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Religion for rich atheists

Many people in this post-Christian, post-truth era still feel the human need to believe in something to make their time here on earth seem meaningful. Having moved up Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs, the ultimate self-realization beckons. Passionate engagement in climate change fits the bill, with the reassurance of emotional group belief, chanting, protest and action against the devil of unbelievers under the ominous threat of great global catastrophe. As passions mount, facts and reason fade.

History tells

History is instructive about evolution of the climate change religion in the context of other waves of mania.

In the previous century the Australian government sponsored the Energy R&D Corporation, which was converted overnight in 2000 to the Australian Greenhouse Office. The AGO sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing 20% renewables by 2020 from a zero base.

Channeling the 1990 Copenhagen conference, environmental sustainability became the new catch cry. Everyone wanted to save the planet: just how to do so became the issue as best brains committed to finding solutions.

But wait, in no time environmental sustainability morphed into global warming, orchestrated by scientists noting minor variations in temperature that caused some bleaching across the 2400km longitude of the Great Barrier Reef and regularly occurring droughts that are a natural, if unwelcome feature of Australia’s climate.

Zealots claimed that temperatures would continue to rise, ice caps would melt, the dams would never be filled, the GB Reef would be destroyed, Pacific islands would be inundated displacing populations, and we would be unable to feed the billions of people on the planet.

When the temperature and Pacific islands stabilized, world food production increased, global warming lost out as a religious brand to climate change, which is reaching high fervor in the election campaign.

Fry and Die Urgency

We will fry and die in 10 years ill-informed protesting children shout and lament, while child actor Stella Brazier, an activist supporting Zali Steggall’s bid against Tony Abbott in Warringah, breaks down and weeps on cue for the TV cameras, whipping up the frenzy for the media. Norwegian child activist Greta Thunberg lectured world leaders at Davos, the Pope in Rome and the British parliament about her concerns for the planet. So called independent candidates all claim action on climate change is their priority, adding to the momentum.

The ineffectual United Nations and the discredited International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is driving the global Gaia. At considerable cost to the economy from subsidies in renewables and higher energy costs, Australia is doing its bit to reduce global emissions before it’s too late. Never mind that USA, China, India and Africa haven’t signed up for the same commitment to economy crippling action and budget stretching payment.

Follow the money. Under the guise of saving the planet, Australia and other responsible nations are asked to pay $hundreds of billions to the UN to be channeled to developing countries to help them deal with the effects of climate change, without ever so much as getting an accounting of how that money will be spent. Opportunities for corruption abound.

Not only that, whipped up urgency to save the planet means great pools of research funds have been directed into finding solutions, corrupting science. The IPCC has been discredited for falsehoods. A study by Professor Ian Plimer of the 97% of ‘settled science’ claimed by devotees of the religion showed most research papers merely reaffirmed each other, rather than replicated science to prove hypotheses. Prof. Peter Ridd was sacked by James Cook University for suggesting as much regarding the Great Barrier Reef science.

The Climate Change Religion

In a pattern of suffocating cultural conformity, money, power, research and politics swirl in the great corruption go-round of the climate change religion, featuring :

  • Fervent beliefs undeterred by facts, costs, futility or harm caused (20,000 recorded as dying from the cold in the UK);
  • Irrelevant consequences, dismissive of the damage it wreaks as mere detritus on the path to salvation (Ergas)
  • Demagogy and fanaticism
  • Appeals to emotion and backs turned on reason
  • Apostasy, proselytizing zealots and climate change prophets
  • Champions and inspirational, saintly child prophets
  • Judgment and public shaming for lax adherents and deniers as immoral and unworthy
  • Money for indulgences sent to the UN and never seen again (shades of seeds of the Reformation, when absolution could be bought)
  • Overseas carbon credits
  • Bottomless subsidies to business and those who can afford installation of solar panels
  • Black Tulip like mass mania for investment in renewable technology, with taxpayer subsidies, without any assessment of the life cycle cost/benefit of manufacturing, transport, building, operating and disposing of wind mills, solar panels and batteries, all of which have a use-by date. A future waste recycling /disposal issue threatens.

Respect, facts and reasoned debate have gone by the board in this religion. No seeking of truth or valuing of difference.

Not the first time the end of the world is nigh

Climate Change is not the first time the end of the world has been deemed nigh. Mania follows the money.

  • Inconvenient Truth:Al Gore became a billionaire traipsing around the globe spouting his Inconvenient Truth, which is still promoted to vulnerable children in schools.  Gore claimed that if we did not take “drastic measures” to reduce greenhouse gases, the world would reach a “point of no return” within ten years. He declared it a “true planetary emergency.” Gore’s ten years are up!
  • Gore predicted increasing storms, more and larger hurricanes, melting ice, rising seas, dying polar bears and dangerous increases in deadly CO2.  Every one of these predictions is demonstrably wrong. In fact, increased levels of CO2 act as a fertilizer. Indeed, commercial greenhouses use carbon dioxide generators to increase growth and production.  Carbon Dioxide is NOT a pollutant, it is a plant nutrient!
  • All this is a result of ignorance on the part of the people and a willingness to accept, even desire, an ever increasing and demanding federal government.
  • Peak oil: This imminent catastrophe has been raised on a regular basis for 139 years. Maybe one day the catastrophists will get it right. Peak Oil is the point at which oil production, sometimes including unconventional oil sources, hits its maximum. Predicting the timing of peak oil involves estimation of future production from existing oil fields as well as future discoveries. The most influential production model is Hubbert peak theory, first proposed in the 1950s. The effect of peak oil on the world economy remains controversial.
  • Since 1880 there have been 36 estimates of peak oil production, the latest in 1995 and more recently near 2000. Human innovation has resulted in changes in the mix of fuel, energy efficient cars and natural gas.
  • Y2K Apocalypse: in the year 2000, at the start of a new millennium, catastrophists promoted the belief that dramatic turn of the century signalled tremendous upheaval in the world and that a period of chaos would prevail. Families and businesses invested heavily in new IT equipment under the belief that anything before the turn of the century would not “roll over” on 1 January 2000, causing calamitous disruption to life and commerce. Nothing happened!
  • Population Explosion: In 1968 American biologist Paul Ehrlich gained a lot of money, followers and prominence when he vividly described how the Earth’s population, then growing by 95 million people a year, would rapidly deplete the planet’s resources, resulting in famine, global warming, acid rain, and other major problems. As we know, the population has continued to increase, innovation has spurred production of food and environmental stewardship and hundreds of millions of people have been brought out of poverty.
  • Tulip mania: The speculative bubble of tulip mania occurred during the Dutch Golden age when contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. Get the drift? A lot of group think amongst interests who do not want to miss out on the band wagon and heavy investment leading to implosion.

Truth has no agenda

In all the examples of impending global catastrophe heralding the end of the world (these are only a few), emotion overrides facts, a lot of other people’s money is consumed and group think prevails in a tsunami like tide towards a reckoning that can only end in disruption and disaster.

