Did squatters destroy an Aboriginal civilisation?

“A few years after the initial ‘discovery’ by Captain Cook, it was apparently known that the indigenes not only occupied the land and used it with economic purpose, but also (according to the highly respected Dr.Coombs) “… lived in clan or tribal groups, that each group had a homeland with known boundaries, and that they took their name from their district, and rarely moved outside it.”  It was also known that they had, and applied, firm rules about trespass, kinship ties, marriage, child rearing and other matters, the hallmarks of an organised society; that they had a “habit of obedience” to their rulers and leaders, a hallmark of a political society; and that they had an ordered ceremonial life, reflecting the sharing of a spiritual vision, a hallmark of a civilisation. Apparently, they also had their own zodiac, which guided their activities. Their artistic records are also well known and respected.

It has now been accepted that the indigenes did not cede any of their land. As the famous poet Oodjaroo Noonuccal said, “We are but custodians of the land”. Whilst the settlers saw themselves at war, and killed to acquire land, officialdom (later supported by local jurists) preferred occupation to conquest. Occupation follows discovery, of a presumed empty land. How were the natives to establish ownership without a Titles Office?

Because the morally political Australian rejected the idea of an invasion, a Senate Committee came up, in the early 1980s, with prescription. This apparently applies when there is no clear title to sovereignty by way of treaty, occupation or conquest. An extended occupation, and an exercise of sovereignty were apparently enough to vest title in the Crown.

But, prescription requires a show of authority on the one side, and acquiescence on the other (says Prof. Reynolds, the renowned contributor to the nation’s enlightenment on this black subject). Since the natives never acquiesced to anything, voluntary abandonment was claimed. The Senate’s clever semantic exercise seemed to accept that being killed or driven away is tantamount to voluntary abandonment! A prominent white Australian sociologist reminded me that cities such as Melbourne and Sydney represented the most effective sites of ethnic cleansing; and that every fence in Australia encloses land that was once the soul, or the shared possession of a particular group of Aborigines.

A very substantial majority of the Aboriginal people died in the years following the invasion. Killing was both official and private. “My father used to round you mob up and shoot you for Saturday and Sunday entertainment”. This was uttered by a school mate of a recent head of ATSIC (the Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Commission). One does not visit the sins of the father upon the son. Yet, there are Australians today who attempt to defend the historical brutality that led to women and children being shot without compunction, and large numbers of fellow humans being killed through the use of poison. What sort of humans were the early arrivals that they could do this? What does it say about their origins, the way they lived before arriving in Australia, and their moral and cultural values? Why were these casual killers so debauched? “ … …

“It would not be quite fair to apply the aphorism ‘The criminal cannot forgive the victim he has defiled’ to those who deny what they call the ‘black armband’ view of Australia’s history. Why someone who cannot claim any ancestors who ‘cleared’ the land so vehemently rejects an honest view of a black history, makes sense only if one accepts that such people have strong tribal affinities, ie their people could not have behaved so brutally; or that, because that was normal colonial behaviour then, the perpetrators cannot be judged by current criteria for morality.

 I have had similar statements made to me when I occasionally refer to my exposure to Aussie racists. Some of these defenders of past brutality, however, confuse guilt with responsibility. That is, they cannot accept that today’s generation has a moral responsibility to compensate, but without any sense of guilt, for the damage done by earlier generations.

(These are extracts from my book ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity: Beyond tribalism towards a new Australian identity.’  My hope is the Australian Family of Man, arising eventually from, and through, cultural differences. Our indigenes need to find a place in the sun as a community before participating within a mesh of integrated cultures forming the nation. However, a generation or two of superior white Australians have to join their Maker before that can happen.) 

 

The facade of democracy

Australia plays a prominent part in the push for developing nations of interest to the Western world to adopt our form of politics.  A vote for each adult should lead to governments based on representative democracy.  This will replace traditional tribal governance with rule by political parties (the new form of tribalism), aided and abetted by religious groupings (the other form of tribalism). … …

Western democracy is the form that Australia and its stepfather the USA insist, either patronisingly or ferociously, on foisting upon countries of interest to us.  These include the most powerful, viz. China, to the least, viz. any small nation being ‘minded’ by Deputy Sheriff nations appointed by Sheriff USA. … …

I mean no disrespect to the notion of sheriffs delivering democracy, but do wonder if the form of democracy preferred by the Ultra-West is the optimum form for citizens in non-Western nations to participate in their governance. … … Is it that democracy simply permits foreign exploiters to rip off some of these nations, and to pollute their rivers, without much benefit to the ‘natives’?

