Religion and politics have always been considered as two of the worst conversation topics between acquaintances. Not only is it pointless but you are sure to offend regardless of how P-C (politically correct) you try to be. I always steer clear of talking about the current state of government in this country to just anyone, unless it's Arnie or my mum whom I share the same sentiments with.
So, imagine my surprise the other day when a work colleague from Sydney came down for a meeting with myself. We were having sandwiches for lunch and for some reason, the topic diverted to whether I follow politics or not. I said that as much as I don't like it, I can't help but follow it - my background, having a father who is a solicitor/consultant and very much involved in the Philippine senate when I was growing up, has been steeped in political awareness.
We started talking about politics - about, as a British national living in Australia, he's become so disappointed with how our government is being run, how Britian itself is being led by a PM who is well-known for American arse-kissing, and that the war on Iraq is just wrong. Then, he started talking about religion. His sentiments were exactly like mine. People just use religion nowadays to justify the evil they do and attribute it to the cause of glorifying their god.
What god would want this? What god would want people killing each other off for the sake of Allah or freedom or revenge It's just hogwash. Pure baloney.
Whatever happened to just getting along and embracing each other's differences? The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard and Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, have made a faux pas for making statements regarding Australian Muslims, that they should embrace the "Australian way of life" - whatever that means - and not just be loyal to their belief as Muslims, but be loyal to Australia. I don't know what they were thinking when they made this pronouncement. Singling-out Muslims or any minority for that matter just screams sheer prejudice and ignorance, doesn't it? The fact that it is just the very loud and ignorant minority that's creating the problem(e.g. Cronulla riots) does not merit this kind of statement. This country for some reason always had a problem with integrating with other races/cultures .Before, it was the Aborigines during the colonial period. Then, it was the Europeans during the 60's and 70's. Then, it was the Asians' turn in the 80's. Now, the Muslims. When will it stop?
I don't want to think of Australia as a racist country. In fact, I believe it not to be. The fact that I am living in a multi-cultural city (not just in terms of food but also of how different cultures are embraced) and have never experienced a racial attack, I have every reason to believe that Australia, specifically Melbourne, is the place to be. However, if you've got the nation's so-called "leader" spouting very irresponsible comments, it does not reflect well to the rest of the world 'innit? For a country who prides itself for being "multicultural", the statement just reeks of prejudice. We are no better than the red-neck southern states of America.
I expect a lynching next...