5th August 2016, 04:09
"What Has Happened To Our Community?"
Sharing my short story for those who are interested. It was entered into a local creative writing competition - didn't win but I enjoyed the brief distraction from my current journey. It was a lovely experience to practice, one aspect of my Teaching skills. Please enjoy and I always welcome feedback. The winning entry will be posted on the Leeton NSW Library webpage.
What Has Happened To Our Community?
The community meeting has been convened due to the overwhelming voice of concern from the local people. Tension was clearly in the air. It had to be addressed before violent behaviour erupted, into the full force of what could only be referred to as a clash of cultures. The threat of violence hung in the air and not unlike the trigger of a firearm, one gentle squeeze would be all that would be required to see real damage ensue. What could have been done to relieve the tension and allow a community to live together quietly and calmly? No one knew for sure what could be achieved but the meeting was at the very least an option to be explored.
I decided to sit in a vacant seat located midway down the hall and on the extreme right. The vacant seat was the last one in that row and if I had to leave in a hurry I could make my way without having t push past the people sitting alongside me. I felt uneasy and suddenly wondered whether I should have come at all. I decided that being ignorant and pretending that there was not any problem was not an alternative. I thought that if there was anyway to overcome a community problem, then surely a sensible and ordered meeting would bring out questions and responses and an eventual compromise. Compromise, there is a word that should bring about a sense of calm but knowing that strong willed people were involved in the situation at hand, it now appeared that the matter was on the brink of erupting into something negative. The meeting might work or it might make the situation worse.
The member of our community who had arranged the meeting stood up and asked everyone to please be seated. He stood tall and appeared confident. He was at the far end of the hall and once he had spoken, the people already present quietened themselves and those entering quickly sat down in nearby vacant seats. I glanced around the hall and noted familiar faces and faces of those I did not know at all. I had lived in my community all my life and had never witnessed anything like the gathering, that I now attended. I knew I was not the only lifelong resident in attendance.
The man who had arranged the meeting spoke again. He asked everyone to please pay attention and to allow the meeting to commence. Unable to help myself I glanced around the hall again and noted that all the seats were taken. The tension seemed to abate slightly, as the focus was placed on the man speaking. As he continued to speak he mentioned the tensions that had brought us together. I sensed the tension return to the atmosphere in the community hall. I thought briefly about the history of the community hall and could not recall anything even similar to what was happening in front of me, beside me, around me and of which I had chosen to be a part.
It soon became obvious that racial and religious cultures were the topic of discussion. Would the community hall soon erupt into a loud and violent argument or would it be orderly and polite? I would find an answer to my thoughts and questions soon.
The tall and straight backed man at the end of the hall read from a piece of paper in his hand: Racial slurs not provoked. Religious ideals not shared. Community concern at what is happening. Are newcomers welcome? Newcomers to our community take on gainful employment, open businesses and participate in community gatherings. They donate to charities. These are a few of the main issues of concern. The man who had just read the list of issues from the piece of paper in his hand, invited the gathered citizens to commence civilised and polite discussion centered on the issues at hand.
"The religious zealots want to dominate our way of life" stated a woman who stood up when she started to speak. She was wearing a mini skirt and a tight fitting blouse. She directs her gaze and comments to a man who is robed in black and wears a distinctive hat. He is accompanied by another person, who is also robed in completely in black and instead of a hat, wears a distinctive covering that permits only the eyes to be seen. I assumed that the eyes belonged to his wife or sister or maybe his daughter.
The man wearing the black robe stands up and directs his gaze to the woman in the mini skirt. He raises his hand as he stands, as if seeking permission to speak. He states; "We do not seek to dominate." His voice was calm but when he repeated the comment, "We do not seek to dominate." His voice contained anger. I could see the discussion not getting off to a very good start. I was glad I had thought to sit in a seat that provided me with a quick exit, if that became necessary.
Suddenly a voice from the rear of the hall could be heard to state; "This meeting is not going to achieve anything." I turned around and saw a young man, possibly around the age of twenty. He was wearing a leather jacket without sleeves and had tattoos on his arms. I was too far away to read what looked like words that formed part of the artwork he wore on his body. It was what he stated next that took my complete attention and by the sound of the gasp that emanated from the entire assembly hall, he had garnered the undivided attention of all present.
"Respect is what is needed here. Stop using the word race and stop using the word religion. Those words are what have caused the problems that brought us here tonight." You could have heard a pin drop. Complete silence.
Much Peace & Much Respect - Amanda
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5th August 2016, 07:18