Does the one-size-fits-all approach to democracy take into adequate account the wide variability in governance prevailing in those countries we believe should have policy or regime change?  Purely in passing, I do wonder how Australia can claim to have a view as to whether there should be regime or policy change in another country.  Who the hell are we?  We Australians would not accept being on the receiving end of such views if held by another nation.

In any event, does our insistence that other nations should adopt our preferred form of democracy also allow for the variability found within the nations of the West, especially in the areas of eligibility for voting rights, optional vs. compulsory voting, delineation of electoral boundaries, terms of office, bicameral vs. unicameral parliaments, etc?  Does it realistically allow for the variable stages of socio-economic development in the real world and, probably, the need for a compromise approach?  Or, is this just an attempt by us either to break down tribal leadership, or to impose neo-colonialism?  Should the target nations consider this adage:  Beware the peddler promising you a charmed life were you to buy his snake oil?

… … My unusual experience with Australian representative democracy at its three levels of government says that it is quite a sham.  Its advantage over tribal or other forms of leadership is that our political leaders can be replaced from time to time – to what end?  Since the tribes of Western democracy, the political parties, would remain permanently on the pitch, how is the nation better off?

Isn’t our choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, there being little difference in modern times between their policies?  In the dark of political control, all cats are grey, remaining categorically self-centred;  like cats at dinner time, our political parties at election time offer voters unlimited love! … …

Our political system, as a whole, is based on the individualism underpinning the political and social ethos of the relatively new nations of the West created by immigrants;  viz. the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand being the nations of interest to us.  I term them the Ultra-West.  Their tribes are almost all political, even if tinged heavily by religion or otherwise coloured slightly by ethnicity.

In the rest of the nations created by white people for themselves (white people accounting for no more than 15% of the world’s population), tribal allegiances of a varying nature may continue to prevail.  After all, the white nations of Europe began to be constructed only about four centuries or so ago to reflect tribal agglomerations, the presence of some minority tribes notwithstanding.  Each tribe underpinning a nation is necessarily infused and influenced by its religious affiliation.  In this context, how different are they from non-European nations ruled by a theocracy, or a god-king, or the military, or a satrap of a dominant foreign power, with some camouflage provided by a form of election? … …

On sensitive issues such as voluntary  euthanasia (no one would be killed under such a policy),  overseas aid directed to family planning (viz. birth control);  replacing the monarchy with a republic;  direct election by the citizenry of the president of a future republic (instead of being appointed by the government of the day);  a national bill of rights;  the importation of certain medications related to birth control;  how do we allow the values of the Vatican and other political conservatives to prevail at all times?  The view that our lives should be guided by authority – how different is it from the practice of the former Soviet, or the current rule by the Chinese authorities?

On these and other major issues such as the nation’s involvement in someone else’s wars;  and the demands of our stepfather or heavy-hitting foreign investors or rich contributors to the party, what can we voters do to have official decisions reflect the will of a substantial majority?  The popular answer is ‘sweet fanny adams.’ … …

Could true democracy then be achieved by independent parliamentary representatives who would vote in parliament as directed  by their voters?  A citizen’s referendum on major issues?  Religious fanatics and agents of foreign powers would then be effectively contained.

(These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’)

 

 

 

 

 

The end of institutional religion?

Time and tide wait for no one. That is an aphorism of note. Freedom to think clearly, to learn as circumstances permit, to act responsibly and pragmatically according to an innate conscience – these undermine any established constraints applied by those controlling institutional religions based on authority – especially an authority of questionable provenance.

I do believe that there is an innate (ie. unconscious) yearning in all humans for the numinous, the Divine, God, or the Creator of all – no matter how these are defined. Deep within our souls there does seem to be an unrelenting urge to be fused with the Divine – from which (whom) we probably parted or were split.

