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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Yesterday’s Politicians Today

 

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

If your view of politicians is seen through the lens of Question Time, you might think that most are rude, uncaring, self-centred individuals.

Behind the scenes, things are different. Politicians are different from what they show in that sad theatre that has become Question Time. Politicians from all sides have to get on. And to a large extent they do, regardless of the show they put on for the cameras. That said, the level of dislike and mistrust between politicians today is the worst it has ever been. We’ve even seen this from members of the same party, and not just opposition parties.

Today’s politician could learn a lot from the much humbler and placid politician of the past. That’s not to say that back then they were all angels, but the tone, mannerisms, and general deportment of most current politicians make criminals look nice.

In 1966, after addressing an anti-conscription rally at Mosman Town Hall, Labor politician Arthur Calwell was shot by a disturbed man. Calwell lived, but it was his actions and words afterwards that highlight the difference between yesterday’s politicians and today's.

The shooter, Peter Kocan, not long after realising what he had done wrote to Calwell. He apologised for his delude actions. Calwell’s reply is something that I could not see most politicians writing today. Calwell urged Kocan to ‘forget the incident’ and he wished him well. Calwell knew of Kocan’s mental imbalance as Kocan’s mother contacting Calwell.

Not that it pays to shoot people, but apparently, Kocan was such a good writer and a poet, he went on to receive an NSW Premier's Literary Award in 1983, and a $50,000 Australia Council Writers award.

The Australian public might like and approve of politicians more if they showed greater respect for one another. Respect for our political system and getting rid of their ideologies will also help. People turn away from political debate today. Even around election time when politics matters most, the current stench of politics turns people off. This can be seen in things like the donkey vote, writing Mickey Mouse on a ballot paper or even refusing to vote and copping a fine, these all show how little respect people have for today's politician.

The bitterness and resentment between politicians and political systems have always been with us. It’s the ugliness, the personal attacks, the venom in conversations today that makes people steer clear of politics. Newspapers and media don’t help when they ignite the flames of hatred and mistrust. This only adds to the lack of polite political discourse.

Eloquence and fluency are things we don’t hear much from today’s politician. Integrity is, and perhaps never was a key ingredient of a politician’s make-up. Tweeting on your mobile phone or sitting with you back to a speaker is more the form of politicians now. None of these things make a person want to vote for a type that does this.

Whatever qualifications politicians have today, showing humility and looking your counterpart in the eye would improve their standing. Having respect for people, the system, and the political office, all normal simple human things would generate greater trust and respect than any policy or grandstanding can ever create.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Democracy is Dead

 

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

To say that Australia is a democracy is not a lie, it’s not the truth either.

Has democracy failed us? No, it can’t have. We built our democracy; it did not build us. If we think that our democracy has failed, we could look to the media for blame. We could look to ourselves with our fascination for loud political leaders. Nowhere more have we seen this fascination come to an ugly head but in the rise of populism and through its banner carriers.

Populists claim to speak for ordinary people. But we’ve seen the results of these types and the damage they have done to the people they say they represent.

However, the media, with its opinion columns, its hard-right/hard-left commentators, its ideologically driven viewpoints, its financial backing and its column inch support for political parties, the media would seem the likely culprits.

President John Kennedy (no relation) once said that “The press is a valuable arm of the presidency”. In Henry Porter’s 1984 book, Lies, Damned Lies and Some Exclusives, he said, “In pursuit of an easy life journalists have progressively relegated themselves to the status of mere instruments of government propaganda”. That is not true of all journalists, but it is true of the popular media. The kind that most people read, watch and listen to.

Do you think that today’s press is an information provider or an opinion creator? Why are there conservative broadcasters, green presses, right and left-wing publications? Are they all just in it for the money? Are there political journalists that you read and others never? Why is there a twenty-four-seven news cycle?

