In our home we have a TV, though for much my life I have never had one in the house. Upon having kids I conceded to having a TV in the house, and find it useful for watching documentaries and movies and cartoons are also a good distraction on rainy days. I never watch the daily news, in fact we don’t actually get any TV channels, we watch netflix or DVDs.
The biggest concern I had in my children watching TV has always been the viewing of gratuitous fictional violence and the real broadcast violence. Particularly the TV news programs, which I always felt were depressing, full of the anger and violence that comprises the lives of much of the world on a daily basis. I thought that I should strive to keep their innocence from the often grim and dangerous world we live in for as long as was possible.
The violence is not new I know, humanity has been killing each other, terrorising each other and dehumanising each other as long as recorded history, I know this. What is new is that the violence is available on a screen for us to consume 24/7 should we so choose. Actual real dead bodies, wounded and terrified people, starving people, marginalised people, people fleeing terror and war and death and famine. By keeping my children from seeing all this in flashing picture and stark words I thought I could protect them from feeling unnecessary anxiety at the harshness of the world they are yet to experience.
I do however use my laptop to keep up with current affairs and the other day my 6 year old sneaked up behind me and saw the photo of the little syrian boy in an ambulance. Many questions were asked as a result of that one shocking image and I answered them truthfully. How do you explain to a 6 year whom one is constantly reminding to be kind, to not respond with aggression toward his brother, that grownups are allowed to maim and kill little children just like him? How can you justify killing with more killing in a way that makes sense to a child? All I could hope for is for my children to grow up with kind hearts and compassionate natures, to know that violence only begets violence and serves no one but the people at the very top.
What concerns me is how so many children with innocent hearts and kind loving parents just like me have grown up to fight in wars, to bomb innocent civilians, to go to a factory every day to aid in the manufacture of bombs and weapons, to advise on policy that commit violent acts against innocent people. I wonder where did those parents go wrong? Did they go wrong, or are some humans essentially incapable of choosing the peaceful path over a stable income, a powerful job title?
I simply cannot fathom how so many Australians are able to participate in jobs that directly or indirectly enable a place such as Nauru and Manus Island detention centres to operate. Isn’t it as easy as all of those to people to say no?
No I will not do the banking for a company that profits of the torture of children. No I will not make screws that go into furnishings of a place that profits off the illegal incarceration of innocent civilians. No I will not send the food I have grown or manufactured to a place that violates human rights every day. Can’t we as a nation stop paying tax until our government shuts down the illegal offshore detention centres?
Are Australian people able to go about their daily lives knowingly contributing to this continuing torture, abuse and illegal activity because they have been desensitised to the fact that those people are actually people, despite them having brown skin and hard to pronounce names. Can they ignore the pleas for help and the international condemnation because to them, those people are just pictures on a screen with the words illegal and and queue jumpers bandied about. How is it possible that the majority of Australians feel threatened by the prospect of refugees coming here when the post World War Two migration saw an influx of eastern european migrants come to these shores and prosper?
Has everyone forgotten the words to our national anthem
“For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share”
Could it be because most people consume their news though these cleverly manufactured programs they are blind to the truth? The solution may be to not just “watch” all the atrocities in the world unfold and then switch over to the latest entertainment program, but sit down with our children and explain to hem exactly what they are seeing. Give the people the recognition as fellow human beings. Explain that those people are just like you and me, they just happened to born on a different part of the earth. That every single human being born on this planet is born where they are purely by luck of the draw. nothing differentiates us but our self imposed conditions and judgements. That is could happen to us, and very will likely happen to us.
In Syria and many other countries right now, families are faced with a choice, stay and risk being killed or go and risk dying and being illegal detained and placed in torture camps with no end date in sight.
So I think I will start to show my children the realities the horrors of the world now, maybe that way they will know that all these children being tortured are human beings just like them.
Make sure our children know that 5 year Omar Daqneesh has a family and a brother and he is loved by many.