Part 1: Neutrality

Claims of neutrality concerning serious issues are extremely common, and becoming more so, as we become increasingly disconnected with our Government, the implications of their policies and truth itself.

Neutrality is on the rise.

This is understandable as it becomes more difficult to uncover truth or balanced commentary and reporting. In the confusion of the ‘war on information’, it rapidly becomes an attractive option to claim a position of neutrality. We have all heard claims of neutrality concerning the war in Iraq, the Palestine-Israel conflict, or the Tasmanian forest industry, for example.

However, the vast majority of people who claim, or even believe they are neutral, are caught in a dangerous illusion. Neutrality in a conflict where there is a major imbalance of power, is not neutrality, it is support of the greater power. If you saw five men attacking a girl in the street, neutrality would in reality, be to support the five men.

To claim neutrality regarding the war in Iraq is to support the Coalition of the Willing. Nothing is more useful for the ‘Coalition of the Lying’ than neutral citizens. So called ‘peace activists’ claiming neutrality over the Palestine-Israel conflict, effectively support Israel. Likewise, concerning the Tasmanian forest industry, despite the argument of the five men that they were going to put the $10 from the boy’s pocket to good use, to be neutral in this conflict is to support the Laborial-Gunns Coalition of the Destructive. You can be neutral in theory, or by ideology, but rarely in reality.

It is generally considered that being neutral is the easy option, this is not true. Everyone knows sitting on a fence for too long gets uncomfortable. But people always search for neutrality, despite the negative implications for society and individual. It perhaps leads to a less complicated life than being informed, forming opinions or supporting causes. As the Tasmanian forest controversy illustrates, the problem doesn’t just occur in human to human conflict, but also with the conflict between humans and the environment.

The environment is the most defenceless against the excesses of human consumerism and games of power and wealth. How can you be neutral in a situation where one side cannot defend itself? The only thing that can slow this destruction is the efforts and persistence of those not obsessed by personal riches, and those not numb from sitting on the fence. Sadly, this group of people are like the boy up against the men, but remember David and Goliath.

The sad thing is neutralists, through searching for neutrality, become the greatest supporters of the greater power. They are greater supporters than the open supporters of the greater power. The neutralists do not have the slight differences of opinion often held by supporters of a cause that complicate matters and restrict unity, and they are not subject to scrutiny or debate, which can reveal flaws. Silence and inaction is the perfect support for any great power.

Balance is created by the shifting of weight on either side of the centre. Opposing views create security against ‘extreme’ actions, not neutrality. Neutrality facilitates unbalance.

So with the illusion of being neutral you may actually be supporting the stronger side. Being truly neutral then requires considerable effort, a contradiction to the more common view that it requires considerable apathy. You must seek balanced information, by seeking the different sides of any argument, there are always at least two, and then establish what you consider to be the balance of this varied information. Then if you truly feel being neutral is not in fact supporting the stronger side so be it. This process should also be carried out by those who want to hold a strong opinion on something to justify their views. You may also find that to be truly neutral you should offer some form of support to the weaker side to help address the imbalance, helping to create a situation where neutrality is possible.

It should be noted that to get the view of the more powerful side you generally need not seek, you are constantly bombarded with it in the popular media. To get the views of the less powerful you must often search very hard, for two primary reasons; 1) power is required to get heard, and 2) the greater power can make it very difficult for the lesser power to be heard.

This is not another ‘us or them’ statement. It a question: are most claims of neutrality really valid?

James Dryburgh   was born in Alexandria, Scotland (between Glasgow and Loch Lomond).  He moved to Tasmania in 1987, “when I was almost six. My mother is Tasmanian, my father is Scottish. I think I am about 50% each way. I lived in Devonport until I was 17 and went to university. I did a Bachelor of Science, majoring in environmental science and zoology, partly at the University of Tasmania (Hobart) and the University of Stirling (Scotland). I then did my Masters of Environmental Planning at University of Tasmania. My Masters project was done over a year while I worked as a Town Planner for Devonport City Council. This consisted of creating vegetation and forest management controls for Local Government Planning Schemes. The proposal is now part of the Devonport and Environs Planning Scheme. In early 2005 I went to Cornwall, England, to work and live as a volunteer at The Monkey Sanctuary. A place that gives quality of life to monkeys who have been victims of the pet trade in the UK. Mid 2005 I took a job for four months for Clackmannanshire Council in central Scotland, to help write their new sustainability policies. Then in November I moved to Madrid, where I now work as an English Teacher and Cambridge English Examiner.  I love nature, culture and thinking about how things are and could be.”

James Dryburgh

The environment is the most defenceless against the excesses of human consumerism and games of power and wealth. How can you be neutral in a situation where one side cannot defend itself? The only thing that can slow this destruction is the efforts and persistence of those not obsessed by personal riches, and those not numb from sitting on the fence. Sadly, this group of people are like the boy up against the men, but remember David and Goliath.