Animal behaviour experts observed that a particular monkey was hoarding bananas—far more than it could ever eat—and decided that such aberrant behaviour was something worth studying. Scientists needed to decipher the psychology that led to this action. Basically, that monkey was put in “the naughty corner” while experts tried to discover what was causing such ‘unreasonable’, even for a monkey, behaviour.
Meanwhile, humans hoarding more money that they could ever use are praised and lauded.
The disparity between these two observations is difficult to understand.
In 2012, Australian politician, author, lawyer and former professor of economics, Dr Andrew Leigh wrote about a wealth “ladder”.
“Imagine a ladder, in which each rung represents a million dollars of wealth. Imagine the Australian population spread out along this ladder, with their distance from the ground reflecting their household wealth.
On this ladder, half of all households are closer to the ground than they are to the first rung.
The typical Australian household is halfway to the first rung.
Someone in the top 10 percent is at least 1½ rungs up.
A household in the top 1 percent is at least 5 rungs up.
Gina Rinehart is 5½ kilometres off the ground” *.
(* in 2022, 10 years later, it is estimated to be more like 10 kms from the ground).
Now, that’s a great illustration of inequality in Australia.
It would be naïve to think that we might ever be totally rid of inequality —and perhaps that is as it should be—but must life and circumstances be so dramatically unequal? I mean, is it right and ethical that some people ‘earn’ (and I use that term loosely) as much in a week as someone else takes more than a year to accumulate?
A 2017 quote from ‘The New Internationalist’ magazine:
“The evidence is mounting that greater economic equality benefits all people in all societies, whether you are rich, poor or in-between. Once this is widely understood, politicians and policymakers will be forced to take note…”
(and Later..) “The equality effect can appear magical. In more equal countries, human beings are generally happier and healthier; there is less crime, more creativity, more productivity, and – overall – higher real educational attainment. The evidence for the benefits of living more economically equitable lives is now so overwhelming …….”
Of course, I am only talking of inequality here as a money ‘thing’. There are many more ways of being inequal, especially regarding opportunity, but it’s the $$$ inequality that affects us so much.
In yesterday’s newspaper, (24/5/22) the wise and talented Thomas Keneally mentions the great unfortunate truth that,
“Trickle down has always gushed up”.
I will forever rant on about inequality and its sad consequences.
Oh, that equality of sorts was attainable here in Australia!
It would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Maybe those monkeys who didn’t hoard bananas could teach us something?
that it will soon start to change politics and societies all over the world.
2013 Book: Battlers & Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia
Perhaps attitudes haven’t changed.
Many decades ago, my parents were told by an Anglican priest that they had probably been ‘chosen by God’ to be the special people to have a disabled child; a child to be used (by God, presumably) to help others show their kindness and charity.
That child is no longer with us, but he was my brother for 63 years.
Sure, it was sometimes hard (bloody hard!) for us to cope with a family member with Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities. But our family was resilient. Our family was full of love and understanding —not only for my brother, but for anyone and everyone.
Were we blessed? Were we not blessed?
Who knows what ‘blessed’ means?
When I was involved as a teacher in ‘Special Ed’ for many years, I spent my days with children of many differing abilities —and their parents and families.
Was I blessed then - or not blessed?
Although I do not truly understand the meaning of ‘blessed’, I was appalled by the words of our Prime Minister, who claimed to ‘be blessed’ to not have a disabled child.
Well, Mr Prime Minister, I know who seems more ‘blessed’ to me — and that is the crowd of people who have had the joys and heartaches of being involved in the lives of people who may be different from the ones you admire.
I, and those who have had the privilege to be close to such a variety of ‘disabled’ people, and the disabled people themselves, are the ones who have empathy, who have resilience, who have understanding and a real appreciation of what it’s like to be truly alive and aware.
You’d be a better man, Mr Prime Minister, if you ever emerged from your pristine, self-worshipping space.
In all the horror of this Russian war on Ukraine, I keep remembering how a Russian (now Australian) lady told me some years ago about Putin undergoing regular cosmetic surgery – face lifts, in other words. The thought if it greatly annoyed and disturbed her. She listed it among other negative aspects of the Russian leader’s approach to life.
He is obviously a narcissist.
Which brings me to the awful topic of WHY? WHY? WHY?
and WHAT FOR?
Why? and what for? has this man decided it is his right to take control of another country and, in so doing, have his (‘his’!) soldiers kill (murder, really) thousands of innocent people?
I cannot begin to fathom the abomination of what Putin is doing.
As the murders and the wreckage continues, Putin seemingly remains untouchable.
At the (reported) age of 69, Putin has lately done much to unsettle the world order and produce global instability — and yet he is a man who is so vain and insecure that he needs to embrace cosmetic surgery in an attempt to look younger.
Dear Mr Putin,
You may have had your face lifted and there are no wrinkles on your brow, but I have glimpsed your hands (on tv) and they look like the hands of an old man.
All the other old man’s hands I know belong to men full of empathy and love of – and for - their fellow man.
Why are you so different?
And, why are you obsessed with domination?
You have your Russia, you have your mistress installed in a safe country, you have your $700 million yacht waiting for you, berthed in an Italian harbour and you have your smooth and wrinkle-free forehead.
You “have it all” as they say.
You face is unblemished.
How about your soul?
I overheard a comment the other day about all the ‘deprivation’ that is currently in our lives. I guess they were referring to the restrictions placed on us (for our own good, by the way) due to the Covid-19 virus.
The amount of people protesting about wanting “FREEDOM” is astounding, even though it’s not completely clear what they need freedom from – or for.
