I have watched the protests over the last few days in Melbourne with mounting anger and frustration. I am generally pro-police, and I am pro-vaccine. However, the events of the last few days where citizens seeking to express their frustration with the government of Victoria and the endless lockdowns (Victoria has been locked down for 230+ days in the last 18 months) were incited to violence, tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets and in some cases straight-up assaulted by the forces of the state of Victoria are just plain wrong.
These people are our fellow citizens, they have families and loved ones, and many of them have just been thrown out of work by an arbitrary government that has made no distinction between those who have followed the rules and those that have not. Frankly, calling peaceful protesters, nazi’s, right-wing extremists and terrorists is a disgrace. Now I am not suggesting that there has not been some violence instigated by protestors, but the worst of it (from what I am seeing) is from the forces of the state.
This state-sanctioned violence, coupled with the establishment of a no-fly zone (later rescinded) and the state’s attempts to restrict media coverage of the events, is really scary. We in Australia take it for granted that we live in a free and democratic society. But the truth is we have no actual rights. Even the right of religious expression (that is the only right mentioned in the constitution) only covers organisations and not individuals.
So where too from here? Even if the protests die out, there will be a residue of anger that will linger in Victoria and this nation for a long time. If the protests continue, the reality is that they will become more violent. Free people rarely take being shot at and gassed lying down. My take is it is more likely than not that maybe not today and perhaps not even tomorrow, but one day these people whose voices have been silenced, whose personal liberty has been curtailed and who have been assaulted by the state will start to fight fire with fire.
How much better would it be if Victoria allowed these people to gather peacefully in parks or march in the city and if the government would go down and talk to them? But, based on the last few days and I think that this is unlikely. None of the major political parties at the state or federal level seems to be willing to talk to the protestors or stand up for their civil liberties. The media of all stripes is falling over themselves to provide the public with condescending news reports where all the legitimate concerns are dismissed because of the small minority of kooks in the crowd. Meanwhile, the citizens of this nation are ignored.
But let me tell you something, I don’t work in government; I work in the real world, and there is a hell of a lot of people I talk to (here in WA) who are shocked by the reaction of the police in Victoria to the protests. There is a hell of a lot of people who feel the same way as the protestors do about mandatory vaccines, and there is a hell of a lot of people who are sad and angry about where our nation is heading.
I am calling on everyone just to pause for a moment and place yourself in the shoes of the folks you disagree with. Ask yourself what is it they believe and why? Then go one step further and ask yourself why do you think that you are right while they are wrong. Are you really that much smarter and better informed than them? Are you really so superior that your idea of right and wrong should have precedence over theirs?
I don’t know about you but, I don’t think I am better, smarter or superior to anyone else. I only claim equality, not superiority. My views are my own, and yours are your own. I may disagree with you, and you may disagree with me. But, so what, that’s life. Let’s start treating each other with respect and agree that those with who we disagree have the same right to their views as we do. After all, we are all part of the same community, and it is in all our interests to work together to protect our families and ourselves.
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First Published on https://www.andrew-stadtmauer.com on the 23rd of September 2021