Friday, 25 April 2014

Victory vs violence

Today is ANZAC day in Australia. It is a day to recall the fallen in an ill fated skirmish in Gallipoli off the coast of Turkey in 1915 and those who have perished since in various vignettes of violence for political expediency.

here is a link if you want to know the details

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Australians have fought in many wars that other people start or enter. Our soldiers and other military personnel have a reputation of being reliable and brave. I understand the need to defend against the greed or fanaticism that may threaten our way of life and I respect the decision of those who join the military to want to be that front line of defense.

However I am not a fan of war in any form. It disgusts me and I consider it to be the ugliest of human traits.  There is no victory in war. There are dead people and lost people, there are more losses than gains and ongoing pain for decades if not centuries. Our histories are littered with the slain in the name of some political maneuvering or another. Asylum seekers are those very real very current victims of war.
I wish there was some effective way of  resolving disputes without resorting to violence. I wish we as humans could learn to talk and negotiate with our brains and hearts instead of guns and other weapons.

There is a group of students from Warrnambool, from all four of our secondary schools, who traveled to Gallipoli this year.   My hope for them is that they gain perspective and an abhorrence of war. (there are only 30,000 people in Warrnambool and our secondary schools have approximately 3000ish students altogether). There are 13 students in Gallipoli.

Warrnambool students with the VictorianPremier, Consul-General of Turkey, the Mayor of Warrnambool, Chairman of FOGI and the sponsoring Manager of Fairy Chimneys Travel

The ANZAC legend has become entrenched in the Australian psyche and is almost sacred as a symbol of unity, friendship, bravery and heroism.
When an American company bought out Australia's most prestigious biscuit manufacturer about 15 years ago, they foolishly attempted to Americanize the words on the packets. They got away with cookie(an American term) on most packets until they put the word on a packet of ANZAC biscuits. The backlash from the Australian buying public was furious and they quickly removed the word cookie and returned the word biscuit. An ANZAC biscuit is simply a hard oat, butter and syrup  biscuit which was easily transported and sent out to 'the boys' and has become another Australian icon, like vegemite (also now owned by that same American company). That company is now famous for its very bad marketing decision in attempting to shift the entire focus of a country and its eating habits. They tried to market vegemite mixed with cheese, which may have made vegemite more palatable to a squeamish non Australian consumer but it was a monumental failure and is now quoted as such in business courses. Anzac biscuits

Violence is such ugly behaviour. Violence in any situation is unacceptable. This is NOT Sparta, no matter how much young testosterone ridden youth would like to think it is or how much they admired the movie and its ilk. I guess they need an outlet for all that adrenaline so there are sports they can do to let off steam. If they can't afford to join a team they should run. Running is free.

Violence against women is a worldwide phenomenon. Less than half of all domestic violence situations in developed countries are ever reported to police and fewer than a single grain of sand in the ocean is ever dealt with effectively with the violent person being assisted to be non violent and the victim of the violence gaining help.

So why are our governments spending billions of dollars on Military might and so little on making our domestic front a safe place to live in?

Cynically, I believe that war makes money for the rich people at the top and no one with any kind of real power in this world gives a damn about the actual safety of women and children or men.
this is the link to the song 'Only 19' by a band called Redgum( released 1983). It always makes me cry. {sorry I am not tech savvy enough to embed it}

I wanted to write about Violets and Violins, Valentines and Vacations(which we call Holidays in Australia). I wanted to explore words like vacuous and vacillate and vaccinations and very vaxocentrism but the ANZAC legend has me vexed and vaporous.

This statue is at the Atatürk Memorial in Australia. It depicts a Turkish soldier carrying an injured ANZAC soldier back to the ANZAC lines during a ceasefire, based on an actual event. Eventually the Turkish people and those of Australia and New Zealand formed a strong and enduring friendship although the Turkish people were defending their homeland and way of life and the ANZACs were foot soldiers in someone else's war.

Sometimes in the ugliest of  situations something beautiful can come from it.  Bravery, creativity, wonder and friendship. So today I will stop and think of all the people who stand up for what they believe in and the wonderful aspects of humanity that sometimes can only be seen in all their glory when juxtaposed against the darkest moments.