As my Maturity Model shows, when truth is not present, burdens are loaded onto those with little choice, all parties become less mature and there are enormous social and economic costs as dissension and division ensue. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than climate changers’ manic opposition to the Adani mine in central Queensland. Those behind the goats’ cheese curtain of the inner cities, impose demands that deny Adani the right to mine, deny jobs for desperate workers, deny power to 300 million poor Indians.

Righteous rich atheists self-indulging emotionally in the religious cult of climate change may have momentum with them at the moment. Yet like all other previous catastrophic predictions, the end of the world is not nigh.

Only knowledge of the truth will reverse this. TRUTH HAS NO AGENDA.

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Democracy or Bureaucracy

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Daily we should give thanks to the front line workers – the defence personnel, health workers, educators, police and fire men and women who work on the front line to keep our country secure and safe, teach our children and look after our health. Many do a great job under what can be trying circumstances. Pensions get paid and housing is found for the needy. All good stuff!

Traditionally the role of the public service was to give “frank and fearless” advice to the Minister of the day in support of the elected government’s stated policy. Today the bureaucracy has become politicised and proactive in pursuing elitist social agendas of its own that have little relevance to the people they are being paid to serve (e.g. climate change, same sex marriage, gender fluidity, colonisation, western civilisation, vegetation management, unconscious bias). From the luxury of assured public sector employment, pay and benefits without responsibility, it is all too easy to become creative, snobbishly influencing the direction of the lives of others to carve a niche and meaning for one’s own life.

Just do the job

We expect that public servants will do their job, make timely, relevant decisions serving the public interest and maintain the purpose of the agency. In simplest form, health services should deliver health outcomes, educators should teach, police should protect people.

Unfortunately that is not always the case. For example, the National Disability Insurance Agency is ripe for bureaucratic exploitation, with its open ended financial structure and bottomless client base. Clients of the NDIA report public servants show reluctance to move outside their swanky new offices or have face-to-face consultation with them about the critical issues being faced. Instead, severely disabled clients and their carers have to deal with “hot lines” that never warm up to a response and are beset with pages of unintelligible bureaucratic discourse that demands ever more “evidence” to be obtained at ever greater expense to the client. Why send 20 pages when a 15 minute conversation would do?

The job is not being done; useful decisions are not being made; and the purpose of the Agency is being distorted to become a sheltered workshop for public servants as they ponder the gazette for the next promotion, bitch about each other and the clients and fill in time till retirement on full benefits at 55 years. The best of democratic intent is being undermined by bureaucratic self-interest and no one is being called to account.

Financial regulators

An examination of recent history shows how bureaucratic regulators either fail to exercise their proper authority or use it punishingly to destroy business initiative.

With even a smattering of knowledge of the Royal Commission into Banking most of you would be aware of the over reach and harm done to customers’ financial position by the banks and financial services industry as unmitigated greed ruled. Neither of the regulatory authorities – APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) or ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Corporation) – charged with responsibility for looking after citizens’ interests were shown to be effective in doing their job.

Furthermore the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) had been using its enormous powers to destroy legitimate small businesses and decimate selected research efforts by refusing ABN numbers. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this government has been the establishment of the small business tax tribunal, to be responsible to the court system and not the ATO. In doing so, the playing field has been levelled to give business initiatives a fighting chance of survival against bureaucratic authority.

As part of a suite of efforts to redress the balance of power towards business rather than bureaucrats, democratically elected Minister Michaelia Cash and assistant Treasurer Stuart Roberts have enforced fair contracts and implemented requirements that government and other large corporations pay small business within 20-30 days, encouraging cash flow lending. As someone who has waited 5-6 months for University or government to pay up to $20K, good luck with that one!

Financial commentator Robert Gottliebsen says all these actions are required to create an environment for people to develop new ideas. We need many more of them, if only to pay for the expanding numbers and cost of the bureaucracy.

Bureaucratic decision-making

Those familiar with my Maturity Model will be aware of the healthy tension required between key elements of choice, responsibility and expectation if we are to achieve harmony and productivity and avoid fragmentation of individuals and community.

Examining bureaucratic decision-making against the Maturity Model shows that too often performance falls short of value for taxpayer investment, mostly by failing to assume responsibility for the task in hand. Take the following examples:

  • Transactional decisions are routine determinations and the most common, prone to complacency that ends up costing the country dearly, as patterns of slack conduct evolve – e.g. ASIC and Centrelink – the latter subject major retrieval in excess of $4 billion. No one is responsible.
  • Committee decisions, being shared decisions, relieve everybody of responsibility and accountability. For the Queensland Health system IT upgrade the committee decision against advice ended up costing an extra $1 billion.
  • Circle of death non-decisions occur when genuine enquiries are hand-balled between people and agencies with no decision being made. Either the issue dies or the proponents do. I have personal experience of a simple matter requiring a definitive decision being passed around for 18 years without resolution or shame, the actual and opportunity cost being borne by the unsatisfied public.
  • Regulatory decisions intended to bring order and certainty can become skewed when the authority of the regulator also becomes the accuser, judge, jury and executioner. Changes at the ATO are intended to address this distortion to give small business a hearing and a chance at least cost. Much the same is needed in the environmental area where ill-informed and ill-willed bureaucrats can destroy a business, employment, a farm or a mine and efforts at environmental stewardship, virtually without redress.

There are so many more instances where implementation of democracy favours the interests of the bureaucracy:

  • Family Court where the interests of the child are supposed to be paramount finds the court cabal rules and children are low order considerations;
  • Aboriginal industry and education soaking up $35 billion a year to little avail, largely because bureaucratic self-interest, dishonesty and reluctance to deal with the real issues, or challenge recipient communities to responsibility;
  • Education bureaucrats who push the curriculum formula loaded with social agendas that cause distress when so little deference is paid to the cognitive development of the target children. No wonder so many children are stressed and medicated and educational standards continue to decline, when the purpose of such a major investment – the education of children – is a lesser issue than the power and internal wrangling of an intransigent educational bureaucracy.

More of them

But wait, like the Demtel man, there is more. The Palaszcszuk government has appointed more than 30,000 additional public servants in Queensland without any noticeable improvement in efficiency or effectiveness.

After eight years and countless law fare challenges, the Adani mine has still not been approved to proceed, stalling another 5 mines in the Carmichael area, as well as the shared railway line to the port. Ambulances are still ramping and waiting lists for surgery grow. No one is responsible. Palaszczuk has merely bought an additional voting block of 30,000 for Labor at taxpayer expense. What does that do for democracy?

Flow-on effects

It doesn’t stop there. The public servant attitude of never lifting one’s head above the parapet, never making decisions or owning responsibility for them, not doing the job properly and the complacency, carry over into their private lives, where criticism for those who are responsible and make decisions is rife. Neither do they settle well into business, where workers are expected to add value to the business, not become a cost sink.

