CLANCY TUCKER & HUMAN RIGHTS
Most of you probably know that I've been involved in human rights for decades. Well, today I thought I'd answer the questions I usually put to those involved in human rights. Some of my responses may enlighten you, though I doubt anything I say here will shock anyone I know.
WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT JOB?
Author, photographer, daily blogger, sometime poet, human rights campaigner and social justice activist.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE HUMAN RIGHTS?
I did not choose human rights, it virtually chose me. I guess I’ve been involved in human rights and social justice issues since primary school. Yep, never had any time for bullies – in the schoolyard, in the corporate world, or those in government. Travelling the world, being a photographer and having lived in four countries has had a big impact on me. The world is full of travellers, but some of us go to out of the way places and seek out that which interests us. Often, I have visited very poor countries, and the greatest influence on my life has been the poorest people I’ve ever met.
The right to a fair go for all is my mantra. Also, I firmly believe that every child on this planet deserves to reach his or her potential. Although I’ve seen and experienced some awful stuff around the world, my biggest disappointment was / is what is happening today in my country – Australia. The current government’s attitude to refugees and asylum seekers is deplorable.
A majority of Australians, and others in the world, are conformists who stroll through life, not giving much thought to others outside their social circle. That is an observation; not a criticism. However, as I often say when people ask about my involvement in human rights, “Look back in history at all the bad things that have happened – Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Nazi Germany etc. The major reason those situations came to a halt was because good-minded people stood up. And, many of them were killed or damaged in the process.’ Sadly, we lack gutsy and courageous people in this world.
Don’t forget. Bad things only happen because good people allow them to happen. Amen.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN HUMAN RIGHTS? WAS IT ONE PARTICULAR INCIDENT?
A rugged childhood sowed the seeds, and I gained strength and confidence as the years passed. Not only, my late stepfather told me many times, ‘There is a right way and a wrong way, an easy way and a hard way, but the easy way is the right way.’ We all know the difference between right and wrong. However, it takes extra courage to stand up and bark, whilst others around you are expecting someone to do it for them.
ANY PERSONAL INVOLVEMENTS?
Many – here and overseas. How long have we got? As an author writing young adult fiction, I’ve often included human rights issues in my stories; some subtle, and some very unsubtle.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF HUMAN RIGHTS?
Simple - The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Most people have never read it. Do it. You might find it enlightening. Trust me. It is simply written, and will take you maybe five minutes to read.
DO YOU DO ‘PRO-BONO’ WORK IN HUMAN RIGHTS CASES?
Everything I do is ‘Pro-bono’.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES IN THE WORLD AS YOU SEE THEM?
Where do we begin? Education of kids is a big passion of mine. As someone once said, ‘Teach someone to read and they can educate themselves.’ Yep, kids are our greatest resource. However, they are also silent witnesses to all sorts of pain and mayhem, even in my country.
The current Australian government and its opposition are both in a dive to the bottom when it comes to the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Their attitude is disgraceful, and one can only hope that they are taken to the International Court of Justice. Amen.
HOW CAN ORDINARY PEOPLE HELP, OR BECOME INVOLVED?
Lift your game and look outside the square. Start reading about issues, do what you can, turn up, march, write to newspapers, get on talkback radio and make a stand. Don’t be a wimp. I have probably paid a heavy price for my activism within the publishing industry, trying to change rules that will allow independent authors to enter major book awards. I’ve had a few victories, but there is plenty to do. As I often say, ‘Life’s short. Use it. There is plenty to do.’
HOW CAN WRITERS AND AUTHORS HELP?
Stand up. Include major issues in your literary works. Take a stand. Don’t be a floppy shirt dangling in the breeze.
DO YOU BECOME FRUSTRATED BY THE LACK OF POLITICAL WILL REGARDING HUMAN RIGHTS?
I am constantly frustrated by the lack of political will, especially in Australia. Sadly, there are few great and inspiring names that come to mind in the world. However, there are many who do great work, but few gain recognition. Actors, celebrities and sports people gain massive publicity, money and recognition. For what? Doing what they love.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST VICTORY?
Not easy to answer. Where do I begin? However, backing my gut feeling, I pursued a case when I was a full time national union official. A beautiful, shy young Greek secretary was sexually harassed by a senior manager. Well, putting my career on the line, I managed to ‘encourage’ that senior manager to admit his guilt. Result: he was sacked on the spot.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE SADDEST MOMENT IN YOUR WORK?
No particular single moment, but frustration is fairly constant.
WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST FRUSTRATIONS?
The conformists, useless self-serving politicians and those who don’t give a rat’s. Leaders with a lack of vision. Oh ... I have a very low bullshit-factor.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Now I spend a fair amount of time supporting those in charge of a variety of organisations: orphanages in various countries, human rights lawyers, social justice activists and people on the same page as me, around the world. Many are battling to change legislation, some are fighting injustices, and some are working at the coalface to make life bearable for those born on the tough side of the track. My closest colleagues are sensational humans who deserve my support.
WHAT ORGANISATIONS ARE YOU A PART OF? WHY?
I am a member of many organisations. However, my main involvement is in my support of them – writing to politicians, editors of newspapers, talking on talkback radio etc. I also post regular articles on my daily blog that relate to those organisations.
DO YOU WORK ON OTHER CASES, BESIDES HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES?
Interesting question. I guess once a human rights activist, always one. I’m a great lover of the underdog. Everyone deserves to achieve their full potential - especially kids.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SOME GOOD THINGS ARE BEING ACHIEVED IN HUMAN RIGHTS?
Yes. There are many around the world that do extraordinary things, but sadly they do not receive the airplay they deserve – or recognition. However, they do it for the right reasons – because it’s right.
WHO OR WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES?
Apathy, lack of education, selfish people and politicians and leaders who lack vision.
ARE WESTERN GOVERNMENTS PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE?
I don’t have much time for politicians in general. Most that I see probably enter politics for the right reasons but get caught up in the party machine. They appear to be more concerned about their re-election than they are for their constituents. However, we put them there and we can just as quickly remove them. The great secret to a successful campaign is numbers – committed followers.
ANY ADVICE FOR A LAWYER CONSIDERING HUMAN RIGHTS LAW?
Make sure you have the passion. It’s a tough gig. However, any victory, no matter how small, is a wonderful moment to savour.
IF YOU HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS ALL WORLD LEADERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Wake up! It’s not about you.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST DREAM?
Well, having had an interesting life, I would like to think that I’ve touched a few people along the way.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY?
Wake up in a warm climate, with the sea within sight and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Coffee, breakfast and work. I looooove what I do.
WHAT ARE YOUR FIVE MOST FAVOURITE BOOKS?
Dibs In Search of Self
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
The complete works of Henry Lawson
Anything written by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson
Anything written by Lord Jeffrey Archer or John Grisham
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE?
Very bleak, but I always live in hope that someone will walk out of the mist and lead us to the promised land.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR VERY LAST SENTENCE?
Life’s short, use it, there is plenty to do.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
How long have you got? I’m just starting to fire up …
Clancy's comment: I can only encourage you to get involved in something bigger than yourself. The rewards are immense. Oh, by the way, I've just been invited to be the guest speaker on Australia Day. Now, that could be a very interesting speech. If I can, I will post it on this blog ... If I haven't been run out of town. Stay tuned ...