I guess we’ve all been upset at times about Covid restrictions.
BUT…As much as the past two years have been tedious and worrying, we haven’t been without too much. Not too much ‘deprivation’.
Deprivation – for our own good, as I keep saying – is altogether not too bad.
(Back when Australia’s population was only about 7 million -– in the time of WW ll)
“Rationing regulations for food and clothing were gazetted (14 May 1942). Rationing was introduced to manage shortages and control civilian consumption. It aimed to curb inflation, reduce total consumer spending, and limit impending shortages of essential goods.” (ref: published by the Australian War Memorial)
Now that’s more akin to ‘deprivation’.
“Rationing was enforced by the use of coupons and was limited to clothing, tea, sugar, butter, and meat. From time to time, eggs and milk were also rationed under a system of priority for vulnerable groups during periods of shortage.”
(Reminder: some of us have recently been worried about enough toilet paper).
Later. How about this for deprivation:
“By the 1950s most Indigenous Australians had lost their lands and lived in poverty on the fringes of non-Indigenous society. Many were not eligible for the dole or other state or federal benefits which non-Indigenous people received. State laws controlled where many Indigenous people could live, where they could or couldn’t move and whom they could marry.
Many Indigenous Australians were not legal guardians of their own children and were not permitted to manage their own earnings. (ref: National Museum Aus)
By the 1960s, with population a little over 10 million, we forgot deprivation for a while…
With 1960s television now the main family entertainment, relaxing was good.
But, hang on, in 1965, all boys (yes, they were only boys, even though officials called them ‘males’ or ‘young men’) who turned 20 between Jan 1 and June 30, had to register for National Service.
Then, in that same year, troops were sent off to Vietnam.
Try to imagine what would be said about that nowadays!
To 1970s, 80s and beyond, if you ask older people, you’ll hear lots of tales of (what could now be referred to as) deprivation or hardship, including high interest rates, war protests, land rights, Aboriginal rights, overflowing school class sizes, unemployment and more…
Yes, the restrictions around Covid-19 have been a trial at times, with two years of deprivation.
But, here, in February 2022, we have a little easing of restrictions.
We’re not back to normal, yet, but, as someone said last week,
“Privation is (now) a late Amazon delivery”.
Food for thought? Privation indeed!
A while ago I decided not to write on any subject matter to do with politics. BUT I am so appalled at the government’s attitude towards - and dealing (or not dealing) with - the current crisis in aged care that I just had to add my voice.
The aged care sector has been sadly neglected for many years and has been in strife throughout the three years of Covid19.
Since the Omicron virus arrived in Australia in November, nearly 600 aged care residents have died with it - or from it. This latest ‘version’ of the pandemic is spreading like wildfire throughout aged care accommodation and yet dozens of these places are still waiting for the necessary booster shots for residents and staff.
Wasn’t the need for these vaccinations foreseen and wasn’t the administration of these jabs promised some time ago?
Staff – what’s left of them – are exhausted after working horrendous hours trying to care for those in their ‘care’.
There are THOUSANDS of vulnerable residents in lockdown. They feel as though they are in prison as rules of isolation and segregation are enforced (to little effect, it seems).
Meanwhile we hear how ‘our’ Aged Care minister has spent three days at the cricket, ignoring the need to attend the Senate hearing dealing with aged care. (He has been absent from more meetings on the subject than those he has attended).
And now, as the crisis begins to make headlines, the government announces it will form a “Task Force” to study the issues - and collect data concerning deaths. (You could not make this up – as the saying goes!).
A TASK FORCE. to COLLECT DATA!
In 2018 a Royal Commission into Aged Care was set up. The resulting report was issued in March of 2021, with the main distressing finding being headed “Neglect”.
And what has been done since? Bugger all!
Sure, no one knew the extent of the pandemic – although careful observation of what was happening overseas should have given Australia a ‘heads up’ on what was to be expected.
But little notice was taken of the Royal Commission’s reports.
All hopeless, all distressing, all upsetting, all frustrating and all simply horrifying.
One of my main current concerns is this awful attitude of politicians – and sometimes the general population – of mentioning the fact that some of these poor, precious people who have died, were “already palliative” – indicating that they ‘were going to die anyway’.
How disgusting. How disrespectful and how heartless.
AND…if these people were ‘going to die anyway’, WHY were they denied the chance to have a loved one by their side as they died? WHY, if their son, daughter, brother, sister, spouse, whoever, was masked up and wanted to be present, WHY did these elderly and vulnerable people have to die ALONE?
Am I missing something?
Aged Care residents are being neglected at a far worse rate than stated in the original report. Many are alone, uncared for, unbathed, untreated, unfed (in some cases) and left to die alone – while the virus spreads seemingly unrestricted.
I feel helpless and frustrated. But most of all I feel disgusted with the people who are supposed to be supportive, both in a $$$ way and in a decent way, of their citizens.
By the way…75% of aged care providers are assessed as ‘profitable’.
The aged care sector generates about $26 BILLION a year in revenue, with providers making over $2 billion in profits. 35% of 'homes' are run by ‘for profit’ companies.
Only about 9% are government run aged care ‘homes’.
In many cases, residents themselves contribute billions of $$$ for their accommodation. The $$ from “refundable accommodation deposits” contributed by each resident, ranging from hundreds of thousands $$ to millions $$, are used by providers.
It’s a tricky deal to understand. Not sure how ethical it is.
SPORT, part 2…
In my last blog post, I wrote about various activities known as SPORT — initiated, I suspect, by the furore surrounding renowned sportsman antivaxxer (later renamed by some as “NoVax”).
