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That’ll see me out

In later years we find rapid acceleration of the challenges we dealt with (or didn’t deal with) in midlife. How well we’ve established sound decision making skills determines the level of ease or difficulty in surmounting the challenges ahead. Midlife challenges are spelled out in some detail in my book Becoming.

Control over what happens can decline rapidly, whether health, sight, hearing, mobility, bladder or teeth, limiting our ability to communicate with relevant others as freely or as confidently as usual. Keeping our memory and marbles are yet other challenges. Limited finances in later years with no further capacity to earn present constraints that override many other factors.

At the same time, adult children can step in, kindly or bumptiously, to take over management of our affairs, whether we like it or not. Without being asked, a friend recently removed from her home into residential care by her daughters, has found difficulty adjusting to her new living environment, the move accelerating confusion. Her present residence will be her final one: it will see her out.

Passing in the fast lane

Today we enjoy the privilege of living a long life of 70, 80 or 90+ years, around half a life more than our forebears a hundred years ago. The privilege has not been free: it has been built with gratitude on the sacrifice and efforts of soldiers, scientists, engineers, parents and cleaners, who have respectively serviced our freedom, health, housing and sanitation. As we’ve learned over COVID, failing to wash our hands may see us out.

Longer and better quality of life does not absolve us of the responsibility to doing the best we can with the privilege with which we have been endowed. Appeals to active physical and social life for Omega3 charged elderly attests that many are taking up the opportunities. Cruises and fun to see us out! Hopefully, we’ll die quickly and peacefully in our sleep, without having to think much about it.

The biggest issues to deal with may be changes in relationships with adult offspring, struggling in their relationships with partners and children (grandchildren), dramatically different values and beliefs, as well as disparity in power and financial positions. Choosing a relatively carefree lifestyle amongst peers in a purpose built retirement village presents as an attractive lifestyle to see us out.

Passing in the slow lane

Few get to choose the time of passing, which “comes like a thief in the night”. For many of us in this longer life, the end, or indicators of the end, may come slowly. Even a comfortable, relatively healthy life can become a drag for those in later years who have exhausted family goodwill, finances, and/or desire to continue. Death seems welcome.

Having cared for an elderly relatively till he was 101, I know how zeal for life can fade, along with spirits and bodily functions. People at that point don’t need convincing otherwise, no jollying up, just patient pacing, reflecting quietly on memorable moments to be plucked from memories surfacing from the shrunken frontal lobe.

A similar approach needs to be taken when a terminal health condition is diagnosed, meaning life will be finite in a number of weeks, months or years.

When my husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness over twenty years ago, we were fortunate to have the support from my sister Kathy, fresh from a couple of months in a Buddhist monastery in Dharamsala India. Buddhists, she said, practise dying first thing in the day, as no one knows whether they will die this day. Then they get on with living. It’s a pretty good philosophy for anyone.

Kathy was instrumental in soothing the grief of my husband and me, his family and friends, by assuring them that Evan was at the right place for his stage of his life. Keeping the patient comfortable, fresh and in quiet company was all that was required.

Our bodies die from the extremities: food loses appeal; entertainment becomes passé; and company previously relished is all but over, barring quiet patient pacing to the end. Like many diabetics, our mother loved her food. Death came once she missed lunch. Best intentions of one of my husband’s friends nearly killed him by taking him out on an excursion for five hours. Knowing what to expect and how to accept graciously the inevitability of the death of someone close, are valuable aptitudes that will see us out.

Grief

Our limited conversations about death extend to limited understandings of grief. For everyone, the experience of grief is personal and different. Put aside chemical solutions to feel more fully how grief affects the mind, body and soul, in order to attain meaningful recovery in due course. Only by acknowledging the loss and mourning it, can grief be processed. Then we can emerge enriched by the crisis and change.

Following Evan’s death after 34 years of marriage, grief affected me as bone weariness that no sleep could resolve. Instinctively, I felt that basic routine would help. Consequently each day began with a exercise, shower and dressing for work, getting on with the necessities of the day, as if I felt OK. Eventually, months later when grief passed almost without knowing, I was ready to move on productively. Faking it till I made it.

Mind you, I am no expert on palliative care, dying or grief. What’s on offer are positive thoughts that might help those presently facing difficulties, or likely to be confronting the end of life, in the hope they might draw some value from the thoughts.

In the meantime, be of good cheer as possible. Make the most of every day of this privileged life in this privileged country, with gratitude to those who’ve paved the way for us, yet who did not live long enough to suffer the pangs of later years.

Jesting “that’ll see me out” is a light hearted, yet serious quip, which at once acknowledges the finitude of life for me, while asserting I’ve done the best I can with what life has gifted me.

Easter is about new hope from the death and resurrection of Christ. We will rise again in the spirit of our children and grandchildren after enduring the vicissitudes of this life.

May the blessings of Easter come to you all.

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Before we fall

Seven deadly sins: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

As always my messages aim to be relevant at a personal level, while bringing understanding how the personal can also be political, especially for those who tend not to follow politics as closely as I do.

In a post-truth world where feelings not facts count, immorality is being rewritten as: racism, transphobia, sexism, climate change denialism and colonialism. Pride, as one of the seven deadly sins, seems positively archaic. Yet the adage pride goes before a fall is an ancient saying that still applies. Not the boastful vanity one normally associates with pride, but that of sensitivity, authority, knowledge and complacency. A closer examination will show just how relevant the saying is today.

Understanding how each of these manifestations of pride affects our communications in family, work, business or administration, offers some help towards more meaningful, harmonious relationships.

Pride of Sensitivity

Probably most of us know people who are way too sensitive, always ready to be offended, lacking resilience, ever victims. From personal experience it is hard to have a decent conversation while walking on eggshells. Consequently, rarely is truth disclosed and neither party is enriched. The relationship withers.

In a workplace, a worker who cannot take correction or advice will never improve performance, dragging down the business. Same applies in a sporting team. No use being too sensitive when much is at stake: people have to toughen up a bit.

In the broader political sphere under the new moralities, an empire of hurt and victimhood floods the daily headlines about something said, often taken out of context and misrepresented, to fan the pile-on and blame. Arbitrarily, the career and life of the unwitting can disappear without redress.

