Statues

I’ve arrived home to a debate. It’s one of the reasons I do have a fond place in my heart for Australia. Others take to the street. Violence can erupt. Police can invoke real fear. Terror can possess the spirit. But not at home. I’ve arrived home to a somewhat disingenuous vote on same sex marriage. I’ve spat about this before. If the country votes ‘no’, Turnbull gets to keep his job, the Nationals will stick firmly within the Coalition, and the green leather of the Lower House gets to warm from the asses of a smirking group in power. The ‘no’ will, somehow, become binding. It will be leaned on for years. It will isolate this island even further from our friends within the rest of the West.

And a ‘yes’ vote to same sex marriage? If only it were that easy. A ‘yes’ means the Lower House decides, debates, wastes more time, more tax payer money, and likely, it means nothing will happen. The ‘no’ will be ‘legally’ binding; a meal sent back to the kitchen for a full refund. But the hot meal of a ‘yes’ vote will send the same plate from the kitchen of our voting population back in front of the Lower House to stare at again, getting colder with every day.

On occasion I buy a copy of the paper. I find it a less obnoxious method of seeing what we’re all up to. Television news has long ago ‘jumped the shark’, as they say in the business. The internet works on a click-bait, Google Analytics war plan, changing and morphing every second. Every half second.

But the humble Australian newspaper requires some thought, some form of editing, some actual journalism, even if it is purely romantic wishful thinking. And so today I decided to see what was happening on our island, and bought a copy to read in the fleeting spring sunlight, with a bird quietly chirping, and a plethora of dogs to look at walking by on their way to Hyde park, happily oblivious to the events, actions, or omissions which occurred this week, leading their owners with joyful purpose.

Capitan James Cook is plastered on the opening pages. Our mirroring of the States is borderline parody. In the the last month I’ve been privy to the events in the States. The obnoxious dangerous despicable events by a group on the wrong side of history; marching with tiki torches among those raising Nazi flags.

Of all the countries on Earth, I would never expected these events to have played out in this fashion in the States. America was built on immigrants; just as Australia was, and is, to this day. The shortfall in skilled labour can only be met with migration. Kids born here don’t want to be doctors, they want to explore their sexuality while becoming DJs. Jewish people have helped build America. American’s suffered and died fighting against the evils of World War II. Their cause was just. Fighting for genuine freedom. Freedom of religion. Freedom from hate, from genocide. Freedom of speech.

To see the raised Nazi flag in the open on American soil in 2017 was a real sight. The majority of the crowd, white men, marched without masks. Without fear. Pandora’s box was cracked open.

And in this dire time. With images of hate cast across the Earth, reminding me of the dark Australian recent past of the Cronulla Riot images from 2005, Mr Trump then defended some of those who gladly marched along side the Swastika.

‘Statues of Confederates must stay up in order to remember history.’ This was the rationale of the, apparently, Nazi sympathisers. Is there a statue of Mr Hitler in Nuremberg in order to remember history? Hell no, there isn’t. There is no need to embody that asshole in bronze; just to help jog the memory of those in Germany.

Capitan James Cook. Should this lifeless bronze immortal remain glaring over Hyde Park in Sydney?

You know, I don’t really think so. Although my reason is beyond anything I’ve read today, or seen or heard over the past month.

Statues immortalise mortals. They write history in a way only the victorious can. They depersonalise a person. Captian Cook was but a man. Nothing more. It’s not as if Australia wouldn’t have been ‘discovered’ eventually. And the reality is that Captian Cook was not the first to set foot on Australia at any rate. Souhaitez-vous lire en français? Perhaps Dutch, then? And let us not ever forget that Captain Cook was about 60 thousand years beaten by our Indigenous people. Not exactly what I’d call a photo finish. Although I suppose one might say the settlers didn’t take that loss to be the first particularly well. Indigenous Aboriginal people were only ever considered part of the population from 1967 onwards. The horrors they endured and still endure today should shock. Australia’s past runs red and it runs red with one glance behind our shoulders.

What if all glorification and celebrity was removed entirely. All statues removed. All academics banned from becoming celebrities. No more Dr Karl on JJJ. No more Neil deGrasse Tyson on TV spots.

All academics vowing to research impartial, empirical work. Funding only from government sources. No private sector influence. No academic papers produced by Pfizer. No climate change skeptics in second rate Universities focused only on profits, funded by Big Oil for their next paper. No glorification for discovery, for kindness, for saintism.

Those who devote their life to academic pursuits could only be allowed to produce the best work, and that work then becomes free and part of Earth’s knowledge. Used to make informed decisions. Used to better our planet.

Stuff of a fairytale, without doubt. But food for thought nonetheless. I’m reminded of ‘The Glass Bead Game’ by Hermann Hesse.

In a sense, it is our glorification of the past, of sailor’s stories, of the tales of victory across the ages which have led us to this point. Times change. Research develops. The zeitgeist shifts. We must leave the shackles of fantasy behind if we’re to progress and overcome what we must overcome this century. This defining century. A century where we may well find out what it means to be human. Are we the same dogs of yesteryear? Or are we above that.

These monuments to the past can hold us back from our true potential. They, literally, cement a position. They waste resources. And for what? Bronze trees bear no fruit. Eventually, when the horrors of the past poke through the misty haze of nostalgia, we draw concern and debate. Why not be rid of this entire glorification process from the beginning?

Behind each person is a darkness. Behind each bronze head and dead eyes lays a trail of skeletons.

Tear them all down. Focus on anonymous fact and proven development for the betterment of our species, not our race, hair colour, ‘beliefs’, but our species: humanity.