Continuing my thoughts on the definition of sport and its different modes — whether for personal enjoyment or for public display and $$$$$$, my mind turned to boxing.
I have always had a strong dislike for this ‘sport’, including confusion on how on earth boxing could ever be classed as SPORT.
To be called a winner after bashing someone into insensibility is hardly what I would consider SPORT.
At the end of a boxing round — or rounds — there’s the ‘champ’, with his hand held high in victory by the referee, while his opponent lies on the ‘canvas’, blood leaking from his broken nose and a cut over his left eyebrow. SPORT?
But there you are: People do it. People watch it. People even pay to see it. Each to his own, I suppose. But….?
Recently in Queensland there was a big horse thing called ‘Magic Millions’. There were a few horse races involved but apparently the ‘millions’ was to do with the selling and buying of racehorses.
I have written about the horse racing ‘industry’ before. I asked how many families keep horses in their backyard, as it had been reported that the racehorse breeding programs did not, (as some suggested) ‘eliminate’ unsuccessful horses as ‘waste’. “No”, they said, “we rehome all horses that are not used in the ‘industry’. All those horses go to homes where they are cared for lovingly…etc…”
Seeing that the rate of horse breeding results in hundreds of horses bred each and every year, far more than those used in racing, there must be thousands of suburban homes that ultimately home and care for one of these excess horses.
Do you have a horse in your backyard?
No? Me neither.
Similarly with greyhounds.
A couple of years ago it seemed to be popular – and dare I say, a fashionable thing, to own a ‘Rescued Greyhound’.
People walking proudly in the park with their svelte greyhounds seemed to emanate an air of superiority. “I saved this beautiful dog from death”, they implied. “Everyone should do this”.
But, then again, there are not hundreds of people walking greyhounds in every park.
The number of bred greyhounds, before ability tested and checked by breeders would be a great number annually. Considering numbers ultimately used in the greyhound ‘industry’, I imagine there would be many more ‘unwanted’ dogs than those few we see walking in the suburbs.
So, I suppose what I am saying about horse racing and greyhound racing is two-fold:
One, that it is debatable if these activities qualify as SPORT. And two, the amount of culling — cruelty, in other words — should be unacceptable.
To end on a more positive note concerning SPORT, I have to say that there are many sporting activities that are great.
In country communities especially, games of netball, tennis, basketball, soccer, cricket, softball, etcetera — even AFL (women and men) — keep towns together and the players healthy.
Activities such as swimming, cycling – even dancing - are all excellent ways to use your time and keep fit.
But I have a problem with some other activities referred to as SPORT.
If it’s primarily for money and adulation – even if it is an excellent skill, I am not sure if that is true SPORT.
I won’t even touch on the Olympics!
If it is using a machine or animal, more than human physical activity, then I am not sure if that constitutes a SPORT.
If the activity results in a person or an animal (animals?) being hurt or ‘eliminated’, then that should definitely not be considered a FAIR SPORT.
I may be wrong.
Here’s a definition of SPORT, from Cambridge dictionary:
‘a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job’.
Okay, I accept that tennis is a sport…but, we have recently been put through days of mind-numbing media reports and analyses concerning a multi-millionaire sportsman who didn’t wish to endure a couple of necessary injections - allowing him to hit a ball over a net.
It was hideous the way this story took over the News. It surely set more than me wondering about sport…and the meaning of ‘News’.
But, back to SPORT: Sure, there are different modes of SPORT in everyday life. Every type of football can easily be identified as SPORT, even though I cringe at the money aspect of professional teams.
But football and other activities do qualify as SPORT, by needing skill and having rules – no matter what you think.
Rugby looks like what we used to play as nine-year-olds, called “Keepings off”, where we tried to wrest a ball from our ‘opponents’.
Some folk enjoy watching grown men, with thick necks, play that game. Each to his own, I suppose.
Cricket is a SPORT – and I admit that I enjoy watching a small amount of it on tv occasionally. But it is just a game where someone throws a ball at someone else, who then tries to hit it ‘effectively’. And a game can last for days!
There are individual SPORTS activities such as all forms of athletics, involving running and jumping as well as swimming and surfing, etc.
So, I accept there are many SPORTS around that people enjoy watching as well as participating in.
But…as for (professional) golf: How anyone can walk around a golf course, (as a spectator) watching grownups hit a little white ball into a hole and consider it an enjoyable way to spend a day eludes me. Apparently, the person who uses the lowest number of hits to get the little ball into a hole is the winner! There’s a person called ‘Tiger’(!) who is a multi-millionaire from doing just that!
Then there are activities some call SPORT, that I can’t equate with the word, ‘SPORT’. I’m referring to car and motorbike racing.
How can something like that be considered a SPORT? Beats me! Yep, skill, maybe – but SPORT?
What about shooting? Yes, shooting. It’s an Olympic SPORT! All about accuracy, I imagine…but SPORT?
Over a hundred years ago, pigeon racing was an Olympic SPORT! Even now, some people refer to it as a SPORT! Poor pigeons do all the work, and some human being gets all the praise!
I’ll comment more on the topic of sport in the next blog as I am getting off the track of my original question of WHAT is SPORT? – the starting point being the rogue tennis player who thought he was ‘The Greatest’ in too many ways.
For years – decades, maybe – I have told friends & relatives that it is dangerous (once over 60 years of age - I may have even said ‘over 50’) - to clamber up ladders or climb up on chairs and tables to reach high places.
So why did I – at my ancient age – step up on a kitchen chair to place something up on a high shelf?
The answer is that I considered myself quite able to do such a thing. Which was/is a wrong assumption.
