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On March 16th, 2014 – 100,000 people took part in an event across Australia called the March In March. It was a grass roots event in 32 locations. The event since then has renamed itself – “March Australia.” This weekend, May 18 a smaller round of marches are taking place in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth before the whole of Australia assembles again in August.
It’s too early to tell what sort of political impact the March Australia movement will have, where it’s headed or what it will look like after August. It’s an interesting time ahead.
I won’t be marching this weekend as I’m away but I wanted to share #7 personal reasons I’m thankful I attended March in March.
#1 – I woke up
For my 27 years of life I would say I have been relatively apathetic and disinterested in parliamentary chit chat at dinner tables. When Tony Abbott’s government came to power I suddenly saw a power that was disrespecting values that I held close to my heart. The March In March was the first time as an adult I felt 100% compelled to skip the Marrickville markets on a Sunday to raise my voice.
I felt propelled to want to know more about the system and strive for truth. It made me explore basic basic ideas again, such as what was the definition of a government?
The March In March was an entirely new movement. There was uncertainty for all involved. Would anyone even show up?
The moment I decided I was going to back the event 100% was when I stumbled upon the mission statement:
“March In March is a peaceful non-partisan event to voice no confidence in certain policies of the government that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness, social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our natural heritage.“
I took a step into the dark with 100,000 others and was rewarded. I left feeling hopeful and empowered. From a simple idea a new movement had been created – and if it was nurtured it would be one that every Australian could happily join 1000 years into the future.
#3 – To Power Of Cynicism
How often do you hear it…. “We are powerless – we can’t change those in power” “What’s the point?” “There’s no hope.” Shh..No more. Please. Or atleast when I’m out of the room.
The great English songwriter Billy Bragg spoke perfect words as it rained down before we marched. He said our greatest enemies are not Tony Abbott or Gina Rinehart – it’s our own cynicism – our own attitudes that we can’t create the change or change the people in power.
I had often thought about the cynicism that festers around our suburbs, our cities and our towns. March In March was the first time I wholly believed it can be overcome. I have full faith that as a nation we can shed our generally apathetic Australian skin and start believing in what we can accomplish together.
Since March In March there have been some REAL examples of human spirit prevailing.
1. Digital People People & The Road To Freedom - The story of this blog and people holding a major media accountable!
2. Thousands Protect Bentley From Mining Near Byron Bay - Only days ago a mining company had their license suspended after the efforts of a community to support eachother and have faith!
#4 Humans are compassionate
The March In March gave me time and space to reflect on humans as 20,000 Sydney-siders walked up broadway towards Newtown. I looked up to the monstrous buildings and passing cars. Humans are so darn clever. We’ve conquered the world. We fly planes, have been to space and just the other day created internet…
Amid all of this mind blowing world conquering creation, we have left the essence of a few things behind. We’ve forgotten to love, look and listen to each other. How can you take into account the needs of others if you are constantly racing to try and get to the top of the stairs first.
The March In March saw 100,000 people putting aside individual ambition for a day – to raise concern for other human beings. For thousands It was an act of peace and love. It was a call for compassion. Compassion to mother earth and all people of the world.
#5 – The Power Of Intelligence
The March In March make me reconcile with an idea: I know nothing.
My knowledge in politics beyond stories, faces and Year 10 humanities classes is limited. I realised that If I want to convince my family, friends or the Prime Minister that policy change is necessary in certain areas I need to be able to express why.
*When issues of equal rights, environmental protection and safety of asylum seekers is concerned – it may take you as little a 2 minutes to build a compelling case.
#6 Peace is the Pathway
It can be hard in this big old world not to react with emotion when you don’t agree with a sentiment you hear or read. Always be civil. Don’t let your ego get in the way of an intelligent response. Strive to be civil with your words, your actions, always have peace as your goal. The media painted the march as an “Abbott hate march” that was defacing our the Prime Minister. This was only 1 side of the story.
While the funny signs and idea of “hate” played a big role in bringing people together – looking ahead March In March need to channel the words of the greats – their path has to be intelligent with a focus on peace. A March Australia culture built on hate isn’t sustainable, nor is any culture built on hate.
(Apart from Fight Club)
I remember best the music, costumes, colour and smiles at March In March.
#7 The Digital Road To Freedom
Read the story of this blog and how it was created out of the March In March.
Digital People Power & The Road To Freedom
While the March in March was by no means the first of it’s kind – it blossomed from the ideas of some average joes who saw the power of Facebook to create a movement of like minded people. It grew and it grew. Like by like. 1 by 1 – little step by little step…
Once upon a time – folk would roll down to a march then would head home. Interaction with a mass audience and other activists would end at the end of the event. The new power we possess is that we are able to connect with each other long before and forever after after the event. I can easily find someone in Ethiopia and share truth.
While digital communication may not be “Real” – it can connect us. It has infinite possibility – whereas if I leave my house, my voice will only reach a certain way down the street if I call out. There needs to be a perfect combination of real human interaction, but honouring the very real fact that billions spend more time on their computers than they do outside or talking to people.
If you are reluctant to explore the digital world – I understand, but know that it doesn’t have to consume all your life – it can simply be a small part that brings about incredible change for your community through “clicktivism.”
Other March Australia Reflections
I hope moving forwards the organisers of March Australia have the confidence to challenge the Australian community to unite on principles of peace and intelligence.
From an outsiders point of view I have been watching the activities of the organisers online every day. It is very early days but one thing is clear:
there is a lack of cohesion and vision among the 32 different Facebook pages. The national page (with 54,700 FB Likes) has focused heavily on demonising Prime Minister Abbott as opposed to celebrating the beauty that was The March In March.
I have spoken with former organisers via FB and email who have since left the March Australia organising team with plans to create their own movements. This worries me as to how it will fracture the momentum, but I have complete faith in March Australia. To the organisers if you are listening, your path to freedom is clear: 1. Peace 2. Intelligence.
Since the 2014 budget announcement more and more people are realising they are not happy with the Abbott government.
If you head over and observe the strategy of the March Australia social media pages it’s disconcerting. Since the march events took place the Admins of the page have employed a strategy that continues to drive hate towards the government – where they could be uniting people with the following:
1. The beauty and colour seen in the images of march in march
2. Peaceful reminders of great minds such as Gandhi and Luther King.
3. Calling upon people to voice their opinions as opposed to telling people what to think.
Get in touch with organisers – let them know what you want. This is a national movement for the people.