It’s time the reward structure within the bureaucracy honoured those who take responsibility, show initiative and add value to the taxpayer investment in keeping with a knowledge economy. Only then will the people’s democratic will be expressed by the bureaucracy.

 

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Connectedness

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Tongan Dancers at 70th Commonwealth celebrations

British Commonwealth 70th Anniversary

Marking any significant anniversary is an important time for celebration and reflection. The 70th anniversary of the British Commonwealth of nations on 12 March called to mind the importance of Britain in establishing the modern Australia and the other 52 nations which form the loose “family”.

Celebration, because 70 years is a long time for so many diverse countries to hang together, however imperfectly, through wars and disruption, internally and internationally. Through sanctions and corrections, aberrations, decline, disasters and mutual support, the spirit and intent of the Commonwealth has held firm. That is worth celebrating!

How this could be when the European Union, established with such noble intent a mere 25 years ago, shows signs of crumbling. On reflection one looks to the leadership, language and law bequeathed by Britain to all its “dominions”.  We should be grateful.

Leadership

The leadership of Queen Elizabeth II has been impeccable: stable, reliable, intelligent, non-partisan and gracious (as in the British national anthem), with a deep sense of events in the context of history – a remarkable example for every head of family.

Language

While each country has added its own inflection, nevertheless the English language remains a valuable means of “connectedness” (the theme of the anniversary celebrations) between the Commonwealth countries and with the rest of the world. That language allows us to advance understanding has no doubt contributed to the relative cohesion of the member nations, despite the diversity of cultures, local language, religion and dance. Representatives of the different faiths spoke in English about the connectedness of their faith amongst the faithful and throughout the Commonwealth. Music and dance performed at the celebration showed both cultural diversity and universal joy of singing, movement and music.

Law

Alongside language, perhaps the most enduring bequest to each country is common law derived from iterations of the Magna Carta (Great Charter) which embed the rights of citizens to due process under the law. Separation of powers between the government and the law, together with freedom of speech, religion and the press, underpin rights, responsibilities and respect that together create cohesion within and between countries.

Rightness of the spirit of the Charter was evident in a British Library exhibition marking the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta by King John and the council of Barons on 15 June 1215. The exhibition showed the flow of the influence of the Charter to the new world of the Commonwealth and to America, to be described as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”.

Although implementation of the law may be imperfect from place to place and from time to time, there is an assuredness that ultimately justice will be served.

Those who exploit such hard won freedom to spout collectivist notions of failed socialism and communism, and who trash our history, are blight on the spirit and initiative of free countries of the Commonwealth. Freedom and the enterprise it fosters are the primary attractants for refugees and those fleeing failed, despotic or communist regimes. Not many are lining up to migrate to North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, China, Russia, or Brunei, where, with the introduction of Sharia law, one could easily lose an arm or a leg or be stoned to death for alleged offences.

Getting together

It wouldn’t be a family that didn’t get together occasionally. War and sport are two arenas that have strengthened bonds between Commonwealth countries – i.e. dealing with serious issues of threats to our freedom and occasionally getting together for fun and games.

In many arenas of war, Commonwealth countries have stood alongside British leadership, with all its flaws, to defend our freedom. In doing so, the spirit of our nation has been forged as “standing by your mates”, from time to time further reinforced during natural disasters. Daily we ought to be grateful and honour what has been achieved, even as together we commemorate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget!

Every four years we come together as a family to play in the Commonwealth Games, most recently on the Gold Coast in 2018. National pride is on display, from even the smallest of nations of the Commonwealth, as each performs to its geographic and physical strength: speed from Caribbean countries, endurance from African nations and swimming from Australia’s natural water advantage.

Then there are other very hotly contested sports bequeathed by Britain, from which much delight is found in defeating the originators – cricket, rugby and tennis. Sub-continent countries have taken to cricket with a passion and now excel, while small South Pacific nations produce large, tough, speedy rugby players who thoroughly enjoy the contest. Fun sure beats fighting!

Loyalty

Loyalty to a faith, country and Commonwealth demonstrates a respect for the religious and political traditions that have produced law and order and attendant benefits of a relatively peaceful society. Appreciation is deep amongst those who have firsthand and even second hand experience of totalitarianism, socialism and communism with their murderous outcomes that cost the lives of over 100 million people in the 20th century. So recent in history, yet so easily cast aside when values change.

Today the weight of moral authority comes from the left. As Marxism became no longer credible, western leftist intellectuals transformed the terminology so that today’s values are social factors of gender, race and religion couched in terms of oppressor and oppressed – always divisive; always about power, ever destructive!

We must never be blind to the flaws of the history and traditions derived from being a member of the British Commonwealth, just as we must be ever alert to the threats to the very best of language, law and culture that we have inherited. Together we must be willing to stand up for those precious values in the public square, or we will forget.

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Hero or Victim

Jordan PetersonTo many Jordan Peterson is a hero, to others a villain. As Professor of Psychology at Toronto University, Peterson came to public prominence when he refused to abide by the University’s edict to use gendered pronouns, which he described as “compelled speech” reminiscent of totalitarian states. In doing so he belled political correctness prevalent in Canada and other western nations that inhibit the airing of ideas to debate and resolution in the public square, in case they offend the precious sensibilities of those of particular identity (race, gender, religion).

Peterson’s following grew when he began recording his course lectures and putting them on YouTube. As a consequence of the extraordinary following, he published books Maps of Meaning and 12 Rules for Life: an antidote to chaos. The latter has sold over 2 million copies in the west and is about to be translated into 50 languages. Sellout tours have been conducted all around Australia and many other countries. To many young men he has become a hero who has given them hope, direction and purpose, filling the void of absent fathers and reassuring them as their masculinity comes under attack. That his messages are so enthusiastically received is indicative of a gap in moral leadership being met.

Much of what Peterson has to say, in his quiet, thoughtful manner, is a bit “old fashioned”, like the moral, inspiring stories in the school readers of the past. Chapters in his book are indicative of lessons grandparents of old would have passed on, with titles: Stand up straight with your shoulders back; Tell the truth – or at least don’t lie; Don’t let your children do anything that makes you dislike them; Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient). I can remember my father saying shoulders back! (he was tall with very straight posture) and eat your veggies! Though grandchildren did retort you become what you eat!

More than anything Peterson challenges people to take up individual responsibility, in truth, to deal with what is a grueling life. Those who have read my book Becoming, will recall that responsibility and truth are critical elements of my Maturity Model for making confident decisions. When reading Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, I find many similar topics are covered – his more erudite psychology; mine more applied, especially around matters of women and family, better encompassing what the demographic changes in longer life mean for each of us.

Though Peterson has become a hero to some, he has also been a reluctant victim of many who have misrepresented him, labelled as racist, Nazi, homophobe and much worse, for simply stating enduring truths. As a victim he should be lauded by those who clothe themselves in glory defending the “downtrodden”. Yet as a (now) wealthy white male, he is pilloried as an oppressor by the mob.

