Maintaining an Open Heart

A while back someone asked me when I was going to stop banging on about Tony Abbott, the new Prime Minister in Australia, as the election is now over and he’s been duly elected.

And my answer was: I’m not. Never. Won’t. Can’t.

I’m a Libran, with my Ascendant in Libra which means a belief in justice and fairness is part and parcel of my make-up. I don’t want to sound smug or self-satisfied but it’s who I am and if I hide my beliefs and pretend I’m something I’m not, in order to keep other people comfortable or happy, I’m not acting with integrity and in harmony with my heart and soul.

I believe in social justice, I abhor prejudice, I loathe liars, and I despise those who call themselves Christians or spiritual when their every action is based on greed, prejudice and malice.

I won’t forget that this recent election was one where the democratic process was subordinated to the dictates of the Murdoch Empire. The Dirty Digger, Rupert Murdoch, who deserted his Australian citizenship for the rich spoils he could reap as an American citizen and who owns 80% of the print media in Australia, ran a dirty, virulent campaign against the Labor government to ensure the return of the Liberal-National Party coalition who’d vowed to govern on behalf of the mining billionaires who also bankrolled the L-NP election campaign.

Nor I will not stop writing about Abbot and his miserable,hateful gang of supporters in Parliament who proudly read The Lord’s Prayer in parliament and proclaim themselves Christian when every action they take and every word they speak is hateful and deeply unspiritual.Liar Abbott I do wonder how Mr Abbott and other Catholics in the Federal Opposition who proclaim allegiance to the Catholic Church manage to correlate their actions with the words of Pope France who is now calling for non-materialism and an end to greed.

Tony Abbott lies each time he calls asylum seekers and refugees “illegals”.  Those fleeing oppression and danger at home are legally allowed to arrive on Australia’s shores seeking succour, support and a kind welcome.

And when you call people, real people – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends – “illegals” you take away their humanity because you don’t even use the word “people” to describe them. By using the term “illegals” you allow the rednecks, racists and selfish to ignore the fact that you are dealing with human beings.

I remember talking to the husband of a friend in Queensland who said that Afghan people fleeing the war started by the US and dutifully backed up by Australia and arriving on our shores, should be thrown overboard and shot.  I laughed because I thought he was joking. Surely no-one would hold such viciously hateful views. But no, that’s what he believed. And he’s not alone, believe me. The sustained attack on boat arrivals is a dog-whistle to racism – these people are <unspoken> non-white, as opposed to those predominantly white who arrive in Australia by plane and stay illegally – all 58,500 of them.

I will not stop feeling horror when I read about the death of Herman Wallace, a Black Panther member, who endured decades in solitary confinement in the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola because of its historic links to the African slave trade.  On Tuesday last week, Judge Brian Jackson ruled his 1974 trial had been “unconstitutional” and ordered his immediate release. He was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died with supporters by his side early this morning. He was 71.

He and the two other men who were imprisoned with him have always maintained they were framed for the killing of a guard because of their membership of the militant Black Panther party and fight for the civil rights of prisoners. They were tried by an all-white jury back in the ‘seventies which says it all in Louisiana with its racist past at that time. A past which still lingers on among some – or perhaps many – today.

Robert King, 70, a fellow member of the Angola Three released in 2001, told the Independent newspaper who reported Wallace’s release and subsequent death: “My reaction is one of sadness for a life wasted. And when I say, wasted, I mean the society he lived in may have considered him a waste, but he helped rewrite history. “When his conviction was overturned it cleared the slate – he could die a man not convicted of a crime he was innocent of.”

Another man convicted with Mr King, Albert Woodfox, 66, is still in solitary confinement and undergoes daily cavity searches.  Just think about it – decades in solitary confinement, with the humiliation of daily cavity searches, that is, someone sticking his hand up your bum to see if you’ve got anything illegal secreted away – not for security, but to penalise a man for being black, standing up for the civil rights of prisoners and, fundamentally but unspoken, standing up to white, racist society.

I loathe Republic leaders who claim they are basing their shut-down of the US government on the constitution when in fact the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party which is dictating the obstruction of the first African-American president is fuelled by racism, though they haven’t got the guts to admit it. I despite the Republicans who call themselves spiritual but who are happy to cut funds to the poor, to teachers, to impose horrible restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, who leave returned service people to poverty, hardship and often post-traumatic stress disorder while they ensure they are well recompensed in State and Federal political office.

And in the UK I see the gutter prCompassioness and Tory politicians daily preaching hatred and bigotry towards those  on social security benefits to whip up hatred towards them by working people and divide the nation to obscure the class rule which endures in Great Britain, a class rule which benefits the minority super-wealthy and not the great majority.  Who’s suffering from the years of excess by the banking billionaires and mega-corporations?  Not this merry bunch of filthy rich rip-off merchants but the millions of ordinary folk told they have to suffer austerity for god knows how many years.

The same villification towards the poor and needy  is directed at .Romanian people who will be able shortly to arrive in the UK and seek work. Like the British people, Romanians are varied – most are decent, hard-working people. I have a friend, Corina Stupa Thomas, who lives in the UK, who is a hard-working, inspired artist who gets deeply upset by the racist vitriole of the crap press reports in the UK proclaiming all Romanians are criminal. And why wouldn’t she?  Don’t the British get pissed off to the eyeballs if they’re villified likewise in overseas nations?

The great majority of Romanians  are seeking a better future, something we in the West are always proclaiming is brilliant – as long as it’s reserved for us and not “them”.  Yes, there is a criminal element in Romania but, interestingly, it’s small-scale crime, nothing like the banksters who thieve billions and are never attacked by the gutter press but are praised for their entrepreneurship and wealth.  Certainly, papers like The Sun and The Daily Telegraph never indulge in the wholesale hatred and disgust  of this class of big-time rip-off merchants, along with the billionaire corporations who minimise taxes, destroy jobs in their home countries so they can export those jobs to poor countries where lousy pay and working conditions guarantee maximum profits, and then – in their monster greed – minimise their taxes, don’t take any at all or turn up with their hands out for subsidies from the public purse.

If we fight among ourselves – ordinary people, refugees, asylum seekers, Romanians, and so on – we are allowing ourselves to be divided and ruled by those with a vested interest in maintaining their privileged position.  I’ve got no problem with Against corporate greed placardprofits,  I do have a problem with billion-dollar profits which come out of rank exploitation of ordinary folk.

Next time you see something hateful about asylum seekers, refugees, the unemployed, Romanians, the Roma, black people, gay people, people of Islamic faith or any other faith, just think about how closing your heart hurts only  you.

Keeping our hearts open keeps the ship of compassion afloat, enriches the whole world and allows us to see that “the other” is simply the same as us with the same hopes, fears and  need for love and tolerance.

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