I began my adventure into being a writer many years before. I had a wonderful teacher in my last year of high school. Politicians being the people they are wiped Marion High School off the map. The only building they deemed important enough was the hall.
Cecil Bates was a highly creative dancer, choreographer and teacher. He had boundless energy with an understanding of the psychological needs of the dumb class in the school. We were not so much as ‘dumb’ but simply did not adhere to many of the subjects we were supposed to learn.
He introduced us to theatre and put us through our paces for a show he wanted us to perform. If my memory serves it was a ‘Punch and Judy’ show. He worked hard to get us to feel some degree of fulfillment in our lives. Theatre is often a non academic way of increasing students confidence.
One afternoon he asked us to help nurture our artistic minds. He asked the class to describe what it might feel like to fall asleep. The scene of an ocean wave coming to shore and taking the sand one grain at a time, was my answer. He asked me if this was my own original work. Of course it was. He was impressed and that moment keeps me going still. The meandering of my studies took me all over the place. Welfare placements with the Sallies, Social Science studies, Comparative Religion, and then Adult Ed at UTS in Sydney. I have a long time interest in psychology as well having completed four years of Gestalt therapy which was a necessary step for my mental stability and growth.
Now at the ripeness of life at seventy I am taking up the challenge. I understand that it is work, and will require all my energy to get to where I want to be. I have friends surrounding me and cheering me on. However writing has been described as a crazy endeavour. Suits me down to the ground.
There is no point haranguing the poor for messing up our economy anymore than you can blame the rich for making it better or worse. Both groups will always be part of our landscape. Every possible political computation has not prevented this truism. Communism initially spoke of a worker’s paradise which announced that the proletariat would be in control, rather than the bourgeoisie. Fascism promoted their sameness as a solution with either joining or being shot. Capitalism has followed its own eager ends the longest, based on the Western civilization initially by profiting by low wages in the Victorian era, and exploiting any other culture whose countries had anything of worth to plunder, including humans. Indigenous cultures who know that the earth is their mother understand that for a culture to survive they cannot take more than is necessary for life and continuance of humanity. They ‘read’ nature well, knowing that they are a part of the land rather than separate. Exploitation if it occurred could mean death.
By now we have had all the variations on a theme and should be wise, or coherent enough to find a middle way. It isn’t greed as much as adhering with inflexible faith or beliefs that do the damage. But the worst belief is that if I can overrun, conquer then my country will profit and that is what war is about. Looking through the invasions of other countries through the past actions of the powerful, they will continue to take what ever they can. However no country wants to actually look at the fag end of its culture. Perhaps that is why the poor are so vilified.
Recently there was a graph which demonstrated that with all the affluence one could acquire the well off don’t have a sense of contentment. Whereas those with less disposable income had a better feeling about their lives generally speaking. This is something I have observed often, and philosophically do not begrudge those with more. Curiously I too had a feeling of ennui.
The polarization of our country about this issue is not pleasant to the sentient. You’d be better off as those apes in the cartoon I saw in the War Memorial in Canberra, where one ape said to the other as they spied the humans below,
‘Gee I’m glad evolution passed me by.’ I think Charles Darwin might have agreed.
Writing a memoir has unearthed so many memories for me in tones of gold, silver and grey. I hope that one day I might produce a gem like piece that captures the reader’s imagination.
As writers will know the process is like cutting a gem with the hope that one shave will not produce an angle that will spoil the whole stone. Or in terms of metals polish a piece of memory so that it brings back all the moments gleaming in our hearts and raise a smile. Any memoir will have grey areas but are necessary to highlight the choice areas that sing.
My grandmother’s life I think didn’t have too many golden days, until her husband finally popped off the mortal coil. It was then that she could safely go home with her children. To us she was gentle and caring. She rarely spoke at length, just a few sayings such as, ‘poor little lambekin’ when she was nursing our latest sibling. Grandma was basically fat with an addiction to sugar. Toffee was frequently spied in her room next to the biscuit barrels.
To be fair though, I reckon she gave as good as she got. Her features had softened by the year of her eightieth birthday. Round, with just a hint of the smugness that comes from the victor’s face. As we were growing up nothing changed with her except her ability to remain in the moment. Eventually dementia took her back to home in Yorkshire which fascinated us as we sat around her bed. The more I wrote, the stronger her image became not unlike time travel. It is when we ourselves have time to ponder about our heritage, and those we loved that writing about them is not only a pleasure but a source of comfort.
