This has been a…weird and kind of upsetting day…
I should have realised when I woke up to one eye completely sealed shut that it was going to be the kind that sucked. I’ve been having problems with mosquitoes in my room for the past few days, and I’ve tried to get around the problem by using repellant before I go to bed and turning on the air conditioner, but it hasn’t had much effect. Last night, they apparently decided to go for the one part of my body I couldn’t cover, and bit me on my right eyelid. Meaning I had to spend my morning missing one eye, and the afternoon with it half opened while spending my breaks holding an ice pack trying to get the swelling down.
There was also a fuel hiccup – one that was thankfully solved easily enough (somebody paid for someone else’s fuel, and I couldn’t find the fuel on the receipts since my vision was shaky at the time – eventually found it and double payer got a refund), and a warning from Pauline regarding people asking for work, along with a major breakfast rush where I ended up letting Pauline do most of the work without realising it (she’s trying to get out of the kitchen, I should have taken more control).
However, the final nail in the coffin happened this evening, regarding a conversation I was part of – though mostly listening in. Our other part time workers have some friends staying in the caravan park, and they’re lovely people. I’ve always gotten along with my other workers, and their friends are great, funny and interesting people. They are at least a decade older than me, probably two, but that’s never been a problem.
Now, I’ve been in Australia – especially the Australian Outback – long enough to know that people generally have very specific views, and out here, they’re not always the most politically correct (I’ve learned not to add any comments to conversations regarding Aboriginals, for my own safety), but I can usually handle the topics.
This evening though, the conversation led into the refugee crisis, and Australia’s promise to take in so many and provide a large sum of money towards their care.
I know the situation with the refugee’s is a volatile one, but the sheer vitriol all of the people at that table had towards refugee’s coming here was terrifying. When the photo of the boy drowned on the beach appeared, I started to look up the Syrian war since I honestly didn’t know what it was about – discovered the basics of the situation so I could understand why so many were desperate to leave. I was the only one at the table who had done that – as far as everyone else there was concerned, they “should stay in their own country and sort out their own problems.” One even joked that they should just send every refugee back with a gun to do just that rather than give them cash since they’re enough to be their own army!
Some of their points were valid. Australia’s government has been insisting they don’t have money to update hospitals, pensions and other struggling infrastructure. Thousands sleep on the streets, including veterans, and they can’t even take care of the Aboriginals, who still receive harsh treatment. But the hate towards Australia even attempt to help was almost enough to make my skin crawl. When the topic of the drowned boy came up, their only reaction was that the father should be arrested and tried for child endangerment rather than given any sympathy. When I argued about the black market boats and the bait and switch that results in most of these sinking boats, they didn’t want to hear it. And they didn’t understand why people weren’t willing to apply for visa’s ‘the normal way’ or why if one’s visa was rejected, that was just ‘tough luck’.
They even ended up talking about Isis and the situation in the Middle East, insisting that Isis should be angry at America and taking it out on them – leave Australia out of it, as if Australia wasn’t one of the countries who sent armed forces into Iraq once upon a time (and there are so many things wrong with this paragraph I think I’d better stop there).
These are people who live in Australia. A country populated by convicts and illegal immigrants looking for a better life than the one they could get in their own country. I guess it was naive to assume people with that heritage would have more understanding of what the refugee’s are facing, but the reality has left me in my room choosing not to interact with them for the rest of the night.
I have lived a comfortable life. I’ve had my problems, but I’ve never been at a point where staying in my home country could result in my death. I’ve never been at a point where I would risk death at sea over staying where I am. Are their moochers among the refugee’s? Probably. But most of them are genuinely people who just want to be safe, an option that is not available for them in their own country, and is no longer something the common man of that country can achieve even with numbers). Its rather depressing that people I honestly considered decent and kind could have such vicious opinions on one of humanities greatest tragedies.