Who can forget AFL legend Adam Goode taking serial offence at comments deemed racist, while being enriched and lauded for his playing skill and being awarded Australian of the Year. I’ll have some of that racism! Prime Minister Julia Gillard claimed misogyny against a startled Tony Abbott and more recently Eddie Maguire losing his job for misspeaking in this politically correct world.

I give a pass to people who choose to be offended while not listening to discussion, so deliberately misrepresent according to their own predisposition to project resentment and victimhood. No ready cure for that. Shake their dust off my sandals.

The groundswell of emotional vitriol emanating from pride of sensitivity, often on behalf of someone else, clearly has very high social and financial costs. Those costs are additional to the failure to mature, which tends to be enduring. We all fall.

Pride of Authority

The high social and financial cost of pride of authority over the COVID panic is there for all to see in the behaviour of Labor Premiers, Daniel Andrews, Anastasia Palaszczuk and Mark McGowan. Each orchestrated fear to terrorise the populace into submission to ever changing rules against constantly moving goal posts. Their decisions had a devastating impact on businesses and jobs whose taxes are necessary to support public sector employees without skin in the game, yet who were making rules.

Each of these Premiers failed to follow recommendations according to Harvard Business Review’s Cyneform decision-making model: to reduce command and control once the crisis has passed.

Pride of authority can also surface in families, schools and businesses, generally leaving the “leader” in absolute control, with little scope for development in those operating below leadership level, which would avoid a leadership vacuum. Ultimately all fail to flourish, as it is in the initiative of individuals that opportunities bloom.

Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg’s book, Hidden Hand: Exposing how the Chinese Communist Party is reshaping the world provides a detailed, well documented analysis of the determined authority being exercised by the CCP to achieve world domination. Obedience and compliance are mandatory. Individualism is not allowed.

Over COVID how easily have we slipped into the Chinese pattern of obedience and compliance at the cost of our freedoms? How easily we have fallen.

Pride of Knowledge

The knowledge class elites have certainly demonstrated they know what’s best for we Neanderthal deplorables merely trying to get on with our lives and do the best we can in our families, jobs and communities. Take Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and other tech billionaire oligarchs, who felt their leftist ideas should be imposed on the rest of us. They conspired to influence what was allowed and who was allowed media on their platforms to suppress and distort information to influence the USA election and opinions beyond. Apparently Iranian mullahs and paedophiles were okay, though not Christians or conservatives.

At a lesser scale we have the indoctrination of school children on issues such as climate change, negative impact of colonialization on Aborigines, gender fluidity and racism, mostly big on emotional self-hatred and short on facts. Kids must bow to the knowledge master or fail. We all fall.

Conversations with know-alls become one-sided and tedious very quickly. Instead of being open to new knowledge or debating challenging concepts respectfully, only one voice is allowed. Opportunities for enrichment are lost. We fail and fall as a consequence of the pride of knowledge.

Pride of Complacency

Those proud of their disinterest in politics, staying beyond the fray, may find themselves falling as events overtake them in their powerlessness as policies with which we would never agree become law to our detriment.

Having taken the “easy” path to child raising asserting little correction or discipline, parents may find in time they have nurtured an uncontrollable, unproductive adult that returns grief. Remediation is often fraught and costly.

Similarly policies of government to which we have paid little attention can build to overwhelming and untenable, if we do not take any interest, speak up at the time or lend support to those who do represent our point of view.

In our complacency, we have seen how tacit support for same sex marriage has morphed into promotion from kindergarten upwards of gender fluidity, transgender, sexual choice at whim, unisex toilets, trans men in athletic competition against women and girls and abolition of female denominations of girls, mother, breast feeding, and other biology defying basics of language.

Any protest is labelled homophobic or transphobic (pride of sensitivity) rather than merely another point of view that respects the LGBQTI+ rights and expects the same for others. After all we are all in this together.

Loss of freedoms

Power and control is common to each manifestation of pride, whether sensitivity, authority, knowledge or complacency, as freedom of others is restricted. Whether freedom of thought, speech, movement or association, increasingly we seem to come under greater controls of elites in authority or of knowledge (e.g. Chief Health Officers).

Early indications of patterns of control were evident to me in the feminist movement of the 70’s and 80’s. At that time, women who boasted the number of abortions still wished to control the minds and futures of the children of others, using policy agenda to fragment intact families and direct school curricula. Since then, Marxist philosophies have gathered strength in the march through the institutions, demanding compliance at risk of being cancelled.

Ironically, should, through Australian complacency, the CCP ultimately be successful in dominating this country, we will truly have fallen. Those who have assumed powerful elitist positions may find themselves without the freedom they have long denied to others.

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Making Straight the Way

Parents are not God in their children’s lives; their job is to make straight the way to adulthood so that children can grow up to own responsibility for fulfilling their potential, whatever that may be.

To make the way straight requires honesty derived of God-like courage, confidence to hold to principles and willingness to allow children to make and experience decision-making appropriate to their age and stage in life, as remote preparation for adulthood.

Parents must be friendly rather than friend to the child, developer rather than controller.

Enjoyment or Anxiety

Chapter 4 of my book Becoming analyses the current challenge for parents

Instead of being a natural, enjoyable, loving experience, producing and raising a child has become a rule-bound, anxiety fraught program entered into with preconceived expectations that are unlikely to be met. Rather than helping parents, expansion of the dominion of the knowledge class of experts has made raising children an unnecessarily anxious, onerous and complex task. Parental fear has increased, while confidence has diminished. Ever greater energies and resources are vested in ever smaller families. Natural or inherited intuitive parenting skills fail to flourish, are suppressed or dismissed by those in thrall to the “rules” and fads of experts in the interest of child safety and promised outcomes. Many, confounded, muddle through, or relinquish responsibility to government agencies willing to intrude to justify their own importance and expansion at taxpayer expense.

For families to flourish and mature a simpler understanding of raising families is needed – one that places the child in context in family and society, fostering decision-making aimed ultimately at enabling the child to reach mature, competent adulthood appropriate for democracy (i.e. able to make sound decisions). Parents would then be able to move on seamlessly to the next stage of their own lives. And enjoy the experience.

