Apathy – Haiku

22 Jun

Change will not arrive

as the people tend to shut

their eyes to evil

Advertisements

Sports: Thug Mentality Still Alive

21 Jun

Racism in sport. OK, nothing new, I’ll admit it. However, is it really on the rise as media reports say? Or, has it always just been there, a part of the fabric of barbaric and pugilistic excuses for competition, and only now, are we actually seeing more reports of it?

Let me ask you a question: If not for the commercial interests invested in the NRL and the AFL, would racist comments from their so-called stars really be a problem amongst the administration?

Now don’t get me wrong, these aren’t the only two sports that have had their fair share of racial controversy. Anything from Tennis to Hockey to Association Football have had a slip of the tongue and spurred a feud every now and again. So, this is nothing new.

Racism in sport has always been there. In Australia, for some strange reason, it’s actually tolerated at some levels. Last year I spent the better part of my weekends training and coaching an under 16’s football club from the southern suburbs. This was a fairly multi-ethnic team. We had players who had only been in the country a few years, some who had been here their whole lives, nonetheless, they were all of different backgrounds. A wonderful and great example of a club representing the world game.

Training was fairly straight-forward, no problems amongst the players, they all got along quite well and, most of them went to school together.

So we had players who had heritage in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Italy, Chile, the list goes on.

Our first match was against another equally diverse team, mostly made up of young men from a number of African nations. No problems experienced apart from our two South African players whom had a problem with two of their opponents who continually spoke Swahili. I told them to get over it as they had been speaking their own native language in scratch matches at training as a way to fool their teammates.

This was fine. We were hammered 9-0 but apart from that, it was fine.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we face our fiercest opposition of the season so far. A team made up entirely of young white, anglo-saxon men. They were all class; great passing, good movement off the ball, excellently timed tackles and some brilliant shots on goal.

They were all class in their game, but in social behaviour, they lost many points.

All it took for my main striker, a 16 year old boy of Lebanese background, to attempt to strangle one of his opponents, was a snide remark, not heard by myself, but a number of players close by, a linesman and a few spectators.

I won’t repeat that remark here but I can tell you that it referred to this boy’s cultural background.

The comment was not heard by the referee, but the attempted strangulation was.

Now I am not an advocate of violence in any form and I do not believe that it is justified. Yet, I could easily understand the frustration that this boy was feeling in that he was not being supported fairly by the referee for what should automatically be the sending off of the player making the hurtful comment.

It fell on deaf ears, the reason why he was provoked. A red card was shown, and he was on his way to the bench. No apology came from the player after the match, he denied everything. No apology came from the coach or other players, they didn’t see a problem.

This was only the first of many incidents that would occur similar to this over the season. The final one, a group attack on a couple of my African midfielders, resulted in a melee which cost half my team a 6 week suspension and the club was fined severely.

After all of the counseling my players had to go through at the club, racism was never mentioned once or brought up as a reason why these events happened.

‘Boys will be boys’, ‘They have to learn to control their anger’, ‘There’s no respect from them’.

These comments made me sick and I am glad I’m not coaching again this season. As if the players didn’t already feel bad enough. For crying out loud, they were only in their teens and they’re being made to deal with this on the football pitch? They HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO ENJOY HEALTHY COMPETITION AS MUCH AS ANYONE!

This is what brings me to my next point: The culture of national sport.

With the recent resignation from state of origin by Timana Tahu, an Australian league player with Fijian heritage, over comments made by so-called league legend, Andrew Johns, this has brought the issue of racism in sport back to the forefront. Yet, it should always have been there. This problem is not going to get better, and there is a reason why Johns made those comments. The culture of our national sports is so mixed in with racial tension and the attitude that it’s ‘OK’ to have a laugh about the colour of someone’s skin or culture or religion or ethnicity.

Comments in the past by AFL figures as well have been given the spotlight, only to have it taken away because the governing body says they do not accept or agree with that line of though – yet nothing is ever done to solve the problem. Yes, a fine or a banishment or a slaughtering by the media is given to the offending individual, yet what is ever done to, excuse the pun, tackle this problem and rid the sport of it.

Perhaps it is because our nation prides itself on the ability to see the humour in things, including a persons ethnicity. Indigenous Australians have dealt with a range of terms people use in which to refer to them. So do those who have come from South-East Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Southern Europe.

