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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Getting beyond the panic

The headlines over the past couple of days had me caught between groaning with frustration, breaking into tears or giving way to a feeling that I was caught in Groundhog day, 2001 revisited.

It isn't quite that bad. On the actual issues there is a good coverage in Bernard Keane's article in Crikey,
Refugees that sets out the real scope of the issue. The Canberra Times provided a front page story from an Afghani asylum seeker now undertaking tertiary study in Canberra.

Kerry Murphy in Eureka Street highlights the significance of the situation in Sri Lanka as part of the push behind the current increase in asylum seekers.
What is truly depressing is  that the Government is making no attempt to put the issues in a realistic context nor attempting to provide a moral framework within which we can debate the issues. Instead we have "tough talking" that feeds off, while trying to capture the moral panic being whipped up by some sections of the media.

The Christian church, along with all other advocates of the voiceless victims of violence, will once again have to direct their attention and energy to providing a voice, affirming the humanity and working to bind up the wounds of trauma by those who make it to Australia and making it clear that if the media doesn't like "do-gooders" and "bleeding hearts" and the Government is uncomfortable with being addressed in language that presses the moral claims of flesh and blood human beings against the claims of abstractions such as borders then that is how it has to be.

For the churches such action, such a stance is part of its core identity - in following Jesus who directed us to provide hospitality to the stranger, to show love to the enemy, the other, the one who is different.

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