Context

Something that can be lost in the confusion is that the child does not exist to be cosseted as a precious entity alone: the child exists in context in family and community, where respect for boundaries and others must be learned as self-respect and self-esteem develop. Encouragement and correction are part of that growth to maturity. It takes a village to raise a child.

Those familiar with my book Becoming will recall that understanding the context in which situations occur is essential to making good decisions that people can live with. Socialising children comprises a myriad of daily decisions, often repetitive, each contributing to making straight the way to mature adulthood: learning respect for self, family members, property and broader community. No need for parents to beat themselves up over a daily tally of how they’ve performed: merely look at the trend of development as the child progresses through ages and stages, building capability to make decisions and assume responsibilities accordingly.

Expectation is a basic factor in developing self-esteem and resilience. Parents aren’t perfect. Expecting children to accommodate reasonable parental imperfection is part of challenging children to deal with reality.

Always giving, and giving in to a child’s demands ill equips them for collaboration and cooperation, cornerstones of mutual respect, which, in turn, frees the young adult to reach fullest potential.

Control, Development or Complacency

Parents seeking to do their best might consider whether their approach to parenting is one of control, development or complacency.

Control, when taken to extreme is selfishly about the parent. Often rigid expectations and demands are used to exert control. Discipline is strict and punitive. Expectations may have little to do with the child’s capability. Parents make all the decisions, limiting opportunities for children to gain experience in thinking, exploring options, making choices and wearing the consequences that makes for robust self-awareness.

Helicopter parenting absorbs every sling and arrow of the child’s interface with the community. Instead of stepping back to encourage the child to resilience by dealing with realities, however unpleasant, the child is “saved” from hurt to be good for little. Given the ultimate goal of parenting is to make straight the way to competent, confident adulthood for the growing child, excessive control fails parent and child, both of whom linger in immaturity at great social and economic cost.

By contrast, a development approach allows the child latitude to make decisions within a safe framework, in keeping with the age and stage. Mature parents can be confident how they exert authority over children, both living and learning along the way. Over the years between birth and 18 years, parents gradually let go of responsibility for controlling all factors of the child’s life, good or bad, to grow in maturity along with the child. The child gains experience in making decisions and accepting responsibility for them. At 18, when the child is viewed as adult by law and the community, both can celebrate the arrival as adult, however imperfectly.

A complacent, laissez-fare approach has the appeal of letting parents off the trouble of socialisation, allowing the child to make its own way, passing responsibility onto others (childcare or school). Timing is critical to success. In these days of a long life, a few years laying the foundation for the whole of the rest of a child’s life is worth it in a long life of self interest  . Remediation is costly, flawed and often unsuccessful. Best to put the effort in at the right time, to fortify the child’s life and spare angst for everyone down the track.

Cost of failure

Most parents do the best they can under the circumstances. Still many fail, through one reason or another as statistics show. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

  • 26% of children aged 5–14 and 22% of young people aged 15–24 are overweight or obese;
  • 74,000 children aged 0–14 and 80,000 young people aged 15–24 were hospitalised in 2013–14 due to injury and poisoning.
  • Around 39,700 children aged 0-12 (or 9.6 per 1,000) were on a care and protection order in Australia on 30 June 2018.

Disturbed young lives need plenty of support to break through a pattern of dysfunction. All strength to the 990 in a thousand who haven’t come to the attention of government agencies. Enjoy and celebrate your families.

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/population-groups/children-youth

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/children-youth/australias-children/…

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Success

Success can be viewed as an achievement or a journey, or both, depending on the person, the context and the conditions.

Amongst the media class too often success seems skewed to financial achievement. Yet financial success does not always mean good sense.

Those who are wealthy or achieve wealth through enterprise tend to command respect, awe and adulation. From starting businesses Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame and Jack Dorsey of Twitter became notable for accumulating wealth greater than many nations. Good on them! Due credit to them for their initiative and business acumen!

Hollywood celebrities, global corporate and bureaucratic elites demonstrate success in climbing the tortuous ladder to newsworthiness. We are expected to listen and adulate any woke pronouncements, no matter how much they defy good sense or cost an unwitting public. Bounteous rewards accruing to them are insufficient: they crave relevance.

Stellar financial success does not mean they have wisdom and decency to know what is best for us in all other areas of our life. Cancelling ordinary citizens and other conservatives of different opinions from their social media platforms to deny free speech undermines democracy. Dismissing people of different opinion as deplorable is hardly laudable. Success in that endeavour causes harm to individuals and democracy that outweighs any benefits their services deliver.

My success

Success means different things to different people. I recall commentary from a priest talking on marriage (he’d know!) speak about changing expectations of parenting. “Once,” he said, “parents were considered successful if their children grew up, were productive and married in the church to someone of the same faith. Now parents might consider parenting successful if the children grew up (at all), married (at all), and were motivated and non-addicted.”

Parental “success” is a journey. Success at one stage does not guarantee success at another, though makes it more possible. Also factors outside of family, including screen time, now have a strong influence on children’s growth and potential, as socialisation is deferred to teachers, social engineers, peers and screens.

Those familiar with my background will know that I come from a large, dysfunctional, chaotic family, raised free-range. Consequently the natural genetic smarts endowed by parents did not receive the discipline, encouragement or the support to enable each of the bright children to fulfil their true potential. Independently, we made our way to give useful, quality service in diverse fields.

I’ve been able to break through the chaotic pattern parenting my own children to provide sufficient discipline, order, direction, education and support to enable them to forge their own pathway to productive careers developing their potential. Invariably they enhance the lives of other people, families and businesses in Australia and around the world. Their hard work is intelligent, considered and meaningful. Many struggles marked the imperfect journey. Mistakes were made, I’m still being told. Like most parents, we did the best we could with the knowledge and resources available to us at the time. Judgement under contemporary woke values is misplaced. Yet what happens from adulthood on can be as fraught as early childhood.

On reflection, my parenting has proven largely successful, though I am unlikely to be granted headlines like Zuckerberg or a high profile platform to share “how” so that others may benefit. Commitment to family has precluded accumulation of great financial wealth, resulting in those of new wealth tending towards condescension of me and my efforts. You may identify with this experience. Like Zuckerberg, they falsely assume obscene wealth equals superior wisdom and morality. Their assumptions are dead wrong.