I stepped up on to a chair, lost my balance, flew through the air backwards, landed in a crashing heap on the kitchen floor and whacked my head on hard tiles.
Long story, involving a hospital visit (scary in these Covid times), CT scan and a resultant diagnosis of serious concussion.
Previously I had no idea that concussion means days (weeks now) of dizziness, headaches, unsteady gait, inability to look at a computer screen without becoming nauseous and a desire to lie on the sofa all day.
But that’s it!
This is as long a blog post that I can muster right now. Nausea rising!
PLEASE everyone – if you are older than about 50, do not climb up on anything, no matter how young you feel you are.
Concussion* awaits – and it is not nice.
*Worse can happen.
Happy New Year, 2022!
Can we even say that? I mean, do we dare expect 2022 to be a happy year after the past two?
Yes, I know there were a few good happenings in 2020 and 2021, but I just can’t think of many right now.
The past two years have been dominated by a virus that took us by surprise, presenting different lives and behaviours previously unknown.
T.S.Elliot wrote, “For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.”
And so I have compiled a list of ‘last year’s language’ for us to ponder and maybe shudder over:
Wuhan, Covid, virus, pandemic, Coronavirus, symptoms, vaccination, antivaxx, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, infections, deaths, border closures, outbreaks, cancellations, boosters, Omicron….
And, to counteract those words, here are just a few hopeful suggestions for the language of ‘another voice’ in 2022:
Immunity, cure, normal, bliss, happiness….
Well, here’s wishing everyone a happy Christmas – or as happy a Christmas as is possible, considering all the disruptions and worries surrounding the spreading virus as we wonder where the bloody thing is lurking.
I will not go near a shop, even though I have no fake holly for the top of the pudding. That’s no longer important.
Our (smaller) family gathering was quite settled and organised – we thought – until number two grandson received a message to say that he had been in a Covid (close contact) space.
Well, when you’re 23 and have a pile of friends wanting to let their hair down at the end of the year, what else would you do, but go clubbing? Urrgghh!
They think they are indestructible! And they’re not.
Now he’s unwell and isolating…poor thing.
His mother is upset and so are we all.
As no family members have been in close contact with this young man for three weeks we feel we are safe….But…?
I am now eligible for a ‘booster’ shot, but much online searching and GP phoning has revealed not a single chance appointment for over a month.
So, another meaningless Gov announcement, eh?
¯ “We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you…..etc…
And a Happy New Year.” ¯
I’m sure we all hope it will be a HAPPY NEW YEAR….eventually.
am trying to work out how many years have gone by since my grandmother gave me this little Christmas ornament. It’s more than 50 years ago – possibly 55 years. At the time, she said, ‘Here’s something for you to put out at Christmas time and think of me after I’m gone.’
The candle that burned brightly for a few Christmases has long ago melted into a shapeless blob; fake holly leaves have fractured, parts fallen away.
The ribbons have lost their sheen and the baubles are looking tired. One has broken.
Three miniature pine-cones remain anchored by wire. Their original host tree probably logged long ago.
This ‘hardly an ornament’ is a sad-looking thing and yet I still bring it out of its box every year and place it under the Christmas tree.
"Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago." So said English actor, Tom Baker.
My little ornament has lost any “glitter and glow” it ever had, but here it is, once again.
And I am remembering Grandma with love.
"No one ever fully recovers from their past,” so writes Alan Cumming, Scottish actor, singer and activist.
It’s a dramatic statement, but I would change the words ‘their past’ to ‘their childhood.’
I didn’t have to ‘recover’ from my early life, even though my childhood had – and has had – a substantial influence on my life.
That must be true of most people.
I was one of the lucky ones. Although there were ups and downs of various kinds during my childhood, it was generally a happy one, where I was constantly well cared-for and loved.
Sadly, that is not an experience shared by everyone.
Recently I’ve been watching some ‘True Crime’ programs on Netflix. (Yes, I have succumbed!)
As these televised investigations reveal details about murders and other shocking offences, it soon becomes apparent that almost all perpetrators of serious crime have experienced appalling childhoods.
Some have been forced out of home as mere children - homeless at an unconscionable early age. Some have been mistreated, physically, psychologically, sexually and/or mentally throughout most of their early lives. Some have been the recipients of drug-fuelled neglect.
Many never knew a father. Many never knew a mother’s love.
“No one ever fully recovers from their past”
And: “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” (Attributed to Aristotle).
Those statements are telling.
The solution seems simple: ensure that every single person experiences a happy, loved, and well-nourished childhood and the crime rate and accompanying misery will all but vanish.
If only it were that simple.
It is, instead, an impossible and insurmountable problem that, however hard good people and good organisations may try to alleviate the problem of childhood neglect, nothing touches the sides.
And so, as children suffer, so too, will society suffer in the end.
Must add that there are a few decidedly plain nasty (evil?) criminals who may have had a privileged childhood.
As, also, there are well adjusted and upstanding members of the community whose early unhappy childhood experiences have not stopped them from having a successful adulthood.
Steering clear of political & other comment, here's a different 'worry':
As animal lovers, where did we go wrong?
We brought our kids up in country Victoria to give them a rural, nature-filled, animal-loving childhood, away from the cities.
Over the years we owned - and cared for - dogs and puppies, baby lambs, calves, cows, goats, chooks, a white mouse, a ginger cat, even a donkey and (of course) guinea pigs.
We went on outings to forests and farmlands to experience the environment and to see native animals in their natural habitat. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, koalas, turtles, and echidnas.
The kids seemed to love them all—the ones we had at home and the ones they saw out in the bush. We thought we had given them a love of nature as well as knowledge of how to care for creatures of every sort.
