Tag Archives: politics

Can’t Wait

Anticipation – Word of the Day

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The trail is always interesting, and none more so than the bend, and the turn obscurred somewhat by nature, this time by rocks. There’s nothing like anticipation!

We wait for first experiences, that first conscious Christimas or birthday gift, that first kiss, sex, romance, a competition, having a child, catching a fish, flying, swimming, the perfect shiraz (just saying), anticipation plays its part in the build up to the doing or participating thereof. Sometimes we are disappointed (here I think of politics), sometimes we are ecstatic, but yet the anticipation itself is the delicious part. Albert Camus once wrote: “We need the sweet pain of aniticpation to tell us we are really alive.” For some of us that sweet pain is wonderful, a sting of joy. And sometimes the anticipation is far better than the very thing we arrive at, and perhaps that is learned behaviour, that anticipation is better than disappointment, yet for some us – you can’t beat the excitement, the rush of it. I wonder that there are some anticipation junkies out there?

What is harder to anticipate overall is human response. Perhaps our expectations of others are unrealistic? To return to the disappointment of politics, it seems that the individual one votes for and anticipates representation by, is crsuhed under the weight of the party machine which steals whatever it was we anticipated. The partner we pursued in love did not respond as we anticipated. The expectations we place on our children are weighty too.

I think anticipation is a positive thing in and of itself, the energy we engage in living it is life giving, especially when we are engaging with some of the more creative and positive aspects of life. Anticipation also trumps cynicism, and apathy any day, and can build a sense of hope. There’s always a bend in life obscurred, so dream a little, plan some, and live. I can’t wait …

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” Andy Warhol

And Carly Simon singing her song Anticipation

Paul,

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Critical

via Daily Prompt: Critical

So many possible angles on this. What is critical? Trump vs North Korea? Turnbull vs his own political party (even himself)? Or, have you thought about restorative justice, now that’s a critical issue? Or, are you responding to climate change with solid critical thinking (dividing the truth, reasoning)?

But from a contemplative point of view, critical, or critical thinking (or processing), is deductive vs inductive thinking (or processing). Inductive reasoning involves inquiry, exploration, trial and error. Whereas deductive reasoning involves establishing a truth and supporting it. Inductive reasoning has helped us to grow and explore in every field of learning, whereas deductive learning has kept us corralled in a particular moment of learning.

Inductive learning helps us to think and respond critically to ideas, processes, facts, learning, discovery, emotions, and feelings. In theology and politics (and other fields of learning too) deductive learning is usually associated with closed thinking, even fundamentalism(s). Whereas inductive learning is exponential, it keeps on keeping on, because it recognises our potential to never fully know, but to be always engaged with learning new aspects of a truth or an experience. Inductive learning is not about black or white, right or wrong, who’s in or who’s out, it is about how do we move forward with each revelation, and how do I integrate that learning and contribute to it too? Deductive learning has its place, but its more about what we agree to be set truths and paths to learning, and of which there are few.

I’m for trial and error, its more forgiving, more fun, and opens up a myriad of possibilities every time. but it really depends on how you look at life, are you open to new ideas and paths at each turn, or do you yearn for set ideas and paths? The great thinkers of each generation have been inductive thinkers and teachers.

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Farce … [name]

via Daily Prompt: Farce

I always love farce. From Canterbury Tales, to  Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, to Carry On, I Love Lucy or Mr. Bean, exaggerated comedy is fun.

Lately I’ve seen a new genre, the farce of politics. While it is sometimes pure comedy, and exaggerated, the pathos of politics is far from humour, but rather a farce of disgust, sadness, and anger, not unlike Chaucer’s works, which elicit more than just laughter.

The lack of integrity, the brassy self interest, exposed corruption, the swagger of ego, self preservation, not a positive experience. I yearn for integrity, compassion, generosity, positive vision, equality, freedom, ecological responsibility (now you’re smiling). They’re the values I hold closely. I love constructed farce as only Mr Bean can deliver, but I do not want intentional farce as politics. I desire better, we deserve better, especially when our legislators are pompously busy telling us to work harder, pay more, receive less, love suspicion, turn to racism, and put up with misery. Nope, sorry, not my play. If I’d wanted farce in parliament I’d have voted for it.

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Halal Mythology

I’m writing this because I’m sick to death of the misinformation about Halal (also spelt Halaal) certification in Australia. There are people who are militating against Halal certification using incorrect information and some are intentionally using misinformation. Some of those sources are the ugly fascist and neo-nazi groups (see: Neo-nazis, white-supremacists, islamophobic groups active in Australia via the Internet.) who have no scruples in creating fear about race or culture.

