If you are not quite sure what you are about to read, please read the FULL STORY HERE.
The following is a letter responding to an article written by Jacqueline Maley in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday March 22nd 2014.
This 2nd letter was written on behalf of thousands of people who rallied behind a piece of writing representing a community striving to bring peace, compassion and unity. This effort was not deemed as “newsworthy” by a valued news source, The SMH. Thank you with all my heart to the FB gang. We’ve backed each other and learned valuable lessons on communicating with peace.
Dear Sydney Morning Herald re The Two Sides Of The Story We Didn’t Run,
Thank you for responding to my letter Dear Sydney Morning Herald re The March In March in Saturday’s newspaper. The community appreciates Jacqueline Maley’s time in penning a thoughtful response. The SMH has provided us with a proud memento and evidence that the people have power. We understand there was an error in judgement and the paper’s honesty was appreciated. However it seems that our voice and request to have a balanced story on the March In March has fallen on deaf ears. The Sydney Morning Herald have now disappointed the Australian community, twice.
I want to express that although I personally have no faith in certain policies of the current government – I am a firm supporter of good government. I have no doubt that our Prime Minister is a good man. I would go as far to say that being the Prime Minister of Australia would be the hardest job in the country. I believe that “A peaceful, non-partisan citizens’ march and rally at Federal Parliament to protest against the current government’s policy decisions that are against the common good of our nation” quoted as the mission of the March In March on their website, is in fact a beautiful initiative to support a government. I view Australia as a united community. To thousands of us the idea of a body of people peacefully marching in the streets expressing concern for policies that cover protection of asylum seekers in our care, equal rights for ALL human beings and protection of the Great Barrier Reef to be well worth marching for.
I have had phone calls, texts and comments of many people highlighting the paper’s use of “grab-bag” when referring to policies involving humans and the environment. We understand that it is a loosely used term, but to many of us it embodies the very cynicism we are trying to overcome as a community. As Billy Bragg said prior to the MiM in Sydney, our greatest enemy to overcome is not Gina, Tony, or the LNP – it’s the cynicism and vitriol fostered in our communities. Over the past ten days our community has banded together with an idea that through intelligent, thoughtful, civil communication we can create change – and we have. Not only did our search for truth get mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday – on Monday it featured on ABC’s Media Watch. I was quoted on the show as saying: “Yesterday was a big day and you blatantly ignored it.” In the eyes of our community this sentiment still applies.
We acknowledge that what Maley reported was true. There were signs calling our leader a ”f—wit” and more than a dozen signs with our Prime Minister’s face set to the backdrop of a phallus. We also agree that there was plenty of vitriol directed at Tony Abbott on display. However Maley’s cynical words that the march’s only uniting theme was “raw hatred of the Prime Minister“ is something that this community will not let through to the wicketkeeper. To clarify to anyone who couldn’t make it to the march or those who didn’t support it’s concept – the only true uniting theme of the March In March in Sydney was a quest for more compassion in our government’s policies and greater protection for this big old Australian land which has sustained communities for 60,000 years.
I embody the idea of a newcomer to the political world. Up until 2013 I was more interested in the swell forecasts and listening to Al Green on repeat. In my short time as a member of the politically aware club – I have observed constant online chatter in forums and Facebook that produce lengthy “conversations” that I’d best describe with the words “waffle” or “dribble” as my mate Leesy used to say. Newcomers to the field such as myself need to be mindful of our place. We need to be truthful in the knowledge we possess and understand that politicians and journalists like Jacqueline Maley are paid to be in their jobs. They come from a wealth of knowledge and understanding of political culture. Each mainstream media outlet, politician and person has an important role to play from here onwards. We all need to get to know our local communities, learn how to be civil and get along with respect, be it at a March in March or in a Byron Bay surf lineup, as opposed to moving without awareness and communicating with cynicism and vitriol.
I personally agree with Maley that the dismissal of the mainstream media is strange. This week has surely shown that people are hungry for the touch of paper on Monday mornings to go with their chai lattes and muffins. But what the week also demonstrated is that the media don’t dig hard enough for voices of truth within the community, for those who are seeking to inspire on days like MiM.
Sydney has incredible community stories all over. Why don’t we explore this more? While many do explore, why are the rest of us so apathetic to looking outside our bubbles? Or is it that we just don’t know where to find rich community information? Maybe it’s because the idea of individualism is fostered from the moment we are born when we are tagged with a name, right up until the point we start taking “selfies.” Imagine a community that was encouraged to look outward more often, that a person could find happiness in assisting others. Australia was forged on the principles of community. It’s what sustained 60,000 years of Indigenous culture. We report on celebrities at the Ivy Pool when there are brilliant grass roots movements that would warm the heart of any reader. My analysis informs me that the Media would rather report on our Prime Minister being the number one ticket holder of a football club, than a true portrayal of a national march attended by over 100,000 people who sought to bring peace, compassion and love.
