GLOSS Issue 21 APRIL 2015 - Page 15

I wanted to know how she felt about the seemingly endemic ignorance amongst some of our political figures, one of whom may or may not have just started their own political party. “It’s all part of the horrendous vicious circle that we need to break free from with the marginalisation we are currently seeing with religion… I have done enough work with counterterrorism in both the UK and here to know that the best way to radicalise young people is to make them feel segregated and abandoned and disempowered. You do that, and it’s an extremist’s playing field. If we do that – if we keep feeding this vitriol, this prejudice against people – we remain part of the problem.” As she discusses in the featured TEDx talk, we all need to be ripples of change - and we can only do this through confronting and understanding our own fears and ignorance - what is holding us ‘hostage’, and by looking to the situation immediately around us as it stands. She uses her own experience of literally being held hostage to make this clear. “...you don’t have to be in a war zone to be held hostage. So many things can hold us in a prison; poverty, bullying, abuse, violence, alcohol, drugs, fear. The power of storytelling – of giving an understanding of what being held hostage actually means – is a force that is undeniable.” More than anything that stands out about Rabia Siddique to me is her passion for the truth; whether that comes in the form of people being able to speak their own, or in terms of the government being truthful about their lack of engagement with women as leaders. She has been a public servant and sees the lack of drive within the public sector to actively sponsor and mentor women. As she noted, it has been very much up to the individual agencies as to what they do, and that in turn has been reliant on the women in said agencies; thus, with a strong enough group of women, change, engagement and sponsorship happens, but otherwise, it’s ignored. That drive for change, that passion for truth, has also come full circle for her in accepting her own selfreality. She is a Muslim woman; she was not born to a Caucasian father. Her strength, and her ability to influence change through her work with corporate clients as a mentor, in her public speaking, in her volunteer work for cancer awareness and fund-raising, lies in acknowledging that neither of these things is a weakness or shameful, but are just her truth. Just as her pride and passion in her six year old triplets are also her truth, her focus, and the reason why change for the better in Australia is so very important to a woman who could easily be sitting in a boardroom, a courtroom, or (I feel) in a parliamentary seat. The reason I gave this article the title I did is because it is a line from a poem by a female saint and mystic from the Islamic faith who shares the same name as Ms Siddique, Rabia al Basri, who lived sometime in the eighth century (AD). ...speech is born out of longing, True description from the real taste. The one who tastes, knows; the one who explains, lies. If ever there was one who is capable of showing the distinction between the description and the taste, it is Rabia Siddique. She has tasted the worst of what humanity throw at each other, and heard their explanations for why it was acceptable. And as the one who tasted, she knows that the one who explains...may not necessarily have the best interests of others at heart. Her public speaking now, to all those who want to hear her story, embodies that real taste. And I for one feel privileged to have glimpsed a fraction of its flavour.