A Duty to Our Children

My name is Josie Young, I am a writer, a community worker, an activist and a lover of all things chocolate and coffee related. More importantly however I am a mother, I have a son named Mandela.

As a mother I want to make sure that everything I do – the words I write, the food I cook, the causes I support – makes my son’s future brighter. In 2014, I decided I would start this blog as another forum through which I can fight for the future that my son deserves.

One day, in the future, my five year old son Mandela will look at the world and ask me, “Mama, how could you have stood by and done nothing in the face of such injustices?”

When that day comes, I hope I will be able to answer him.

Mandela will be referring to the demonization of asylum seekers, the neglect of women and children in conflict zones around the world, homelessness in Australia, the exploitation of child soldiers globally, and the desperate poverty that so many people still suffer.

Mandela will say, “Mama, we learned at school that there is enough food and medicine in the world for everyone. If kids know this, then the Australian Government and the voters in Australia must also know this. You must therefore know how to fix the problems.” Mandela will then want to know, “Why did all the Mums and Dads in Australia let all this bad stuff keep happening?”

When Mandela asks me this I want to give him a better answer than “Um…. because it was too hard to talk about,” or “it wasn’t my job….”

I believe that every man, woman and child on this earth is equally deserving of opportunity, love, security and identity, and I have always endeavoured to pass this belief onto my son. Unfortunately, as Mandela will soon learn, these basic human rights are not being provided for too many people across the planet. I also believe that everything we do in Australia is connected to the rest of the world, whether it is:

  • The shoes we buy, which were manufactured overseas, profiting international corporations; or
  • The technology we use which made from minerals mined in Africa, profiting rebel groups; or
  • The petrol we fill our cars with coming from oil fields soaked with the blood of our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Australians profit enormously from our neighbours overseas, but often we lack the capacity to see their sufferings as our own. We somehow fail to see our obligation to serve and assist, particularly when it comes to accepting refugees and asylum seekers. I believe this is because we are not aware of who these people are, the lives they have lived, or the histories we share. I understand that the pictures we see daily in the media often cast fear into our hearts. They lead us to believe that we will be disadvantaged by the intake of humanitarian entrants, or telling us that people are arriving ‘illegally’ or are ‘receiving huge governments pay outs.’ All of which is quite untrue. And contributes to a hostile global environment in which people cannot live and grow freely and equally.

This is, in short, why I write. I hope and pray that once Australians understand and are open to the diversity and unique challenges faced by our neighbours, then perhaps we might be able to build a future Australia which is more compassionate and outward thinking.

As parents, we have the unique privilege and duty to be a part of creating a better tomorrow for our children. By teaching our children compassion, understanding and critical thinking we provide them with the tools they need to make the world the wonderful place it could be. I hope that by writing and talking more about the issues that matter to humanity – I say humanity, rather than “Australia”, because I firmly believe we are members of a global community and can no longer hide behind national boundaries/national interests when it comes to social justice – the I can in some way influence the discussion and change that will make Mandela’s future brighter.

Mandela, and every other child on earth, deserves a bright future. As Mandela's mother, it is my obligation to ensure Mandela's future, which includes, fighting for a more just world for him to grow in.

Mandela, and every other child on earth, deserves a bright future. As Mandela’s mother, it is my obligation to ensure Mandela’s future, which includes, fighting for a more just world for him to grow in.

Mandela was watching a slide show I had put together about development overseas. Mandela loved the music, and referred to the children in photograph as “my friends.”

When I write, my words do not come from a religious place, nor do they have an agenda other than to promote cross-cultural understanding and hope for a better tomorrow. Due to the nature of some of the topics discussed however, religion is often mentioned.

Josie Young holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Public Policy (2007), and a Masters of International and Community Development (2009).

5 thoughts on “A Duty to Our Children”

  1. Tony brennan said:

    More strength to your arm Josie. A mother’s can reach around the world. Catch you for coffee and chocolate soon

  2. Josie -. You completely fail to address the role religion plays in the rise in numbers of people seeking asylum and the role it played in supporting slavery itself (not to mention the KKK). And censoring any comments from your blog that don’t suit your story will not help your son’s cause at all. The real mamma Mandela would never have been so weak. She stood up for what she believed in. She was tortured, placed under house arrest, exiled from her town and spent 12 months in solitary confinement to protect what she believed in. She didn’t censor it. And it is likely she breast fed several children whilst working.

    If current trends are extrapolated your son will grow up to believe that Catholicism was your weakness. This is a statistical truth. The west is trending to secularism because of the role religion plays in the oppression of women and the rise of asylum seekers numbers to almost 50 million.

    The staunchly religious have got to be one of the cruellest subsections of society I have ever encountered. They oppress women (if you do not agree then you have not read your bible). They are cruel to gays, and the terminally ill (wanting a dignified death) and cruel to women wanting abortions. It is only the religious who protest outside abortion clinics. Why is this? Because they are control freaks with their rules and regulations about who is a nice fit for religion and who isn’t. Atheists don’t hang around catholic churches begging the religious to have as many abortions as they can so that the rest of us might live a life free of religion and the cruelty it dishes out. You may think yourself a moderate (not extreme). To me, there is no such thing. If you do not have personal knowledge of where every cent you have donated to the catholic church has gone – then you are an accessory to anything that has been done with it (supporting a corrupt Vatican or paying for a bomb in Ireland – do you even know?).

