Now this is extremely annoying. Bear with me while I explain:
Last week was the 21st anniversary of the protests and massacre at Tiananmen Square. No one knows for sure how many people were killed in the demand for political liberalisation; China's official number is 241, though it's widely believed to be in the thousands. And it wasn't just protesters who were killed; anyone who voiced or showed public support for the protests and the protesters was at risk. And the people who lived through the massacre - the parents who lost their children; the wives who lost their husbands; the children who lost their parents - aren't allowed to talk about it. If they do, and they get caught, they disappear. As a result, there is at least one generation of Chinese men and women who know nothing about their country's recent history, since their parents and grandparents have largely been bullied into keeping quiet. I've met people only a couple of years younger than me who knew nothing about Tiananmen Square until they left China. There are young Chinese men and women in Australia who protest against the rallies demanding China come clean on its history, refusing to believe the facts about their government.
Then there's this book I'm currently reading - Infidel
, a biography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was born in Somalia in 1970, and grew up during the Islamic Revolution in the Middle East in the 80s. She's one of millions of women who suffered genital mutilation at the hands of men in the name of religion, and she was raised to believe that women are worth less than men. That what women have to say just isn't that important, and that all the crucial decisions in a woman's life should be made for her by her father, brothers or husband. That her role in life is to get married and to be completely submissive to the man her father chooses for her. Her story isn't set 100 years ago, or even 50. It's just over 30 years old, and the same things happen, the same lessons are taught, to girls and women all over Asia and Africa every day.
And then there's this
- a cause so ridiculous and selfish I really can't believe it exists. A group of people, so disgruntled at the machinations of local telcos to squeeze a one-time payment of SGD90 out of each interested Singapore household for this year's FIFA World Cup, have staged a protest at Speaker's Corner. There are 27,000 people on Facebook declaring that they will boycott the cable packages - apparently it's the principle of the thing.
Now if principle is that important, boycott the World Cup entirely. Because of it, already impoverished people living in South African slums are being made homeless; funds that should be going towards ending poverty, maternal mortality and violent crime are being diverted to funding football teams and spectators. Protest that. Don't be all high and mighty about protesting local telcos when you're going to watch the matches anyway, and basically condone all the actual suffering the World Cup is causing.
There are so many more important things we could be investing our energies in - ending violence against women, protesting the Burmese junta, encourage the men and women we love to get prostate exams and pap smears, ANYTHING. But instead we're protesting profit-driven companies making a profit.
Now, this is extremely, extremely annoying.