In my old university library, there is a whole bookshelf dedicated to one man, Rupert Murdoch. Not one of these books praises Murdoch for doing good. Not one offers a view that his publications are fair and balanced. He alone has raised up and brought down more governments than any other individual in history. Ownership matters.

Competition matters too. This Guardian article tells you the sorry one-sided story of media ownership in Australia. Australia's newspaper ownership is among the most concentrated in the world.

If political stories are told from one angle, with an agenda or ideology behind them, and most people consume and believe these articles, democracy dies. But who is to blame? The compliant media or the government?

If governments redact and hide their actions and their motivations, democracy dies. Your right to know is not greater than the governments' laws that say they have a right to conceal; and there’s nothing you can do about it. But most people are not interested in doing anything about press freedom. Because you can’t read about the things that are hidden, so you are not aware of them. Just as a large part of the press does not report on government actions. They hide their deals from scrutiny; so, you lose, and democracy dies.

Governments can bully and intimidate anyone. Any journalist and any publication that tries to expose their corruption will find themselves in a secret trial. Look at the Bernard Collaery case.

When governments stoke the fires of division, democracy dies. When governments spin every story, democracy dies. When governments turn their back on people, democracy dies. When we have a Labor opposition that does not react, condemn or stand up against the removal of rights and constant lies, democracy dies.

We have let all these things happen to our democracy. How can you not say that democracy is dead?


Sunday, 6 June 2021

An imagined 2021 victory speech

 

 


 



I don’t believe in miracles. I believe things become better by us helping one another. And that’s what this government is going to do. We are going to help to make things better for everyone. 

It has been a long journey for our party, and for the Australian people, but now that we are here, we promise not to let you down. I’ll say it again, we promise, I promise, we promise. 

I want to thank the previous prime minister and his government for all the work they have done. He and his government have done a lot of good over his tenure, so I thank him and his party. And to all our friends and allies across the world, you will be able to expect our continued support, and our efforts to carry on meeting our shared values and goals. 

Now that you’ve instilled your trust in us, we will work to create jobs and job security. We will improve housing affordability. We will get rid of those divisive, ideological-driven increases in humanities degrees. We will enshrine a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian constitution. And we will be happy and glad to place alongside the Australian flag, the Aboriginal flag in and on our Parliament House. 

We will make the hard choices on the economy and the environment. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to throw people on the scrap heap because they work in mining. We will work to build an energy infrastructure that doesn’t add to the problems of the world while keeping people working. Too many jobs have been lost and not created because we haven’t invested in new and cleaner technologies. 

With this election victory, we begin to turn Australia into a fairer and more equal country, for everyone. We will once again be the country of the fair go. This place we call home will be a country for the young and the old. It will be for black and white and for people from every nation on earth. This will also be a country that is equal and respectful to women. We will not stop until we achieve this. 

We will change how young Australians see their future. We want to see the next generation of Australians not having to lower their sight but look forward to being able to get the education they want and able to afford a home. Younger people should have the same rights as everyone, and the same voting rights. 

We’re going to make Australia a maker of things again. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. But this time, this time, we will make things that enhance our economy and our future while not depleting the environment. And every company that does business in our land will pay their fair share of tax. That I promise you. 

My task, our task, is just beginning. And together, we will create an equal nation. A fair nation. A nation that will help and support your dreams and aspirations. 

And for those who didn’t vote for us, I will offer you comfort, not condolence. I’ll work to make things fair and equal for you, and for everyone. 

Before I go, I want to thank all the members of my party and to everyone who has done so much to support it. I want to thank our national campaign team, the deputy prime minister, and the rest of the team, thank you, and especially to my loving and supportive family. Thank you one and all.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

I came, I saw, I promised

  

Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly and the statue Ethos (Tom Bass, 1961) Photo taken by Adz, 11 August 2005

If elections bore you, you can change that. An election is one of the few times we get to interact with our democracy and are allowed to have a say in it. Elections should encourage us, but they don’t. 

