Having lived in Korea for almost a year now, there are a few things I have learned about Australia that I would like to share with you – and also a few questions I would like to ask. Living overseas gives you an interesting insight into (or away from) your home country, and it’s something I’ve never really experienced before on this scale. Yes, I’ve travelled a fair bit but never so permanently (or awesomely! ^^). And unfortunately, as much as I love Australia, there are a few things about my home country that I have taken issue with.
(Yes, this is a serious post, so get ready. Rant alert!)
Let’s start with the beginning of last year. A few weeks after I came to Korea, I was getting bombarded with messages about North Korea’s threats and the potential bomb that could imminently explode the whole country. I’ll be honest, it was an interesting way to settle in! The media back home in Australia were blowing it up (no pun intended) out of proportion, but the effects were real. Friends were worried and my brother informed me that my mum was slowly but surely working herself into a state of panic everyday.
Let me just say that during that time, no one over here was giving two hoots (for lack of a ruder word) about this situation. North Korea has been threatening the South for decades, and they are pretty much just used to it. Admittedly, when friends and acquaintances and friends of friends were worriedly messaging me, the thought did cross my mind that something could happen and that I should be prepared. A few evening were spent briefly wondering about what could happen, sending my details to the Australian embassy and checking flights back home. Most of the time, however, we didn’t think about it. Honestly, we reasoned that if something were to happen it would be over in an instant and that would be that. Not pleasant, but if millions of Koreans here were living with that threat, I didn’t want to whine about it.
Aussie battla ftw!
The media back home were all over this ‘story’, and when the reality was so different from what was reported, it makes me wonder just how much is happening that is actually relevant that we will never be shown. And I find this unsettling, because there are some big issues that desperately need the attention that is being wasted on irrelevant (K-)dramas such as these. I know Australia isn’t the only country to do this, not by a longshot, but it seems like we easily lambast America for their Fox/faux news channels when we really could stand to take a good, hard and honest (after all, this is Australia!) look in the mirror.
Back to the present. My Facebook feed has recently been packed full of updates about the ABC and Tony Abbott’s ‘broken promises’ about its future. A politician lying?! Well, I never! Basically, for those (like me) who have been out of the loop, Tony Abbott (our joke of a Prime Minister, to put it mildly) has been blasting the ABC for ‘taking everybody’s side but our own’. Abbott is a known puppet, and it seems clear to me that he is peddling the agendas of some hidden corporate giants. He has no original thoughts of his own, but he sure likes destroying stuff. Also, he used to be a journalist, so you would think he would understand the idea of a free, democratic, unbiased media (he doesn’t).
Why is he not attacking our very own Rupert Murdoch over trying (and succeeding) to control the news for practically the whole world? How about Gina Rinehart who is sucking all of our country’s natural resources (ie. they do not belong to anyone) and becoming the world’s richest woman because of it? Of course, Abbott wouldn’t dare take aim at these people, as their influence, money and greed are astoundingly good at holding up our ‘democratic political system’.
Arghhh! This stuff makes me so mad! I never used to care about politics and the like, and now I know why. I honestly understand why people tune out of the news and revert to watching The Real Housewives, because this stuff is so messed up that it seems impossible to find a way out. All this drama in the media distracts us from what’s really at play, and who’s pulling the strings. But if we all just try a teensy bit to understand what is happening, we can make a huge difference. I genuinely, passionately believe that.
Next, the Great Barrier Reef. Our beautiful corals and one of the wonders of the world is under threat… all because of coal. My brother wrote a Facebook status alerting me to this problem (again, I am blissfully ignorant over here), which basically involves Australia agreeing to dump dredged mud and sediment in the Reef to make way for a coal port. This is so wrong on so many levels. How does this happen? You know, I believe in the good of all people, but I also believe that power corrupts and there is no way I have any hope or faith in a single one of our politicians.
And another thing: what is going on with our sharks in Western Australia? I’m not saying they’re my best friends and that I want to hang out with them every Sunday but honestly killing for the sake of killing is grotesque and should never be allowed, in my opinion. Sharks live in the ocean. It is their home. If you swim in the ocean, they may just be around. Of course, I love going to the beach (especially Perth’s Cottesloe beach) and we have to be careful and take precautions, but the response to a shark attack can’t be to indiscriminately kill off all sharks in that area. It’s absurd and pig-headed and so short-sighted.
(As an aside, I feel that any ‘sport’ or ‘policy’ that involves hunting or killing an animal is weak and unoriginal at best, and a devastating atrocity at worst. This thinking is based on the falsity that animals aren’t sentient beings, which we curiously defend when we house them as pets.)
I am the first to admit that I need to live my words as readily as I speak them: despite cutting down on meat, I am not yet a vegetarian, and while boycotting fur, I still wear leather. It’s all as bad as each other, and basically just takes education to realise the damage these things to do us as a people and for humanity as a whole. The mass culling of sharks off the coast of Western Australia is not the way forward. Destroying life is never an answer for anything.
As much as it pains me to say it, I am embarrassed by my country’s ‘leaders’ and feel glad to be so removed from it over here, surrounded by a language I don’t (yet) understand, and without even a shred of ‘news’ in my daily life. I am, however, proud of my people. One piece of good news I read is the amount of protests that were arranged immediately after the cull was announced, as well as Ricky Gervais and Richard Branson lending their support to highlight the cause on an international level.
It’s funny, as much as I am an outsider over here, having this bird’s-eye, selective view into the big issues at home helps me filter out the wheat from the chaff. It makes it sharply clear just what is wrong and also how we can (try to) help change things.
So what can we do?
Here are a few links to various websites with petitions which will help to make your voice heard (and you can donate to help these causes, too):
- GetUp!.org: Save the ABC
- Greenpeace: Stop Great Barrier Reef Destruction
- Australian Marine Conservation Society: Save Our Sharks – Stop the Cull
Most of all, we need to stop believing that other people will solve our problems for us. They won’t. They will simply smile and nod and take your money, and then do whatever they were going to do anyway. Politicians are 1trained to recite their spiels with gusto, so believably you’d swear it was real, and lying is just a way of life for them. As someone naturally very trusting, I found this hard to fathom but have since resigned myself to this truth. I do, however, still believe in the power of people to do good and stand up for what is right.
So, I implore you, think for yourself, ask questions and fight back. Rights are never given, they are demanded. And Australia could do with a lot of that right now.
Until next time,