Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Bob Ellis, an award-winning Australian columnist, wrote an article for AdBusters in which he suggests that the photo of Saddam in his underpants is a rouse by the Americans to humiliate him and make his followers stop supporting him. He points out many of the weaknesses of such an act, suggesting that this will only hurt the American's cause not help it.

He further comments that humiliation is part of the American culture. From Little league to Spelling Bees, Americans are all about the winners and losers.

My qualifications on this matter are limited, but present. Having grown up in American culture, I never remember thinking in sole terms of winners and losers. Humiliation was never part of my discipline or culture, thus, his conclusion that humiliations is entirely based in the American way of life, I feel is a bit harsh.

While humiliation makes great public entertainment, it does not win friends. Growing up, I remember valuing friends more than winning. But then again, it is possible that I was a unique case.

I'll accept that. Both my parents have worked to create a culture where their children would learn to empathise with others. They probably succeeded more than they planned.

My empathy leads me to feel for Saddam. I don't like or agree with the kind of horrors that he supported and carried out, neither do I like or agree with the kind of horrors that GW Bush supports and carries out.

War is never pretty. Loss and shame will be felt on all sides before it is over. History will be our ultimate judge. Today, my generation judges the Vietnam war with skepticism and shame. Will tomorrow's generation feel the same about this war?

Something different....

Last night I sat through another conversion story told by an aspiring minister. He told how his life was saved from sex, drugs, and alcohol and he was brought to a life of servitude to Christ. While interesting and occasionally inspiring, I hate those conversion stories. They remind me how inadequate my conversion is. No, not inadequate, boring. My conversion story is boring.

From the first moments I can remember, I remember knowing that God was real. I knew He was because I talked to him constantly. I used to pray when I was playing on the play equipment, running around the field and in the dark in my room. I told Him about the monsters under the bed that I was scared of, and He reminded me that monsters under beds aren’t real. I told Him my desires for the day, He told me to have fun. When I was 11, I was baptised into the church. From then on, I still told Him everything. I told Him about boys I liked. I told Him about my dreams, I told Him my excitements. Then I started high school.

This is the part of the story that, if it was a typical conversion story, I would tell you I got pulled into drinking, drugs, and sex. But in this story, it didn’t happen. While I may have been interested, to varying degrees, in all of those things, I didn’t participate in any of them. Maybe it was because of my belief system, maybe it was my desire to be different to all those TV teenagers whom I despised, maybe it was God. I think it was a combination of all of these things. I never touched any of these “usual” sins.

This isn’t to say that life was easy. Being a teenager is hard and not always much fun! I found myself constantly trying to figure out who I was supposed to be in this world. Matters weren’t made easier when my parents hit, “mid-marriage crisis”. Life was hard. How can you control all the feelings inside? How can you get those feelings and hurts outside yourself? Then a close family friend died and I lost the plot. I sat in my room for hours and hours on end; staring at the ceiling. No, this isn’t the part where I start doing drugs. This is the part where I realise the vast amount of things I don’t like about the world, about my parents, and most of all, about me. I told God everything. I told Him I hurt. I told Him I was angry. I told Him I didn’t like things the way they were. He whispered, “I know.”

This isn’t the part where things get easier. In fact, from this part onwards, they get harder; more friends die, friends leave, parents, well, parents are parents, and I fall in and out of love several times. I’m not going to gloss over these heartaches by saying, “but at least I had God.” Because while I did, those times didn’t feel easier because I had Him. Looking back, however, I can see that it was through His intervention and planning that I made it out in one piece.

So the big thing I had to overcome was my teenage years, and let’s be honest, as hard as they can be, most people survive them. My conversion story does get more interesting from here on, though. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, there isn’t any sex, drugs or rock-n-roll in it. What happened was a fulfilment of many of my childhood dreams. I had dreamed of travelling outside my native country. I dreamed of seeing places that no one I knew had ever seen. I wanted to see Paris, London, Sydney, and many others. Thus far, all my dreams from childhood have been fulfilled. Now I have new dreams and I know that my story will continue, more dreams will be fulfilled, more dreams acquired. I don’t keep God around just in case I get into trouble. I don’t keep Him around at all. He chooses to be with me, and I choose to share my life with Him.

So there you have it, my conversion story without any conversion. I told you it was boring.

Friday, June 03, 2005


Many of you who read this site, probably have never heard of Schapelle Corby, but it is because of her high profile court case that relations between Indonesia and Australia could fall apart.

Corby was arrested in Bali several months ago when 4 kilos of marijuana was found in her boogie-board bag. Due to the fact she left Australia via Sydney airport, it seems unlikely that she was attempting to smuggle drugs into Bali. In fact her defense team made a good case for baggage handlers using her bag to smuggle drugs into the country.

The Indonesian courts, however, did not see things her way. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison. This was a devastating blow to her and many of her sympathisers here in Australia.

Last Friday, someone in Australia attacked the Indonesian Embassy. An envelope containing an unknown bacteria was sent to the embassy. In response to this, Australia has upped its security at the Australian embassy in Indonesia.

Sadly, this seems to be the way of the world. When one person is mistreated, retaliation occurs which incurs more retaliation. When will the violence end? It is terrible that Ms. Corby was sentenced for so long, but one must be glad that the Indonesian government didn't push for the Death sentence (which was their right).

Life rarely happens the way we want it to but we must keep our wits about us. How can we as a human race ever hope for peace if we are constantly seeking revenge? Peace must begin with me taking responsibility and control of my actions. That is the only way to stop the violence.