As the civil unrest in North Africa and the Middle East escalates, a worry has been growing in the pit of my stomach. The worry of ‘what if?’

What if the people’s movements lose and the dictatorships win? Would the cost of the countless lives be worth it? Why do ordinary people get involved in politics when it could cost them their lives?

While most Australians are by no means living under the same oppressive political conditions as our counterparts across the Indian Ocean, we have a number of political uncertainties ahead of us. As NSW heads toward our state election on March 26 it is unclear what the future of politics in NSW will bring.

In ancient times the practice of politics was reserved for those who had ‘sophia’. Sophia was the accumulation of social knowledge whereby you were deemed to have sound political judgment. While we have come a long way since those times with the fast and furious information revolution bringing knowledge to the masses in a nanosecond, one rule remains the same: knowledge is power.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, ACON and Positive Life NSW have produced the Election 2011 GLBT Policy Survey covering responses from the Labor Party, Liberals/Nationals, the Greens and Clover Moore. The paper includes issues of equality and social inclusion, anti-discrimination, HIV, health, ageing, violence and safety, education and parenting from an GLBT perspective.

If knowledge is power, this paper will help you make an informed vote for your future government, giving you the power of sound political judgment. The rest is up to you.

I recently checked in with a mate in the Middle East to ask if she was okay. I said my problems in Australia paled in comparison to what people over there were going through.

She reminded me of a saying we used to throw around during uni days of student politics, “Democracy is not a spectator sport”. This turned the worry in the pit of my stomach into a tingling fire in the belly.

Maybe I had the question wrong. What if ordinary people didn’t get involved in politics? What then is the cost of not fighting for our freedom?

By RATHANA CHEA, NSW GLRL
info: Download the Election 2011 Survey at www.glrl.org.au and join the GLRL today.

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