I don’t know if I’ll buy the Herald on Saturday. That decision lies in the hands of your team to decide if there is space. We all love sticking Michael Leunig cutouts on the fridge – his works are mementos that represent truthful compassionate explorations into the Australia’s collective consciousness. Our community would dearly love its own Leunig moment to honour our collective truth. If you are questioning “newsworthy” then I can tell you that 100,000 people have stated that reporting the truth on this event is very important to them.
Two weeks ago I posted a call-out on my Facebook inviting people to come and enjoy a morning in the backyard making colourful, peaceful signs with mantras protecting asylum seekers, giving the Aboriginal and LGBT communities equal rights and securing protection for our environment – home to one of the seven natural wonders of the world and a beautiful state full of forest. Maley was correct. We didn’t have one all-encompassing reason for the march to begin with. Then my buddy Julia strolled up the side path with her brother Eamonn. Eamonn at 17 years old, had made the decision to travel down from the Blue Mountains to the big smoke to share his love for people and the environment. When I was in year 11 I was too concerned with swell directions and kicking goals for the Byron Bay Rams, so when I saw young Eamonn coming I felt instantly inspired. He introduced his name and shook my hand with grace. I suppose you could say it was a “sweet” moment. We sat under tall trees with new friends listening to John Lennon, Aretha Franklin and an all star Aussie cast of Paul Kelly, Scott Ludlum, Warrumpi Band and Dan Sultan covering ‘Southern Sun.’ It was the idea that we were actually uniting around the idea of protecting our land for our youth.
With hindsight, the March In March signalled a chance to build a new community. A body of people who would intelligently and thoughtfully consider government policies that could be improved on the basis of humanity or environment. Having read thousands of comments, it appears that many view old-age care as something that needs addressing. Perhaps next march will focus one specific issue. That old-age care is a responsibility of our government? Either way – it’s nice to have the option if we ever need it.
Platform’s like March In March are forward thinking and community minded so should be supported by MSM, but when journalists such as Andrew Bolt make a move to fiercely dissect them to thousands of blog followers seeking to devalue them – what exactly is that achieving?
These types of thunderbolts are discouraging people from standing up to be heard. This is another form of cynicism from the media we need to eliminate. Why would anyone want to be associated with an event described as “witch-hunt” packed with “lefties”? I urge all Australians to read between the lines on this one. Make an educated decision.
Last night the March In March National Facebook page posted a statement acknowledging that certain activities “fell outside the vision of the event” and are being addressed for future. They reinforced the vision showing me forward, pro-active, intelligent thinking. The organisers can’t control who turns up on the day, but they should be proud to know that their efforts inspired Eamonn to give up his Sunday to travel down from the Mountains to the march, in a hope his voice would offer some support to our government.
That’s the other side that that the Sydney Morning Herald should have factored in before it went to print. The thousands of stories like Eamonn’s.
There is a new Australia in our sights where digital platforms are changing the terms of how and where we educate ourselves. Online platforms are built around nurturing communities with quality content. It will be interesting to see how the March In March embraces the limitless possibility of an already strong Facebook supporter base of 100k. The youth are starting to change and it’s inspiring the rest of us to put our iPhones away and hit the streets. It all comes back to nurturing our conversations, whether we are on the streets, at family dinners or out at the pub. If you have wisdom share it with peace. When I was 12 years old my Mum decided she needed a break from the chaos of Sydney and wanted to test the water of Byron Bay. I was in year 7 and I was just starting to see my life take shape. I was traumatised by the idea of moving. To her credit, mum used peaceful, intelligent thinking to get me on board. She said with a civil tone: “Hey, why don’t we just head up for 6 months and try it out?!” In my heart I knew it would be a longer journey but I trusted her intentions. I appreciated the way she was considerate to my feelings and didn’t use force. She opened my eyes to the beauty of the town and the the chance to learn to surf. That was all she needed to do.
On behalf of thousands, we thank the Sydney Morning Herald for overlooking the March In March event. It gave us a rare opportunity to show that people can rise to be heard.
The other side of the story
Ps: Love Your Mother. She’s the earth under your feet.
Join the Love Your Mother Facebook Team to join this conversation!
Thanks to the many pair of eyes who all my heart goes to Dom, Funky, Sanch, Gibbens, Sas and Til who’ve been reminding me to eat, drink and sleep for the past 10 days, Sri Sri Dawson for Spiritual support – and to Tay for planting the seed in my mind of “living to serve others.”
The seed has grown from a large community of selfless Facebook friends. Part 1 was established from this network alone, part 2 came from a much wider community.
To my dear Dad and mother Anna for backing me to go for the sun on this idea. Eternally greatful.
It’s wild the opportunities that arise for each of us if we are willing to come face to face with the truth inside. If we know the truth then it’s our duty to follow through – and bring it to the attention of others. Namaste