The Path Not Chosen

Now and then as I continue through the journey of life, I come across an event, a happening, or a circumstance that makes me pause and contemplate the ‘what if’ moments of my life. Generally speaking dwelling too much on ‘what if’ moments is not helpful, but occasionally, every now and then, they provide fruitful grist for the mill of reflection.

The latest moment to give me pause for thoughtful reflection had been brewing for a couple of days before I arrived on the Gold Coast as part of my Annual Leave. During my two nights here in my hotel room, sitting occasionally on the balcony watching the ocean in all its moody beauty, my thoughts and contemplations have drifted towards some of those ‘what if’ moments. I have wondered during that time whether I would still find myself where I am if my choices were different.

The answer to that question is as it often is: Yes. Probably. More than likely.

That may sound strange of course, but the truth is that we can never know where our lives might have led us had we made different decisions at various points. We can wonder. We can dream about possibilities. The reality is that we are where we are, and we can’t change that.

Moments like this can lead to regret about paths not chosen, opportunities not embraced, or options not explored. Sometimes that is good because it allows us to reaffirm the choices we have made, whether good, bad or indifferent, and recommit ourselves to where we are and what we are doing.

Despite the temptation to lament what might have been in contemplating these ‘what if’ moments over the last few days, I remain content with who and where I am.

Public Confusion About Bail

At dinner tonight, I listened with growing concern to part of a conversation taking place at the next table. Two of the occupants of that table were discussing their disbelief at how some person had been refused the grant of bail over a relatively minor allegation, while someone the subject of much more serious allegations was bailed immediately just last week. The two participants in this conversation eventually got to the point where they expressed their disgust that “any criminal should be given bail in the first place.”

And therein lies the source of my concern.

People to whom bail is granted are not yet criminals. They are the subject of allegations but have not as yet faced court. The allegations have not, as yet, been tested in terms of veracity to the normative burden of proof in criminal law matters, i.e. guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Anyone accused of a crime, regardless of how they are portrayed in the media, is entitled to be considered innocent until the opposite is proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” And, likewise, they are entitled to not be deprived of their liberty until they are convicted, and remain free to go about their lives.

It needs to be made clear that being charged with an offence, or being arrested for a particular reason, represents only the beginning of the criminal justice process and not the conclusion. There is, or should be, a presumption towards the granting of bail to someone charged with an offence, and it should only be refused in the most extreme cases, e.g. where the court is satisfied that there is a real danger to the community or where there is a danger that the accused might attempt to flee the jurisdiction of the court.

For more on the subject of bail, please visit my previous post on this subject – you can find it here.

Simply Staggering

The Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania has done it again, this time inside the Senate Chamber itself!

The level of either her ignorance or malice – I am at odds to know which – is simply staggering. Any Australian who simply accepts the nonsense being spouted by the Senator without researching the reality of what constitutes Sharia is doing the Commonwealth of Australia a great disservice.

To help those interested in knowing what Sharia is, you might like to visit the following link…

The Real Danger

On yesterday’s edition of the ABC Television program The Insiders, the Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania provided an embarrassing performance during her interview. While her performance is personally embarrassing, of greater concern should be the lack of knowledge about the Islamic faith that was displayed by the Senator. This ignorance, displayed for all to see on national television, prompted her to make the kind of comments that will not assist community cohesion during the current difficulties and tension.

The equation of Islamic practices, including Sharia Law, with terrorism, and the demand that Australian Muslims either reject Sharia or leave Australia, is an outrageous statement, based on ignorance that will only hinder ongoing efforts to engage effectively with the mainstream moderate membership of Australian Muslim communities.

It would the same had the Senator asked Christians to reject the Ten Commandments or leave Australia…

Reaching Too Far

In his ongoing efforts to ‘sell’ the proposed reforms (and I use that word advisedly) to Australia’s higher education sector, the Minister for Education has over-reached in his claims that unless the reforms happen Australia’s university will “slide into mediocrity.”

Not unsurprisingly, the Minister’s claims are far fetched – another example of the current Federal Government’s willingness to say just about anything in order to get its partisan policies past the umpire, aka the Federal Senate.

The Generation of Fear Is What We Should Be Afraid Of

Over the last few days I have been concerned by the ‘fallout’ of the large scale counter-terrorism raids carried out by Australian police and security forces in Sydney and Brisbane.

Much of the fall out has been, at least in my estimation, directed in a way that is less than helpful and which, again in my estimation, effectively assists the “terrorists” in the achievement of their goals, i.e. to bring discomfort and destruction to “western civilisation.” The Australian media, as usual, hasn’t exactly assisted in this regard. The almost blanket coverage, the rhetoric and approach used in that reporting, and the radically inappropriate questions asked by journalists who were hoping to get public officials to say exactly what the journalists wanted them to say made me cringe every time I heard them. Thankfully the public officials didn’t give in and continued to maintain the clearly agreed approach that Australians should be alert but not alarmed by the developments, and should continue to live their lives as they had before.

I wholeheartedly endorse such a call: if we live our lives in fear of what might happen we will end up not living at all. And then “they” win.

Nick O’Brien, former head of International Counter Terrorism at New Scotland Yard, wrote on The Conversation website in the wake of the security operations…

Much of the rhetoric I have seen in various places – particularly on social media – has focussed on the religious beliefs of the people against whom allegations will be made. In what is a gigantic fallacy of logic these commentators have argued from the particular to the universal and denounced and condemned all adherents of the religious tradition from which the people now facing charges and the criminal justice system come. This is pure and simply fear mongering from a position of ignorance, an attempt to legitimise racist and ignorant views on the basis of alleged ‘evidence’, and has no place in Australia.

So let’s be clear about a few things…

  1. The people arrested and detained during the security operation last week were not arrested and detained on the basis of their religious beliefs.
  2. In other words: the people were arrested and detained because authorities allege they were involved in criminal behaviour, not because they happen to be Muslim.
  3. Just because the people arrested and detained are Muslims does not mean that every Muslim in Australia needs to be feared as a potential ‘terrorist’.

It may come as a shock to some people, but Islam has its share of radical fundamentalists just as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Communist and other groups do.

So how do we move forward in the wake of last week’s security operation and the chilling attempts by some commentators to divide the Australian community? Two articles from The Conversation website provide, I believe, the beginnings of the public conversation that needs to take place if we are continue to live the kind of life that makes Australia what Australia is. I commend them to you…

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