Halal simply means what is permisible by Islamic law.

Slaughter of animals for meat is one use of Halal certification. The slaughter itself is done the same as Jewish Kosher slaughter, if you want a brief description of how it is done go here  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/08/what-does-halal-method-animal-slaughter-involve. The cost is in certifying that the slaughter is done properly, including that it must not cause undue harm to the animal.

Other forms of Halal certification are checking to make sure that forbidden food substances, like pork or alcohol, are not present in packaged foods or beverages.

The claims are that Islam uses Halal certification to make vast sums of money, which in turn is syphoned off to foreign interests, and at worst to terrorism. Or that within Australia, there are vast sums of money syphoned off into mosques and schools.

The main complaint is that Halal is a tax on none Muslims and therefore unfair.

Halal, like other religious certifications, and including health certifications, would cost money to certify as someone would need to be employed to do that. But the certification process doesn’t rake in vast sums of money. In 2015 the ABC Fact Check interviewed The Byron Bay Cookie Company who said that their Halal certification fee was around $1,500 per annum (www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2015-04-14/fact-check-does-halal-certification-fund-terrorism/6383238) or 0.003%. The Fleurie Milk Company (who sufferd from a social media campaign against their intention to provide yoghurt to Emirates airlines) had a fee of $1,000 or 2% of the contract.

Nestle responded by saying that their fee was negligible. and further commented that they did not pass this minor cost on to the customer.

In 2015 the certifications done by the Global Halal Centre Pty Ltd said that abattoirs were audited four times a year and cost between $2 – 3,000 per audit, and Halal certification per carton of meat was 25 cents. While Graincorp said that their costs were “pretty minor.”

I think Nestle nailed it when they said that what needed to be taken into account was the context. The companies are making it clear that the cost is not an impediment nor does it hinder them in any way. The companies are saying that the fee is so minor it is not a risk to profit (which is a major indicator of how trivial it is). What the companies are also saying is that the Halal certification cost is outweighed by the income from being able to guarantee Halal to a growing and lucrative market. In 2012 the global Halal certified food industry was worth between $US600 billion and $US2.1 trillion. As a value that is a market worth sharing in, and clearly outweighs the minor cost of certification. in that sense, Halal is a positive way forward for companies wanting to enter that particular market.

Context will also give an account of other forms of religious certification. This is primarily Kosher certification for the Jewish community. In 2014 there were negotiations to include Hindu certification in the US market, and there is in Australia a Christian Certification Authority trying to make headway in the market. The Sikh community have some restrictions, they are required to forego halal food, so for the Sikh community halal labels are helpful by default.

In regard to the fee received by Muslim certification agencies, according to the ABC Factcheck (referenced above), none of the money could be traced to terrorism or to unscrupulous agencies. Besides which, all money transfer is closely monitored by Federal Govt. agencies through the regulatory processes in place. All Banks have to have a series of checks in place to validate your identity and the channels you are using. Of course, this doesn’t prevent money laundering for those intent on achieving it. It would be difficult to monitor all foreign channels that provide a publicly legitimate front for laundering. That is the role of Internationally cooperative agency to achieve through investigation.

It is also important to note that within Australia, peak bodies like the Islamic Council of Victoria, Halal Australia, Muslims Australia (AFIC) are openly opposed to terrorism and any form of association with prohibited agencies and groups.

As for money going to Mosques and schools, ABC Factcheck reported that some does, but this is legitimate (as it is for Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Sikhs). In 2014 the AFIC contributed $150, 000 to schools, youth programs, lectures and more. The ICCV funds schools and youth programs. The Supreme Islamic Council for Halal Meat Australia (SICHMA) supoprts Islamic centres, mosques, youth education and mentoring programs. Those monies are, like all monies gained by public and charitible entities, regulated and audited.

It should be noted that Islamic schools and colleges are governed by the same regulations as are Christian and other faith schools, which means they are regulated and audited, and they are required to comply with Australian standards. Otherwise, no operating licence would be granted, or continued.

The evidence doesn’t support conspiracy, money laundering, terrorist funding, or any ilegal activity. From a commercial perspective, Halal is profitable and far outweighs any certification costs. From a religious point of view it is similar to Kosher slaughter, it helps other religious groups identify Halal, and it is a positive for those practice Islam. From a community point of view there is so much legislation around finance, money transfer, banking, the licencing of schools, and employment, that our confidence is well founded that there is nothing untoward.

