Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Conditioning for violence

The Royal Darwin Agricultural Show

As I entered the gates to the Darwin agricultural show last weekend I was standing in line and couldn't help feeling a little uncomfortable... vulnerable. Maybe it was the close gap between the turnstile and the ticket office I don't know but I was uncomfortable enough to glance around defensively and notice the barrel of a large machine gun pointing straight at me!

The military had a promotional display right by the gate where some kind of armored personnel carrier had been parked with its rooftop mounted machine gun left pointed in the direction of the admission gate! I felt quite threatened by this and wondered if it was standard procedure for the army to just leave these things pointed wherever they fall. Even with my limited knowledge of firearms I am aware that all weapons should be treated as loaded and potentially dangerous!

As we continued through to the show I glanced into the military display to see a new Abram Tank on display complete with the various rounds it is capable of dispensing. I felt slightly dismayed by the way people ogle these things knowing that the purpose of all this hardware is to kill people. When I was a kid I would have been all over this stuff too... Maybe age and fatherhood have changed my awareness of these things?

We had a great time at the show but the fun was tarnished by the amount of toy guns we saw in the hands of small children! I couldn't believe it! Nearly every young boy I saw had some kind of plastic replica of either a small hand held (fully automatic) machine gun or a military style assault rifle complete with bayonet attached to the end of the barrel! Oh and the other kind was like a shot with out a stock! All replicas of weapons whose sole purpose is to kill or disable human beings! I was dismayed by the availability of these toys as I felt sure there was some kind of ethics group who are responsible for assessing the appropriateness of children's toys! But maybe in the age of terror it is OK to condition our children with symbols of violence?

I know when I was a kid my parents would never allow me to have these kinds of toys, not that I recall ever seeing replicas of such offensive weapons anyway. Unperturbed by their efforts to shelter me from this kind of violence; I made guns out of sticks and even managed to make some that fired elastic bands... However regardless of how little boys will want to play such games the fact remains that the availability of these so called toys makes me feel quite uneasy!

There exists a worldwide trade in small arms and weapons that look just like the toys our kids are playing with are responsible for 1,000's of people! Children are killed by them and even kill with them! These are in fact weapons of mass destruction! The toy guns that had been distributed amongst our children are effigies of violence and terror.... What kinds of games do we think kids will play with them?

Combined with the presence of the military (I even saw a soldier walking around with an assault rifle slung across his shoulder) I wonder if our kids are being conditioned for violence in their future or if it was some kind of elaborate military recruitment conspiracy! The whole scene made me feel quite ill at ease and kind of angry! Peace should be treasured yet here we are mindlessly providing our children with the kind of conditioning that will only encourage them to take the road to violence and hatred! Where is the Love?

The stenciled image now transformed into a message of non violence

There is hope! On my way in to work the other day I rode past the stenciled graffiti of a soldier whose meaning I have often pondered. Someone had added their own interpretation of what the image should represent. Although aesthetically less enthralling or thought provoking I found the message of more pleasing. I am reassured that the way of violence and hate will not go unopposed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

ABC TV party in Darwin

The ABC had their 75th birthday celebrations in Darwin yesterday and put on a fantastic show! Of course I didn't take my camera so you won't get to see any shots of the following:

Bananas in Pajamas,Dorothy the dinosaur, Fireman (something or other), Jay (from Play school & and Star Wars), Aunty Jack and Thin Arthur, Scared Weird Little Guys, a couple of Chasers, Kerry O'Brian and a host of other ABC personalities... and Mental as Anything! Oh and an absolutely awesome local performer Leah Flanagan and her band.

The kids loved the afternoon show and as the daylight dwindled a slightly older crowd of devoted ABC viewers stayed on for the more (or less) mature half of the show. It is such a great relief to know that our national broadcaster is still able to provide a platform for sincere discussion and artistic expressions without being stifled by corporate marketing and other trashy guff!
There was a team debate on 'What is more important? Music or interviews?' and Kerry O'brian won the argument for music hands down with his opening speech! What a powerful speaker he is!

The highlight for me though was yet another public performance by our much loved Administrator Mr Ted Egan. He sang two awesome songs about a couple of Australian Characters, that I am sure left a lump in the throat of everyone present! (Sadly I can't remember the names of the songs)
When Mr Egan sang about 'Granny' (an elderly Chinese lady, well known and much loved around Darwin) I was physically affected! I can't describe the way that song made me feel but I had tears welling up in my eyes. How rare it is to hear a white Australian lamenting anyone that doesn't fit the countries Eurocentric view of itself.
Mr Egans use of language, particularly languages other than English is a great leveler! When he sang the names of all those Chinese people so naturally and so fluently it was startlingly obvious how deliberately these foreign sounds have been omitted from our vocabulary and from the pages of our history!
I don't know if our Administrator has been classified as a living treasure. But he must be! How fortunate we are to have someone so connected to his humanity and the heart of our land and people. What a great example! What a clever man! He has obviously learned what makes a man rich and has filled his life with the best stuff of all! I think the Maori people of New Zealand have a word for what Mr Egan possesses and for what many of us have no idea we are lacking... I think the word is Mana.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Our Trip to Broome

If I get some time I'll tell about it....

Until then... Here's some images

stairway moon
Stairway to the moon

beach play
beach scene

Ultralight & bird
Ultra light

The timing of this shot amazed me! Out of the clear blue sky came a bird just as I took this shot of an ultralight over Cable Beach!

Town beach
Town Beach

head stones

Sunset at Cable Beach

Crock on the bank at Geekie

Geekie Gorge

Spinafex by the Chinawall
China Wall - Halls Creek