Snowflake victims abound in ever more narrowing identity groups, be they illegal immigrants, the bullied, abused children, Aborigines, Queers, Muslims, women or ethnic minorities. Each identity attracts organisations providing oversight and support, all with their hands in the taxpayers’ pocket. Without diminishing the impact on victims, they are heralded as heroes, given prominence, consolation and compensation. Taxpayer money is thrown at the problem. Yet ultimately they have to pick up their own bed and walk – i.e. own responsibility for making the best of themselves in this life, regardless of the challenges. A spirit of gratitude for benefits bestowed would be a start. After all, life is tough for all of us and as each is imperfect, so will be the circumstances dealt us.

It may be that the generous, sympathetic taxpayer also becomes a victim of decisions to tax beyond their capacity to pay and care for themselves and their family, as well as prepare for their own future.

Peterson’s popularity emerges when moral leadership from our churches and government has lost credibility. Parenting skills have deteriorated over 50 years and school teachers report increased bullying and physical violence from students and parents. Respect and deference are all but gone. Education funding has increased as standards have declined, historical knowledge replaced by depressing social activism based on ideological absolutes, rather than inspiring stories of heroism: global warming/climate change catastrophe; animal rights, colonization of Aborigines, refugee sympathies, gender fluidity, destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, stop Adani. Where is there space in a crowded curriculum for facts anyway, after all the various ideologies of the day have been grafted into every lesson? And why bother learning when the world is going to end in 12 years?

Dogmatic pursuit of ideologies through the institutions makes victims of us all, especially the children falsely indoctrinated. Truth and balance are absent factors. What is missing is knowledge of the outstanding record of achievement of this country, western civilisation and its institutions that have produced a prosperous, advanced society: respect for the individual, separation of powers, freedom of speech and ownership. Nothing is mentioned of the benefits that have accrued to each of us; only contempt for what is imperfect, bolstered by misrepresentation and untruths.

Peterson asks, “Are you better off than your grandparents?” Twice recently I have heard of children telling their grandparents it was time they “dropped off” and left all their hard earned assets to them. No understanding of the history of toil involved in assembling the assets, nor the institutions that helped make it possible; just entitlement!

Billions of people have been brought out of poverty by liberal democratic market economies. Outside China’s centrally controlled command economy (success of which depends heavily on trade and technology from democratic USA); it is hard to name a country that has done as well as those in the west.

While the global impact may represent mere news items flashing across our screens, Jordan Peterson, hero and victim, brings life down to manageable proportions with suggestions: make you bed, look after your family, do your job. What’s not to like?

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Back to School

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Significance of Australia Day

Celebration of Australia Day occurs around the same time as students return to school. Both raise similar hoary issues subject to political activism.

The chosen date for celebration on 26 January acknowledges the day in 1788 when Captain Arthur Philip, with nine ships of marines, convicts and supplies, landed in Sydney Cove and laid the foundations of one of the world’s most successful liberal democracies. According to detailed records of the first fleet documented by Trent Dalton, Philip was charged with a mandate to establish a colony based on equality of all under the law, in keeping with the tenets of western civilization.

Despite human imperfections in the process, Philip and those who followed have been largely successful. Unprecedented levels of personal freedom and social equality since achieved continue to attract people from over the world.

For instance, we don’t see illegal immigrants setting off on dangerous journeys in small boats to settle in restrictive dictatorships where there is no separation of powers between the ruling elite and the law, no freedom of speech, thought, religion or movement. For that we have to thank the Enlightenment and the constantly refining traditions of western civilization. That is worth celebrating, regardless of the rewriting of history. First Australians have been presented with opportunity to step up and join the world, as many already have.

Let’s leave the self-loathing behind to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements, however imperfect. Have a happy Australia Day!

Beware the curriculum

Parents need to be aware of, and able to counter, the post-modern leftist themes of class, race and gender that, with climate change, permeate virtually every curriculum. History especially is being rewritten through the prism of political activism rather than linear facts and knowledge.

According to Bella d’Abrera,[1] we need to examine the way Australian history is being taught if we are to understand the self-loathing narrative pushed onto us by some Australians about the date of our national day.

D’Abrera draws a direct correlation between the version of our history taught in our universities and the story trotted out to Australians in the lead up to 26 January. Themes based on class, race and gender are all pervasive according to Australian History’s Last Stand, an audit of Australian history teaching at universities conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs. The report found that of 147 subjects taught across 35 universities last year, a total of 102 either focus on, or make reference to class, race and gender, ensuring our past is viewed through the lens of identity politics.

Historical evidence, objective truth and knowledge have been overtaken by political activist academics and social commentators, self-proclaimed champions of empowering minorities and the oppressed by rewriting history. In doing so, history is distorted to advance contemporary political agendas, or worse, ignored completely. D’Abrera found that the story of our success as a modern nation based on the ideas of liberalism is almost absent from the university curriculum and completely omitted from the narrative being pushed by the anti-Australia Day lobbyists.

Parental knowledge and responsibility

The issue for those returning to school is that they are likely to be taught historical distortions. Parents need to know differently if they are to present a countervailing point of view that enables students to be proud of what has been achieved in this country, yet still prepared to work on continuous improvements.

And parents are up for the task. A recent poll undertaken by the Institute of Public Affairs shows a significant divide between elite academics and commentators and the rest of mainstream Australia. Results showed that 75% of Australians want to keep Australia Day on 26 January; 76% are proud of Australia’s history; and 88% are proud to be Australian. Moreover, 92% think freedom of speech is important and 77% believe freedom of religion to be an important value.

Anyway it won’t be too long before the self-loathing elites turn their disdain to Anzac Day, pollute the hearts and minds of children pushing onto all the notion of gender fluidity that affects only a small percentage; traffic environmental falsehoods on climate change, the Great Barrier Reef and Adani; seek to deny protection for religious freedom; and violently punish through social media anyone choosing to exercise freedom of speech by presenting a different point of view to the elite gender, race, class and environment themes of the left.

Deciphering it all to become confident in our beliefs requires effort, especially in this year of disruption. But it can be done by seeking sound knowledge and challenging political activism.

It’s not going to be easy though. Makes one hanker somewhat for the “old days”. Back then the simple pleasure of the whiff of a new exercise book and a sharpened pencil were enough to stir excitement in anticipation of a new year of knowledge acquisition.

The effort will be worth it, as the politicisation of the learning of history, short on facts and devoid of humour, betrays our children, their education and their future.

Happy Australia Day! And best wishes for the year of learning ahead.

 

[1] Director of Foundations of Western Civilisation at the Institute of Public Affairs

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Towards a Happy New Year 2019

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Let’s ensure that 2019 is a great year for us and our country. At election time we can do this by making sound rational decisions, rather than emotional ones about an issue, a person or a party. Alternatively, failing to make a decision means that decisions will be made that may not be to our liking, especially when Australia is signatory to international agreements that can all too readily rob us of choice at home.