Our kids are well grown up now and have families of their own.
Our daughter lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, in a big house that has no room for a pet of any sort.
Our son lives in UK with a backyard as big as a pocket handkerchief.
Animals? Pets? Zilch!
Where did we go wrong?
What animals have they had? Do they have?
What animals are they caring for?
Admittedly, the Gold Coast family had some guinea pigs for a while and the UK ones had a rabbit that lived in a cupboard for a few years.
But, as for now…the answer is nil.
But, wait! A grown-up grandson and his wife now own two cats.
Should I feel that the tide has turned?
Remember when, in 2014, the then treasurer, Joe Hockey, stated that “the age of entitlement is over” and it was time for “all Australians to do their fair share of heavy lifting”?
It seems that most Australians have been doing their fair share of heavy lifting over the past two years, with the careful and dutiful following of advice concerning Covid19.
Maybe not the sort of ‘heavy lifting’ that our Joe referred to, but heavy lifting, all the same.
We have willingly endured lockdowns, separation (sometimes painful) from family and friends, worked from home, home schooled the kids, worn masks, used gallons of hand sanitiser, eaten only home cooked meals, bought essential items online, saw businesses flounder and watched daily tv updates on the progress of the virus.
Cooperation has been widespread and, although the virus has taken a dreadful toll, the ‘heavy lifting’ has paid off for millions.
But lately the wheels seem to be falling off. Not least of all the politicisation of decisions – mainly what restrictions should be mandatory and what is ‘Freedom’.
Politicians are not helping.
Unhinged members of the community have been encouraged to display their “unhinged-ness” as they flout safety rules and parade around capital city streets (mask-less) wielding banners with often crazy messages.
(I am still asking what the “save our children” one is about!)
Eureka flags (inappropriate), praise for Donald Trump (even more inappropriate) and references to the poison that apparently lurks in each vial of vaccine, are but a few examples.
A recent count of Covid19 hospital patients has reached a rate of over 90% ratio of unvaccinated, as opposed to fewer than 10% vaccinated. (And the vaccinated patients reportedly are not as sick).
So, after the Covid19 “heavy lifting” has been done, the crazies are wrecking the good result, leaving hospitals and hardworking medical staff with MORE “heavy lifting”.
It seems that we are now ‘an economy’ and no longer ‘a community’, which is extremely sad as well as worrying.
Listening to a television discussion last night, people spoke about how property development and real estate dealing had overtaken more social aspects of life (in Australia and the globe) over the past decade or so.
And it starts us wondering just WHO is leading this change and WHY.
Of course, it all leads to money being the driving force of whatever is happening.
Any idea of equality has seemingly disappeared as people clamber over others to climb the ladder of wealth.
We are told (lectured, sometimes) all sorts of theories about how to successfully ‘progress’ in this new world.
Sadly, it has been proved again and again, that the notion of the (economical) “trickle down effect” is a lie. Money never ‘trickles down’ to those in the lower socio-economic section.
The mantra of “if you have a go, you get a go” is total nonsense – and one example I have seen up close, is in rural areas, where farmers certainly “have a go” to amazing extents, but who will never, ever achieve an income of over half a million $ p.a. as is ‘earned’ by a certain PM.
Pondering the idea of social equity, I found this definition:
“Social Equity is the active commitment to fairness, justice, and equality in the formulation of public policy, distribution of public services, implementation of public policy, and management of all institutions serving the public…”
Can’t see much of that happening lately.
Writing from Robben Island, way back in 1970, long before being released, Nelson Mandela said: “I am influenced more than ever before by the conviction that social equality is the only basis of human happiness.”
I think he may be right.
But, then again, people who mine the land into oblivion, becoming billionaires, seem to be happy. Are they? With more than enough money to last many lifetimes, they have multiple opportunities to bring happiness to millions of their countrymen and women and yet …. and yet….
I have to admit, it has only recently that I tried to understand the true meaning of the word, ‘kleptocracy’ - and I am wondering if we are now living in such a state.
The Cambridge dictionary defines kleptocracy as “a society whose leaders make themselves rich and powerful by stealing from the rest of the people”
Heck! Is this what we have become?
I don’t think I like it.
“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”
Barack Obama, (Former US President).
I have lived through some frightening times (2007), when living in rural Victoria, and I know the fear presented by the blackened sky of bushfires, and the worrying - and oft frantic - fire prevention preparation of our home.
I have witnessed floods that washed away bridges and I have bottle-fed motherless lambs in time of drought.
There is a certain visceral knowledge of climate change effects that is possibly best understood by experience, more so that lectures and video footage on the tv news.
We should now mourn the wasted years, when we could have effectively dealt with the horror of what is to come, as our children and grandchildren inherit extreme weather events that may ultimately prove to be deadly for some.
And still politicians waffle on meaninglessly as they defend the fossil fuel worshippers (beneficiaries) as if we, in Australia, have nothing to worry about.
As Australia’s deputy prime minister makes a hash of pretending to care for our country’s contribution to alleviating the effects of Climate Change, he turns crucial ‘debate’ into mock decisions based on bribery and shonky dealing with our already shonky government, then utters the ridiculous: “There is no pantomime here; this is fair dinkum serious business.”
(Barnaby Joyce 19.10.21)
As Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at The Australian Institute says,
“It’s not climate change that needs to be tackled. It is the political power of the fossil fuel industry.”
I am using quotes from people far more knowledgeable than I am, as they are able to put the situation most succinctly, such as the brave 17 year-old Swedish Activist Greta Thunberg, who says,
“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,
but I don’t want your hope.
