Compassion - The slave ships of Ashmore Reef 

One Man's Web > Politics and Ethics > Australia and the Refugees > Compassion

An officer on HMAS Tobruk is reported in The Australian of November 10 2001 as saying:

"In the middle of the night I looked down from the bridge.  There's two hatches open and it's hot.  Through one I could see a hundred people' lying there on stretchers.  I thought, "Its like a slave ship.' I thought, 'Jesus.  I thought we were Australia.  I thought we were a bloody good country.'

"Onboard they don't like to use the world prisoners, but they are.  At Ashmore Reef, it hit me- shit, we're. going like South Africa.  If Australia continues down this political path, it will be like apartheid here. And people will think that's what we do here.  But it's not what we should do here."

This person is compassionate.  They are able to see things from the perspective of the suffering people, not just their own short term political needs.  This is a human person, who we should be proud to have as a serving officer of our Navy.  He sees something the politicians do not.

What is fundamentally missing from the Howard-Ruddock policy is not solid policy or wisdom.  What is missing at root is compassion.  They are simply unable to see, or refuse to acknowledge the suffering of others.  They do not know the meaning of compassion. 

One of my friends once told me that serving in the military dehumanises people.  Maybe.  But serving in the government is worse, it would seem. (And this officer didn't seem too dehumanised, either!)  If we are able to close our minds and souls to people's suffering in this way, when will we find it expedient to do the same with our own citizens.       Cartoon  by Nicholson






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