Way back in January this year, I participated with Peregrin Wildoaks’s Magical Action to Increase Compassion towards Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia, and posted about it, and some of the other things I had worked toward, in a spiritual sense, in one way or another.
Over the past year, my sigil has been actively worked, invigorated and I continue to use it whenever the “issue” (which I still can’t even believe it is!) pops in the news or my Facebook newsfeed. Like so many things happening in our country right now, there needs be constant attention paid, people are dying, people are sick, children are suffering serious mental health issues, no doubt from being caged without knowing what they have done wrong besides think for some reasons Australia was a place they could be free to live away from the horrors they have fled. The conditions are atrocious, and only September saw the death of Hamid Kehazaei on Manus Island, after he cut his foot. Yes, that’s right. He cut his foot. And he then contracted cellulitis, which developed into septicemia. And he died. Because that’s how great treatment for a cut foot is when you’re an asylum seeker in Australia’s care.
One of things that came to my attention later in the year was a letter writing campaign initiated by Julian Burnside, a prominent Australian Q.C., human rights and refugee advocate, and author. It gained the support of GetUp!, and along side that requests for letters to Federal MPs and Senators.
As it says on the GetUp! page: “We need to let asylum seekers know we have not forgotten them and we care. Refugee advocate and barrister, Julian Burnside QC, has started a letter writing campaign to do just that.” It seems like such a small thing, but I have thought to myself how much I enjoy receiving a letter in the mail, imagine if that was one of the few contacts I had with the outside world from my cage?
It has taken me a few months to do it. I confess, a few times I have simply had no idea where to start, what to say to a complete stranger who my nation is currently detaining, indefinitely, where no crime has been committed. Yes, that’s right, seeking asylum is not a crime. What do you say about that? Sometimes big issues are easier to cope with on the news than they are individually. And I’m not ashamed to say I struggle with this particular issue.
But I finally did, and I’m glad I did. I wanted to, and I know I am not the only one, but the idea that one more person in a country you’ve technically not yet been, but who now determines your fate, actually gives a shit about you, and wants to try to change the laws so you can finally be free would make a difference to me. Hope is an awesome kind of magic, isn’t it?
And there’s something about hand written letters that have never lost their magic for me, not since the very first time I learned the art of it, and sent a letter to my Grandma and Grandpa, whose replies I still have. They come complete, charge with our time and effort and consideration, something personal, something tangible. If you haven’t yet, or aren’t aware of the campaign, I encourage you to work a little magic for an asylum seeker. Sow a little bit of hope, extend a little kindness to a stranger, exercise your hospitality, and help transform Xenophobic Australia into Xenial Australia.
- Find details on GetUp! Letters to asylum seekers,
- or, go straight to the source at Julian Burnside’s website.
- And whilst you’re letter writing, check out his page Letter writing project: forcing politicians to be honest about Australia’s refugee policy and human rights. And write to a Liberal or Labor MP or Senator and show them Australians do not think the current set up is acceptable. There are also very clear instructions and helpful hints on the page.
- And, if you would like to read more about the issue, there are many resources available on Julian Burnside’s home page.
Until the laws change, until the current situation for asylum seekers coming to Australia changes, it is never going to be too late to say “hey, we haven’t forgotten you.”
P.S. ‘X’ is for “Xenial Australia”. This post participates with the Pagan Blog Project 2014.