As I listen to the lame, repetitive requests parents make of their misbehaving children annoying others, putting people at risk, I quietly affirm my own efforts, however imperfect.

Most of my professional career has been facilitating the success of others by project managing and writing winning bids, tenders, applications, grants and business proposals for organisations from multi-agency projects, small business, indigenous and non-profit organisations across all industry sectors. A store of latent knowledge has been acquired. Over $1 billion of projects have been undertaken, many of which have been successful, creating opportunities and advancing the careers and businesses of so many.

Retrospectively, coming from the selfless generation, the pattern of my life has been facilitating and fortifying the success of others. Satisfaction has been my reward, rather than personal wealth accumulation so prized by today’s self-indulgent.

Success of others

Each of us has a story littered with struggles and worthy achievements worth celebrating that may not make headlines like WWII veteran Captain Sir Thomas Moore. At 99 years old Tom used his Zimmer frame to walk the length of his yard to raise £1000 for those in need during COVID. He ended up raising £30 million, along with the spirits of a nation reeling under the pandemic.

Not every success has dollar figures attached. To the disabled person success may be advancing a physical skill to become more independent. To the athlete it may be winning the race or improving personal best performance. Under COVID conditions, success for the business person may be recognised in surviving. Flourishing would be a bonus.

Being plagued by addictions of any sort is a lifetime challenge for the individual and their loved ones that warrant encouragement every day that progress to sobriety advances. Those recovering from accident, illness or surgery making efforts at recovery cheer inwardly (or outwardly) every step advanced. For the devastated middle aged man confronting the challenge of a divorce, looking beyond grief to affirmation of twenty successful years together is a hard task, yet worth celebrating. A dying person’s quiet acceptance of fate is a special kind of success that warms the heart and assuages grief.

In every case, success is primarily dependent upon effort drawn from within our being to achieve something important to us. Others can help and encourage, yet the responsibility is ours.

Celebrating success

Take time to reflect on the many measures of success and challenges overcome that pepper your life as a consequence of tremendous efforts. Having worked hard and attained goals, it’s important for us to pause a moment to celebrate the achievement and savour the effort to get there. You and your life are as special and important in the overall scheme of things as any global corporate oligarch.

Rewards and awards assigned through favouritism or bias don’t count, as life eventually catches up with limitations, often in a cruel way. Dealing with reality, however brutal, is always the best means of moving forward towards any goal. Courage is essential. When success arrives, then it will be well earned. Time to celebrate!

I wish you every success!  

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Words Matter

Free speech has history

If words matter, we should be concerned as our quintessential ‘right’ to freedom of speech is under serious threat today. We may have thought the idea of free speech is new as it is assumed. Yet free speech, historically bound with our existence as a free person, draws on over 2000 years of political and theological thought in western traditions, according to Chris Berg in his book In Defence of Freedom of Speech.

With freedom to speak an individual was free. Without that freedom, an individual was not free[i] – an important concept in the era when slavery was common.

Berg goes on to say that the great debates over toleration emphasised that conscience and expression were one. God did not give any person the power to police the thoughts of another person.

New morality brings new meanings

In the vacuum created by the decline in practice of Christian religions in which individual freedoms flourished, powerful new religious cults have emerged to discipline our conscience, expression and behaviours, and to judge and punish defectors.

New cults are found in politics, government, education, corporations and non-profit globalists, who disdain our history, traditions, beliefs and us. New words and new meanings of common words infect our discourse as new offences surprise and confront. What was said may not be the problem; but how what was said was interpreted, misrepresented, conflated or distorted will not lessen the pile on by the ignorant and the moral guardians of the new religions. Facts do not matter. Adherence to the new moralities does.

Take your pick for offence and vilification from the cults of:

  • Gender diversity that denies and vilifies the science of heterosexual realities, imposes new pronouns, disposes of accepted identities (male/female; girl/boy; husband/wife, etc.)
  • Feminism seeking equity in outcomes with men, changes to language, treatment and pay
  • Racism that positions people of colour as eternal victims, while vilifying Caucasians through the prism of white supremist colonists and slave owners, to overturn history, achievements and equality before the law;
  • Climate catastrophists spouting failed warnings of the demise of the planet from global warming in 5, 10, 20 or 100 years if we (western economically viable countries) don’t take drastic action and pay a king’s ransom to unelected unaccountable global organisations, to be squandered amongst corrupt countries; or spend $billions on unsustainable “renewables”.
  • COVID-19 pandemicists who have ridden a wave of power to control our actions, movement, social engagement and business operations and are reluctant to let go as the crises pass.
  • Trump derangement: Dare I mention the offensive “T” word to join the chorus of everything wrong with the USA and the world that now calls for the cancelling and re-education of Trump, anyone who worked for him and the 74 million “white supremists” who voted for him.

A person can even be caught up in intersectionality – i.e. being guilty, at the same time, of crossing more than one of the moral boundaries. Harry Potter author J K Rowling, a supporter of gender diversity, was cancelled for also supporting heterosexual women. Black civil rights lawyer, Leo Terrell crosses the racist/Trump intersection to deserve trolling as a betrayer of his colour who supported Trump’s policies. Words can so easily offend, especially when one is already biased or sensitive.

Hardly a week goes by when some prominent sports person of colour doesn’t hit the headlines claiming racial victimhood playing a white man’s game while being richly rewarded. Bend the knee. Black lives matter.