Impact of international agreements

Our politicians compelled to make decisions on matters on our behalf, tend to be swayed by emotional activism of selective compassion. Look no further than the following examples:

  • Paris agreement on Climate Change that makes high demands of some countries and relieves others of responsibility, while handing over $billions from compliant nations into the bottomless pit of corruption;
  • Migration agreement which opens up borders for the free flow of human traffic, denying local sovereignty over who, and how, people may come to a country, regardless of the cost to us in settling them and stumping up for legal action that clogs our courts;
  • Human Rights agreements that seem to apply only to compliant nations who are judged by countries abusing Human Rights like Saudi Arabia;
  • Family Law which places international law of the Hague Convention above the interests of Australian children; and
  • Environmental laws which forever pillory Australia for its conservation efforts regarding the Great Barrier Reef crossing 2,400 km latitude, linking its survival with a coal mine 600 km away.

The importance of our vote can be understood when we realise Australia’s participation in these agreements has been driven by local activism by individuals, groups and green/left-leaning media (as in their ABC), all of whom operate in an emotional, fact-free environment. Action here drives global decisions that often impose inordinate costs upon those least able to carry them. For instance, pursuit of renewable energy under the Global Warming/Climate Change agreements has increased the cost of energy and reduced reliability of supply, hurting the poor and business, as more power is disconnected for inability to pay the bills on time.

The Maturity Model for decision-making

Those who have read my book Becoming: the ordinary person’s road map to life’s big decisions will know that Choice, Expectation and Responsibility are three elements of decision making that help clarify a sustainable pathway to good personal and policy decision-making.

My Maturity Model clearly shows in visual form that when expectations increase by one party or parties, responsibilities increase on others, whose choice is diminished. In a democracy, this poor outcome is unsustainable. Eventually both parties become less mature and the potential for dissension and division increases, with attendant high social and economic costs. The model applies at a personal relationship level, as well as in a work situation or policy setting.

Policy outcomes of global decisions

In addition to unaffordable and unreliable electricity here, a clear example of such a policy outcome is demonstrated in the “yellow vests” protests in France against the high costs of fuel. Virtue signaling by President Macron increasing taxes on fuel that ‘outsiders’ of the population cannot afford, led to riots and destruction for weeks, and eventual back down by Macron. High social and economic costs were expected to be paid by people without a choice in the decisions affecting them.

Similar imposition of taxes on transport and herd reduction in agriculture is coming our way as the global compact on climate change reaches further into our economy to reduce CO2 emissions in those sectors. Destruction of people’s livelihoods and the economy are mere sacrifices to be made on the altar of the great ‘religion’ of climate change.

Yet the science of global warming is not settled and costly action is taken fact free because politicians face the wrath of the electorate stirred emotionally to “do something” about climate change without accounting for the high, useless cost of doing so. The folly of it all can be put in perspective when we confront the reality of Australia’s minuscule 1.3% contribution to CO2 emissions and the even more minuscule amount 0.04% of CO2 trace gas in the global atmosphere, only 3% of which is contributed by humans, the rest by nature. Emotional virtue signaling rules and we all pay, whether we like it or not. Dare to question or deny and you are likely to be trolled on social media or sacked from your job like Professor Peter Ridd. Play the game, as in socially controlled China, if you wish to prosper in this post-truth society. No wonder politicians fall for it, or at best, take an each way bet.

Our electoral decisions

In the current situation, the importance and value of our vote at the coming elections become clear if we are to make 2019 a happy new year in which we overcome disruption and set upon the path to continued prosperity.

To do that we need to take a more considered approach to voting for candidates who stand to represent us. Respect the candidate who does what we don’t have the courage to do. Seek facts about the person and policies. Truth is another element of the Maturity Model for decision-making.

Look beyond emotion and selfish interests to the national interest. Should both interests coincide, then great. Increasing benefits and subsidies may appeal to those dependent on government, but someone must pay for them. How much do we take from the major tax contributors before they no longer invest here, especially when treated with such contempt as evil by a large section of the community? We would then be in a declining position to afford essentials like health care and education.

Make a rational choice, rather than and emotional one at the last minute as you walk past the sausage sizzle on the way to the booth. Don’t be lazy by lodging a donkey vote. Value the privilege you have in this country to have a say in the outcome of the election and future policies, especially when the conduct is relatively civil, without bloodshed.

On a train between New York and Jacksonville I sat next to an African American woman of my own vintage and asked if she would be voting in the coming (2016) election. “Never miss,” was her answer, “the right to vote was too hard won!”

Learn from history. Socialism is a failed experiment that claimed generations of lives. Creeping socialism where ever more people are dependent on government, means the government intrudes further into everyone’s lives. Individual responsibility is relinquished to unelected bureaucratic power – in Australia, Europe and the failed United Nations.

As mentioned, responsibility is another element of the Maturity Model that calls each of us to step up in truth to make the very best decisions in our own lives, especially as we vote. And we should do so in a spirit of willingness and gratitude.

Make it a Happy New Year!

 

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Hope at Christmas

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I love the end-of-year children’s performances – the massed choir and orchestra, glorious music and singing, the polished dances, glittering costumes and shining faces of children, excited to be involved showcasing the year’s efforts. For a grandparent, delight is manifold: there is at once joy in the moment, affirmation of the value of life and hope and promise in the future – an exemplar of Christmas.

Hope in Crises

Experiences such as these are invaluable in restoring hope at a time when so many countries lurch towards crisis, a tipping point – for the countries, for democracy, for freedom of speech, religious freedom, parental rights, as the 30% expert elite insiders try to assert their will over the 70% of we outsiders.

Author Mathew Lesh in his book Democracy in a Divided Australia, shows how this country (and others) is no longer divided politically between left and right, Labor and Coalition, but across parties between the educated elite, powerful insiders in government and institutions, and the powerless “outsiders” who tend to be subject to every more narrowing regulation leaving little freedom or choice. Satisfaction of the needs at the lower level of the Maslow hierarchy achieved through growing prosperity and comfort seems to have stirred ambitions in the faithless. Self-actualization at higher levels of Mazlow’s hierarchy are sought by doing zealous work for new age ‘moral’ causes and make-work schemes that impinge upon the daily lives of people merely trying to go about their business.

For instance, British who voted for Brexit see democracy betrayed by the deal with unelected European bureaucrats, who refuse to return control to the British people. For weeks ‘yellow shirts’ in Paris protested the high cost of fuel as a result of the virtue signaling President Macron’s climate change tax not voted for, which they cannot afford. Ukraine struggles under the yoke of an invasive Russia, which once more must fence off people to “win” loyalty, land and water. China draws a long bow to assert towards global dominance by stifling democracy and dissent at home and encroaching upon the lives and opinions of Chinese abroad by buying power, land theft, direct intrusion and menace to relatives at home. The failed bureaucracy of the United Nations appears to have become merely a platform for failed states, forever berating and punishing democracies trying to do the right thing by accepted global rules.