I don’t want you to be hopeful.
I want you to panic.
I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
I want you to act.
I want you to act as you would in a crisis.
I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”
(Quoting WWF): “To adequately address this crisis we must urgently reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the consequences of global warming, which we are already experiencing.”
What is Australia going to do?
In May of this year (2021) we visited the site of the Myall Creek massacre.
Myall Creek is a place, where, in 1838, a group of twenty-eight Indigenous people, sitting peacefully around a campfire chatting and working, were brutally killed.
The group consisted mainly of women and children, with a couple of old men, no longer able to go hunting.
The young men of the tribe had gone after food for their families.
A group of colonists who came upon the group, simply massacred them.
Now, a warning here: These peaceful people were not shot, they were savagely massacred; their bodies chopped and slashed into unrecognisable pieces, heads were severed - by white men who objected to ‘Natives’ being on ‘their’ land.
This was not an isolated case of murder, committed by white men. The victims were First Nations people, going about the activities they had been involved in for thousands of years. Similar atrocities happened elsewhere.
The reason that the Mile Creek Massacre is often mentioned is that it was the first time the colonial administration created laws making Aboriginal people equal in the law.
As a consequence, the murderous Colonists were arrested and seven of them executed.
The site today is a peaceful place. There is a gentle path winding around the hilltop, over which some bodies were thrown in 1838. Information plaques offer some of the story and people have built small memorial rock cairns along the way.
To walk along the path, on a peaceful, blue-sky day, surrounded by eucalypt trees and bird song is very moving, as visitors take in the meaning of the site.
It is hard not to feel emotion and even blink back a tear, while also being horrified at the details of such a happening.
Despite its horrendous history, it is somehow a beautiful place; and very peaceful.
Up until NOW.
We have just seen in the News, that someone has desecrated this peaceful site, with racist words and wreckage.
I cannot fathom the ignorance and mindless action that would make someone do this.
Myall Creek is not a ‘handy’ place to visit. These fools must have planned such an action. Surely not, but why else would they have visited?
It is unimaginable that this could happen. It seems that 183 years later, there are bigoted and racist individuals still to learn the meaning of equality.
CROWS! They start squawking at 4.45am. So big and loud! (These are Qld Torresian crows, much bigger than the Victorian ravens).
There are about 20 of them and they don’t perch so much as fly around a particular stand of trees about 300 metres from our place. They fly and squawk all through the morning – sometimes all day. And I am sick of them.
Nevertheless, I am still pleased that we have birds around us. Even crows!
Daily, when I am sitting outside eating breakfast, a friendly magpie comes and sits beside me – on the veranda tiles or on the chair next to me - and I share some of my toast with him (or her?). He eats some and then gathers up a few extras and flies off to a tall gum tree over the back fence.
Babies, I presume.
Then another one comes, sings to me, and looks for a handout. They are beautiful, these magpies, and I almost forget the noise of the crows.
Then come the noisy miners, to feed on nectar from the grevillea bushes. They are soon joined by the blue-faced honeyeaters. The noise they make is loud, but not annoying as the crows.
A little later, rainbow lorikeets fly into the grevillea and the miners and honeyeaters leave the bushes to concentrate on bath time.
We have three bird baths – all used frequently. The miners splash around in the baths, but also dive into (yes, into) the swimming pool, quickly immersing themselves before zooming out to the pool fence, pausing to fluff up and dry their wings.
Blue-faced honeyeaters do the same, but a bit more cautiously.
While I’m watching the birds, I will often have an extra visitor, in the form of a dragon.
Eastern Water Dragons live in and around our garden and sheds. They disappear over the winter months but are back with us as the weather warms up. One or two of them will also share my breakfast… and sometimes lunch…and I know it is time to start making safer food for them and the magpies to share.
Too much bread is not the best for either of these creatures. (Even home baked!)
The crows are still squawking but have settled down a bit.
Despite the crows’ noise (Now I know why it’s a “murder of crows”) I am contemplating how fortunate I am to be surrounded by birds and nature every day, even though I am not living ‘in the bush’.
It can’t be good to be a city slicker, apartment dweller, if there are no birds – not even crows.
What has happened to us?
Kevin Rudd, speaking after Australia’s 2009 ‘Black Saturday’ fires:
“…In some countries, tragedy exposes the fault lines in a nation.
The strong abandoning the weak; one region indifferent to the sufferings of another, one culture uncaring as to the needs of another.
But ours is a different nation. Our nation has been as one.
Australia - a nation of compassion. Courage and compassion…”*
IS AUSTRALIA STILL A ‘DIFFERENT NATION’; DIFFERENT FROM OTHER, MORE DIVIDED PLACES?
ARE WE STILL A NATION OF COMPASSION AND COURAGE?
I’m not sure anymore.
This is what we have:
State against State.
Region against Region.
‘Haves’ against ‘have-nots’.
A worshipping of money by those in power.
Imprisonment of (genuine) refugees.
Persecution of folk on ‘Welfare’ – (that use to be called ‘Social Security’)
The use of the National flag as a sort of weird nationalistic authority, accompanying rampart racism.
I feel there is a nastiness that is unlike anything Australia has seen – or felt - before.
I don’t like this ‘new’ Australia.
Should we blame it all on the mental fatigue presented by the COVID19 virus?
I don’t think so.
*Address on the National Day of Mourning for the victims of the Victoria Bushfires, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne. 22/02/2009
“Behold! a giant am I
Aloft here in my tower…”
Every time I see - in reality, or on television - those gigantic wind turbines, I cannot stop Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s introductory words of The Windmill from popping into my head.
