It’s May 20th, which has been one of those spectacular autumnal days in Melbourne that lull me into believing it’s safe to leave the washing on the line – never trust Melbourne weather!
Today is significant for a number of countries – it’s Camaroon’s National Day (celebrating its peaceful transfer from France in 1960 and unitary statehood – via transition from British Trusteeship to federation – in 1972), and it’s Independence Day for both Cuba (from the US in 1902) and East Timor (from Indonesia, precisely a century later).
And in Cambodia today is the Day of Remembrance, where Cambodians commemorate and bear witness to the excesses and brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime. First launched in 1984, eight years after the Khmer Rouge initiated mass killing in the democratic Kampuchea, “Day of Remembrance” is a sanitised version of the original title: “Day of Hatred Against the Genocidal Pol-Pot-Ieng Sary-Khieu Samphan Clique and the Sihanouk_Son Sann Reactionary Groups.” That Westernised translation is apparently a little more forceful than the original – a better interpretation would be “Day of Maintaining Rage,” which is a more appropriate segue.
Let me be clear – I’m not comparing our democratically (if – in my opinion – misguidedly) elected government with the despotic and totalitarian Khmer Rouge, and not just because one is uncomfortably Right and the other waaaaaaaaay over there to the Left.
But I think that, if we don’t remember, bear witness, and maintain our rage then we risk entropy, inertia and apathy, and that results in an electorate quite comfortable forgetting the recent past and focusing instead on election promises and track records in the lead up to voting. I have no doubt that the Liberal Party party will splash money about in the second half of 2014, will make no end of lovely-sounding commitments to infrastructure, health and education, and will trumpet the notion that they’re fiscally responsible.
That will come to a head 923 days from today (spoiler alert: by May 30th it’ll be under the 30-month mark!). Our duty is to remind the electorate that our health system functions because nurses – not Mr Baillieu and Mr Davis – prioritised care over cash, patient welfare over our own well-being, investing in the future of our profession and the system over short-term gains and expediency.
For anyone interested in learning a little more about the National Day of Hatred and the associated problems of resulting institutional vilification, the link has a brief introduction: Hate to remember and remember to hate
Note: this entry was originally posted on the ANF (Vic. branch)’s Facebook page on 20/5/12