Nothing fishy – a silent communication

All that she wanted was a quiet weekend by the sea. The cheap weekender at the isolated beach was ideal for this purpose. Late evening on the day of her arrival, when the sun was setting, she ambled out to the beach. She was as nude of clothing as the sky, sea and sand were nude of life forms. So she thought, as she marveled at the sight of the ever-changing sky.

God is kind to us Earthlings, she thought. As our home rotates on its axis in its travels round the sun, I am allowed to experience the beauty of the setting sun through all my senses, particularly my eyes, skin and soul. I am also allowed to believe that that beautiful ball is sinking slowly below the surface of my home only for its nightly rest. It will surface on the other side the next morning to continue its work.

Her joy was, however, spoilt abruptly at the sight of a large figure garbed in what appeared to be an overcoat. He was leaning back on a huge rock, seemingly enjoying the glorious spectacle before him. Being a generous person, she was pleased that another person was also able to savour the moment. However, she was not adequately clothed for social intercourse. Yet, being young and therefore superbly confident that gravity had not got the better of any of her parts, she decided to move a little closer to the figure. She was intrigued.

The figure seemed to be standing in a pool of water periodically enhanced by the sloshing waves. That is not an unusual sight at the sea’s edge. But the proportions of the figure were somehow not correct. The head was not as big as one might expect, and there was no visible neck. As she moved with some trepidation towards the figure, it seemed to slip feet first into the water. By the time she got a little closer, the figure had disappeared below the gentle waves. Believing that the person had drowned, she panicked. She did not own a mobile phone, and she was a fair distance from the nearest human habitation.

Since she was a competent swimmer, she ran into the shallows intending to save the person from drowning. Then, she stopped. A converse thought had intervened. Would she be interfering with a bid for suicide? What right did she have to disrupt someone else’s legitimate wish? No, she was no one’s guardian, she decided. Why spoil her temporary escape from that vicious segment of society that was her place of employment? She thus quickly turned her mind away from a temporary turmoil to the cocoon of contemplation.

Suddenly, a voice broke into her thoughts. She did not actually hear it. The thought reached her mind as she contemplated the sea where the person had disappeared. The voice, if it was a voice, said very clearly, “You are a good person, to think about saving my life. However, I am not committing suicide. Like your sun which needs a rest from its labours over you and yours, I need to go below the surface at the end of a tiring day. My rest, however, is in life-rejuvenating water.” Then, there was no voice. The semantic silence was without and within.

(These are the opening paragraphs of a piece of fiction titled ‘Nothing fishy at the seaside’ in ‘Pithy Perspectives: A smorgasbord of short, short stories.’ It is my only book of fiction. Available at Amazon Kindle @ $US 2.99.

It has been reviewed most favourably. The collection has been described as ranging from wacky to weird to frightening to uplifting.)

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An intriguing but comforting heritage

Typically, you are born into a family. You thereby inherit, mainly through your genes, certain broad characteristics of that family. Strangely, you might additionally display certain personality traits of not only your parents, but also your grandparents and (to my surprise) certain uncles or aunts. That the inheritance pathways for the latter have not been proven is irrelevant; epigenesis (a pathway known to bypass the genes) may fill the gap.

As the real-life limitations of the scientific method are well-known (but beyond the chosen methodology of professional sceptics), we seekers of understanding are free to register and examine all aspects of human existence, as objectively as we can. We also know that the human mind is severely circumscribed in its capacity to explain, even grasp, such intangible (and untouchable) phenomena as consciousness, extra-sensory perception, the control of matter (eg. one’s own body or even electrical switches) displayed by some (rare) minds, and such like.

Since you are born into a collective, certain factors external to your birth family’s genes influence your behaviour. You are conditioned by your nuclear family’s code of conduct, and the associated attitudes and values. These would reflect the cultural paradigms of the extended family (the clan) in Asian cultures; and possibly in other non-Western cultures. Most certainly, in all societies, the values and practices of the tribe, including its religious perspective and linked cultural traditions, will have sway.

