Aussie Life

Aussie Life

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

27 November 2021

9:00 AM

Koalas & babies

When Covid first hit the news nearly two years ago the Save the Children Fund ran an advertisement that reported 30,000 ‘unnecessary’ child deaths worldwide, per day, from poor nutrition and bad water. Per day! You don’t need the back of an envelope to do the maths: the annual total takes the breath away. It far exceeds even the highest estimate of Covid-related deaths.

They don’t run that ad very often.  Maybe they haven’t got the funds, or perhaps they think that their money is better spent on fixing the problem rather than proclaiming it. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on that score. But whatever the reason it’s clear that a lot more is being spent to save the koala from possible extinction and a lot more effort is going into the campaign to save the world from the putative effects of rising seas and carbon dioxide levels.

I’m not here entering into the debate on the effects of climate change, but I do detest child abuse wherever and however it manifests itself, and I shudder at the blindness, whether innocent or wilful, of those who target only the lusts of old men, but for the most part ignore the other horrors that occur in their many thousands every single day. Yes, sexual offenders should be targetted, and we should sternly punish them and do all we can to ensure that such crimes never recur. But you can abuse children passively, by inactivity or sloth or selfishness, by choosing not to see or just not caring.


I had hoped that the threat of Covid might make us kinder. That a growing sense of uncertainty and risk in our privileged world might open our hearts a little more to the sufferings of others. That when we said – as we did over and over again – ‘we’re all in this together’, or ‘we’ll come through this’, we might have taken a slightly broader view of what it means to be human. I assumed that the brief of the World Health Organisation might extend to children and that catastrophic hunger and physical deprivation might actually be seen as some kind of a health issue. But it does not appear to be the major preoccupation of that distinguished body and I can’t find any evidence that the daily death toll among the undernourished has significantly declined.

Let’s dare to look more closely at another form of abuse. There was a time when we could persuade ourselves that an unborn child was just a thing, a piece of its mother’s tissue. We now know that’s not true. Trust ‘the Science’:  late-term abortion is a cruel, monstrous and supremely abusive practice. You can find out what that procedure entails if you really try, but the mainstream media won’t help you. Many will speak up for the koala that finds its habitat threatened, but few will go to the barricades for the unwanted baby. In a university application for $2.3 million funding for foetal harvesting in 2016, we read that ‘labour induction will be used to obtain the tissue’ in order to guarantee the ‘freshness’ of foetal kidneys. This means that the foetus is delivered alive and the organs are extracted with no anaesthesia while the heart is beating and blood is circulating. A society that allows that has lost its moral compass.

We’re not living in a fascist or communist dictatorship, and there’s no Hitler or Stalin in evidence – yet – to chivvy us along to that degraded state, but there are dangerous signs of our growing subservience to the diktats of powerful governments that claim to offer us protection amidst the virtual silence of many in the mainstream media who give little quarter to those who speak against the prevailing narrative, and who fail to ask the really hard questions. Do we need more investigative journalists? Yes, as never before! There are some good ones out there, but not nearly enough. Governments are getting away with too much. And powerful lobby groups (I’m not even going to mention drug cartels!) push their own barrows and are listened to only too well. To those with a simple knowledge of history this is perilous state of affairs.

So we continue to pick small, manageable targets for our opprobrium. We pull down statues, but don’t storm the embassies of those countries that still blink at slavery. We want clean air and water, but don’t turn off our lights and air conditioners; if we’re Victorians we even applaud our government’s decision to order 51,000 air purifiers so that schools can be safer for our own children. And while all this is going on we ignore or connive at the deaths of countless more.

In the 1830s and 1840s the Royal Navy stamped out the slave trade in the western hemisphere at the cost of many sailors’ lives on the malaria-ridden West Africa Station. In our own time Australian troops have suffered and died in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some question the rightness of the causes they defended, but none doubt their bravery. We humans are capable of boundless generosity and nobility.

Yes, we should protect our koalas. But we don’t have to choose between our furry friends and the world’s children. We can and should save both.

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