This morning I signed a petition to close Manus Island detention centre.
There was no way I wasn’t going to sign.
But I passionately disagree with the “not in my name” slogan.
My reasons are somewhat inchoate, but I’ll do my best to express my rejection of this approach.
We are, all of us, the Australian community. Together. Even if we don’t agree with each other. It’s clear there are members of the community who believe it’s absolutely fine to lock up the most vulnerable in inhumane conditions. Accepting or changing that view is the responsibility of all of us. We cannot walk away from that or pretend these people are not part of the body politic in this country.
We are ALL responsible for the government we elect. Democracy is not a spectator sport (although it is currently being played out that way). Voting is the most passive aspect of democracy and being compulsory doesn’t just attract those who are passionate or even interested. Some are positively disgruntled at being forced to vote. And punish the rest of us. Democracy is an ongoing involvement in the debate and its progress. It is about engagement in your community, how it develops, the decisions it makes, the ideas that are being considered and debated.
The “not in my name” slogan is an attempt to disown the decisions made by government. This is pure hubris, and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the functions of government and the role of democracy. It seems, in fact, rather childish. Petulant even. Elitist – “that’s a Western Sydney policy, not for my educated, middle-class sensibilities”.
If we really don’t like the way government spends our taxes (in a kazillion different ways), then conduct a civil disobedience exercise by going on a tax strike. Certainly peace protestors have attempted this in order to not fund the defence forces.