Then, things can happen to some people – and which are not part of the paradigms I have delineated above. For example, a significant number of children from all over the globe have, over many decades, remembered their recent past lives accurately. These memories would surely remain with them throughout their lives – even if deeply overlaid in time. As well, some people have strong intimations, which surface repeatedly, of a past life. The implication of these two examples is that the individuals affected have some capacity within them to remember, vaguely or clearly, temporarily or permanently, one or more experiences from another time and place.

This facility is traditionally attributed, in much older societies, to the human soul. The soul is believed to be an on-going entity, occupying a series of human bodies over an extended period of time. The soul seems to be capable of carrying memories – in the way instincts are believed to have accumulated in humanity. Thus instincts and soul memories would represent accumulated learning. This may also give credence to the concept of a collective memory of the human species.

Would a collective unconscious follow from this? Is this also why Hinduism claims that the human mind is only an instrument of Consciousness – which permeates all existence!

This would place the mind outside the brain. Indeed, as demonstrated by the spirit of the long-dead uncle who manifested himself to offer me certain advice, the soul (or spirit) can retain the mind it had displayed on Earth, together with the memories seemingly embedded in it.

The unavoidable and comforting conclusion arising from all this is that we humans carry a wondrous heritage, traversing both time and space.

More issues for asylum seeker supporters

“When due process leads to denial of asylum, and the taxpayer has spent a large sum of scarce funds, one can find some queer counter-proposals. These reflect sympathy for the asylum seekers, most of whom are most likely to be economic migrants who would not qualify for entry by the front door, or even the side door. Then, there are those who assert that, since Australia does not experience the floods of asylum seekers inundating Europe, we should take all comers. Isn’t the availability of a lifetime on welfare in Australia, plus Medicare, plus family reunion a probable drawcard? Shall we just open the immigration door?

Most relevantly, is there no part of Afghanistan which is safe for the Hazaras or other Afghans? Isn’t there a district in Afghanistan which is dominated by the Hazaras? Are there not large areas of Iraq which are predominantly Sunni, Shia or Kurd, to which an Iraqi asylum seeker could move, thus avoiding the large outlays of money, the risk of drowning, the detention (but with care provided at the Australian tax¬payers’ expense), and the risk of mental health problems? If there is somewhere else to go to, could the government negotiate with the governments we have put in place in Iraq and Afghanistan to take the boat arrivals? Would they not then be living within their own culture? And does not the UN convention also provide that asylum seekers have to show that there is nowhere else they can go?

On the issue of living with one’s own people, some Moslem settlers from countries with limited personal and political rights already seek to have Australia’s institutions amended to incorporate sharia law, when Islam has no separation between the law and religion. Would the pre¬dominantly Middle Eastern asylum seekers add to this pres¬sure? Historically, there were those who wished to turn a secular nation into one ruled by what they call natural law (which is not the same as a law of nature in science). Do our Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee governments have the integrity to retain Australia as a secular democratic nation, with religion kept separate from governance?

Do the uncritical Anglo-Australian supporters of boat arrivals condone the destruction of identification papers; and the irresponsible placement of women and children in unsafe boats which have no doubt been written off by their owners, the fishermen manning the boats being themselves probably dispensable? How do they condone the queue-breaking by those who obviously have money, but are not willing to be assessed as immigrants or as refugees by representatives of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). An asylum seeker is not a refugee until accepted as a refugee. This is something some in the media have to accept.

There is a common practice for Australian Customs/Immigration officers at airports to return to the country of embarkation those they consider on arrival not to be ‘bona fide’, even when they hold entry visas. They are kept in detention and placed on the next available plane going back. Arrivals by plane who have destroyed their papers after dis¬embarkation at our airports are treated the same way. It is not that difficult to track their travel. Boat arrivals without papers should surely be treated the same way.”

(Those who do not believe in an interventionist god, or in Santa Claus, may be excused were they not to expect any in-depth dialogue between apparently caring supporters of asylum seekers they have never met, and those who seek responsible policies in relation to the intake of immigrants and real refugees, unless they can see squadrons of pigs surfing through the air.