“Behold! A giant am I!”
When I was a child of primary school age – seemingly a hundred years ago - poetry was a thing, and we enjoyed it. And ‘The Windmill’ was one of my favourites.
Of course, Longfellow’s windmill was unlike our modern wind turbine. The old one “ground …The maize, and the wheat, and the rye” into flour.
Today’s ‘windmills’ are helping to save the planet.
They are majestic and wonderful, and I can’t help but wonder why the proliferation of these mighty machines is not a topic on the front page of newspapers, or more frequently in the News.
I don’t understand how politicians and others with influence are not singing the praises and promoting these giant turbines that are supplying us with so much renewable energy daily.
The same goes for those acres and acres - actually some at 15,000 hectares (kms & kms) - of solar panels that can be seen in all parts of rural Australia.
It’s difficult for a layperson to estimate the cost to governments and consumers of wind farms, and I have little understanding of subsidies concerning megawatts – or whatever - produced. Farmers and others are trying to make money from ‘hosting’ wind farms, but it is sometimes unclear how long it takes to make a profit.
Likewise solar farms. They seem owned by a variety of companies. It’s a growing industry, but who owns or runs all these solar farms is a bit of a mystery.
Nevertheless, wind and solar farms are part of what MIGHT save our ever-warming planet.
Verse 4 of ‘The Windmill’ goes like this:
I stand here in my place,
With my foot on the rock below,
And whichever way it may blow
I meet it face to face,
As a brave man meets his foe.
What a great description.
Not much publicity is given to today’s windmills.
It would be nice if media outlets became more rousing in the praise of these and other methods of renewable power. IMHO The populace needs to be aware of these positive growth- industries – and be more informed.
Can we please have some good, positive news about fixing the horror that is Climate Change?
With so many other sombre and depressing reports, especially of Covid19 virus infections and so much boiling unrest about so-called Lockdowns, it would be nice to have a smidgeon of good news every day.
As for poems such as “The Windmill”, I plan to write about those another day, as I ponder how poetry seems to have disappeared from primary schools.
Meanwhile, good news, please.
As the need for good news increases, I have no words about the current horrible uncertainty created by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the fear it is generating.
Every late afternoon I go for a short walk through a nearby park. The main path I take adjoins a cyclone fence belonging to a large primary school.
Running parallel, about 4 metres from the path, is a small shallow creek.
Being a ‘grumpy old lady’ who worries about the environment, I always take a bag with me on my walk and collect bits and pieces of rubbish that litter the pathway and surrounds. Sometimes there’s a lot, at other times only one or two pieces. The picture accompanying this is from Fridays’ walk.
On a windy day there is always more – and some bits too hard to catch!
On the school’s side of the fence, the rubbish in some places is ankle deep.
There are several concerns presented by this situation:
One worry is that so many children are obviously eating packaged snacks – snacks packed and sealed in plastic, that not only present a litter problem but (to me, anyway) displays a lack of decent nutrition. (But, I guess, that’s none of my business).
The small detail that the children seem unable to contain their cast-off packaging is another concern.
Also, while these packs may be convenient for busy parents to pop into lunch boxes, they must surely be a drain on household expense (?)
But the other, possibly main, worry concerns the fact that most of these little bits of trash will end up in the creek, which will swish them further along the waterways, ultimately ending in the ocean.
My walk, and my minuscule rubbish collecting, is hardly going to make a difference to one of the huge environmental problems besetting the world today, but I simply cannot bear to walk by this sort of almost innocent-looking rubbish.
So, I guess, I’ll keep doing it.
I have no answer!
After being immersed in children’s literature for some time - as a teacher, a mother and a grandmother - of late I have obviously not kept up with modern trends in kids’ books..
Although I have a four-year-old granddaughter living in U.K. to whom I send books on a semi-regular basis, these are usually books well known to me from my years as the aforesaid mother, grandmother and primary school teacher.
But apparently, I have ‘dropped the ball’ (as they say) and have been left behind as far as what’s trending.
I must admit I was a little surprised to read a glowing review of a new children's book by a previously (to me) unknown author, Zoe Foster Blake.
The book’s title is “Fart and Burp are Superstinkers”. A posted comment was, “What could be better than a Fart with a heart? A Super Fart of course!”
So, it must be a happy and positive story.
Please do not, for one minute, think I am disparaging Ms Foster Blake’s expertise as a storyteller. From what I have (now) read I believe she is a wonderful and very popular author of children’s books. I am perhaps the only one who missed out on reading her previous book (“No One Likes a Fart”).
On a brief search of other kids’ books containing (previously thought) “rude” titles, it was easy to find such titles as “Bumageddon”, by Andy Griffiths, who also wrote “Zombie Bums From Uranus” and “The Day My Bum Went Psycho”.
It somehow brought back memories of my teaching days in the 1990s, when a parent complained to me about a small reading book I had sent home with her son, that depicted a father wearing an apron and washing the dishes. This overly-religious mother felt that this little book was inappropriate in its portrayal of a ‘man-of-the-house’ doing household chores – and wearing an apron. She requested that, in the future, I lend her son only books published before 1980.
Yes, that’s an extreme example of reaction to children’s literature. But I am now wondering if my reaction to the current fart and bum stories is similar to the 1990 objection to seeing a dad in an apron. I hope not!
Way back, in the 1950s, kids delighted in reading Enid Blyton’s chapter books, including ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘The Adventurous Four’ and later, ‘The Famous Five’ series.
Those books ensured that most kids were happy readers for years. No television in those days, of course.
There were other books and series and perhaps Enid Blyton appealed more to the girls than to the boys, but they were the main literature of the day.
