Saturday 19 February 2011

SOAPBLOG: Bryan Law - 30 years of trying to make change

In the Cairns political landscape, the name Bryan Law is synonymous with speaking out and stirring the pot. Almost every Cairns resident is familiar with his actions and activism.

The Cairns Post infamously called him a serial pest, from a cub journo who had run out of adjectives. Serial he may be, but I prefer to label Bryan a veteran activist.

Bryan has been arrested around 30 times now. He's lost count. He has got under the skin of politicians who have taken him to court. Love or loath Bryan Law, he is one who draws a strong following from all sides. One thing is for sure - he is no armchair critic. He stands up, speaks out and acts with passion, vigor and compelling non-violent action.

Bryan believes after 30 years of activism, he he nearing the end of his battles.

There is $6 Billion in this year's budget for acquiring new defence weapons - tanks, fighter/bombers, air warfare destroyers, drones, cruise missiles, satellites, networked electronic C3 systems - and $5 Billion to maintain existing weapons systems.

Expect the same each year for at least for the next 20 years. There is already $57 billion committed by the Rudd government over the next 20 years to the large weapons acquisitions, and the current Defence Capability plan Plan calls for $159 Billion worth of acquisition commitment by 2018. There's a call in a recent issue of The Australian for 12 nuclear powered attack submarines, at $2 Billion each, so we can “defend ourselves against China” - our bestest buddies and trading partners.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, we’ve gone back to a policy of blowing up houses and villages. In Vietnam we called them hamlets.

The money needed for disaster reconstruction, public transport, energy efficiency and community development is dwarfed by the defence budget, but, because we are now in a condition of perpetual war, the defence budget is sacrosanct. The Gillard government will be cutting family tax benefits, pensions, and renewable energy programs instead. Tony Abbott would do the same, or worse.

Voting, and electoral reform is not enough. Personal restrictions on our own energy use is not enough. Somehow we must build the countervailing force which can ameliorate the power of corporate $trillions, especially the power of that money to command government’s obedience. Parliament was created as a countervailing force on the divine right of Kings. Then it was further democratised by the guilds and landowners. Further again by citizens, suffragettes, and unionists. Most recently corporations have bought controlling interest in government, and used their PR capacity to render the citizenry passive. Governments use fear to reinforce passivity and powerlessness.

I’ve spent 30 years proving to myself that an ordinary citizen is able to deploy the power of non-violence effectively to move towards peace and social justice.

I’ve learned that getting a “Yes” from government isn’t enough. Government needs continual scrutiny and correction.

I follow Jesus, Gandhi, Dorothy Day and Dr King.

I’ve been given limited opportunities to organise collectively with others, and amplify that non-violence power to compel better behaviour from governments. The power that democratised Parliament still exists but is diffuse and uncoordinated.

On the whole I’d say that “our” biggest weakness is a lack of experience in cooperation and mutual aid in our political life. Gossip, jealousy, fear, and “better than” feelings disable us and make us smaller than we need to be.

I’m sorry about the length of this rave, but I’m reaching the end of my life.

I have perhaps four more years. So naturally I want to do the best I can with those years to pass on a legacy to my own son Joseph, and to the community in which I live. Out of my personal convictions the priority for action will be anti-militarism. I see militarism and war as the biggest blight on the planet.

The final public event I’ll attend in Cairns will be the ANZAC Eve vigil at the Esplanade Cenotaph on Easter Sunday 24th April. After this, I’m going to Rockhampton to prepare for and carry out a ploughshares action against a US warplane during Exercise Talisman Sabre.

After that I expect to spend the rest of my life either in prison, or carrying out further acts of disarmament. I feel like I’ve reached a place of calm clarity - OK there’s a bit of fear too, and I’ll be sad to be separated from my family. Persistence is king.

Before you dismiss all this as crazy talk, visit my website and check out the program.

I’m happy to talk with anyone about political empowerment up to 30 April, and I’d appreciate any citizen of good will who can turn up to the ANZAC Eve vigil on 24 April. There’ll be a lantern-making workshop for it at Digger Street Arts Collective on the weekend of 26th March (105 Digger Street). Bring food, performance, love and a positive attitude.

1 comment:

Bryan Outlaw said...

While you're publishing banana prices and worthless rants from Bryan Law, it seems that the real news is now over on the hillbilly blogger.