What the above extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ raise is this significant question: is the age of entitlement in Australia being extended to cover anyone who manages to arrive on our borders? A related issue: if we taxpayers are to be generous with our money, should we not be spending it on those who are clearly needy out in the real world? What a waste of scarce money (yes, it is scarce) in coping with opportunist entrants! )

In the dark, is everything black?

Waking up as if a light had been switched on in his brain (as usual), he had no idea if he had come to the end of his siesta or a night’s sleep. The room was so dark that he could see nothing. He knew that the bathroom, which called insistently, was NNW from the direction of his feet. An outstretched arm touched a wall. Too far to the right, he thought. So, felt his way left, looking for a door.

Then, in sequence, he felt a bookshelf, a corner, a dressing table, another corner, some furniture, and finally his bed. Although he had not slept in this room before, he remembered the heavy curtains which cut out all light available through the large window. The darkness was total, black!

So, try NNE he told his brain, while he controlled the impending waterworks. First the switch, then the rush through the door – and all was well. Pulling the curtains apart told him that it was a siesta that he had enjoyed – the joy of being dead during the light of the day.

Since his brain and mind were working together again, he wondered what it would be like to be awake in the blackness of deep space. Would I be able to see the sparkling stars which carpeted the pollution-free sky during my early life in the tropics, he wondered. Surely, I should be able to see anything on fire, like the myriad suns.

If everything is on fire, as Heraclitus reportedly said, there should be sprinkles of light available throughout space. How then does ‘dark matter’ hide itself? Is it really matter? Or, is it like the material in the darkened room which he could not see, but which yet existed? Or, like the hobgoblin under his bed which he had never seen, and which, hopefully, would not find him.

What do we really know about the universe?

When one of my grandsons was 7 years old, he was interested in my collection of photos of galaxies and other objects in the sky. The scenes were most colourful. One scene showed a beam of light coming out of what was described as a black hole. His immediate response was “ Nothing can come out of a black hole.” I explained that the light must have been visible, but that the so-called black hole was something that scientists had imagined. Since he is a bright lad, I went on to say that objects like black holes are inferred, in order to explain certain events; and that they may not exist at all.

The current theory is that no particles can escape the so-called event horizon of a black hole. But, would light, in its waveform, be unable to escape? Further, I pointed out that the vocabulary of the stakeholders in cosmology is profoundly as exotic as is the language of academic philosophers; and that media persons may simplify their descriptions to enable us ordinary folks to glimpse, if not to grasp, that which is being discussed.

But then, as with the Big Bang theory of cosmogony, writers for public consumption may portray theories – which are tentative and transient – as proven fact. Currently, we are flooded with wormholes linking (possible) multiple universes and, worse still, that (as also claimed recently by some spiritualists I met) there a number of each one of us in the multiverse Cosmos. Dear me! How many carbon copies can there be? Could some of me be silicon-based?

An important question – are the colours depicted on photographs of galaxies actually visible, or are they painted – on the basis of frequencies (of vibration) captured through non-visible means? That is, in the dark of space, is there visible colour?

Knowledge or understanding?

There are those who are gifted with a capacity for strong memory. They can remember accurately – and regurgitate, as required in exams. A close friend of mine obtained distinctions in every subject at university. Regrettably, she could not readily explain, expand or apply what her memory had accumulated (possibly only temporarily).

My approach to learning, an attitude I developed after my mental maturation, is not to rely exclusively on the information stored away in my memory bank about a specific topic I am studying. Instead, I widen my reading a little around that topic; this provides some sort of perspective. For instance, how is a child’s behavioural change between (say) 2 and 5 affected by some process of maturation in the child’s brain, as well as by specifiable environmental impacts, especially of a cultural origin?

I also deepen my investigation a little. For example, in mankind’s sense of morality, how did earlier societies, especially the simpler societies, develop this sense of what is right or responsible? What were the triggers? Under what conditions did they have an influence?