Need for hope in Australia

What has all this to do with us in Australia? You might ask. Quite a bit, when the same pervasive patterns of behaviour also infect our bureaucracies and agencies, especially those tied to international bodies like the UN, or protocols and threats of catastrophes on migration and what is now known as Climate Change (as distinct from previous brand iterations as “environment”, “greenhouse”, then “global warming”, evolving for better marketing as alarming catastrophes prove baseless).

In the same way failed bureaucracies at home beat up on people trying to do the right thing.  Why, for instance, would a farmer be fined a $million for building too wide a fire break, when recent Queensland fires were said to be caused by failure to affect adequate clearing.

As well we have our own failed bureaucracies that are supposed to protect and support people like us, our families and our assets. This year’s Royal Commission into financial services in Australia revealed banks and insurance companies’ appalling contempt for customers in the ripping off of their savings, overcharging, even of the dead. Furthermore agencies like ASIC and APRA dismally failed in their job of oversight. Again in the financial sector, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) has shown contempt for business in the way it handles alleged debt, sending to the wall many firms who do not have the resources to fight the weight of government, even when the government is wrong.

In every instance the cost of bureaucrats failing to do their job properly runs to $billions. We could balance the budget in an instant if they all performed to reasonable standards as expected by the taxpayers and customers.

Expert intrusion

As if these non-performances were not enough, ordinary Australian outsiders are daily assailed by the ‘insider’ expert class who believe they know what’s best for us. Predictably, though same sex marriage passed into law a year ago allowing those of the LGBQTI community to marry the person they love, it is not enough. The law has been taken as licence to intrude into the minds, bodies, classrooms and families with advocacy for gender fluidity. Ninety-nine percent of the population must be subjugated to the 1% of those of indeterminate or fluid gender or be charged with criminal offence. Sex is no longer male or female but transient to be assigned as one wishes at any stage of life. Good luck with that!

Despite the efforts of many dedicated teachers, schools have become propaganda factories through which to push elitist theory, as shown by the children’s political demonstrations on populist topics of climate change, anti-Adani and refugees. Add to these the “black armband” history of colonization that demonises western civilisation. Truth, the only factor on which a future can be built, is sadly missing in this capture of young minds. There is little hope when young people are being terrorised and fearful.

Is there a need for God?

As Australia has become more secular, the Judaeo –Christian traditions on which our culture, civilization and prosperity have been built are trashed in favour of failed socialism that cost over 100 million lives in recent history.

Democracy is imperfect because we are imperfect. Yet as a system of governance it towers above dictatorships that rely for survival on crushing, starving and limiting its people. God of faith is supplanted by an all-powerful supreme being who must be adulated. Think Kim Jong Un, Putin.

In Australia the faithless elite assume the power of God (or Kim Jong Un) on issues of climate change, refugees, Adani, gender and aborigines, claiming the high moral ground, virtue signaling, demanding adherence to the “faith” and shaming and de-platforming anyone daring to pose a different perspective, even within their own family.

With so many contending for honours, it seems people do need a God in secular Australia. Pity the new versions have none of the truth, love, respect, good will or hope offered by the traditional One, especially at Christmas.

That is why hope for the future shines through in the gleaming, excited faces of children who have worked hard (with their parents) all year to achieve so much. Congratulations and best Christmas wishes to you all! You have done your job faithfully and deserve the rewards. Peace and joy be with you.

 

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The Changing Meaning of Words

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Letters from the front during WWI were scribed in beautiful copperplate handwriting in sensible sentences expressing love, thoughtfulness and yearning for home, tinged with a strong sense of duty, selflessness, of honour.

Prosperity and diversity since have brought changes in values and language, so that today, from the trenches of privilege, text and emoji may be the ultimate expression of emotional depth.

Yet language is constantly evolving: Macquarie Dictionary annually introduces new words or phrases that have become part of the lexicon of Australia. Decline in moral leadership in government, major institutions and churches has left a vacuum willingly filled by people pursuing particular causes, reframing morality and virtue as they go. As a result, some significant changes in the meaning of words often reflect a change in “insider” morality imposed upon us by those trumpeting their virtues. At the same time those who have lived and remember history, are condemned for holding values that stood us in good stead in earlier times.

Honour

Nowhere is the divergence of the meaning of the word “honour” more evident than in the Bourke Street terrorist attack. To the attacker acting according to his Koranic edicts, honour meant slaying “infidels”, never mind that they were people merely going about their business in a country that had welcomed and supported the immigrant in need. To us there is no honour in such violence and ingratitude. The victim was also responding to his inner values of honour, going out of his way to help someone who appeared to be in trouble. The outcome is something to ponder: as our values and the meaning of our words are challenged, how alert must we be to potential harm to us and our community?

Virtue

In a more homogeneous society, when Judaeo/Christian leadership informed our legislature and way of life, we knew what virtue was: kindness, caring, doing the right thing by your neighbour, children and your parents, being honest, sexual propriety, obeying the laws of the land. Now the moral vacuum has been filled by the faithless, who nevertheless, play God, signalling their own virtue while denouncing publicly and widely through social and any other media, alleged sins of those who may merely have a different opinion on issues such as: race, aboriginality, refugee placement, climate change, energy generation, gender preference, religious freedom, marriage and family and the contribution of western civilisation. Without allowing into the debate the countervailing influence of alternative opinions, we could find ourselves on the way to totalitarianism similar to that defeated by the brave, pragmatic defence personnel a hundred years ago. Lest we forget!

Judgemental virtue signalling has replaced the essence and meaning of virtue.  As our basic needs at the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy have been met, thanks to hard work that achieved greater prosperity for us, powerful “insiders” seek self-realisation in the promotion of self in virtue – in seeking to do something wonderful for the planet, refugees, women, LGBTQI community. Denunciation and de-platforming of others of differing opinion goes hand in hand with self-promoting virtue signalling. Misrepresentation and sensitivity to offence is rife. After all, the privileged elite know what’s good for the rest of us.

Always there is the contradiction in their words and action. Whether or not they are astute enough to realise it, in a totalitarian state there would be no freedom to express their emotional, irrational views. Furthermore, hatred is a multiplier that too easily can become self-consuming, as demonstrated in a longitudinal example in Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life that ended in self destruction of the passionate pursuer of fruitless “worthy” causes.

Love given also has the power to be a multiplier, a truth the compassionate virtue signallers would realise had they more knowledge and experience of history of western civilisation and valued the Judaeo/Christian contribution to it. Original sin has been replaced by original virtue.

