Guide to Surviving Christmas: How to Speak Up for Social Justice
22 December 2016 at 9:10 am
Not looking forward to a Christmas gathering where the conversation could heat up or turn ugly on issues around immigration, refugees or climate change? Well help is at hand.
Human rights advocacy organisation, the Edmund Rice Centre has released a Guide to Surviving Christmas: How to Speak up for Social Justice this Christmas.
Director of the Edmund Rice Centre Phil Glendenning told Pro Bono Australia News the guide was developed to help people respond to statements of misinformation about social justice, human rights and eco-justice issues this festive season.
“There has been a significant amount of misinformation spread this year about immigration, Muslims, climate change and Indigenous Australians, especially in the media and from extremist politicians,” Glendenning said.
“Given what’s gone on in the last 12 months, particularly in the United Kingdom and with the rise of Donald Trump and with people saying we are living in the post-truth era, a lot of the things that we are dealing with, particularly issues of refugees and migrants, [have seen] a lot of myths circulating.
“Many of us will be spending time this Christmas and holiday season with people who like to recite what they hear on talkback radio or in the tabloid press, even if the statements are incorrect.
“Often people will repeat those and so we have tried to put on the record some facts as to how people might be able to respond respectfully and not get into a blue.
“They are hot topics that have been made hotter by some of the inflammatory language that has been around that has hurt people. So what we have tried to do is to say is you can talk about the issues but it’s got to be done in a respectful way and you have also got to be informed by the facts not by prejudice and bigotry.”
Glendenning said the Edmund Rice Centre was committed to the promotion of human rights, social justice and eco-justice through research, community education, advocacy and networking.
“We work very closely with Indigenous people, refugees and asylum seekers and with people who are specifically facing climate change,” he said.
“We should never forget that at the heart of the Christmas story is a Middle Eastern family seeking refuge. Christmas is also a timely reminder that after his birth, Jesus and his family were forced to flee their homeland and take refuge in Egypt – a strange land where people spoke another language and worshipped different gods.”
He said the guide provided responses to some of the common myths that have been spread throughout 2016.
Myth: Muslims don’t speak out against terrorism.
Response: This is not true. The Muslim community always condemns terror attacks and Muslim leaders, including the Grand Mufti, condemn ISIL. The vast majority of people who have been attacked by ISIL have been Muslim. The Muslim community is actively working with police and other law enforcement and security agencies to combat radicalisation. Even deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has rejected this myth.
Other Myths include:
Immigration, Refugees and Race
- “Muslims are terrorists… Muslims support terrorism… Muslims don’t speak out against terrorism…” Read the suggested response.
- “Boat people are queue jumpers.” Read the suggested response.
- “Refugees are illiterate, innumerate and will steal our jobs.” Read the suggested response.
- “Asylum seekers get more government assistance than pensioners.” Read the suggested response.
- “Boat people are illegal immigrants…or economic migrants.” Read the suggested response.
- “The boats have stopped and this saves lives at sea.” Read the suggested response.
- “Climate change is a hoax…It is not caused by humans…Global warming actually stopped 15 years ago.” Read the suggested response.
- “The Great Barrier Reef is fine. The threat is being exaggerated.” Read the suggested response.
- “Attempts to curb emissions are cruel and expensive.” Read the suggested response.
- “Renewable energy is too unreliable… Reliance on wind energy caused the South Australia blackout this year.” Read the suggested response.
- “There is no definition of Aboriginal.” Read the suggested response.
- “Aboriginal people need to take responsibility for their own lives.” Read the suggested response.
- “There is no need to change the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We’re all Australians and the recognition discussion is divisive.” Read the suggested response.
- “We don’t need a treaty – a nation does not make a treaty with itself.” Read the suggested response.
The guide also includes tips to help people keep conversations constructive and avoid arguments:
- Acknowledge the issue or concern behind the statement. We just have different ways of approaching the issues and finding solutions.
- Imagine the issue from the person’s perspective. We’re asking people to see life from a different perspective so let’s start with a look at the issue from their point of view.
- Assume the best intentions from everyone. Most people are just trying to live a good and peaceful life in the company of our families, hoping to leave a healthy, prosperous earth behind to benefit future generations.
- Help them walk a mile in another’s shoes. Perhaps start with how you would respond to a situation. What would they do in the same circumstance?
- Try not to argue, but gently offer another side to the coin.