IMMIGRATION is one of the most socially divisive and politically toxic issues in Australia’s history.
You would think that solving the question of how best to help people who are fleeing war, persecution and death would be an incredibly unifying accomplishment for any nation.
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Nope, not Australia.
The base reason why immigration is such a poisonous topic here is because while it has the potential to unite us, it simultaneously shows us the very worst of our natures.
What we fear we are capable of being.
We celebrate our kindness and our capacity for good but as a nation we have not yet grown up enough to look at our bad side in the mirror and say ‘I am better than that’.
And our bad side is a real doozy.
From Broome to Broken Hill to Burleigh Heads and everywhere in between Australia is an inherently racist and fundamentally conservative country.
Sit around a table and talk asylum-seekers with your friends or family and you may witness altruism, hope, love and goodness.
But you will almost certainly also see hate, cowardice and fear.
Normally when it comes to helping people we Aussies like to see ourselves as the very first to put our hands up.
The very first to jump into the breach, to lay down over the wire and let the other guy crawl over us.
And we are.
But only so long as that breach or that wire are far, far away from us.
When it comes to helping people come to OUR country, to settle in OUR neighbourhood, to apply for jobs that OUR kids may want to one day apply for, well that is a different story.
Closer to home our dark side comes out.
Fill your own breach we say. Cut your own wire.
Unfortunately for Australians the issue of immigration holds a startlingly large mirror up to a side of us we are loath to talk about, even acknowledge.
Too many of us are not seeing that a house, a street, a job, a park, a beach – these things mean nothing if we knowingly chose to greedily deny them to others.
Doing so under the pretence of altruism is especially awful.
And it is this contradiction that is making us all hang our heads in silent shame when any politician publically praises or defends our virtuous immigration system.
It is the hypocrisy of saying to the internationally community that we want to help while knowing that collectively that is the last thing we want.
We don’t HAVE to be better – we just should be.
And that starts with some honesty.
What do you think about immigration?
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