Truth

Even truth has taken a battering in this post-truth world. For instance, how hard is it to work out whether the planet is warming and if we are to blame, or whether the failure of the climate to correlate with sophisticated computer modelling is a function of poor science, failed hypotheses, or hoary virtue signalling. Be assured that money, power and greed are contributors to the groundswell of opinion. Just ask scientists on the funding gravy train, Al Gore, John Hewson and others adept at riding financial waves, how they have surfed to prosperity on the backs of ordinary people, the outsiders without a say.

Most of us just want to pay a fair price for the essential service of reliable power. Simple as that! Bureaucratic and government interference has clouded the market on behalf of the global Gaia on the corruption merry-go-round: corrupted science that feeds corrupt global bureaucrats to transfer money and power to corrupt failed states. Go figure! One of the worst things about this state of play is the troublesome inversion of truth and virtue. Challengers (deniers) and countries/people trying to do the right the by the planet are pilloried as evil. They lose their jobs like Bob Carr and Professor Peter Ridd who dared to challenge scientists to prove their hypotheses. Where is the truth in that? If we want to conserve a clean planet, we might ask the violent, feral left whether they make their bed and dispose of their rubbish properly. Just for starters!

Love

‘Love is love’, or so we were told during the lead up to the referendum on same sex marriage. Seems to me that the love professed does not extend to others who hold a more traditional view of marriage, as it should in the Christian tradition of “loving their neighbour as thyself”. Though SSM has since been embedded in legislation, latent hatred manages to find expression in attempts to demonise and neutralize any position adopted by “outsiders” holding true to known and proven traditions, by which they choose to live and raise their children. That is not to pass judgement on those who have successfully captured the words ‘gay’, ‘pride’ and ‘rainbow’ as brands – their choice should be respected, as should others who choose differently.  Get the pattern? Only one point of view (theirs) is allowed and without the context that might introduce reason. Lest we forget the horror of totalitarianism!

 Political correctness

Overlaying these distortions of language is political correctness fuelled by the grievance industry. I wonder what the WWI soldiers slogging it out in the trenches would think of today’s humourless snowflakes who are ever ready to be offended. Certainly pervasive PC has coerced us generally into becoming a more respectful, tolerant and welcoming society, careful to watch our Ps and Qs in discourse with others. There is no harm in that. However, like all good things taken too far, the virtue of intent becomes harmful under control of the emotionally incontinent disconnected from the real world.

Having achieved so much already, of necessity they must look for ever more ways to control the ignorant “outsiders” by creating make-work bureaucratic schemes that engorge the state.  “Unconscious bias” when recruiting; the decline in merit and reward for effort when diversity is the priority over competence; the amount of sugar, fat, drugs and alcohol consumed; how much exercise we do; adherence to, and payment for utopian “green” schemes; blame for inevitable colonisation 240 years too late, for which we must be forever sorry, unable to move forward to take advantage of 21st century benefits; forever ingratiating and apologetic to those self-invited immigrants who prefer to adhere to the laws and values of the country of origin rather than enter into the spirit of this country that has given them succour. Gratitude is one word that appears lost on all those sensitive souls demanding others to behave in a PC way. Nothing is perfect. Best if those trolls standing in judgement on we mere mortals showed some appreciation for how far we have come, practised the respect and tolerance they demand of others. Lest we forget how!

Sense of humour

Perhaps one of the most outstanding characteristics of the WWI diggers was their sense of humour.  In the grimmest of circumstances, they were able to make light of the pommy officers and the desperate situation as they worked together to get the job of winning our freedom done. Perhaps we need to conscript that spirit today, a century on, to spare us from the horrors of infinite regression into pervasive totalitarianism that has distorted our language and threatens to diminish our freedoms. Lest we forget!

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Simplify life – just do your job

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We all yearn for the simple life that seems ever elusive. Owning responsibility for doing your job would help.

A statement like this may appear extraneous at a time of job descriptions, key performance indicators, chains of command and performance review. However, all too often those stretching the boundaries of acceptability seem to get away with it, while others are left to carry the burden of responsibility for management inaction (not responsible for doing the job).

Working

Take the case of Karen, a theatre sister working shifts in a major hospital. For over a decade, Karen and other co-workers were hassled by a lazy co-worker who did not do his job and was serially abusive to his colleagues, making the workplace toxic. Unacceptable behaviour continued because he knew he could get away with it. Though reported repeatedly to the manager, no action was taken. His run ended when the manager was replaced and he was sacked.

Similarly I had first-hand experience of a bureaucrat who did the same, quite vindictively destroying people, careers, valuable projects and reputations. Not only did she not do her own job, she actively hindered the productivity of others doing theirs. Complaints about her piled high in the grievance unit without action being taken despite all the so-called checks and balances. One worker had to take legal action to protect his career and financial future from her malevolence. Eventually it did end when an outsider took charge and facilitated her speedy exit.

A relationship between a high-end hairdresser and her employee ended unpleasantly when the employee failed to do the agreed job of servicing existing clients well and fostering new ones. The employee left to take a position with lower expectations, rather than step up in the interests of her career and that of the business.

Parenting

Similar stories abound – from family, business, government and bureaucracy.  Most parents try to do the right thing disciplining their children so that they might eventually be productive, contributing citizens. Doesn’t it rankle when ill-disciplined children run riot, without regard for person or property, without manners or respect. Dare to say something and you are likely to be attacked by a parent who does not own responsibility for the authority vested in him/her. Like the workplace examples above, the expectation is that others are willing to bear the brunt any harm that might occur.

Policing

As I write, a news story appears about 100 or so youths of African appearance disrupting a train service, terrorizing passengers and others as they took over the station and a nearby park. It has been reported that 12 police cars turned up. No one was arrested or charged. The pattern has been repeated in many other incidents involving home invasion, car stealing, personal violence, burglary of homes and business, trashing of public and private property. The youths now openly flout both the law and the law-abiding public with claims of being untouchable while slinging insults towards ‘white trash’. Policing is a tough gig and I am full of admiration and gratitude for those who put themselves on the line to protect people. It is almost certain that the ‘go slow’ on African youth is an order from above. The Victorian public is entitled to ask ‘Is the government doing its job to protect citizens and property?’

Consulting

The work of a consultant can also be fraught, depending, as it does, on common understandings being reached between the parties about the scope of work and responsibilities of each. Stories abound about the difficulties that emerge when one or other of the parties fails to do their job. In some instances it may be the well-established consultant being too cavalier about affording due respect, time, effort and attention to the job in hand.

On the other hand, it may be the client who fails to abide by the terms and conditions of the contract, either in attending to their end of the deal in a timely way or in failing to pay – on time, or not at all. Consequently, unless the consultant is on the ball, client failure to do their job hinders progress towards meeting the client’s needs. Contracts with government can fall into this category. Authority of the bureaucracy often fails the responsibility challenge, largely because of the said lack of respect and understanding of business – a reason rather than an excuse. Not doing their job has a flow on effect on the service provider. In keeping with my Maturity Model, serial failures result in immaturity of the parties, fragmentation of the individuals and high social and financial costs.