Perhaps if there was a bum or fart reference, the boys would have read more?
Would that have been shocking?
But get this:
As well as much loved and much read books, in the 1950s there was an absolute favourite poem for eight-year-olds in the Victorian Grade Three Reader, called ‘Little Boy Blue’* a poem , written way back in 1888 by Eugene Field about the death of a child.
Can you imagine that?
It seems amazing – and perhaps a little weird that this literature was presented to children. Perhaps more amazing is how much the kids loved it.
Would there be complaints in 2021 about allowing small children to read a poem that alluded to a child dying? I think there might have been.
What a huge difference in so many ways has come about in kids’ reading matter.
And now, I am wondering about that huge reading topic gap in the decades since kids enjoyed reading a sad poem about a dying child or fantastic (and most improbable) Enid Blyton adventures experienced by groups of children, towards book topics that would have been unimaginable in the 1950s.
Of course, in the middle of this, we have had the popular Harry Potter series and plenty of other books that have hopefully encouraged children to read.
I know that in times of modern smart televisions, smart phones, and computer games everything has changed, it must be a challenge to have kids read a book.
If it must be Harry Potter type fantasy or even books about bums, farts and burps, then the means possibly justifies the end.
Is that so?
But, whatever will be next?
*Little Boy Blue
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.
"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;
And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;
And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.
I decided to write about trees as an antidote to the awfulness surrounding us.
I am choosing to calm my mind and concentrate on the healing power of nature’s garden - that is, trees.
I am sick of the state of the nation – and the whole world - regarding everything: inequality, corruption, rorts, inability to deal constructively with Covid 19 and the tragic neglect of the urgent Climate Change situation.
So, I’m letting my mind wander off to trees….
I have always loved trees. I look at them, I breathe them in, and I often photograph them. Recently returned from a road trip around outback NSW, on reviewing my photos, I was not surprised to see that many of them were of trees.
I am currently reading “The Heartbeat of Trees”, by Peter Wohlleben*, who also wrote, “The Hidden Life of Trees”. Both excellent and enlightening books.
The amazing truth is that trees have a large input into how humans are “deeply connected to the natural world”.
They are lifesavers in more ways than one.
To cut them down and cause destruction of forests is unthinkable to many – including me.
Recent publicity around so-called, ‘forest bathing’, shows that it is proving to be a salve for stress and anxiety. No, it does not involve shedding of clothes, nor a bathtub! Search Google to find out more about the ‘Japanese wellbeing phenomenon’.
Part of what I wrote in March last year echoes what I have been reading lately, as it seems that it’s not only humans who need trees, but trees need other trees – and creatures – and humans should – and must - take trees more seriously!
…’Trees need each other to survive, and trees need what’s below the ground as well as water and sunshine and soil.
Trees are social beings. Trees have a symbiotic relationship with many creatures—insects, animals and birds…’
‘Trees do need other trees—and plenty of them. Leafy canopies protect them—and the underground, almost mysterious, symbiotic relationship between tree roots and the helpful subterranean fungi makes for healthy forests’.
‘Healthy forests’ are what we desperately need.
Here’s another interesting fact: When a tree dies the resultant nutrients nourish other nearby trees. Also, it is thought that ‘mother’ trees can detect distress signals from ailing trees and increase the flow of nutrients to them. Amazing!
Importantly, the contribution trees make to the ‘saving of the planet’ cannot be underestimated.
Trees are a wonderful and necessary part of our lives.
We neglect them at our peril.
*Peter Wohlleben is a German forester.
Travelling through outback NSW last month, we were surprised to see dead foxes by the roadsides, obviously hit by passing vehicles.
Over three-days of driving we counted 16 dead foxes. Far more than any we had ever seen on similar trips – and more than the dead kangaroos, which is sadly what we usually see. (Relating also to the road-kill wombats often seen along the strip of road between Cooma and East Gippsland).
We were puzzled by the increase in foxes and wondered why their population had increased to such a degree, as to present so many car-skittled bodies.
At the same time on our travels we witnessed the horrendous destruction meted out by NSW’s mouse plague. We saw haystacks and hay bales partially demolished, collapsing, like runnels of bleeding hay, spreading across the paddocks, by the influx of millions of these ghastly little rodents.
‘Ah’, we thought,
‘Are the foxes thriving on meals of mice?’
Would love an answer.
In the 1970s, we, as a family with two young children, used to explore the banks of the Avon River in Boisdale and the Freestone Creek in Briagolong, in country Gippsland, Victoria.
We enjoyed finding ‘treasures’, especially agates and other interesting rocks.
Occasionally we came across what we thought were remnants of Aboriginal settlements from many decades ago.
We found some cutting tools and signs of early ‘industry’, never thinking that we were trespassing – just being intrigued by what we imagined to be signs of much earlier times of the area.
We discovered this beautiful rock which we assumed was a grinding stone and treasured it for many years. Eventually it accompanied us to our new home on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
While we still admired and loved ‘our’ rock, we felt an unease and came to realise that it definitely was not ‘OUR’ rock at all and that it was far away from where it should have been – perhaps resting.
On a long journey south, we took the grinding stone to the nearest place to its home, that of the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place, in Bairnsdale, Gippsland, Victoria, where there is a gathering of artifacts – not a museum, as such, but a place that recognises the history of the Gunaikurnai people.
The person who greeted us was not angry with us for keeping the treasure for so long, but graciously accepted it and thanked us.
After a final touch, we said goodbye to ‘our’ rock, feeling relief at knowing that it was now where it belonged.
PS: I would possibly have preferred it to be back on the riverbank
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.