Knowing your place: Rafi Alam

“We’re made of star-stuff.” This blew my mind when I first heard it from cosmological superstar Carl Sagan. He also once said “if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”, but I disgress. It blew my mind because it was the origin story that linked us all together before protein strands formed a billion years ago. We share such a small place together in the universe, but we belong to the whole cosmos.

But this is an idealistic and simple look at the world, one that could barely guarantee our survival in the big bad world. The truth is we’re divided: by mountains and seas, by race and class and gender, by our attitudes and actions.

It’s not enough to tell asylum seekers that we’re all made of star-stuff when they’re forced to choose between indefinite detention, resettlement in one of the poorest nations in the world, or death at the hands of ‘countrymen’. The policies of the ALP and the Coalition have made them into the new monster of a racist nation. But what if there was a different world, where refugees were welcome? Check out Nina Hallas’s article on open borders on page 6.

It’s also not enough to tell Trayvon Martin we’re all made of star-stuff. Poor, poor Trayvon: shot dead at 17, for being black and wearing a hoodie. He was walking through his dad’s neighbourhood when George Zimmerman executed him. He wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time, because there’s no right place and right time for black youth in the United States. There can be no better world for Trayvon now. Ponder death on page 7, or in Felicity Nelson’s article on page 11.

What about the forests and wildlife at risk of demolishment around the country, from the Tarkine to the Kimberly to the Leard State Forest? We share the same star stuff, but we don’t hesitate when we eradicate swathes of land from the world. Read more about my thoughts on exploration and the environment on page 10, and contrast the fantasy with what is actually happening right now on the North Pole, documented by Stella Ktenas on page 9.

As you read through this paper, note how writers examine, analyse, feel, and describe space, from the way people walk at night on page 8, to how live bands are utilising living rooms on page 16. This isn’t a prescription, but more something to recognise in general, that the settings of our stories are often as important as the characters, and that there is meaning even in negative space.

If you’re a new student at university, this will mean finding meaning in the new environment around you. But look past the Hogwarts allure, and you’ll find stories everywhere, about everything around you.

If this is your first Honi, I hope you find something worthwhile in it, and that it helps you expand your boundaries, even if just by a little.

If you’re a regular returning for Semester 2, welcome back home.

Rafi Alam

Rafi Alam

Rafi is an editor of Honi Soit, and is doing his Honours thesis in Sociology on the experience of riding the bus an its relationship to industrial capitalism. When he's not writing, he is usually arguing about something on Facebook, or protesting about something he argued about on Facbeook.
Rafi Alam

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