Features of new moralities

From the broad spread of the new moralities with their new words and old words with different meanings, many commonalities prevail in the call to create in us a new conscience to capture our expression of words. Commonalities can be defined as:

  • Hatred: Proselytes present as angry, hateful people determined to crush anyone who does not bend their conscience to their new morality. No humour to dampen the tone. No fun!
  • Short on facts: Acceptance of LGBTQ+ does not negate the biological reality of male and female. Women are different from men, though given the opportunities they have today can achieve similarly by assuming equal responsibility; climate modelling and science promoted as “settled” is patently flawed and occasionally dishonest: climate is always changing, the question is whether humans contribute to it.
  • No mercy: Judgement is ruthless, instantaneous, damning and forever, with no room for mercy, retraction or apology.
  • Parameters always changing: Nothing is ever settled or enough. Ever there are new demands and criteria for compliance. No rest from the onslaught of demands, hatred and apportioned guilt.
  • Demand money (other people’s): Always more money, concessions, compliance, new agencies more power over others, No amount of money satisfies.
  • No end: Were these “causes” presented with a roadmap that supporters could follow and we would all know when we got there so everyone could cheer and move on together, it would be more acceptable all round. Yet there is never an end to the piling of guilt, blame and disempowering. Thrall of religious zealotry keeps the blood pumping.
  • Censorship: We’ve arrived at contemporary book burning when big tech (Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon) colludes to suppress information they don’t agree with, and promotes stories more favourable to their left inclinations, in concert with main stream media, academia and big woke corporations, to win an election. Colluding to cancel the account of the President of the United States and his 88 million followers, while keeping those of the CCP China and Iran’s Ayatollahs shows true values of the new conscience of Trump Derangement. Free speech platforms Parler and Rumble were also cancelled as soon as the presidency of Joe Biden was confirmed. Publisher Simon & Schuster cancelling publication of a book by outspoken Senator Josh Hawley, who challenged big tech, demonstrates how far the new gods of morality seek to control the words we can say and hear.
  • Punishments have evolved with technology though old style whipping in the stocks may have passed, hauling before the courts is still popular and punitive for the cost and life disruption. Andrew Bolt found that even as a journalist he could not criticise the allocation of Indigenous funding without ‘intending to’ offend (racism). Israel Folau lost his career for posting about his Christian faith on his private social media (gender diversity). A young mother in Ballarat was handcuffed and hauled away by police for posting about a safe meeting in the local park on the topic of COVID restrictions. In the UK, commentator Katie Hopkins has been banished from social media platforms, lost her home and assets for speaking truth about racism, climate change, COVID and Trump. Laurence Fox, star of the TV series alongside Lewis, has established the Reclaim Party, striving to counter misinformation and offer a trustworthy source of news alternative to main stream media.

Words have consequences

Using words that can be construed to offend anyone of these newly imposed moralities can result in consequences for individuals – from losing reputation, job, career, home and prospects. Commentators believe that anyone who supported Trump should be denied future employment and flight travel. They and their children need to be “re-educated” to the “new truths” espoused by the new gods.

Hmmmm! Sounds more than a little like China to me! Anyway, I’ve always felt it unwise to throw out the baby with the bath water. We would be wise to take what is value from the new morality without letting go of all that is of value in our faith, history, traditions and wisdom. By all means care for the environment, use safe COVID practices, and respect people of diverse colour, gender and capability.

Still I hear the voice of ancients sounding my conscience a warning to “beware of false gods”. The ancient tribe of Dan failed when it fell to worshiping the bull. We could also fail by worshiping the BS of the new morality. Words matter.


[i] P 156

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The Great Reset

In every crisis, there is an opportunity. Image: Unsplash

A Biden victory in the USA may seem like a win for democracy, yet there are grave concerns for us all under his Green New Deal and The Great Reset as the pandemic is conflated with climate catastrophe.

The USA has elected a new President, Joe Biden, who ran for the Democratic Party on the slogan Build back better. Innocuous as the slogan may sound; it is drawn from corporate and bureaucratic elites of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and nation states (which all get together annually in Davos, Switzerland, for mutual preening). UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau are supporters of the agenda introduced by Prince Charles and driven by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF. Biden’s control of the White House, Congress and Senate in the US leaves the Democrat Party free to implement the WEF agenda under their multi-trillion dollar Green New Deal. What could there possibly be to worry about?

Take a look at the three main components published by WEF[i] and wonder:

  1. Steer the market toward fairer outcomes by tax, regulatory and fiscal policy (e.g. wealth taxes, withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies, new rules governing intellectual property, trade and competition).
  2. Ensure investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability (e.g. building “green” urban infrastructure and creating incentives for industries to improve their track record on environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics).
  3. Harness innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good by addressing health and social challenges (e.g. using forces of collaboration to deal with COVID to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines; establishing testing centres, tracing mechanisms for infection and telemedicine).

To achieve a better outcome, says WEF, the world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism.

Futility of outcomes focus

Get the drift? The WEF agenda is focused on achieving common outcomes: i.e. driving the same outcomes for everyone in the world in the most socialist way. Pity these people don’t reflect on the scriptures to learn the lessons of old. I recall a couple of thousand years ago a bloke called Jesus told a parable about giving a few shekels each to a number of people. One buried theirs, another held onto it, another spent it and yet another invested it and made more shekels.

Predictably, then, as now, equality at the beginning ended with different outcomes, largely as a consequence of responsibility and initiative. We have to think seriously whether rewards should be equal at outcome. Should those who choose to do nothing share the rewards of those who have worked hard for theirs?

Joseph Stalin had a noble agenda aimed at outcomes similar to the WEF. We know how that turned out – tens of millions dead from starvation, slavery, brutality and control. Wary of pursuing the same socialist path, in two days 80,000 Canadians protested their PM Justin Trudeau signing up their country to the WEF agenda.

Check out the following to see if you recognise how Stalin’s creeds have already encroached on our society, to be rapidly advanced by adherence to the WEF agenda:

  • “Fascism is the bourgeoisie’s (middle class) fighting organisation that relies on the active support of Social-Democracy. Social-Democracy is objectively the moderate wing of fascism. (Flawed bureaucratic control over our lives has expanded exponentially over COVID and climate change through dictatorial regulations and punitive measures).
  • The proletariat (workers) must rise and launch a determined attack upon the bourgeoisie in order to destroy capitalism to its foundations. (Act of faith for the unions).
  • The press must grow day in and day out; it is our Party’s sharpest and most powerful weapon. (In the US election big tech and mainstream media were effective in suppressing information harmful to the election of Democrats leader Joe Biden and were constantly hostile, misrepresenting anything Trump said and did).