There is no stopping the habit, when it is so far ingrained into the culture of a nation. The bogan mentality, as I like to call it (see a number of previous posts) is that it is a privilege to have white skin and an anglo-saxon surname. It is a privilege to be born in this country. It is a privilege to have the ability to be in a workplace, play a sport or simply walk down the street and not have to be called an offensive nickname.

This privilege, that these offensive people apparently think they have, should be non-existent in a democratic society. However, seeing as Australia still WILL NOT sign a formal charter of human rights and end the racial profiling and desecration of human rights in the Northern Territory, it is no wonder we are still in the same position we have always been. It is a trickle down of social behaviour, from the top of an inactive and unsympathetic government, right down to those bottom-feeder redneck bogans who deliver the message to anyone different to them that this is their country, get out.

At no point does any one person deserve to have their right to enjoy life in this country taken away. This includes playing sport.

The Tools Are There – Use Them

11 Jun

With so much information and various ways to communicate at our fingertips, why is my generation so apathetic?

Expressing yourself and your ideas can inspire others to do the same or form an opinion, an ideology, if you will. However, Gen Y’s don’t often take the info and pass it on, share it, or respond to it. At least not the information that matters anyway.

With social media and networking, the expression of thoughts have never been so quick to reach so many. I can instantly let everyone know what’s on my mind whenever I want. Whether anyone actually cares isn’t the question, the important fact is that the idea has been put forward to a large audience for all to see.

Blogging, as I am doing right now, is another way that a though, an idea or a collection of ideas is published, largely as a way to persuade, provoke though or inspire.

So why, when we have the ability to receive so much information about what is going on in the world around us, do so many of my generation shut off or simply not care? I am finding it harder and harder to find individuals my own age with whom I can have an intelligent and sensible discussion about politics and social issues without the other party staring blankly at me or simply wishing to change the subject.

It is frustrating, to say the least, when others are so concerned with the self and their own world, even though there is absolutely no way which you can escape the influx of information about the outside world.

Is it information overload? Is this the problem?

I don’t want to point fingers at any one problem, perhaps it is a generational pattern. Gen X was largely apathetic as a response to the activist-turned yuppy baby-boomers. The activism of the 60’s and 70’s was a response to the conservatism of the previous generation.

Why, with so much social change that took place in the 2oth Century, does all of that hard work seem to be coming unravelled? It’s disheartening to feel as though you’re a lone voice amongst your generation, especially with the information revolution becoming an information evolution – greater broadband speeds, more tools to connect and share and collaborate, more opportunity for voices to become heard.

I live amongst a generation of isolation and disconnection. Despite the connection that we all have through communications, our social conscience is missing.

An oil company can cause a major oil spill off the coast of Florida. This disaster causes massive ecological damage and further destroys a once harmonious ecosystem. It’s all over the news, the most credible news websites cover it constantly. There are further reports and updates each day that the damage is getting worse, that large numbers of wildlife will die.

No one cares

At least no one my age.

Oh, the shock value is there. ‘Oh my god, how could they do that?’, ‘Oh, that’s horrible’.

Then, back to your own life. Things go on.

I’m sorry, but they don’t. The only way that the social changes we have today came about is because people fought for them. They fought hard. They researched, they campaigned, they organised!

Gen Y – NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT FOR YOU!

The dominant attitude amongst my generation is just that: Someone else will do it.

Start giving a damn, Gen Y. No one else will. The dominant conservative ideology is there and always will be if you don’t get off your seat and start acting.

The tools are now there – the Information Superhighway has paved a path of potential for the youth of today to take control and act on social change.

They have learnt how to use the tools. They just need to know how to use them correctly.

The Legacy

11 Jun

This post is heavily inspired by Michael R. James, an Australian research scientist and writer. His article can be found here on ABC’s The Drum.

Today, I just want to share with you all, the legacy that was left behind by former PM, Gough Whitlam.

My father and I used to discuss Gough back when I was younger. His name is sometimes mentioned even now in political discussions. There is an air of great respect and admiration around these conversations. My father is a ‘boomer’ and his first election was in 1972 – the year that the ALP broke years of conservative rule.

Most people my age that I try to speak with about Gough are clueless. Blind to the progress that he gave Australia and the society that he set up – a society which we still live in today – based on social justice and democratic policy.

Here is the great legacy of a great man. I wish was around in his time to help campaign. What a time it would have been.

Name me one other Australian Prime Minister who made this much positive, social change.

