Monday, July 25, 2011

what in heaven's name

You shouldn't have to be a sports freak, or even an expert on AFL football, to be impressed by Liam Jurrah's total focus... no matter where the ball is, his feet seem to find it at just the right moment.

Liam Jurrah, also known as the Warlpiri Wizard, is a fully initiated tribal man from Yuendemu, a desert community way out from Alice Springs.
This community is the home of the Mt Theo Outstation Program. Quite simply, petrol sniffing is a problem in some communities where tradition and law have broken down, and teenagers find their lives almost unbearably meaningless.

Petrol sniffing and taking drugs can become a rite of passage in the absence of a better alternative. The Mt Theo Program has been a success because it takes kids away on country [where they have no access to harmful substances] and elders can engage them with exposure to and reinforcement of tradition.

The success of this program is an argument in favour of people sharing a set of life affirming values.
Some people say sport, or football, is a religion in Melbourne. Any religion that keeps people's heads out of a petrol container is a good thing, I reckon.
Catholic Health Australia has today apologised for forcing around 150,000 single mothers to surrender their children for adoption between 1950 and the mid 1970s.
This practice was not a uniquely Catholic practice, but it was just one of the ways the Irish Catholic church sent a disproportionate number of British kids to Australia under the postwar child immigrant scheme.

In the meantime the Catholic Church in Ireland, whose rules once set the standard for the whole of the free Irish state, has been criticised yet again by the Irish government. Child sex abuse by Catholic Clergy was concealed until as recently as 2009. Now the government has warned that any priest who thinks the seal of the confessional is an excuse for not reporting sex abuse will be prosecuted.
I find the notion of a supreme being at best unbelievable, and in essence, ludicrous. Nonetheless, as the west develops and moves away from an unquestioning acceptance of god, we should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The stories and values of the faith I was raised in, or the stories and values of other faiths, have meaning whether god exists or not: A metaphor does not have to be true to be useful.
Conversely, no one has to believe in god to be a good person or to have a decent set of values.

Like money, gods are neither good nor bad, it's what we do with them that counts.

Radical political isms and rigid fundamentalist gods are simply the piss poor rationalisations evil people use so they can live with themselves. Unfortunately, Anders Behring Breivik could live with himself but didn't want anyone else to live at all.
When Julian Knight shot up Hoddle Street in 1987, he made that decision himself. He expects to be out on parole in 2014 but has learnt nothing, spending all of his sentence taking one petty grievance after another to court.

I like living in a country that tries to rehabilitate people rather than simply locking them up. I like living in a country that doesn't believe in capital punishment. I like the way our judges decide on sentences and, even though I sometimes disagree with them, their sentencing statements generally show they can be trusted to make good decisions.

But there are some times when the laws just suck, and I do believe the good people of Norway are finding themselves in a similar bind because their maximum sentences are not appropriate for people who go out on a rampaging massacre, not appropriate for those who feel inadequate and can afford guns but not a big red sports car.

When in heaven's name are we going to have a "can't be rehabilitated" sentence that will keep mass murderers, or recidivist perverts off the street completely?

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