George Orwell, ever prescient, many years ago had observed “little evidence that the USSR was progressing towards anything that one could truly call Socialism. On the contrary, I was struck by clear signs of its transformation into a hierarchical society, in which the rulers have no more reason to give up their power than any other ruling class.”

Schwab and other elites are more likely to give us rules than give up power. A hindsight view of history reveals the propensity for ever tighter bureaucratic controls and policing when dictatorial regulations are enforced, as demonstrated in Victoria and in different levels in other states under the cover of COVID management. Both the Bolsheviks in Russia and the Nazis in Germany very quickly instituted secret police forces to carry out their dictates, in betrayal of the people for whom such major social changes were ostensibly instituted.

All Stalin’s death and destruction in a fruitless search for equality of outcomes should be a reminder to Charles Schwab that the destruction of capitalism, however subtle, will be costly. Even a ‘noble’ agenda for some kind of global collaborative utopia where every country and corporation bends to the resolution of crises conflating pandemic and global warming in a Great Reset is doomed to disruption and failure. People value freedom.

Of course, it will not be Schwab, Prince Charles, global corporate CEOs or Justin Trudeau who will be affected. We are not “all in this together as the COVID mantra falsely echoed. It is the ordinary middle class aspirational families having a crack who have been, and will be, most affected who will bear the pain and the cost. Just as Stalin would wish!

Filling the emptiness

Author, war veteran and war journalist George Orwell’s prescience well describes prevailing social conditions today: Whoever tries to imagine perfection simply reveals his own emptiness.

Many seeking to save the world may be as empty as Stalin: beaten by his parents, a marked face, damaged arm and unimpressive stature, zealously asserted power to compensate.

Driving the religious fears of catastrophe (e.g. climate change, COVID, Great Barrier Reef destruction, etc.) and ‘moral’ social imperatives (e.g. Black Lives Matter, colonialism, gender fluidity, equity, multi-culturalism, open borders) forces compliance, at the same time as restricting freedom of speech, movement, business and the faith of others. Measured against my Maturity Model (outlined in my book Becoming), such unrealistic expectations are unsustainable, leading to personal, social and economic fragmentation.

New religious cults have their inflexible beliefs, mantras, chants, champions and child prophets. They thrive on emotion, especially fear, which can be thrilling. Keeps the blood pumping! Commitment of time and money to the cause fills the interior void vacated by former beliefs. Judgement for denialists is brutal and final, warranting cancelling, de-platforming, violence and loss of employment without access to forgiveness or redress. Nothing less than uniform perfection in beliefs is demanded of all. Few realise how their good intentions are being manipulated by national and international operators. For instance, the BLM movement is driven by Marxists.

An absence of truth and justice colours the new religious creeds, thereby missing the essential element for building a sustainable future. Neither do they appear to have knowledge or appreciation of history that could inform intelligent action. It is as if nothing has been learned from the 100 million brutal deaths of the 20th century resulting from dictators (Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot). Yet global elites like Schwab seek to repeat patterns of control, global control, through the Great Reset. Lofty as WEF ambitions may be, no guarantees are offered that centralised global control of the way we operate will end any differently from previous efforts at world domination.

How will we know?

The pot of socialist change has been warming for some years and we are beginning to feel the heat, recognised in:

  • Decline in free speech, especially in Universities deferring to China, punitive measures on political correctness on race, gender and faith. Remember cartoonist Bill Leake being hauled before the Human Rights Commission for an accurate depiction of serious Aboriginal issues; Israel Folau, Australia’s best rugby player, being sacked for posting articles of faith on his private social media; and Archbishop Porteous having to front court for publishing a letter about Christian marriage to his parishioners.
  • Climate change dogmas, permeating all levels of education, media and government, brooking no alternative point of view, even those based on facts. Our power bills have gone up by a factor of three to fund unreliable, unrecyclable “renewables”; over $3b/year subsidies are paid for renewable investment and $10b tipped into the climate gravy train to encourage new technologies. No new power stations are approved. Fancifully, we are expected to get by with batteries that again require much despised mining to produce inputs.
  • At the same time, alternative opinions are stymied: Prof Bob Carter was bothered to death and Prof Peter Ridd sacked from James Cook University for challenging prevailing beliefs about research claiming damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s big banks will no longer finance coal mine developments, our major export, and the Queensland government stalls approvals for mines and associated infrastructure on green law fare, leading to loss of industry and jobs.
  • Demands for open borders, immediate settlement and privileges for illegal arrivals, activist judges and administrative boards and access to extensive legal process and health care (increased costs and social disruption).
  • Failure of education when 30% of children are illiterate after years of an education focused on climate change, evils of colonialism, gender fluidity; when children can barely string an intelligent sentence together, our society is being undermined from within, by the bureaucratic and union elites who dominate the education system.
  • Colonisation dogmas also permeate all levels of education, media and government to the exclusion of factual history of Australia and pride in achievements. Victimhood of Indigenous people without responsibility is a tenet of the ideology, parallel with the unmitigated evil of white supremist colonisers. No account is taken of the inevitability of white settlement or the benefits accruing to Indigenous from which many Aboriginals attain prominence, achievement and prospects, especially in sport and the arts. Still, annually debate is raised about whether to celebrate Australia Day, changing the flag and the national anthem. Never mind the dozens of days and weeks each year committed to recognising the first people, acknowledged at every public function and the $35b annually invested in their advancement. Without an end to demands and even a smidgen of gratitude, “sorry” fatigue begins to set in.  
  • Gender diversity is the area where facts elude policy elites. No longer male or female, husband or wife, boy or girl, but some chosen pronoun. Facts of life for the majority are subjugated to the small percentage of LGTQ+ people, who deserve inclusion but not domination of all. Ready offense pressures political correctness.
  • Racial discrimination is spectacularly disproportionate in a country like ours that has become a melting pot of races from all corners of the globe. Everyone is equal before the law. Pride of sensitivity reigns in a dominion of offence.
  • Freedom of religion, especially Christian religions, is under attack from many sectors, especially the media, either ignorant or contemptuous of the contribution of Judeo-Christian traditions to the evolution of our free and just society, however imperfect. Currently we are living off the fat of those traditions without reinvesting. Social decline seems inevitable and it is unlikely Charles Schwab can save us, or even wants to.