Time to Celebrate

10 Jun

How fast 173 days comes around.

The first time I looked at the countdown timer for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it was set on 173 days and counting. That only seems like a few weeks ago, now.

Memories take me back to the first world cup that I can remember watching – Italia ’90. For myself, this was introduction into televised football. Before then, the only time I’d seen the sport is as a junior on the pitch and the local state league with my Nonno, who is as avid a fan you can get in this country.

I remember the marketing that went along with the 1990 tournament. Being Italian, it was pretty significant. However, growing up in a family where both sides had a strong Calabrese heritage, it was hard to escape the verde, bianco e rosso. I remember having the t-shirt. (I have no idea where it went to). I had the mini, battery-operated video game (good fun for a while, the sound was annoying, though)

Fast forward to 1994 and it’s USA. The time difference meant that I was watching most matches every morning before school as well as the highlights show.

One memory still sticks in my mind in the lead up to USA ’94. SBS showed a replay of the Italy vs West Germany semi final from the 1970 world cup. This was my first experience with classic, world-class football. I can distinctly remember seeing, at the end of the match, Italian players exhausted with fatigue but celebrating their hard-fought victory. The West Germans, by contrast, were lying on their backs, tired and dehydrated from the heat and disheartened by their narrow loss.

They then showed the replay of the final – an ominous sign of things to come – between Brazil and Italy. The Brazilians won this match 4-1.

People still talk, to this day, of the brilliance of Mexico 1970. Still hailed as the greatest tournament yet due to the attacking style by most teams, the high number of goals, the absence of controversy and the brilliance of nations such as Brazil, Italy, West Germany and the world cup veterans of Uruguay.

France ’98 was another spectacle that amazed me. Seeing the killing off of giants such as Germany, Argentina, Italy and eventually Brazil, it occurred to me that anything could happen in football. I remember watching the quarter final match between Italy and France. The frustration with the Azzurri being unable to break the French defence. The Azzurri themselves being far too defensive, even for them. The golden goal rule was in effect and it was a scary two periods of extra time. However, when Di Biagio repeated the performance of Roberto Baggio only four years earlier (Baggio scored this time around) it was heartbreak at my Nonnos house. Everyone was speechless – even Nonna who got to have a glimpse at goalkeeper, Pagliuca’s bare bottom for a split second due to dodgy camera work, was upset.

2002 and again just like their cursed 1997 qualification campaign against Iran, Australia has failed to qualify. I really wanted the Azzurri to win this world cup. I was only 2 months old when they won it last, in 1982, and I wanted to be able to see them win it, at least once.

This wasn’t to be, South Korea emerged as an Asian giant to knock Italy out in the round of 16 and eventually gain fourth place in the cup as they lost the third place play-off match to Turkey 3-1 only two weeks later.

Brazil were winners over a strong and disciplined German side. It was good seeing Ronaldo celebrate after the heart break and speculation from four years earlier.

2006 and there is much indifference. I hadn’t followed football since that 2002 world cup. Even the Azzurri squad which contained some big names, were foreign to me. The heart break of 2002 possibly killed my interest in the world cup. Even having Australia participating was not enough for me to become interested.

Italy won in 2006. The sad thing however, is that I didn’t really care at the time. If they were to repeat this performance this time around, I would probably run through the streets naked (as promised by Maradona). However, back in 2006 I just didn’t have enough interest.

It’s 2010 and we are less than 12 hours away from the opening ceremony of Africa’s first world cup.

Do I believe that they are ready, as a nation, to hold the worlds biggest sporting event?

No. I do believe that a lot of the money put into the tournament could have gone to more beneficial areas.

However, this is the World Cup, and I hope that it goes off without a hitch and is a great spectacle of the world game.

It’s time for us to celebrate. It’s time to enjoy the greatest sport in the world.

Football, is again, centre stage.

Dominant Ideology

9 Jun

What is it that makes the dominant ideology in each society different? Is it the history of their people? Geographical factors? Climactic factors? Deep and pressing issues that have become ingrained in society over a period of time? Is it the people?

Why in Australia, do we have such a conservative dominant ideology when, even compared to other nations with a history of fascism and despotism, we appear to swing even further to the right than they do now?

The media in Australia, rather than choosing to subvert or challenge this ideology, has made the decision to reinforce it.

Australia began it’s swing, deep into the far right under John Howard. Those years with a conservative coalition in government were the blueprint for our unprogressive society today. The rampant anti-intellectualism, extremism, xenophobia and inward looking attitude that we have today are all results of Howard’s 11 year reign.