Why? Because we get the same thing every time from the major parties. Promises, promises, promises that mean nothing; unless you are gullible enough to fall for them. 

The title of this article does not carry the same weight as Veni, Vidi, Vici. This is the Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar that boastfully states, I Came, I Saw, I Conquered. Imagine that today, a politician saying what they meant and did. With most politics today, there’s no weight to it, just promises. 

So, what’s a voter to do? If you are unhappy with politics as usual, and you don’t like any of the major parties, you can either start a party of your own or look to a minor party. 

In the coming A.C.T. election, many minor parties are running. The minor parties know they are going to struggle to get your vote because it’s hard for them to get noticed. They don’t have the budgets of the major two parties. But, the minor parties can make a major difference in how this territory is run. The minor parties can hold the government accountable, and they can better represent Canberrans and their concerns. 

As a member of the Canberra Progressives, I’ve seen firsthand how this party operates. They don’t have social or political ideologies as Liberal and Labour do; they have values. Their principles are ethics over influence, evidence over opinion, and collaboration over collusion. 

If you are sick and tired of complaining at the news every time you hear a new government decision that you don’t agree with or see some ex-party member getting a cushy “job for the boys”, then in the coming election you have a chance to do something about that. You can change these things, but you have to vote for a minor party. Hoping that a major party is going to change their ways and do what you think is right is not going to happen. Major parties are for the party and not for the people. 

A minor party could hold the balance of power in the A.C.T. assembly. For members who sit on the crossbench, a deciding vote can come down to them. They can put forward policies. They can give you a voice inside the government and not just at election time. 

The Canberra Progressives have 7 candidates in 3 electorates: Kurrajong, Murrumbidgee and Yerrabi. If you put them first on the ballot paper this election, you will see the difference that a minor party can make for you. 

So, instead of being bored by elections, get involved, get interested because it’s your future that is going to be decided by elections. It’s your money governments will be spending. Governments get to have a large say over your life and they can make it better or worse. What do you want?

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

The ABC and Me and You

 


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has been with me my whole life. I’ve been listening to ABC radio since I was a baby. My parents always had ABC radio on; classical music and local ABC radio were on the whole day in our house. At night we sat down to watch ABC news and programs on television. The ABC filled our house with the arts, education, news, and entertainment; it still fills my life.

For me, and many other Australians and people in our neighbouring region, the ABC is vital. Because it provides services, information, education, and entertainment that are not accessible from anywhere else in the world.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to have worked with a few people from the ABC. My first collaboration with the ABC was in 2003. PoeticA, was a National Radio program that ran from 1997 to 2015. It provided a weekly resource of poetry readings and happenings from around Australia and the world. PoeticA was like a religion to most Australian poets and poetry lovers. The poet and presenter Mike Ladd and producer Krystyna Kubiak were the heart of PoeticA. They were both wonderful and helpful people to work with.

The program, Ekphrasis, that I organised with PoeticA, aired on Saturday 22 February 2003 at 3:00 PM. You can listen to that program here, of course, copyright restrictions apply to all content.

The second time the ABC and I developed a program was again, for PoeticA. This time the program was about all things poetically Astronomical.  Here’s the ABC blurb, “A feature on the poetry of the cosmos including classical works as well as poems by contemporary Australian writers. Based on an idea by Robert Kennedy, the program grew out of a project called “A Poetic Journey Into the Cosmos”, a series of readings held last year at Sydney Observatory”. They aired Astronomical on Saturday 27 March 2004 at 3:00 PM.

When I was in my early 20s, the ABC took on an all-encompassing presence in my life. I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough of what the ABC offered. It seemed there was, and still is, something for everyone. I listen to and watched almost everything that the ABC produced. The ABC had me hooked even from an early age. If you grew up in the 1970s, Countdown was a music program that had to be watched. I never missed a show.