The common theme of all these points warming us frogs in the pot is the righteous hatred and destruction exerted towards non-believers to achieve conformity very much in Stalin’s style. Hatred, even in righteous causes, is a multiplier, especially when fanned by social media. At its end may be self-destruction, as described by Jordan Peterson in his book Twelve Rules, reviewing the lifetime pursuit of green ideals by his friend who ended up committing suicide.

Likewise, love is a multiplier that blossoms when showered by freedoms – of speech, movement, learning and faith. Daily we are being challenged to choose a pathway, not just for ourselves, which is important; also for our families, communities and country. Be aware!

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. George Orwell.


[i] Now is the time for a ‘great reset’ of capitalism | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)

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The Social Dilemma

School closures due to COVID-19 restrictions highlighted what we already knew:  the addictive nature of online social networks and gaming, as young people without organised school, sport or social contact indulged many hours of the day and night. Screen addiction produces the same chemical response in the brain as cocaine.

What parents know from experience, was confirmed in a study of 5,000 persons reported in The American Journal of Epidemiology, 2017, which found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction. Not hard to believe when youth emerge from the screen cave, glassy eyed, belligerent, uncooperative and physically and socially diminished.

The title of this blog has been borrowed from a 2020 Netflix investigative and narrative docudrama film, The Social Dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski and written by Orlowski, Davis Coombe, and Vickie Curtis. I highly recommend viewing the film, particularly in the company of youth affected. The film explores the rise of social media and the damage it has caused to society, focusing on its exploitation of its users for financial gain through surveillance capitalism and data mining, how its design is meant to nurture an addiction for profit (as was cigarette smoking) and its use in politics.

Just how insidious tracking of internet usage can be was demonstrated to me at a simple level when searching online for supportive slip-on shoes for use after my hip operation. Advertisements for similar shoes began appearing uninvited on Facebook and other searches.

What lies beneath

Hidden machinations behind everyone’s favourite social media and search platforms are unveiled in the docudrama, showing that the technology that connects us also distracts us, monetizes, divides, controls, manipulates and polarises us. The promise of connectivity has given rise to a host of unintended consequences that threaten to overwhelm us unless we can address our broken information ecosystem that plagues humanity.

  • Mental health dilemma: Persuasive design techniques like push notifications and endless scroll of your newsfeed have created a feedback loop that keeps us glued to our devices. Just how people are preyed upon, cleverly and unwittingly is shown in the film.
  • Democracy dilemma: The New York Times reports that the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns doubled in the past two years. Were the personal impact of social media platforms on individuals concerning enough, we are only just becoming aware of the extreme danger that control of these platforms in biased hands has on the exercise of democracy.

Partisan use of social media platforms is known to influence the election process and outcomes. During the 2020 USA election campaign, operators of the various platforms (Google, Twitter, Facebook) worked together to design algorithms that favoured the Democrat non-campaign of Joe Biden from his basement, while disadvantaging the Trump campaign. Messages supporting Trump and Republicans were cancelled and cautioned. A well-known fact is that near 100% of employees of these platforms in the Silicon Valley bubble contribute to the Democrats, implying entrenched political bias. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook contributed $400m to facilitate Democrat vote harvesting.

Social media advertising gives anyone the opportunity to reach huge numbers of people with phenomenal ease, giving bad actors the tools to sow unrest and fuel political divisions.

  • Discrimination dilemma: A 2018 internal Facebook report advises that algorithms can be designed to promote content that sparks outrage, hate and amplifies biases within the data we feed them. Small wonder that 64% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there. Just as I discovered when googling for something as simple as slip on shoes.

China malevolently used on Twitter a fabricated image of an Australian soldier threatening to slit the throat of an Afghan child to denigrate Australia’s image. The Australian (5 December 2020) reports Indonesia using a cyber generated ‘bot’ of an Australian journalist in its battle against West Papuan Independence. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s notorious Internet Research Agency’s troll factory in St Petersburg aims to sow doubt and confusion.

Publishing dilemma: Many people now take their news from online sources, including Google and other social media platforms, which draw content from traditional media sources without paying for it. As a result, on line platforms now attract a greater part of the advertising dollar, leaving funds for traditional journalism like newspapers and TV scrambling for survival. Many journalists have lost their jobs, thereby limiting the scope of an inquisitive media to interrogate issues as would normally occur in a thriving democracy.

 Social media oligarchs claim they operate merely as a platform for communication by others, so bear no responsibility for what is published. While claiming they are not a publisher like newspapers, which must have responsibility and oversight for what they publish, social media have shown an amazing capacity to censor and cancel comments and contributors, especially those more conservatively inclined. Whether or not they are publishers, their political bias has become more shameless and actions bolder. Democracy is at stake as we unwittingly submit to rule by the new wealth aristocracy.

What can be done?

What has become evident is that social platforms affect our lives both at a personal, family level, sometimes in a beneficial way, but increasingly in a way that damages individuals and the broader community of interest.

Families need to rein in practices that are too addictive and damaging to developing children, firmly and decisively limiting children’s exposure, and, conversely, by dampening parents’ own addiction.  An understanding of the coordinated manipulation of minds occurring behind these platforms would enable children to see how easy it is to lose control of their lives at the very time when they are being challenged to step up and grow into maturity, physically and mentally. I have witnessed first-hand a young man with an IQ of 152 who became addicted to gaming all night, couldn’t get up before the crack of noon and showed the ravaging evidence of physical under development and mental decline, unable to complete studies or get or hold a job.

The Australian government is introducing legislation deeming the social platforms to be publishers, requiring them to pay a fair price for news they take from various sources.

In the meantime, we the people are voting with our fingers. Many have already abandoned Facebook and Twitter altogether, or opted for platforms like Rumble and Parler which allow freedom of speech and hold greater respect for democracy.

What’s your plan?

READ:

Our Brains Are No Match for Our Technology, Tristan Harris, New York Times

The Dark Psychology of Social NetworksJonathan Haidt, The Atlantic

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Comeback

In many ways sport is a good analogy for life – regular challenges of competition for which fitness is critical parallel crises in real life; many disappointments when performance falls short; and exuberant elation of winning a prized trophy on comeback, as did Queensland in the State of Origin series. Queenslander!!!

