A few things happened yesterday that have led me to a morning of pondering and being frustrated by the injustices in our world and the conflict that seems to be necessary in order to stand up for what’s right…

1) Last night I watched Changeling (with Angelina Jolie, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by J. Michael Straczynsk) about the true story of a mother in the 1920s in LA who battles corrupt cops who try to convince her that a boy they have found is her missing son, when he is not. They put her in a nutter house in hope of shutting her mouth to prevent bad press. “Never start a fight, but always finish it” is her motto. She did. And, after a great deal of trauma and incredible perseverance, justice prevailed.

2) I had dinner with an old friend who insisted that the actions of the British Empire have made the world a better place for all. Really???

3) I transcribed a conversation with former Sydney Peace Prize recipient Hanan Ashwari, about the invisible but pervasive administrative techniques used to get Palestinians off their land in Jerusalem. The fine print of administrative legalities allows homes to be seized and whole families to lose their houses, land, jobs, passports, identity, and their right to do anything at all. Who was the first to use such mandates in Palestine? Surprise surprise – it was the Brits. Now Israel has maintained as part of their own system to oppress some and reward others.

I’m not saying I have a problem the British Empire, or Israel. Nor am I saying I don’t have a problem with them. Regardless of my opinions  surely we should all be able to be honest and acknowledge the things they/we have done/are doing, and who benefits… right?

4) The Sydney Morning Herald published this letter by my friend and mentor Prof Stuart Rees:

US bullies have no respect for liberties

The prospect of US charges against Julian Assange will be a test of the Australian government’s courage in standing up to big brother America, thereby showing its independence and willingness to protect the interests of any Australian citizen (”Revealed: US plans to charge Assange”, February 29).

For centuries, governments and other powerful interests have behaved as though secrecy was a necessary form of governance. Since the introduction of the war on terror, civil liberties have been further eroded by the multiplication of public and private intelligence and counter terrorism agencies such as this Texas outfit, Stratfor, whose employees are invisible and not accountable.

That the WikiLeaks/Assange cables have told us something about the clandestine and sometimes criminal activities of governments and their sub-contracted intelligence collaborators is a public service not a crime.

A grand jury in Virginia has been struggling for months to concoct a charge against Julian Assange. This demonstrates not only the flimsy nature of evidence but also America’s usual bullying desire for revenge against someone who has merely revealed what has been going on.

Stuart Rees director, Sydney Peace Foundation

Be it going along with corrupt cops, corrupt nations, corrupt policies or corrupt empires — staying silent, staying “peaceful”, not thinking for oneself, being a happy robot — always seems to be the easiest option.
It seems to me that: 1) peace requires conflict; 2) entering conflicted spaces requires courage; and 3) courage requires honesty.
Be it as individuals being picked on my corrupt cops, or as nation states sucking up to our big brothers, or as one class allowing exploitation of other classes for our own gain, I suppose whether or not we stand up for what’s right depends on these three things:
  1. Being honest with ourselves and not turning a blind eye and ear to things we don’t want to see or hear
  2. Having the courage to enter a conflicted space
  3. Caring for “the other” (be it other people or the planet) enough to do something about it


President of Costa Rica 1978-1982, well-known critic of the IMF and other global financial institutions, and founder of the University for Peace.

All these things, these abuses of power, the oppression of the powerless, makes me think of the famous “First they came…” words of Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

All’s well and fine when it’s not you – stay quiet, “keep the peace” so to say – but if one day they come for you, I wonder, will there be anyone left with the honesty, the courage, and the care-factor, to do something about it?