Australia is the best country in the world…?

I love my country. Sometimes I marvel at how I’ve won the lottery of life, being born here in the lucky country, the land of opportunity.

When I started travelling, I realised that my passport is one of my most precious possessions. Wherever I go in the world, I carry the golden ticket: a document saying I belong in Australia – that they will always let me come home.

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But recently something has changed.

I was talking to a new friend who grew up in Iran. As a teenager, he left a war-torn country, having witnessed unbelievable horrors, for a new life in Australia.

He worked hard to overcome barriers of language and culture. He studied late into the night, earned a degree, and won a government job. You’d think he’d had it made, but it broke my heart when he said that if he ever had children, he wouldn’t raise them here. He’d rather take them back to the war-torn Middle East than put them through the daily racism he faces. After twelve years, he still feels like an outsider – ignored, bullied, excluded, slapped with religious slurs – even though he’s never been Muslim. For the first time, I felt ashamed to be Australian.

I look at our indigenous people, who, according to the UN, have the second worst quality of life in the world, and I wonder about our lucky country.

Australia is the best country in the world… for me. But I’m not the only one who lives here.

Will you speak out for people entirely unlike you?

locked-green-door_434-19316046I’m half way through reading ‘I am Malala,’ the famous book by the Nobel Prize winning girl who spoke out for education and was shot by the Taliban.

It gives a lot of insight into the lives of Pakistani peasants in the decades following the September 11, 2001 attack.

Malala’s father was a man who courageously spoke out against the Taliban, holding truth above cowardice. Malala records that he used to carry the following poem with him in his pocket. It is by Martin Niemöller, who had lived in Nazi Germany. It has really challenged me.

First they came for the communists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,

And there was no one left to speak for me.

Feminist Movie Checklist

Olhos fataisWhether we like it or not, the media plays a big role in setting and propagating what is considered normal.

We become so used to these portrayals of ‘normal’ that we rarely think to question it. When asked to question, however, we may be shocked at what we find.

A few months back, a friend introduced me to the ‘Feminist Movie Checklist.’ I’ll admit, the word ‘feminist’ made me skeptical from the start, but when we began discussing it, I was shocked to discover the extent of the stereotyping of women in film. Not just some films, but the vast majority of film.

Here’s the checklist. It’s nothing fancy. In fact, you’re just looking for one thing:

How many movies can you think of that have a scene, of ten seconds or more, in which there are no men, and in which two or more women are conversing on a topic other than men?

Think about it. You might be surprised.

Surprised by the fact that no one seems to care what women think on topics other than love and relationships?

Surprised that people only want to watch women in relation to men?

Surprised that we don’t even notice the discrepancy?

Next time you watch a movie, look for that ten-second clip. In the whole 120 minutes, you’ll be lucky to find one.