    Mother Theresa denied the sick and dying pain relief – all in the name of religion. And not only that, she pretended it was because it would bring them closer to god. What a croc! Anyone who has had significant pain in their life knows that the last thing on people’s minds when they are in pain is religion. And it wasn’t because there was enough money. She had $50 million in the bank when she died. No – like all religious people. She was just cruel and misguided.

    Is not Abbott a catholic? And cruel to boot. He would be the same as you. Any cruel act is in the name of religion – which somehow makes it ok. I don’t see it that way. Religion makes normally kind people do murderous things and they blame that behaviour on religion. eg Henry VIII’s daughter Mary was by all reports a pussy cat – wouldn’t hurt a fly. Well how is it that she found herself beheading/burning at the stake tens of thousands of non-catholics. Answer – religion made her do it. And you are no different. Your son will face racism and the religious are the kings of racism (America’s south). And how did they justify their belief that African-Americans were lesser human beings – with the bible of course.

    IMO (and to repeat Richard Dawkins)to even introduce this cruel belief system and the requisite hell threats and punishments to a five year old is child abuse because you are putting the fear of a fantasy and a threat into the head of a small child who is not even close to being old enough to understand. My childhood would have been a hell of a lot happier if religion had never been forced on me.

    The best thing we can do for asylum seekers is to secularise our government once and for all. That is the only way to welcome refugees from all corners of the world, bring them into our country, support them and let us all live happily side by side. Without religion, our differences would be very few (especially since the rest of the world has brought us great food).

    So I would not blame all catholics or all muslims. That would not be fair. No, the best thing to do when considering the oppression of women, slavery and denial of refugees asylum is to blame ALL religion and religious – even the moderates in their ignorance of the ACTUAL history of religion (the fact that Judaism, islam and Christianity are so similar they must be one and the same) are part of the problem. Think about it Josie (as someone who has marked uni papers – the diff between a distinction and a high distinction is the high distinction achiever is one who can perfectly reproduce the info out there PLUS apply their own mind to it ie be original. Think about the role you are playing in all this.

    • On December 12 2011 at approximately 7am I posted a status update on Facebook – “Last night a wise man told me that we are people first… And if we are good people then we can be good Muslims, Christians, Australians, etc… But we must be good people first.”

      Due to family commitments, which naturally must be my first priority, (otherwise I would be quite the hypocrite) this post will be brief. I have a cake to ice – because yes, I spent all day yesterday (and today) cooking – for my Grandmother’s Wake. Mandela is sad to have lost his Great Meema, and I have a hole inside me now, which I did not expect – though I will write more about that later – Grandma deserves more than what I am about to write. One thing I will say about her, is that she “had her own bloody think” (as she once famously said) and wasn’t one to let someone who doesn’t know her talk down to her or to make assumptions about who she was. So, as I said, this post is brief.

      I don’t know that I actually “need” to apologize for a “late” response to readers’ comments – I wasn’t aware there was a protocol – I would however like to thank the many people who have read this article and offered their support and constructive feedback. Furthermore, I do not “sensor” comments on my blog, but sadly, once again mainly due to family – I am Mama Mandela after all – I am not able to dedicate as much time to writing as I would like.
      The comments made on my piece “Us vs Them – Australia vs Asylum Seekers – Slaves vs Everyone Else: Is there are difference?” which relate to my ‘failure’ to address the role that religion plays in refugee flows appear to have been written by a person who did not read the article. The article was not about why people are running, who they are running from or indeed about religion at all. Although these are all fascinating topics which I have written about in the past, and hope to write more on in the future – I know you will be looking forward to reading them. My article is simply asking Australians to consider why it is that we are able to pawn off our responsibilities (and indeed any compassion we should be having as humans – not Muslims, not Catholics, not Atheists – but HUMANS) towards people who are ‘different’ to us (or rather, who we are told to believe are different to us).

      I could respond to your rants about how Catholics in general and Mother Theresa specifically did evil things to the poor and suffering, however, your comments, other than being inaccurate, were completely irrelevant to my piece. Naturally religion plays a part in global movement of humans – this can be both positive and negative. Religious teaching may also play a role in forming the ideas of both the people who do wonderful things and those who do awful things…. What plays a far greater role in the movement of humans and the actions of humans, however, is HUMANS. I started this post quoting a friend – who by the way, was a Iraqi asylum seeker who, whilst critically ill, was concerned about my son’s health and well-being – he said we have to be good humans – a good human could be a good Catholic, a good Muslim or a good Atheist – who cares? We are all human first.

      In terms of my own religion – which is not mentioned anywhere in this article, on my Facebook, or my blog, as I believe that it is personal (and as stated above not relevant to this article). I would like to offer those making assumptions about me – never, ever assume that you know what another person believes, and then use this as a basis to illustrate what you believe to be their failures, because it makes you look a fool when you are wrong.
      Perhaps you are Tasmanian and my family name might have given you a “clue” about my religion – but honestly – you are way off the mark.
      Also, I am called Mama Mandela because I am the mother of a child called Mandela – Winnie Mandela was MARRIED to a man called Mandela. Not relevant really, but anyways.

  3. From a bastion of conservatism your writings and thoughts are most thought-provoking…..I admit that I do admire and respect what you say even though I may not inherently adhere to all of it….Mandela is a cute chap….thanks Josie.

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