One of the things I love most about the ABC is Radio National (RN). Today they have more than 60 programs. I specifically loved the program Airplay, which aired on what is now known as RN. Unfortunately, this program is no longer broadcast, but it provided so many great Australian and international radio plays and offered the first voice to a large number of current Australian actors. Airplay broadcast from 1997 to 2013.

Before Airplay there was The Sunday Play on what was then called ABC Radio 2, or 2FC, which stood for Farmer and Company. That was the original owner of the station before the ABC took it over. Back in the early 1980s, the ABC used to produce a guide just for their radio stations. It cost 40 cents. I kept a few copies which you can see in the picture in this post. I gather they are worth a bit more today.

You will see in the photo above how I used to highlight in red the programs that I wanted to record. The rest I usually heard live.

The mellow toned voice of Jaroslav Kovaricek presented two of my most cherished ABC programs. These were Dreamtime and Innerspace. I recorded over 100 broadcasts because the music was so unique. I heard sounds that could not be found in almost any other place. I still use these recordings every week when I need some headspace relaxation time. The music on Dreamtime has inspired me to write many of my compositions.

Jaroslav Kovaricek produced hundreds of Dreamtime programs; over 500 from memory. Innerspace never ran for that long but offered a new sound experience. I recorded only a few of those. Unfortunately, there is almost no record of either of these programs today anywhere. I may be the only person that has recordings of these amazing soundscapes.

Other than the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), there is nothing like the ABC on this planet. I can’t imagine living without the ABC. Yet, the ABC might soon be gone.

Successive Liberal governments have been trying to kill off the ABC. They want to see it gone because, in the words of former Liberal party leader and former Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, they (the ABC) are not on team Australia. The hard right of the Liberal party wants the ABC to be sold off to private interests. Why? Because according to these people, the ABC does not represent their ideology.

If you don’t know what the Liberal party ideology is, just take a look at the state of imbalance, greed, political spin and lies pushed out by this unaccountable government. It’s sad to say, many people in Australia want to see the ABC gone too. They believe the Liberal party spin and follow them blindly.

If you don’t want to see the ABC sold off, or dismantled, you should do something about it. Write to your local member and ask them to increase ABC funding so it can be maintained. They need to be able to go on to provide the necessary programs that they have been creating for almost 100 years.

If you don’t want the ABC gone, start talking to your friends and relatives about how you, and they can save this national treasure. Because the ABC is as important as Uluru, the Sydney Opera House, and the Great Barrier Reef - just imagine all these treasures gone. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Indigenous Constitutional Recognition

 


The National Indigenous Australian Agency says, (2019, p.1) “The Australian Government is committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Constitution.”

This suggested commitment has come about due to other countries that have moved to recognise their indigenous peoples in their constitutions and through treaties. It is also due to growing support from indigenous and non-indigenous people and groups across Australia over many years.

Michelle Grattan said (2019, p.1) “The Morrison government plans to hold a referendum in the next three years on whether to enshrine constitutional recognition of Australia’s Indigenous people”.

Reconciliation Australia CEO, Karen Mundine said that the news of the constitutional recognition announcement is (2019, p. 3) “a step in the right direction”.

However, there are groups and people who oppose the constitutional recognition of indigenous people for a variety of reasons. Oliver Milman of the Guardian said that according to the Naidoc lifetime achievement award winner Tauto Sansbury, (2015, p.3) “I’d say 60% to 70% of Aboriginal people are interested in treaties rather than constitutional change”.

Some conservative members of parliament and people in the news media are resisting the change for an indigenous voice in parliament.  Former Deputy Leader of the Liberal party Barnaby Joyce suggested that a new voice in parliament would cause a third chamber. Rosemary Bolger of the SBS reported (2019, p.1) that Joyce later retracted his statement and apologised saying that he got it wrong.

Most states and territories identify indigenous people in their constitutions. Indigenous Australians are recognised in the NSW constitution, (2010) but only in the preamble. However, these changes do not allow for any specific legal or political rights. They do not include land rights or reduce discrimination, which would help to make our First Nations people feel more included and respected in their own country.

