Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australia Day

I have spent 28 years of my life as an Australian citizen. Occasionally I join the crowd celebrating Australia Day in the West Pymble Bicentennial Park, a near perfect intersection of middle class multicultural Australia. It is great to see smiling adults and children buzzing around who give me that strong sense of belonging. I don’t necessarily associate myself with nationalist sentiments, but I like being part of this peaceful, secular, highly educated, and egalitarian society.

I sat between an area where sheep shearing was displayed and a stage where various gigs were taking place. Suddenly I saw two men in bright yellow clothes, with a ’Falun Gong’ label on their shirts. Then I saw packs of them queued up behind the big tent covering the stage.

From Los Angeles Daily News, 14 July 2014:

’Falun Gong (also called Falun Dafa) arose out of the so-called "qigong boom" of the late '80s.

Qigong is an umbrella term for a number of practices involving meditation, slow-moving exercises and regulated breathing.

Falun Gong differed from most qigong groups in that it combined exercises with moral and spiritual teachings. Adherents aim to cultivate "truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance" and refine their "xining," or moral character.’

Heather Kavan, a researcher at Massey University in New Zealand, in an otherwise sympathetic ethnographic study of the movement, argues that Falun Gong "could be described as a cult."

Kavan draws a comparison between Falun Gong and Maoism, writing that "like Mao, Li (their leader) has activated millions of people with his rhetoric. His ideology is similarly characterised by moral superiority, defining others as absolute evil, dehumanizing enemies by labeling them snake spirits and possessed by ghosts, extolling the virtues of selflessness and sacrifice, emphasizing the necessity of enduring physical hardship, harassing critics, and denigrating science in favor of his purportedly infallible truths."

When sheep shearing started, a yellow dragon made of Falun Gong members stormed the stage with throbbing drums, followed by loud march songs in Chinese.

Multicultural tolerance should not mean tolerating ’I am free and I can do whatever it takes, patronising others with my cult’s noisy propaganda in a day exclusively reserved for a peaceful celebration that has nothing to do with racial or religious segregation.’

I have no religious affiliations. I do however respect individual rights of others to practice their religion peacefully in their private homes or in dedicated worship places. In return I expect to enjoy public life free of religious shows especially in a day reserved for unity of citizens.

This incident pushed the limits of my tolerance, and I had to leave the area in distress.

I would seriously doubt the capacity and competence of organisers for making such a poor call regarding boundaries of multicultural tolerance, giving a free ride to one obscure foreign cult, whereas completely ignoring expectations of majority.

Whomever was responsible for this blunder, you ruined our very precious day by misusing public trust; you should accept your wrongdoings and publicly apologise from citizens.

No comments: