Perspective is a Good Thing When Someone Lets The Radicals Out of the Barn

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An Australian group just went too far.

We have been consumed with the fate of the “Bali Nine,” which is the name given to a group of Australians who  attempted to smuggle drugs into Indonesia.  They were caught with 8.3 kg (18 lb) of heroine with a street value of 4 million.

That happened in 2005.  What followed was a merry-go-round of sentencing, all in keeping with Indonesian law, and then tons of appeals, back and forth, and the final outcome where today two of the men are expected to be executed (shot) any day now.

The families of the two young men are devastated and outraged.  Both of the men are indeed sorry for their actions and have, according to many witnesses, transformed their lives and had become assets in the jails where they were housed.

Australians want their lives spared.

The problem is that Australia is very vocal in warning people against carrying drugs into foreign countries and stories of those who have been caught, and jailed, heavily populate major news.  Australia has a fantastic website with all kinds of specific warnings and advice on most countries for people who travel.

No-one can claim they had no idea how dangerous it could be to try and smuggle drugs, just like no-one who drives a car drunk these days can claim they did not know it was against the law.

  1. Smuggling drugs is not just illegal in Indonesia, it is illegal here.  This was not some new obscure law.
  2. Indonesia’s laws regarding drugs have been forefront in the news and are documented on government websites AND this was not their first trip to the country.
  3. They admit they had smuggled before and we can assume, had they not been caught, they would have done it again.
  4. These men are not the victims.  The victims are the people they enslave by being part of the drug culture.

I feel terrible for the families of the men.  I have compassion for the men.  But I also consider that the families had to know their sons had money way beyond their jobs.  I do not even live in the same country as my kids but I would certainly know if they were spending money and travelling etc beyond their current situations.  I don’t even know how much money my kids all make specifically, but I would know.  I wonder if those families were as concerned and involved when they saw their sons with unexplained money, as they are now?

The fact these men have changed and have become assets to the system that now houses them is wonderful.  That should be its own reward.  They, and their parents, can be proud of that.  Sadly, some people, even in situations as difficult as this, do not take the experience and grow from it.  The fact the experience has changed them is not a bargaining chip and using it as such suggests perhaps that was the point, instead of being a true transformation.  Nice people exist even without tragedy to force them.    We don’t provide them with special privilege.  They are still subject to the same laws as everyone else.  If anything, we expect more from them because they have the capacity for empathy, that being, that they can understand how their actions impacted others.  If these men have gained that perspective, their new found “kindness” should spur them to feelings of shame and guilt for their actions, and not requests to avoid the consequences.

Perhaps that is exactly what is happening.  I don’t know.  None of us can really know.

So here we are.  Australia became outraged and our Prime Minister and others begged, tried to make deals, and threatened Indonesia.  If some other country was trying to tell us how to carry out our judicial system we would not be happy.  Each country has the right to their own laws and if you are going to travel to that country, you are bound by them.  If that is a concern, don’t go to that country.

Indonesia responded by telling Australia exactly that, to back off.  They responded to the threats by saying they too could make our lives miserable and that we might have more to lose than they do.  In short, they were reminding us that the relationship between our countries is symbiotic.  And it is.

Now we have people running around Australia talking about the “threats” that Indonesia made to Australia, waving the Islam card and all the fear and terror they can throw on that camel.  Their answer is to insist  we need to arm all Australian citizens.  THAT was the final straw for me.

Indonesia did not threaten us in a vacuum.

There are conflicts in the world that are real.  And there are many uneducated, uninformed, people who are jumping in on this without any real concept of what they are fighting, or of the damage they are causing.  The noise from the people who have gone off the deep end, using every little scrap of anything to fuel the raging fire, is deafening.  Those who are still sane, who are reading, listening, seeing, thinking . . . are far too quiet to even be heard.

We have to speak up.

Reactionary responses of calls to arm, or violence, in response to situations, are dangerous even when the situation is real.  THIS is not a situation that we should even involve ourselves in now, let alone arm every Australian.  Indonesia is not the enemy in this story.  Drugs are.  Instead of arming yourselves, teach your kids about the dangers of drugs, about the dangers of travelling to foreign countries with drugs.  Teach them about obeying the law.  Teach them about respect for other cultures and for one another.  Teach them that money does not buy happiness and give them a life that provides them with substance that does not require the victimization of other human beings.

It was bad enough when these men broke the law, were caught and disgraced their families and country.  That our attention and energy has been focused on saving criminals instead of the thousands of innocent victims of other crimes and even war is pretty pathetic.  If the fallout of this ends up being the established ties between two countries, resulting in further violence and possible war, would be an incredible tragedy.  I cannot be the only one who is suggesting we have lost perspective here and that there is a place where we take responsibility, act with integrity and respect, and learn a valuable lesson from an incredibly tragic event.  But please, let’s not make these men the victims, martyrs or an excuse for us to take up arms.

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