Financial institutions

The Royal Commissions into financial institutions has exposed the latent greed inherent in the banking and insurance industries, largely devoid of good practice or consideration for what that meant for customers. Most of all it has revealed how highly paid executives in both business and the regulating agencies, APRA and ASIC, did not do the job they were paid handsomely to do.  As a result, many people lost their properties, their savings and their wellbeing.  No shame! The criminal charges likely to be laid will not bring back prosperity and trust lost.

Do enough

While exhorting readers just to do their job to make life simpler and easier to be able move on in peace and harmony, caution is urged not to do too much. Doing too much can also be a trap that enables others to avoid their responsibilities. One of my mother’s sayings was, “all you have to do is act dumb and someone will do it for you”. Some people are quite accomplished at ‘acting dumb’ to win attention, service and conspicuous compassion.  Repetition of their ‘story’ of need or helplessness builds a psychological barrier that prevents them from ever becoming a contributor.

In this complicated world, in order to keep our lives as simple as possible, it is best not to enter into a pattern of doing the work of others that will lead to our own fragmentation, although it is okay to help out. A message for many elderly who are accustomed to giving service is that their main priority in later years is to care for themselves. Doing so challenges others to grow up, if they have not already done so.

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A sense of humour

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Statues in English Bay, Vancouver, BC, Canada

A fine sense of humour is one of the defining characteristics of highly evolved, civilized human beings. Cartoonists have these characteristics in spades, yet often pay dearly for honest insight and depiction of people and situations that entertain us.

Cartoonists’ dare

Danish cartoonists depicting Mohammed resulted in deaths of other unrelated people around the world: twelve people at Charlie Hebdo were murdered by terrorists; cartoonist Bill Leak was hounded to death by the Australian Human Rights Commission for his penetratingly honest depiction of Indigenous; and now we have Walkley Award winning Mark Knight being globally pilloried by the rich, powerful and emotional, who have chosen to read racism and sexism into a cartoon on the bad sportsmanship of a privileged champion.

Knight’s cartoon didn’t raise hackles in Australia until taken up by the US and other international media. Australians generally still have enough of the larrikin in them to enjoy the joke and call out a bad sport as it is. Unlike the USA partisan tennis audience, Williams’ behaviour on our patch would more likely be heckled and booed. She would have been urged to get on with it.

Caricature and satire are of critical importance to good cartooning, requiring exceptional draughtsmanship, wit and deep humanity. Cartoonists dare us to see what is true and use humour to do so. What’s to be offended about?

Progressives

By contrast, so called “progressivism” springs from emotion or magical, wishful thinking that has a feel good air about it. The progressive follows a false and seductive “feel good” doctrine that has no means of weighing costs to some people against benefits to others. No reality. No limiting principles. Creeping totalitarianism is on full display in the outrage industry.

Social media has become a powerful force for promoting moral outrage and tribalistic sentiment. As such the pursuit of prevailing progressive themes through social media provides a form of therapy for the faithless. They can feel good about bolstering a cause, about asserting power over others, about passing damning judgement, regardless of how damaging the cause may be to individuals or the broader community, or how much they distort reality and values.

Caution about pursuing the “progressive” outrage line can be found in at least two historical factors at personal and tribal level. Jordan Peterson in his book 12 Rules for Life, details a story of his personal friend who, over many years, passionately pursued various worthy environmental causes under threat of catastrophe. Overcome with powerlessness and exhaustion, the friend ultimately destroyed himself, showing it is much better to focus on the positive while taking action on real issues.

The second caution is the creeping totalitarianism of the outrage industry that, whipped up through social media without any basis in reality, inherently apes Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Social media enthusiasts whose education has failed them, may not be aware of the tens of millions of innocent people who were killed and the many more sent to country re-education camps as a consequence of the tribalistic totalitarianism of China’s Cultural Revolution. No alternative voice was allowed regardless of reality. Sound familiar? Often this is the case today, when those with an alternative position are accused of being racists, homophobic, sexist, Nazis or worse. Reality is disallowed under post-truth conditions as truth speakers are “de-platformed”.

Pursuing “progressive” causes can be the most regressive thing a person can do for themselves and their community.

Truth and reason

Progressive calls tend to be couched in moral terms of the prevailing “faith”. Dissenters or deniers (think global warming) are “outside the church” of tribally accepted norms and are to be denounced, publicly and with vigour, reminiscent of the stocks of old. Any progress in law, such as Habeas Corpus or right to self-defence, is obliterated in childish demonization of the person rather than a rational discussion of issues. Furthermore, anyone remotely associated with the target (family, associate or business) can unwittingly be sucked into the maelstrom of malevolence, self-interest, self-indulgence and threats of violence and death. Truth and reason go out the back door.

Yet truth is the only thing that can be built upon for a better present and satisfying future. Emotion, magical, wishful thinking and tribalism won’t do it, regardless of how self-satisfying (elating even) that tribalist action for a cause may have on a person.

As articulated in my book Becoming, truth requires courage, a seemingly vanishing attribute. A general lack of backbone is evident when US university students need comfort puppies to deal with day-to-day realities (Trump won the election) that offend their sensitivities. Root cause may be found in parenting and professionals who, for a couple of generations, have sought to protect children from reality, spare their hurt feelings and make a life-long career for themselves in the process. Note the exponential growth in experts, bureaucrats and blamed parents.

Pride of sensitivity

Becoming also focuses on pride of sensitivity as limiting good decision making. In particular, pride of sensitivity is pre-eminent in the outrage industry, making it virtually impossible to hold a rational conversation on any topic with someone who is always offended. In effect, the pride of sensitivity is a highly emotional function intended to limit free speech, for which it has proved quite successful. Visiting speakers of alternative positions and their audiences are bullied, harassed and threatened, as are the venues in which they speak. In a climate of intense political correctness, ordinary people are constantly on notice as to whether what they say, do, or intend, will offend another, resulting in the heavy hand of the law, or worse the maelstrom of social media.

The outcome is that parties fail to mature, fail to deal with realities they block from penetrating their wall of safe, if false, beliefs. Ultimately, the precious fail to contribute meaningfully to dialogue or life. Pride of sensitivity is the humourless predisposition of people who badly need to lighten up, deal with reality however painful, and give themselves and everyone else a break.

A sense of humour

From my origin in a large dysfunctional family I learned that incisive black humour provided lightness amongst darkness in dire life experiences. Difficulties were not ignored or glossed over; just not perennially fertilised. Offence given soon passed; grudges were not held for long; and each of us learned to suck it up and get on with it as should have Serena Williams.

In no way were we as privileged and feted as Serena, though we could teach her a lesson or two – in gratitude, rather than offence; and how to laugh at yourself when a cartoonist like Mark Knight has created images so accurately depicting your behaviour. Especially when it is the truth!