Every night when I go to sleep with an intention to wake up in the morning with a message for my daily journal. So far so good….. this morning I wasn’t as clear about the words but the sense of what I woke up with was one of control versus individual freedom and was left pondering…. but at what cost?
I wrote an Honours thesis about the rights of Aboriginal groups in the Murray Darling Basin to Cultural Flows. A term that encompasses the right for Aboriginal Traditional Owners along the Murray Darling Basin to take water for both economic and cultural purposes. The government never really allowed for Cultural Flows even though their policy was one that advocated Self Determination for Aboriginal People. The Government seemed happy enough with the idea of catering for environmental flows but not cultural and economic Indigenous Rights. However, even with some allowance for environmental flows the health of the Murray Darling Basin suffered and still suffers badly at the expense of Economic Policy and Big Business.
Another issue that was highlighted in my thesis was the use of remote control water management systems to manage the flow of the rivers. To Aboriginal People, whose knowledge and relationship to country is intimate, the idea of someone in a major city controlling their water ways from hundred’s of miles away is absurd. To have a relationship with Country is to know country and to Aboriginal People, country and people are not separate. Remote control measures may have been able to control water flow but they certainly couldn’t measure or control what was most important to people, the health of the waterways. Its not rocket science, healthy waterways = healthy people.
In the same way, the Corona Virus is highlighting the use of remote control technology to support Government agendas. The use of technology to monitor the movement of people in the wake of Corona Virus, is to me like herding people with a remote control cattle prong. It will have a sting at the end if people wander outside the perimeter of what is considered the “rules of engagement”. At some point there has to be consideration for the well being of people at levels of intimacy, of their individual needs and responsibilities.
One of the lessons of Corona virus is that of self responsibility – for both Governments and individuals. I believe that the Government do have a role to play but so do we. We all need to take responsibility for the health of the environment, which equals the health of the people. Government have a responsibility to ensure their policies allow for this and currently the Corona virus is taking precedence but what about the big picture?
Government should be aiming their fire at the big picture issues and addressing them through correct policy. They should be investing in environmental problems like global warming, acid rain, air pollution, urban sprawl, waste disposal, ozone layer depletion, water pollution, climate change and many more which affect every human, animal and nation on this planet and which were the cause of the pandemic we now face.
As individuals each one of us also has a role to play in being mindful of the health advice we are being given re social isolation to prevent the spread of the disease but at the end of the day this is a symptom to a much larger underlying problem that we all have a responsibility for. Until we realise that nothing is separate, that as humans we are not separate from the environment, that its health is our health, we will continue to face pandemics into the future. Is this what we would wish upon our children and the Indigenous People who have for tens of thousands of years been the caretakers of this wonderful planet?
We each have something to learn from the way Indigenous People relate to the environment and that their intimate understanding of the environment includes an understanding that all of life is sacred and that everything is connected.
If Big Brother continues to focus control and spending on individuals rather than making real and meaningful long term change, not only does it remove their responsibility but it also takes self responsibility away from us. This is one of the most valuable lessons that we are all meant to be learning right now. Short term reactive solutions may lead to an immediate reprieve but our focus needs to be on sustainability and transformation of practices that cause dis-ease, not only for us but also for the future generations of this planet.