Thus, putting the topic being studied, which is necessarily limited in scope, into a slightly wider and deeper related background may provide very useful understanding. Such understanding, drawn from from some relevant knowledge, would enable sound application.

I therefore believe that it is understanding, based on knowledge (which is undoubtedly backed by memory), which is needed in solving tasks in variable circumstances. The need for adaptability in application draws upon an adequate understanding, not just knowledge.

Dishonesty backed by irresponsibility

Opportunists seeking back door entry (I am here; you will keep me) are surprisingly supported by some locals, unrelated by tribe or genes. They are so caring that they expect other people’s hard-earned money to provide whatever the asylum seeker wants. Recently, one of the latter specified the ‘boob’ enhancement she sought. Do these local supporters see these arrivals as becoming economically viable within a reasonable period, without being a long-term financial burden on the nation?

Perhaps, all accepted asylum seekers might be treated as are entrants from New Zealand – no welfare support. That is, look after yourself during a 3-year temporary-visa period. Against that, recently an employed Asian reportedly lost his job in Australia. He must have been on a temporary employment visa, because he promptly sought asylum. He received cash from the official welfare service, supplemented by support from a community welfare agency, and the communities from 2 different churches! He continued to complain about his inadequate funds.

This is reportedly the most expensive country in the world. It is, I believe, the most generous country in the world. For how long will we sheep accept being as shorn we are for this generosity? As well, the processing of asylum seekers remaining in Australia can give cause for concern from the viewpoint of national responsibility. I am not aware that the official agencies look into the national interest when assessing unidentifiable applicants for asylum, or when reviewing the decision making in cases of rejection.

Indeed, I do wonder whether the High Court (the highest court in Australia), as well as the lower courts involved in hearing apparently unending appeals (seemingly comparable to Indonesia) go beyond the wording of the law (but not necessarily its intent) to look at the national interest (that should not be too difficult to define).

The following extracts are from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’ (ebook from Amazon Kindle @$US 2.99).

“Asylum seekers should also not be kept in detention where they are provided with full board, education, health and welfare services, we are told. But we are not told who will house, feed, and medicate them were they to be free to roam all over the country while they await a decision … … “

“The Anglo-Australian supporters of the boat arrivals claim that all asylum seekers are genuine refugees (how would they know that?) and that they have all suffered trauma and torture (anyone with any evidence?). They seek speedy decisions in spite of the reality that almost all arrivals have torn up their identity papers and other documentation which got them to Indonesia. What does that behaviour suggest? That there is an intent not to be honest? … … “

“There is another moral problem. How could anyone risk the life of a child or one’s womenfolk on one of the asylum seeker boats? Is it then the case that the journey is not as dangerous as it is said to be? … … “

“Who are these modern boat arrivals? Those who hold valid passports issued by their country of nationality, who can afford the airfare to Indonesia, who pay a ‘snake-head’ (people smuggler) a large sum of money (according to the media about US$10,000 per head) for a place on a fishing boat, who hand over their mobile phones to the snake-head, who tear up their identification papers, and who seek to be intercepted by Australia’s border patrols as soon as possible. … … “

“Could those travellers who destroy their identification and travel papers and seek acceptance as refugees when intercepted by border control be asked what it is they are hiding? This is an issue of morality. … … “

“Some of the supporters have since argued that anyone who wants a better life and gets here one way or the other should be allowed to stay. Since the bulk of mankind would seek to be refugees from the hardships of life, are these sup¬porters saying that if you have the money, you can enter Australia freely by the back door? … … “

“Does not the irrational behaviour of many asylum seekers while well fed, comfortably housed, and medicated as needed in detention, suggest that they may have arrived with mental health problems? … … “

“It is too facile to blame detention or its duration, when it is the asylum seekers with no documentation who are responsible for the delay. Could not a little over-acting also be beneficial? Is it not known worldwide that lengthy detention, probably offshore, is part of the process? … … “

“One can only ask to be considered for refugee status, were one to provide necessary evidence. Currently, it is Australia which has to prove that the claimant is not a refugee as defined by the UN Convention … … “