You may have noticed yesterday’s minor furore over primary school children sending a petition to various politicians protesting the vileness, criminality and inhumanity of off-shore detention policies.
The children didn’t use those words of course, rather they asked that politicians show concern for children in off-shore detention and resettle them. They also sent drawings expressing their distress on behalf of detained children.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed that eight-year-olds should be writing to Santa not getting up petitions, and federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham expressed his wish that the teachers involved be hunted down and disciplined for aiding and abetting the children’s budding awareness of human rights. Children should not be “politicised,” it was bipartisanly agreed.
Off-shore detention policies are inescapably political: it is impossible to “politicise” what is inherently political. Shorten, Birmingham et al should be owning the shamefulness of their policies, rather than shaming children for objecting and protesting.
Of course politicians don’t want children knowing, let alone caring, about the crimes and misdemeanours they continue to commit against humanity in the interests of attaining and maintaining power. However, in my experience children are far more aware of the world than most of us give them credit for. They need tools with which to deal with the deceits and duplicities of politicians, and politicians have only themselves to blame for this parlous situation.
What is most wickedly deceptive and destructive is the conflation of concern for the welfare of others with so-called “politicisation.” We’ve had decades of contempt for “lefty bleeding hearts.” We have now reached a stage at which anyone expressing concern over the state (and compliant media) treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, Indigenous Australians, those struggling with poverty, mental health, disability and the myriad other challenges people face in a country in which increasingly the only concerns that matter are those of the alpha white male and his consort, is immediately accused of the manufactured offence of “politicisation.” Or my particular favourite, Political Correctness Gone Mad (PCGM).
Do we really want to grow children who believe that caring about the fate of others is something to be ashamed of?
The abysmal legal and moral failure by both major parties to fulfil their responsibilities to asylum seekers and refugees under both international and domestic law is the core problem, not children or anyone else protesting this failure.
If you want your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children you know and or teach to become aware of the human rights of others, I recommend this rather lovely book, titled 2030 Not a Fairytale. In 2015 world leaders adopted the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, setting seventeen Global Goals to be attained by 2030. These goals are simply explained to young children, and are an excellent introduction to caring about the world they’ll inherit and the people in it.
I know I’m being dangerously subversive, suggesting the politicisation of children. Shoot me.
As for whether or not the 2030 goals will be attained, and the usefulness or otherwise of world leaders at the UN setting them, that’s another story we have to tell children at another time. First, let’s brainwash them into caring.
This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.
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