Appearing before a recent Senate hearing Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash was doubtless in ‘extremis’ when attempting to confront the Labor Party on the issue of one of her her newly appointed staff. Her response was to attack the Labor Party about a rumour of harassment within their staff members. Her attempt to undermine the sangfroid of the Labor party failed. Her belligerence is not unlike the manner in which the male ministers use in the Liberal Party to obfuscate the real business of our Australian Parliament.
Her threats began with, ‘I could name names.’ while her facial contortions developed flight or fight proportions with teeth bared. Her retort backfired spectacularly. The following day for which she had to again front up to the Senate, white boards were held around her to protect her from the cameras. With its ailing public respect the Liberal Party through Senator Cash’s remarks has unwittingly weakened their chances of being re-elected.
Politicians are listened to when they speak calmly, and are coherent in their response to questions; also when making statements. If the Liberal Party are serious about raising their performance it would do well to assume the propriety of the Labor Party’s Penny Wong.
Before the vote to give the same rights to Lesbian and Gay couples she spoke up for their unions be given the sacrament the same as those of heterosexual couples. Her words were simply, ‘We love our children’. Her calm assured demeanor gave her the respectful silence that is not often observed in Federal Parliament in Canberra.
Senator Michaelia Cash’s ‘fighting spirit’ however lowers her credibility, dignity and that of the Liberal Party. The Australian public have had a gutful of the circus that is Parliament. All the small ‘l’ liberals have gone to ground overwhelmed by the bullies who run the Liberal Party and Australia. They use fear constantly because they know it works.
The Australia government once was seen as responsible, a body that held the country’s respect. Now we need a government who will revere our democracy with the values Australians are known for.
Malcolm Turnbull’s proposal for 14 days detention without recourse to legal representation, will if this gets passed through parliament eat away at the freedom of all Australians. Such continual draconian legislation should it become law will impact on all of us not just those who are arrested. The cost of incarceration is one point, the other is that often those whose lives are already blighted through poverty, poor family relations and little education are the people who will be jailed. You may as well stand them in the market square with a sign around their neck saying ‘failure’.
I have no doubt that there are people who desire to inflict fear in our communities, but our Liberal government is doing much the same thing by making press statements such as these. Australia is a democracy, not a body of people who have no rights. Is this just another game playing device with which to engage the public or a ruse to make people believe that our Prime Minister cares about our safety. If this were true a better investment would be more TAFE courses with lots more teachers who can relate to young people. If that expense cost was compared with that of our ‘correction’ system it might come out even. The outcome of a jail sentence could mean a brutalized, raped victim. A decent education opens other possibilities by engaging with their needs.
Further I believe that the police are already doing their best in what are very difficult circumstances which will not be enhanced by this proposed new legislation. My feeling is that it will increase the distrust of our worthy police force. When I see how much equipment they have to manage with their uniforms I wonder what happened to the ability to communicate, and understanding human nature in a crisis.
Their efforts to protect us will not make their working lives easier. I suspect that the drop out rate of new recruits will continue to increase. If a young person was considering how to achieve a vocation in which to remain employed and this is a pertinent point in today jobs market, would being part of the police force be considered as solid permanent position something they might actually enjoy.
The word ‘liberal’ does not fit this political party nor their agenda.
Carmen Lawrence wrote about this increasing aspect of our political climate since the Howard era. Her book, ‘Fear and Politics’ is worth reading. (Scribe Short books, Melbourne. 2006)
The magnificent new fence around Parliament house in Canberra is the latest expensive addition to augment the notion that they, the most important people in our nation need protection. The cost was assessed at 60 million to give protection against a terrorist attack. My thoughts are that you can’t beat terrorism with this approach because there are those with nothing to fear, who work with increasing sophistication to make our lives sadder. Upping the ante doesn’t work as any parent will tell you.
The agenda of the Liberal party hasn’t changed. Such a commitment to raising fear, rather than ameliorating this insidious feeling illuminates how this government keeps power. The war on terror comes from within, far easier than from outside.
It’s no wonder that Carmen Lawrence wasn’t popular with the Liberal government with her degree in psychology. The current Labor party are well aware of such strategies of keeping other senators and ministers with their constant belligerent tirades.
The latest of these to be witnessed occured when Senator Michaelia Cash, Minister for Jobs and Employment attempted unsettle the Labor party with her threats to ‘name names’ before a Senate committee. This backfired spectacularly when her strategy to offset a perceived threat to her own reputation triggered a response that was unique. The Liberal party then went into protection mode by shielding Senator Cash with white boards.
Australians have a cynical view of politicians since the days of C.J. Dennis. Some of us can see through this charade and are heartily sick of it. Not only do politicians waste time, but we have to put up with three tiers of the most expensive government system in the world. And all we hear is that the economic situation is dire.