Essential Media Communications took a poll in (2019) which shows that most Australians want indigenous recognition in our constitution and for them to have a voice in parliament.

My position on this issue is that any change is unlikely. I base this on the fact that the Morrison Government have only offered a plan for a referendum in the next three years and have not created a system that will produce a definite outcome. This shows that they are not as committed to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians as they say they are.

There have been years of inaction on this subject from all governments. It is likely that only upon being forced into action by the Australian people will the Morrison Government move towards recognising indigenous peoples in the constitution. But as this matter is not consistently at the forefront of the mainstream media or in public debate, it is difficult to maintain momentum on this issue.

Because of the lack of passion and commitment from the present and past governments towards indigenous recognition, this has created doubt about what the effects of recognition will mean to all Australian people. The social, financial and possible governmental changes that might occur because of constitutional change has many people and parliamentary members worried.

There are fears and uncertainty around this proposed change because issues on this subject have not been clarified by anyone from either side of the debate. Mainly because no one can decide what the issues might be, regardless of all the past reports and studies. As there is no clear path or plan for indigenous recognition, this makes it look all too difficult and confusing for the Australian people, so they might vote against the reforms.

It is clear from polling that the majority of Australian’s want indigenous recognition. However, the figures are not so one-sided in favour of a change. As of September 2016, only 57 per cent of Australians polled are in favour of the change. As shown in the Essential Media Communications poll. (2019)

The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt who is tasked with leading a national debate on indigenous recognition now says that Australians will not be asked whether they want to see an indigenous voice in parliament if the referendum happens in the next three years.

This statement from Wyatt reported by Paige Taylor from the Australian (2019, p.1) adds more confusion to the debate that the Australian people thought they were having on this subject. This could create a backlash among the wider indigenous community as it appears that concerned voices and groups have not been consulted about this decision.

While the Federal Labor Party has not been vocal on this subject, they are now pushing for an indigenous voice in parliament. Fergus Hunter of The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Labor's Indigenous Australians spokesperson Linda Burney says, "Doors that [Mr Morrison] has already shut can be reopened." (2019, p. 8)

The fact that other countries have recognised their indigenous peoples in their constitutions and can live in social harmony shows that the same can be achieved in Australia. If Australia’s indigenous peoples are recognised in the constitution and they get to have a voice in parliament like other countries, this would most likely lead to greater social harmony between all Australians.

If these reform proposals do get voted upon and are passed, it could also improve the social balance and understanding between Australians. Recognition would help Australia’s indigenous peoples self-determination and decision-making around issues that directly affect them. (Davis, M 2015)

If they vote the proposed reforms down, or, it never actually gets up, not only might the debate never happen again, it could further increase the social tension of Australian society and deteriorate the rights and hopes of our indigenous peoples. This reform could help our indigenous population and all Australians to better understand one another. It could help increase social cohesion while benefiting our country in ways that are yet to be realised.

Reference List

Bolger, R 2019, Barnaby Joyce admits he was wrong to call Indigenous voice a 'third chamber', SBS, Crows Nest NSW, viewed 29 August 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/barnaby-joyce-admits-he-was-wrong-to-call-indigenous-voice-a-third-chamber

Davis, M 2015, ‘Indigenous constitutional recognition from the point of view of self-determination and its exercise through democratic participation’, Indigenous Law Bulletin, vol. 8, no.1, pp. 10-14. Essential Media Communications, 2019, Indigenous Recognition Referendum, Haymarket NSW, viewed 19 August 2019, https://www.essentialvision.com.au/indigenous-recognition-referendum

Grattan, M 2019, The Morrison government proposes an Indigenous recognition referendum this term, The Conversation, Parkville Vic, viewed 26 August 2019, http://theconversation.com/the-morrison-government-proposes-an-indigenous-recognition-referendum-this-term-119998