While we are destined to live a series of Earthly lives, we evolve through a conversion of a naive pathway – originating from fear, progressing to awe, and then to faith in propitiating the nature (or planetary) ‘gods’ we created – to supporting a relatively ritualised form of worship. These rituals, most likely to have been introduced by shamans, would then have been institutionalised by a rising priesthood.

Unlike the Hindu priesthoods I have experienced, who did not (do not) control us, most priesthoods elsewhere seem to have instituted systems of control over their believers, eg. Egypt, Europe, the Middle East. Power seems to have the effect of an aphrodisiac.

Regrettably, dogma devised to strength the bonds binding believers became instruments in a competitive war – between not only the principal religions, but also between the sects which grew within each of some religions. Did these sectarian differences reflect divergences in ideology or a contest of human power?

Just as there is a growing distrust of politicians (and their acolytes) in Western ‘democratic’ nations, there is a clear distancing of the populace from institutionalised religion. Or, is it only a wish to change the rituals, allied to a ‘de-frocking’ of a priesthood in the interests of church governance by laity?

If I am correct about an innate yearning in us for an intangible Divine, new forms of reaching out will rise to suit some, while others will remain disinterested in the need for a collective expression of faith. Those of us who prefer a one-to-one communion with our Creator will do so in private.

Whether a religious/spiritual belief is expressed privately or collectively, if it is not reflected in an appropriate way of life, we too may go the way of the dodo!

‘Religious pluralism’ in secular schools

How dare religious separatists seek to indoctrinate primary school students in secular state schools in sectarian religion! Church attendances are continually falling. Many parents do not marry, or have their children baptised. Non-religious private celebrants increasingly conduct marriage ceremonies. Only after death can a religious service be expected to occur. This situation defines modern, white, ‘Christian’ Australia, no matter that Roman Catholic (camouflaged as ‘right wing’) politicians are in (temporary) control of federal parliament.

For those who believe in sectarian religion, there are religious schools available in our capital cities for their children. They may even attend church regularly, taking their children with them. Churches exist everywhere for those whose children are seen to need to learn about the benefit of religious affiliation.

Religion is to be lived, and not to be used as a weapon. The ‘forest’ religions of Asia – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, etc – are lived – without challenge to one another. Only the 3 ‘desert’ religions – and their doctrinal sects – adopt a competitive approach to those who are ‘not of us.’

Taking doctrinal religion into public schools in Australia, using laypersons who are not trained in the art and skills of teaching, would be a retrograde step in a nation doing rather well in integrating the wide ethno-cultural diversity of recent decades.

Do continue to pray as you wish – in your own places of worship or at home. But do not shove divisive doctrinal theology down the necks of innocent and impressionable children. Children need a broad education which emphasises the unity of humankind. Our teachers have done an excellent job so far. Do not interfere with that.

Way back in the 1970s, I drew up an outline of a program for educating primary school children about religion – what it is about, what it means, and so on. This was accepted by: my school board (of which I was chairman); our teachers; all the priests in the national capital, Canberra; and by the A.C.T Schools Authority. In drawing up this outline, I had consulted experts in Flinders University, and other prominent people involved in religious education.

I heard nothing more after I had moved on. Any change, especially emanating from outsiders, is traditionally anathema to the practitioners and protectors of a prevailing paradigm.

Do Australia’s media disseminate negativity?

The national broadcaster’s tv channel reports every major disaster anywhere in the world, every day. Each report is at length. Being exposed to unrelenting negativity is soul-destroying.

Some of the news, especially relating to governments, can carry scorpion-tail endings. Why? Hint! Hint! Things can go wrong.

Then, prominent journalists can attack anyone who upsets the owner or management. Although journalists and commentators have a right to express a view, why descend to intemperate language and personal attack? Apparently, fog-horn equipped ‘shock jocks’ make a good living feeding the ignorant in this manner. One can wonder – does this kind of behaviour merely reflect inherited foundational attitudes and values of the nation?

