and rioting.
The response I witnessed by many online was surprising, to say the least.
I saw people I knew condemning the protestors and calling them “fucking idiots”, with some jokingly commenting that the police should’ve have brutalized them some more. I saw people wondering why these protesters were even protesting, and the responses were things like “misinformation” and “nothing to do”.
People were laughing at them. They were belittling the people walking out on the street, and shaming them for “disobeying public health orders”.
To be honest, yesterday was an extremely dark day for me. Something about it broke me down, where I think for the first time in my life, I felt tremendous shame and embarrassment about my home country. I was ashamed of the fact that I am considered an “Australian”.
It wasn’t because the protesters had disobeyed “orders”. It was because so many had gone out of their way to shame them for expressing their frustration and calling them “idiots”, without a sliver of context or understanding behind why they are going out and marching.
Consider the fact that Australia has been under consistent rolling lockdowns that have been incredibly strict and forced people indoors for over a year now. Consider that it has forcibly closed hundreds of small businesses (the backbone of any economy) in the name of “public health”. Consider that thousands of kids have lost parts of their childhood by being forced indoors without friends. Maybe consider that in recent weeks, lifeline services have seen record numbers because people are breaking down.
Take all this into consideration and how it can affect people who do not work cushy jobs from home or live off government subsidization. Then consider..maybe..
that’s why they’re protesting?
There are a number of people that protest because they have tremendous mistrust over the vaccine and believe in many conspiracy theories. I don’t agree with them, the vaccine is provably safe and prevents severe illness (it does not stop the spread, more info here from a highly reputable epidemiologist). I also do not agree with the notion that Pfizer, Moderna and so on are working with governments to control you. It has no basis in reality.
But that is not the point. Regardless of what one thinks of vaccinations, Coronavirus and governments, in any civilized society and democracy, the right to protest is an inalienable right. You have a right to disagree. This prevents civilized societies from turning into dictatorships. Those violent protesters that people complained about in America? There’s a reason they can do that. Do I disagree with their movements? Certainly, and I rightly condemn any violence, too. But their right to protest is non-negotiable.
The government is not an entity that you obey. The government is an entity that is meant to serve the people. It is meant to obey you and protect your rights.
The Australian government has, on a dime, made protesting against public health orders illegal, and now all the people that went out there to protest against the lockdowns and health orders are considered “criminals”.
The response from many Australians has been complete condemnation and shaming of said protesters, because they’re “breaking the rules” and “if they just stay home, the lockdowns will end”.
The utter lack of empathy and complete disregard for your fellow citizens is utterly despicable. Perhaps people will counter with the notion that not staying home spreads the virus and thus hurts others, but I’ll say it how it is: bullshit.
Coronavirus is an endemic respiratory illness. It is here to stay, whether your precious anxiety likes it or not. It will spread, and lockdowns simply delay that inevitability while simultaneously crushing the economy and causing massive long term mental and social development issues for the youth. Vaccines work to prevent serious illness, and are effective at doing so, but it will not eliminate the virus. It will simply reduce the risk of hospitalization, primarily for the vulnerable.
These are not arguments. These are factual. I’ve done my research and have spent countless hours doing so. The virus is never going to go away, and the hopeless spoon of lies that people feed to you by suggesting “zero COVID” is valid is not just Platonist, nonsensical thinking, but a method to control you via your fear.
But I digress. What has happened in Australia, and looking from afar, is a deeply depressing display of a society being fractured while their capacity to think critically is being castrated by a government that has far overstepped the boundaries of what is reasonable.
It disgusts me to my core how quickly many sacrifice their fellow citizens for some mystical, untenable “greater good” because they are afraid. It deeply pains me to see this clear tribalistic mentality forming, with superiority complexes abound, pointing fingers at people who have lost so much saying “you’re so selfish, stay home”.
They have stayed home. They’ve stayed home for over a year. They’ve watched years of hard work disintegrate before their eyes because your damn fears are uncontrolled and are sanctioning a government that stokes it. Your weakness and your fear is yours, and if you want to stay home, do so and do it voluntarily. Do not force others to do the same. Do not sacrifice others lives because you are afraid.
The message behind the protests was a clear signal that something is terribly wrong with how things are going in Australia. It’s a sign that people are at breaking point. It is not a time for you to laugh at, and shame those people.
They are saying something, and they have a damn right to it. Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. But you should damn well listen, and watch.
Watch and observe the response the government has had on these protesters. Instead of considering that maybe their policies are not working, they are doubling down. They are not listening to the very people who pay for their salaries and voted them into power in the first place. Conversely, just one year ago the police were kneeling down at BLM protests. The hypocrisy is laid bare right before your eyes. Do not pick and choose which protests are right or wrong. See it for what it is.
Something is deeply, deeply wrong with Australia, and it kills me to see it.
This will be my one and only post on this, but I truly hope that in the future I can go back to Australia to see friends and family, alongside seeing the Australia that I once knew spring back to life, instead of the fractured, depressing and tribalist society it is becoming. And all because of an overreaching government and an addiction to fear-inducing, manipulative media over an endemic virus.
Remember your damn roots, and remember what Australians were reputed for: being some of the most generous and benevolent people in the world.
I still want to call Australia home, but it’s hard to do so now.
Donate any amount you wish. I’ll keep writing.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.Albert Camus