Hunter, F, 2019, 'Doors already shut can be reopened': Labor's plea for action on Indigenous voice, The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney NSW, viewed 30 August 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/doors-already-shut-can-be-reopened-labor-s-plea-for-action-on-indigenous-voice-20190828-p52lom.html

Indigenous Australians recognised in NSW constitution 2010, video, ABC, Sydney, Juanita Phillips (Host); Kristina Keneally (NSW Premier); Linda Burney (NSW Community Services Minister)

Milman, O 2015, Indigenous Australians want treaty, not constitutional recognition, says elder, The Guardian, Australia, viewed 18 August 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/12/indigenous-australians-want-treaty-not-constitutional-recognition-says-elder 

National Indigenous Australians Agency 2019, Constitutional Recognition, Canberra ACT, viewed 15 August 2019, <www.niaa.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/constitutional-recognition> 

Reconciliation Australia 2019, Constitutional recognition announcement a positive step towards reconciliation, Canberra ACT, viewed 27 August 2019, https://www.reconciliation.org.au/constitutional-recognition-announcement-a-positive-step-towards-reconciliation/ 

Taylor, P 2019, Wyatt rules out indigenous voice in people poll, The Australian, Surry Hills NSW, viewed 17 August 2019, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/wyatt-rules-out-indigenous-voice-in-people-poll/news-story/60672a9a4b05f1b80805abc671ca6e96

Monday, 31 August 2020

Whatever you do don’t talk about morals


What horrifies you more, a politician talking about morals or The Exorcist

I use the movie The Exorcist as an example of something that is universally accepted as horrifying, well; it is by me. However, is it less scary than a politician talking about morals? 

Whenever you read something about a politician talking about morals in a newspaper today, it usually comes across as, “who are these people to talk to us about morals?” The outrage is palpable from columnists and in opinion pieces when a politician dares say anything that even sounds like the slightest expression of morality. 

Simon Jenkins who writes for the Guardian wants his readers to “Dive for cover – Boris Johnson is invoking 'morality' in his Covid policies”. The COVID-19 issue has raised moral concerns like never before. It has even affected the sacred moral ground of professional sport, according to ESPN and politicians. “Premier League stars lack morals in coronavirus crisis –politicians”. 

COVID-19 has brought out many moral issues, but can people please stop calling me a monster for scratching my face. Or giving me a look of horror if I dare to cough in public. 

According to some newspapers, a certain political leader has a diminished moral capacity. Yet other papers tell you that the same person is the only moral hope for the world. Guess who I’m talking about? I won’t go into the moral wrongs surrounding climate change, regardless of how real they are. But why aren’t politicians talking about morals outside issues like the pandemic? Do they really have no morals that they can talk about? 

Of course, they do. They are just as human and just as vulnerable as everyone else. But why aren’t politicians talking about the moral good? When Nietzsche killed off god in 1882, did the ability to talk about morals die too? Or is it that politicians think that we don’t have any morals so there’s no point in talking about them anymore? Or is it vice versa? 

Politicians are scared about discussing morals because they have created a vacuum of silence around morality. When we see things like an Australian government bugging a neighbouring countries government to gain a political and monetary advantage, and then try to silence anyone who points out their illegalities, it’s no wonder politicians don’t talk about morals. 

However, that aside, if it’s possible, our leaders need to be talking about morals so we can open up debate about what is right and wrong. A vote once every three or four years is nowhere near good enough to express our moral concerns. And for that to begin, we need our leaders to lead the way. How do we do that? 

In the 2019 book, Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump by the American political scientist Joseph Nye, he has constructed a scorecard for judging future presidents. Maybe it's something like this that we should use to gauge the moral reasoning of not just foreign policy, but all policies by politicians. 

Imagine that. A moral scorecard for every policy. Imagine thinking through and debating the moral issues surrounding national affairs. Hold on, I hear you say, that’s why we have elected representatives. But are our politicians debating the moral concerns around political matters? I think not. In fact, I’m positive they do not. Our new moral scorecard could be something as simple as a 1 to 10 rating that all voters could have a show of hands on.