Further, when a government seeks, in the interests of budgetary balance and equitable treatment, to reduce some of the monetary cream granted to excess by a previous government – in order to fatten the middle class (known as middle class welfare) – the screams uttered in public by segments of the media are much louder and more emotive than the screams emanating from those whingeing about their ‘loss.’ An implication of loss of entitlement is ever present. Yet more negativity in reporting.

What has happened to responsible reporting and commentary? Isn’t a perpetual flow of negativity through the media – even if this institution is not much respected – psychologically debilitating in its impact on the community?

Australian voters have lost their trust in their political system – with good cause. Without an objective and fair media, how are we to identify religio-cultural bias, and the ‘alternative facts’ and other propaganda, which are inflicted upon us?

 

On religion – a belief based on free will

“What of those of us who hold beliefs which range from the religious to the psychic? My dialogue with the spirit of my uncle (we did have a three-way exchange) led me somewhat reluctantly to an acceptance of the spirit world. Why reluctant? Because it did not fit into my then understanding of reality. Since then I have had other exposures to the spirit world. I now have reason to believe that I have benefited from the involve­ment of this domain in my life. Proof? None! It is, however, not so much a gut-feeling as a subconscious intellectual awareness. Otherwise I remain as rational as humanly possible.

This belief in the reality of the world of souls supports what I was taught to believe in my youth, enhanced by my recent understanding of Hinduism. This understanding was obtained late in life through my reading of the Upanishads. These writings represent, to me, the highest level of meta­physics of any religion. A succinct summary of my beliefs follows. I have been reading about religion and society since I was about 24.

At death, I would join the souls of my predecessors (except those who have been reincarnated). After a period of learning in whatever dimension I find myself, I would be reincarnated on Earth. Let me make clear that I was never taught to believe in a spirit domain from which the soul of a former relative or, for that matter, the soul of perhaps a guru, could enter my life and offer me advice. Or that those in this domain might be able to influence the direction of my life at some significant point – as has apparently happened more than once!

Moving on – each Earthly life would involve me paying for the sins of my past lives while being offered opportunities to learn to better myself morally, possibly spiritually. After many, many rebirths, I might be permitted to return to that Ocean of Consciousness from which, it is said, we had origi­nally arisen. The ultimate objective of this extended process? To improve the stock of human souls? So, is there meaning and purpose in human existence?

The above belief would give meaning where none exists for the unbeliever. It would give more meaning than the claim that human existence has meaning but only for each Earthly existence. A concept embodying continuity through lifetimes, of opportunities to move up some moral scale, life by life, and of exercising free will rather than being carried blindly through time on Earth, is enticing, because it offers a path of purpose, and of hope – with free will.”

These extracts are from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’.

Denial of freedom for religious reasons

A minority religious community (a Christian one) has successfully denied freedom of choice in certain key areas of Australian social policy to fellow citizens not sharing their dogma. With an exaggerated emphasis on the procreative aspects of women, restrictions in these areas of social policy impinge upon all residents, irrespective of their divergent religious beliefs and associated values.

How had this minority been able to have its religious dogma-based values over-ride the clear boundary between faith and politics which should apply in a modern democratic Western nation?

Is Western democracy, as practised in Australia, the allegedly superior version of accountable government, now being sold with much vigour to non-Western cultures in Asia and the Pacific, responsible for this unrepresentative and unbalanced outcome?  Isn’t Western democracy secular, with diverse communities of believers free to practice, or not, their faith (with all or some of the associated dogma)?

What is the rationale, ethical or legal, for denying members of other Christian sects, or of other religions, or non-believers in institutional religion, or even atheists and agnostics, freedom of choice as to how they live their personal lives, and without interference in the lives of others? Who should decide, and on what criteria, that a right or practice unacceptable to a religious minority should be taboo for all citizens? What can one say about a political process which enables this inequitable outcome?

In a secular society displaying a variety of religio-cultural value systems, should not freedom of choice according to personal conscience be granted by legislation, and indeed captured by a national bill of rights?  How does a Western democracy based upon representative government permit the oppression of alternative values as recently applied in the former Soviet Empire?

(The above is a modified half of an article of mine published in www.ezinearticles.com titled ‘Denial of freedom of choice.’)

