The most encouraging things I have seen on TV this week have been the latest episode of The Handmaid’s Tale and a reality TV show about a company of funeral directors called ‘The Casketeers’ on Netflix. Inspiration truly can be found anywhere if you are looking hard enough.
Yesterday Sydney held it’s protest against the religious exemptions legislation. The rhetoric around the proposed legislation is couched in positive terminology with the word ‘freedom’ being thrown about willy-nilly. But there isn’t anything positive in this proposal, and there’s certainly nothing progressive. Oppressing others because you hold the opinion that your own belief system must be superior to that of anyone who doesn’t share it isn’t freedom. It is the very definition of discrimination.
And didn’t we do this already? Like, for real? Didn’t we only just endure a resource squandering, hate mongering campaign aimed at further marginalizing vulnerable sections of our society? Yep, pretty sure that was us. It’s also probably why certain sections of the community are behind the proposed religious exemptions legislation. They didn’t get the outcome they wanted and, God forbid (pun intended) they shouldn’t get everything they want, when they want it! When I visualise the religious right and their arguments in my head they look like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; spoilt and selfish, stamping their feet and demanding MORE! NOW!
My own personal belief is that most bigotry is based on fear. Fear of difference, otherness. It’s a belief that allows me, ironically, some compassion. Because of that I try to temper my extreme frustration with some rationalisation. I’ve already referenced the Marriage Equality campaign. All of the state sanctioned hate and the fear that was generated. And Marriage Equality WON. But did anyone else actually lose anything? Have we had scores of hetrosexual people flocking to get divorced because their marriage is now meaningless? Has the fabric of our society unravelled into anarchy? I know I probably sound as if I am being sarcastic but I’m not. I’m just trying to make the point that EXTENDING BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS TO EVERYBODY BENEFITS US ALL. So, as a nation, as a society, we didn’t lose anything extending human rights to all in terms of marriage equality. What did we lose by the campaign against marriage equality itself? International respect, millions of dollars, human decency, sleep, security, safety, vulnerable LGBTIQA+ young people and members of society (there are anecdotal reports of people suiciding during the campaign. I don’t have any official data but when it feels like your whole nation is against you and is saying you are unworthy, and you can actually see multiple advertisments every night on television telling you so and your own Government is the one dragging it’s feet on giving you basic human rights then it’s not a long bow to draw, is it?). I’m sure I could add to this list but it just makes me sad.
If you are an extremely religious person with strongly held views that anything other than hetrosexuality goes against your own personal belief system then I’m going to assume no one has forced you to attend any gay weddings (maybe some slight sarcasm at the end there). For the rest of us, we have been able to celebrate some very cool expressions of love and commitment. I don’t have any concrete data for you (you guys can look it up as easily as I can, I believe in you!) but the pink dollar is a REAL THING and even my maths isn’t bad enough to believe there hasn’t been any positive economic flow on from the revenue generated by fabulous gay weddings! Which probably means even the most homophobic amongst us has benefitted indirectly.
Surely we have better things to do? As a nation, we have bigger issues. Bigger problems to solve. But these smoke and mirror games that distract us from the bigger picture are built to divide and conquer us. I’m asking you not to let them. Which doesn’t mean doing nothing and saying nothing. If you are religious and you don’t feel government sanctioned bigotry and discrimination are accurate depictions of your faith then please stand up to be counted. There are many religious leaders and people of faith activitely working to represent their faith in love.
If you belong to a group who knows what discrimination feels like; if you are a woman or a person of colour or differently abled, stand up to be counted. If you have ever been homeless or unemployed or lived in poverty, stand up to be counted. because once you start eroding human rights and LEGISLATING FOR THE RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE, THE EROSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AFFECTS US ALL. Can anyone say ‘Gilead’? And if you haven’t read or watched The Handmaid’s Tale then bring to mind the Nazi Regime and you’ll understand my reference. It’s a very slippery slope.
So, why not make THIS the teachable moment? With rallies continuing across the country throughout August, why not celebrate inclusiveness and diversity! Celebrate our freedom to assemble and impact the democratic process! Speak out for human rights and freedom from discrimination! I know, for some of us, the thought of attending a rally or a protest seems daunting. It seems radical. I guess I’d rather be radical proactively than retrospectively. It makes more sense to stop this legislation before it starts than to try to get rid of it once it has been made law. Because we all have something to lose here, whether we know it yet or not.
Netflix Australia is currently screening a series called The Casketeers. It is about a family of funeral directors, who run Tipene Funerals and it is brilliant. It is an example of the very best that we can offer each other as human beings and the subject of death is handled in such a profoundly life affirming way that you cannot help but be uplifted by it. Find this series and watch it when you need to restore your faith in people and our ability to treat each other with love, dignity and respect. Find this series when you want to focus on what is important in your life and what kind of world you want your children to live in. Watch it. Love it. Live it.
Safe onward travel x