If we can elect governments electronically, why not a vote on policies electronically? Sure it would mean a lot more voting for us to do, but as politicians cannot be trusted to do the right thing, it’s a small price to pay to get morally just policies into action. If politicians are not going to look at the moral implications when implementing policy, something needs to be done. 

You could say the moral of this story is, it’s immoral to disregard the moral issues of any policy.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

It's still happening today

 

History and people don't change  


I've been watching the sentencing of this person that shot and killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand in 2019.[1] The relatives of the murdered spoke at the sentencing about their loss and grief. Some talked of their hatred of the killer, others forgave him. He sat silently and refused to make any statement. He just didn't care - history and people don't change.

Anyone who has studied history will know that what happened thousands of years ago, still happens today. While at university, I recall my fellow history students expressing their incredulity at how our ancients treated one another. A common theme among the responses of the students when learning about historical crimes, wars, racism, and murder was, “my God, it's still exactly the same today, nothing has changed”.

So, what might change people's attitudes?

Laws do not change people's outlook. For some, it may change their actions through fear of fine or incarceration, but laws do not change people's prejudices.

School education does not change people's underlying bigotries. Societal pressures, the advice of loved ones and friends does not and has not changed people.

Throughout history, and today, the people look towards their leaders for guidance, for ethics, and to set the standard for them. When was the last time you heard a leader speak out and voice a moral opinion, or offer guidance before something drastic has happened?

Our political and social leaders have failed us because they are too busy reacting to situations and covering things up rather than talking to and listening to people. Most of us remember and follow our parents' guidance and rules. Most of us carry these things with us throughout our lives. Our parents are not just parents, they are also leaders. Those parents who have not taught us moral lessons have also failed us.

There are lots of nasty and shabby things about our lives, but what lies at the heart of our problems is that we really do not want to know ourselves. We fear ourselves. We hide ourselves from others thinking that they will think bad of us if we do reveal our self. We blame others for our mistakes and our failings, we have always done this.

Most of us have the desire to change, to be a better person and to improve things. Unfortunately, most of us don't have the ability or the tools to achieve that change. This is where a good leader can step in and offer advice.

Almost every political leader throughout history has spent a large part of their life attaining leadership. Political leaders claw and fight for the top job, but when they get there they do little more than grandstand. They know what it takes to get to be a leader, and again, unfortunately, they don't know how to be leaders. The confidence that we have in our political leadership is as low now as it has ever been. And it's our fault that our political leaders don't have what it takes to guide us. We don't ask enough of our political leaders before we vote them into power.

One of the things about history is that we know we can't change it, but we can learn from it. We've seen the effects of past actions upon societies, but continually keep falling into the same traps and keep repeating history.

Maybe our political leaders haven't studied history, but generally, that is not the case. Many of our leaders have multiple degrees and are highly educated people. Except for a few, most of our leaders lack insight and empathy, yet we voted for them. We voted the problem in.

If our leaders showed some backbone and came out and made statements about how the world can be a better place, and about how we should all treat each other better, that could be the catalyst for change. Our world is led from the top, yet those at the top are not leading the right way. A few well-chosen words of advice, a statement or two on courage, strength and simply doing the right thing would go a long way to help guide people into a better direction.

Politicians think they have to be political all the time. They are human, yet they rarely show it. They seldom say how they feel, and they never offer advice. This world needs good and confident leaders. We have enough spokespersons for causes and factions.

A 10-minute pep talk once a week from our leaders about how we can improve things would help solve a lot of problems in this world and give us direction. Just like the series of evening radio addresses that were given by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and 1940s.[2] It’s not much to ask to show us that you are as human as we are; we know you can be, show us, help us.

Words are powerful agents of change. Words inspire us and led us into action. Good leaders can change the world with their words. It’s time we heard from our leaders. It’s time they began to help us help ourselves and change society.