 

The ‘not-so-lucky’ country

‘The lucky country,’ by the consummate social commentator Donald Horne, was published in 1964, when Australia was struggling to grow out of its self-chosen superior white status. Since I had been in Australia since 1948 (except for one year), I could safely say that neither the people nor the government wanted to accept coloured people as their equals at that time. The new Asian nations, however, had an opposing view, having got rid of their never-wanted superior white rulers at last (with the assistance of Japan).

Horne coined a sardonic term which has been intentionally or ignorantly misrepresented. Penguin Books Australia offers the following commentary by another great social commentator, Hugh Mackay.

‘Australia is a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.’

“The phrase ‘the lucky country’ has become part of our lexicon; it’s forever being invoked in debates about the Australian way of life, but is all too often misused by those blind to Horne’s irony.

When it was first published in 1964 The Lucky Country caused a sensation. Horne took Australian society to task for its philistinism, provincialism and dependence. The book was a wake-up call to an unimaginative nation, an indictment of a country mired in mediocrity and manacled to its past. Although it’s a study of the confident Australia of the 1960s, the book still remains illuminating and insightful decades later. The Lucky Country is valuable not only as a source of continuing truths and revealing snapshots of the past, but above all as a key to understanding the anxieties and discontents of Australian society today.”

A media release titled ‘The Lucky Country’ by the Australian Government said:

“He was thinking about things like Australia’s cultural cringe, its foreign policy and the White Australia Policy. He was, to paraphrase those words, talking about a ‘not too clever country’.

I had in mind in particular the lack of innovation in Australian manufacturing and some other forms of Australian business, banking for example. In these, as a colonial carry-over, Australia showed less enterprise than almost any other prosperous industrial society.

Australia, Horne argued, developed as a nation at a time when we could reap the benefits of technological, economic, social and political innovations that were developed in other countries. Those countries were clever: Australia was simply lucky.”

What can one say about Australia today?

I offer extracts from the Preface of my 2012 book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

“Today’s Australia is not the nation I entered in 1948. Then, it was (ridiculously) officially racist; today, any intended racism is likely to be subterranean (the yobbo excepted). Then, it was mono-cultural, mono-lingual, and mono-coloured, and very British (the ‘wogs’ of white Europe had not arrived yet); today, it is multi-ethnic and thereby multicultural, multi-lingual, multi-coloured …  and traditionally egalitarian.

That is, while the nation has evolved into a modern cos­mopolitan, generally integrated people, the ‘fair-go’ ethos of the ‘old’ Anglo-Australian underpins … official policies …  As a communitarian small-l liberal, metaphysical Hindu, and a card-carrying Christian, I applaud this. I believe that Australia could become a beacon for our neighbouring nations were we to deal with them with our feet on this platform.

Yet, because of the ‘Asian values’ which formed me in colo­nial British Malaya, I do not accept, as an all-embracing ethos, the individualism which underpins Western nations, especially those created by immigrants, viz. the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Their human rights record is deplorable.

These very nations seek to shove a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Western view of human rights onto those nations of interest to us. The intent of this approach is the destruction of trib­alism and communitarian values.

In the meanwhile, exaggerated and often self-nominated individual rights have led to the breakdown of family, which has traditionally been the backbone of society everywhere. Excepting those few involved in civil society (I am one of them), there is a rising tide of ‘takers.’ These are found at all levels – from foreign investors, corporate leaders and politicians, down to the many professionally work-shy welfare recipients.

Pockets of well-meaning individuals, seemingly unable or unwilling to consider seriously relevant policy issues, form glee clubs supporting the takers or those who seek to take, e.g. asylum seekers. Communal responsibility and per­sonal respect are thinning out like an outgoing tide at the beach. Since our politicians are pre-occupied with short-term politics rather than long-term policies – the current batch presenting themselves as the worst I have experienced – the community, by and large, reminds me of the movement of an empty stoppered bottle floating on rough seas.”

Does international law override national sovereignty?