Even with an alleged centre-left government currently in power, Australia still cannot shake the fascist undertones that exist within our dominant ideology.

A nation, any nation, is made up of many different ideologies. We have moderate liberals, libertarians, socialists, nihilists, fundamentalists, socialists; it takes many to make the world go round. However, within each nation also exists the large circle that is the dominant ideology.

Australia has adopted a conservative, far right ideology.

So, the next question is: should we be worried?

If the thug-caste that Howard indirectly created (otherwise known as bogans) is anything to go by, then we can safely say that the arrogant, racist and pugilistic attitudes which often at times turn to action, will further sink our nation’s reputation in the global view. Action such as the unprovoked attacks on Indian university students in Melbourne. The complete inaction of the Victorian government and their police service is another point to keep about our leaders’ apathy in taking on those responsible for a race-based attack and protecting innocent students. So easy to begin a ‘war on terror’, so indecisive on whether to declare a war on crime.

We should be worried. Not only are the thug-caste allowed to run free and torment whomsoever they wish but we also have no guarantee that our government will combat this behaviour.

The media, in its usual way, chooses not to subvert nor challenge this ideology. Rather, it reinforces it. This is where the problem becomes more than just a problem but an issue that doesn’t seem like it will disappear. Once the agenda is set, then the agenda is set – not just by the media, but by the people who subscribe to the dominant ideology.

Pop-Media has done it again

3 Jun

David Koch you really are the biggest tool in this country. Actually, everyone involved on the channel 7 TV show, Sunrise is a complete tool.

It’s a complete wonder why anyone bothers to take this show without so much as a grain of salt. It would actually be a pretty funny program if they weren’t being serious. However, they ARE being serious. The delivery has all the conventions of brilliant sketch comedy, from Koch’s pathetic jokes and one-liners that even my dad would stay away from, right through to the extremely poor and misguided attempt at political and social commentary.

If I wasn’t already well fortified in my self-ban on any mainstream media I’d probably be exposed to this shameless rival to the even more nauseating, Good Morning Australia on the 9 network. In much the same way that Australia’s political landscape offers almost nothing in choice (apart from the Greens), we are given no alternatives to the big 3 commercial networks. Even the ABC and SBS have their agenda. Where are the independents? Where is the alternative to the same drum beat that has had journalists and reporters dancing for the past 60 years?

Thank you for Social Media. At least I can read an intelligent, balanced and eloquent editorial from a non-professional writer somewhere else in this country or the world who has more intelligence and especially more nerve to state the facts and give an opinion based on logic and reason.

Reading about the ridiculous story which took place on Sunrise yesterday morning, I almost had no choice but to depart ways with my recently eaten lunch. An audience poll was taken where they counted votes on who would be the preferred PM: Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, Bob Brown and… wait for it… the so cleverly constructed joke; Mr Don Key… complete with a picture of an actual donkey. Well done, Sunrise. You’ve turned us all into idiots, just like your viewers.

Koch, on a completely nonsensical rant, tried to tell us all how politicians should cease thinking about themselves and their parties, and start thinking about the Australian people. OH! What a deep and insightful thing to say Mr Koch.

To make matters worse, Neil Mitchell of the Herald Sun wrote this even more nauseating article based on the episode.

I’ve already given my two cents to Mr Mitchell on his extremely poor writing and inability to back up statements with actual facts and examples for the reader. I wonder how stupid he actually believes his readers are? Then again, it’s the Herald Sun that we’re talking about here.

To get back to the audience poll, the simple fact that the donkey won does not mean anything. We’re hearing a whole lot of talk now from within pop-news and faux-news circles that there are no decent candidates worth voting for at the next federal election.

Need I remind everyone that Australia is a parliamentary democracy and as such we do not ‘vote’ for who is going to be Prime Minister. Well we don’t vote them in directly. We vote for our local candidates. They belong to a party, and if they are voted in and their party gains the majority in the house of representatives then they form part of the government.

Something to remind a few people about.

What strikes me as unfair is the lack of respect given to one of the few politicians at the moment, Senator Bob Brown. Brown has been unfairly named part of the ‘loony left’ in Australian politics.

How can it be that a politician is dubbed ‘loony’ when their policies are all based on logic and reason? While others bow to a religious dogma and a capitalist agenda.

Food for thought.