[1] BBC, Christchurch shooting: Gunman Tarrant wanted to kill 'as many as possible'https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53861456

Friday, 28 August 2020

Who-What-When-Where-Why

Who
Rob J Kennedy.
What
This blog is about my experiences as a university student
When
It began on July 1, 2019.
Where
Canberra, the capital of Australia.
Why
So it might inform and help others.

July 1, 2019.

Can you have sober reasoning?


If you research and study anything for long enough, you will come closer to understanding the basis of your subject. For most of my life, I had a reason for everything I did. But continually, my reasoning was based upon expediency. You see, I followed what I thought was the Epicurean pleasure principle. Not the real one, but the one that has been widely promoted in the general media.

I thought that when Epicurus said, “The end of all our actions is to be free from pain and fear”, I assumed that he meant I should avoid pain and fear. But with me, it was much more than avoidance, it was denying pain and fear. And not only in myself, but in others too.

I didn’t want to know other people’s pain or grief. I didn’t want to know my own. My main thought was, if I’m happy, so is everyone else around me. And if they were unhappy, I didn’t want to know them. If I became discontented with them, I pushed them out of my life. However, I could not escape myself. I still had a lot of pain and fear. I was unhappy all the time.

I avoided discomfort by leaving painful situations. I dodged fear by never looking at it or finding out why I had feared. I simply dismissed these things and moved on to somewhere or someone new. When I found that I was in pain or fear again, I ran away.

I thought that if I avoided pain and fear, my life would be full of sensual delights. That wasn’t the case, it was the opposite. I found that I had Agliophobia, which is a persistent, unwarranted, and often an irrational fear of pain. In every situation, with every person, I found the same old fear and pain. I had abandoned myself to a life of bodily desires and found that I didn’t actually have a life. Eventually, I got tired of running and hiding. I had exhausted myself more than anything else. It was simply too much trouble to start over again and move on, to try to escape my fear of fear and pain.

So, how did I get over my Agliophobia and achieve this miraculous enlightenment and change? I didn’t. I have not altered one solitary thing about me from the age of 20 until now in my 60s. I spent 40 years in pain and fear for no reason.

I’m still the same greedy, dipsomaniac liar that I have always been. Nothing has changed my view of pleasure or the world. Pleasure is still the goal of my life and I place it above other things and other people.

I found no pleasure in reasoning. All analysis showed me was how I had wasted my time analysing things. Because evaluating, considering, exploring, and probing only made things worse. My unexamined life gave me the pleasure I had always been seeking.

Sounds counterintuitive? Not to me. What I’ve found is that the best life is the longest life lived in pleasure. Though I avoid overt greed and sloth; they are too much trouble to attain. I have resisted the urge of the real Epicurean principle and built my own world of pleasure that is defined by my terms and no other. I don’t have that outer classic life of hedonism like a rock star or a billionaire, but inside, I do.

From the outside, people see me as a sober, calm person of caring and understanding. They see me this way because that’s what they want to see, that’s what they expect other people to be. I’m not an ancient Roman who takes what he wants and kills anyone who stands in my way. I don’t have to be a Roman, or anything else. I let people believe that what they think I am, I am.

This is how I killed off all my pain and fear. Other people did it for me. Other people granted me a life of sober reasoning, at least from their point of view I was a restrained person of logic. Regardless of how irrational and dangerous my life really is, I am seen as a soul of calm and empathy.

Maybe, in the eyes of others, the only way to have a life of sober reasoning is to be seen to have sober reasoning. It looks like Gandhi and Mother Teresa had sober reasoning, but it’s way too difficult to be like them. With the hell and trouble that other people cause you, it’s best to let them think what they want. This is how you can have sober reasoning. Let other people think what they want of you. Inside, you can be anything you desire.

If you let other people think that you are what they think you are, they will leave you alone to get on with your life of pleasure.