‘One of the phrases now frequently heard in public debate in Australia is that some conduct of a government, usually the federal government, is “contrary to international law”. … …

The problem about the phrase “contrary to international law” is that it is essentially meaningless when a nation-state is observing its own domestic law. There may, of course, be different questions when one country takes action against another without the authorisation of the UN Security Council. As was demonstrated, however, when Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014, there may be nothing the UN can do about such an action.

Otherwise, however, every nation-state is governed by its own domestic laws and cannot be directed by any international organisation, such as the UN, to override those laws. It is certainly possible for a nation-state to adopt the provisions of an international treaty and make them part of its domestic law. Australia has entered into hundreds of treaties in recent decades and some of these have been used as the basis for federal legislation. … …

This use of international treaties by the commonwealth has long been disapproved of by the states on the ground that, when the Constitution was drafted in the 1890s, such treaties were extremely rare and it was never envisaged that they would become a major source of commonwealth power and allow a significant diminution of state powers.

As in many other areas, however, the High Court has endorsed a wide meaning for the external affairs power in the Constitution and upheld this substantial increase in federal authority. … …

… … It is important that the ultimate responsibility for the laws that apply in any country rests with the legislators who have been elected by the members of that community. It would be quite unsatisfactory for any international body, including the UN, to be able to override domestic laws when they are not accountable to the electors of the country in question.

There is a view, however, among many of the international civil servants who work for those organisations and in the ever-growing ranks of human rights lawyers that the rulings of international bodies such as the UN should take precedence over the laws of any particular country.

Many of those who hold this view have no real attachment to any individual nation and do not see why national communities should have the final say over their own destinies. … …’

(The above paragraphs are extracts from ’Assange ruling: international law no match for sovereign states’ by Michael Sexton in the ‘Weekend Australian’ of 11February 2016. Michael Sexton SC was described in the paper as the author of several books on Australian history and politics. I remember him as a Solicitor-General)

 

 

 

 

 

RAJA – YouTube No. 1

Surviving to contribute: age no barrier

Who would not be interested in a 87-year old whose mind is as sharp as a tack, and who writes in an interesting and clear style? Yet, he began to write only after a significant psychic experience after retirement.

“You could contribute to building a bridge from where you came to where you are” suggested the spirit of his uncle just before he de-materialised. Earlier, the clairvoyant involved had told Raja, a bicultural Asian-Australian, that the spirit world had experienced difficulty in getting him to Australia. ‘Why me?’ was his plaintive thought, in the light of his difficult life, over 6 decades, in his country of adoption.

Raja knows a lot about migrant settlement, both from his settlement experiences and his work as a director of policy on ethnic affairs & multiculturalism, citizenship & national identity, as well as refugee & humanitarian entry.

His settlement experiences included a woman shouting at him in a public place. She said, “Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?” He happens to be light tan in skin colour.

Although qualified as a psychologist, he was denied a job because he was ‘too black.’ When he then qualified as an economist, he was told that the Australian worker in the private sector ‘is not yet ready for a foreign executive.’ This was White Australia, after all.

It was the public sector which promoted him rapidly. Yet, he was somewhat dishonestly denied permanent promotion in the Senior Executive Service. He obtained proof of that 2 years later.

To compensate, he channelled his surplus energy into civil society, where he made a substantial contribution in his spare time. He was chairman of a school board, the national president of an organisation akin to Toastmasters, the founder of a public speaking competition for primary school students, and a recipient of a meritorious service award from his union for his work on merit protection.

He achieved all this while the wheels of his life-chances cart fell off from time to time; and he kept falling into holes which were not there. Obviously, he does not give up!

Between 69 and 84 he published 6 books; 2 memoirs, 2 on migrant settlement, 1 on Australian society, and 1 on fiction. 4 of his non-fiction books were recommended by the US Review of Books. All the books received favourable reviews. Quite an achievement!

He then wrote 44 thought-provoking articles for ezinearticles.com. He has now completed about 1,000 daily posts on his WordPress blog, rajarasablog.wordpress.com, titled ‘An octogenarian’s final thoughts’ : a mind-exploring smorgasbord!

This octogenarian author is Raja Arasa Ratnam. I commend him to you as a most unusual person who, in spite of his travails, claims to be at peace mentally and spiritually. “At my age, I should be”, he says. “My wings await me.”