My own conclusion is that opposition comes from two sources. One is a large percentage of the Australian population who just don’t know what Halal is all about. The other is an unconnected variety of vocal opposition politically, religiously, and culturally anti-Islamic. These include neo-nazis, white supremicists, extreme right-wing political groups, anti-imigration lobbyists, and anti-refugee groups, and extremist or fundamentalist Christian groups among many voices (an unholy alliance!). This latter group are adept at manipulating the first group. Fear is a trade in stock for anti-Islamic groups. And this in a country that birthed the protectionist “White Australia Policy” which I believe is, unfortunately,  still active in our hearts and minds. We need to deal with this latent policy, and its antecedents by letting go the past and living into a different future.

The panic being created about Halal is really a wake up call to us all that now is the time to build bridges towards a connected yet diverse and creative community, rather than aiming for mediocrity and division.

I want to live in a place where difference is celebrated not punished, and where we can live into an Australia that rises to acknowledgement and acceptance, embracing and compassionate, and not just for Muslims either, for all.

Next time someone you know criticises Halal, let them know the truth.

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Our Kingdom for a … For a what?

Political praxis is never clean or simple. There are few examples of a golden age anywhere, or for very long where it is perceived. It seems to be a business of cut and thrust, a very dirty game to play in. It has been no dirtier than with the fall of PM Julia Gillard to third time challenger and former PM Kevin Rudd.

On the one hand I don’t want to lionise Gillard as suffering victim, nor on the other vilify Rudd as vexatious usurper. Politics is, apparently, like this.

Of course it has left some opining for those golden good old days. And there were some hopeful moments as when Whitlam brought us into the modern world, or when Don Chipp founded the Australian Democrats to keep the two main parties honest! When Hawke and Keating commanded real international respect (as opposed to the sycophantic Menzies or the weakness of Howard). Or when Bob Brown and the Greens had some leverage that mattered. But if you were looking for great moments in integrity and really fine leadership you’d be sorely pressed to find it.

What the current leadership wrangle demonstrates to me is the complexity of how unhealthy ego and party machinations towards survival dominate the process of actual leadership and government. Rudd has challenged three times. Those challenges in themselves have surely been debilitating, they take time, energy and focus. Both sides have also spent time in manoeuvring for factional and public support, surely this too is leadership sapping and distracting.

In the midst of it all where is the leadership? Where are the policies?

We are living in a time when our agricultural sector is in deep trouble, not just because of perennial or local weather issues, not just because of global warming, but because there are depressed markets, debt and financial\structural issues, competition and trade problems, labour supply and more. But who in Canberra is bothered?

For me the response to refugees has been devoid of compassion, but this has been lost in inter-party and intra-party wrangling. Refugees were both a factional Labor as well as Liberal casualty. People’s lives have been diminished by party ego taking centre stage and determining the tenor of debate, defence and strut.

Mining is currently sexy, but there is yet no policy for the future of mining, will it eventually suffer like agriculture?

Education is another sector. The Gonski reforms are at the very least an attempt to get beyond the the oh so clever petty State games of playing off the Commonwealth and at the same time moving towards a real national standard. The states opine, but look at the standards in some states! The public have begun to be seduced into thinking ill of it, and lately because it is attached to Gillard’s leadership.

The reforms that Gillard spearheaded were not sexy and have surely been a factor in her downfall, voters don’t like cod liver oil no matter how good it is for them. The mining tax would be an example, after all the corporate whinging about it few miners paid any substantial monies out of their hefty profits, which I would point out are derived from crown land (and therefore belonging to the government and therefore the people).

But in the end Gillard herself has suffered only what she herself brought upon Rudd when she challenged earlier. However, what is very different has been the spiteful narking about gender, it was never been overt, but it was there and it was subtly nurtured in the public. No male politician has been demeaned because of their gender, and no PM has been so harassed as Julia Gillard.

When leadership issues dominate ego clearly drives, but in politics it rarely seems to be healthy ego drive. There is little room for integrity, and there is little room for an attending to real public needs. Generosity and compassion are junked for toughness and testosterone.

Somewhere I\we have a responsibility in all of this, because we vote and so we do have some say. Yet as I look out on the political landscape in Australia (and indeed across the world) I feel less hopeful, for me there seem to be no real contenders worth my vote in the things that really matter.

My political fantasy is one where leadership draws from mindfulness and awareness, and holds the praxis of compassion to be the highest, and where all people matter. What would it cost to have an emotionally intelligent leader?

Perhaps when we cross the Rubicon (but never the Styx).

Paul

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