Eric Hodgens. Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns.

Mar 24, 2016

Easter brings Easter eggs and hot cross buns. You see the egg and dart pattern on the frieze of some Victorian-period buildings. But it goes way back to classical times. The eternal question – life or death.

Two men looked out through the prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.

Malcolm Turnbull assures us “It’s never been a better time to be an Australian”. But Tony Abbott effectively tells us to be alert AND alarmed. George Pell’s motto is “Don’t Be Afraid” making you wonder what is he afraid of? In our darker moments we fear he may be right. They’re out to get us.

It is not the best time to be a Syrian even though history tells us that Aleppo has seen golden days. Tamils in Sri Lanka and Rohingyas in Burma see mud rather than stars. But don’t come uninvited to Australia because you will end up in Nauru. The scene is hopeless.

The Middle East is a cauldron of aggression, hate and revenge. Israel is fear-driven despite being miles ahead of its hostile neighbours in the arms race. Solution: build even more settlements on Palestinian land. Compound past mistakes. Yemen has been ripped apart for years by a proxy war. Egypt’s dictators radicalised the Muslim Brotherhood. Remember the Iranian martyrs blessed by the ayatollah. Then came Hezbollah in Lebanon. Then Hamas in Palestine. Hostility notching ever higher. Offense breeds reprisal and the cauldron heats up a bit more. The scene is hopeless.

Second generation North African migrants in France and Belgium, boiling with fear and anger, bring death to European cities. Deep, burning resentment for past wrongs – felt now. There’s always a deep reason when lives are put on the line. The scene seems hopeless.

Australia has its own disaffected youth. Apex gangs run riot in Melbourne and grim faced civic leaders talk of the “full force of the law”. What next? “Three strikes and you’re out”? No problem falling back on a discredited tactic as long as it slakes a thirst for revenge and drums up a few votes from a confused crowd. Like France, we have welcomed these youngsters in, but have not been diligent enough educating them and getting them jobs. We seem to be institutionalising disadvantage.

The USA’s poor are destitute – and are not happy. Those on middle incomes have had stagnant wages for decades. They are not happy, blame Washington and take it out on them by voting for the Tea Party. Wealthy Republicans are the only ones getting richer. But they want more – and are not happy. America’s military is the greatest in the world, but not very good at winning wars. It’s a bit tired of fighting now. But Mike Moore still asks “Where to invade next?” Fear you can’t do anything about it breeds hopelessness.

Donald Trump wants to make America great again. A big man with a big stick and a big voice. We’ll use the stick and we will do what it takes. Bring back the water board. What next? Crank up the Enola Gay? Don’t laugh. That’s the direction that rhetoric takes you.

Hope seems lost. Read the Brussels bomber’s despairing “will”. You want to hit back at unfair manipulators. But, if you do, you make it worse.

Nelson Mandela seemed to have an answer. Let’s talk. Let truth and justice set the record straight rather than getting even. Burma’s National League for Democracy has old campaigners back in the ranks after years of unjust imprisonment. True Buddhists, they believe that anger makes you suffer more than the oppressor. We live to fight another day. That’s another answer.

Easter brings us Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns. The cross is always there – sometimes worse than others. When will it ever end? But when the egg hatches we have life anew. Some believe it. Some can’t.

Easter is a vote for hope.

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