Like many comebacks, mine has been a slow and painful one. Surgery became inevitable with slow and painful deterioration of my hip. As many sports people know, rehabilitation has its own challenges and pain, requiring constant effort with the goal of full recovery in mind. Shortcuts do not rate: just diligent, patient application to the task if I want to take to the field again.

Political Comeback

Opposition is really tough for career politicians, many of whom remain committed to serving communities as effectively as possible, regardless of the low esteem in which you may hold them. Achieving this goal is harder from opposition, as the power of incumbency enables government to implement policies promised.

When you’ve been in opposition as long as the LNP in Queensland (25 of the last 30 years) hopes for a comeback in four years, at the earliest, becomes really challenging. Brutal disappointment of a campaign loss after such a committed effort up to the 31 October election, like the Blues after an Origin game, only time can salve LNP political wounds. Surgery has been performed on the Headquarters and leadership to match the surgery voted by the electorate. A brutal diagnosis has to be conducted and fresh leadership needs to gird the loins to generate and communicate policies that will be effective for the people in all areas of the State.

With the right leadership, building a pathway to political comeback should not be hard in a State overloaded with 230,000 public servants, over $100b debt, no budget, even when Labor has changed electoral rules and restricted LNP fund raising.

Mounting a comeback

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, reproduced in The Australian (20 November 2020), campaigner, commentator and author, Karl Rove, outlined a detailed campaign strategy about How Republicans kept Texas red (Republican) that would be useful for an LNPQ comeback.

Despite being outspent by the Democrats $28m to $17m to flip six Texas congressional seats, and being bolstered by former President Obama and a galaxy of outside groups which spent $61m, increased voter turnout did not result in flipping one seat.

Quietly, Republicans had undertaken two big voter-registration drives (voting is not compulsory in the USA), using big data, technology and volunteers from community organisations, encouraged by former GOP chairman. A total of 318,669 additional voters were registered. A total of 35 million voter contacts were made as staff worked with an army of volunteers to canvas 1.3 million doors, complete 3.1 million calls and send 24.1 million text messages, supported by seven million pieces of mail. Micro-targeting identified low-propensity voters with additional encouragement, swing suburban voters and persuadable Hispanics.

Joe Biden won 5.2m votes (more than either Hillary Clinton or President Obama) but in Texas was beaten by Trump, who also increased his votes by 1.2 million to 5.8m. What stood the Republicans in good stead was their record serving the ordinary people, pointing to increased teacher pay and school funding, protections for pre-existing health conditions and an end to surprise billing, property tax reform, mandatory jail for human and sex trafficking, and amendments to ban state income tax. Whereas Democrats left themselves open with their radical agenda of higher taxes, attacks on fracking, oil and gas, federal takeover of health care,  repeal of the state’s right-to-work law, flirtation with socialism and defunding the police. Sound familiar?

Although voting is compulsory in Australia eliminating the need for us to generate voter turn-out, enough parallels exist in campaign strategy to help the LNP in Queensland make a comeback by mounting a ground campaign reaching out to constituents on local issues.

A strong opposition is important for any democracy, as a sound contest of ideas is essential to improving the quality of governance. As demonstrated by the unhealthy state of Queensland’s ballooning debt, public sector and unemployment after almost 30 years barely impeded by challenge. That is why it is incumbent upon each of us to be responsible with where we place our vote. As I said in a previous blog if you don’t value your vote, others will manipulate you for it.

Will Trump come back

At the time of writing, it appears Joe Biden has won the USA presidential election, pending legal challenges from Trump’s team.  Serious concerns of electoral fraud raised as counting continues weeks after the election, will need to be resolved to restore integrity in the electoral system, whether or not the outcome changes.

Like him or hate him, Trump has shown admirable resilience throughout his presidency continuing to deliver for the American people while having to deal with relentless attacks by the Democratic Party and supporters who still not have accepted the result of the 2016 election with rolling Russian hoax and impeachment efforts, even as COVID began to spread.

In the process Trump has built a strong following of 73 million enthusiastic voters who recognised he spoke for them, however roughly. A comeback is highly likely in some form or another. Watch this space.

Our own comeback

Life’s paths are seldom smooth. Just like me with the hip health issue, we can be taken down by some crisis, uninvited or brought upon ourselves. When struggling in the depths, it is hard to see the way clear to a comeback. Despondency can set in. As a good Buddhist would say, hopelessness is not an option. Ideally we could draw upon some Trumpian resilience to work our way out of crisis to meaningful comeback. It takes heart, effort, application and responsibility. Seek support. Call on family and friends. I know you can do it.

I would love to hear your personal stories of struggle and courage making a comeback – whether in relationships, health or business. All the best.

Election

Value Your Vote

A few years ago I took a 20 hour train ride from Penn Station in New York to Jacksonville in Florida. Rather than fly, I chose to take the train so I could see something of what was happening in the countryside and perhaps engage with local people.

By chance, I had a seat next to an African American woman of a similar age to me, who was travelling to Florida to visit her grandchildren. In the course of discussion I asked whether she would be voting in the coming (2016) election. Her reply was emphatic: “Never missed! The right to vote has been too hard won!”

Would that more Australians under compulsory voting took the right, privilege and obligation to vote seriously enough to delve more closely into what they want and get from elected politicians.

Seek facts before voting

Politicians and political parties may share some similarities but they aren’t all the same. Neither are their policies. It is up to us to be responsible to think carefully about what we and the country most need, exploring what is being offered and by whom, always seeking facts. That would be more advantageous for us all.

The media is not always helpful, as certain publications, TV channels, social media and elites project their own biases, dishonesty, misrepresentations, sins of commission and omission to influence opinions and troll for your vote. Even if you don’t value your vote, others do, and are prepared to manipulate you to win it.

Look beyond personal appeal

In particular we are best served when we look beyond our superficial attraction to, or rejection of, a standing candidate, to what they actually do. We are called to consider the impact of policies they propose, not just on us, but on the broader community of interest. No knee jerk reactions! No heated teaching a lesson! Above all, look beyond the comfort of eloquent lies to be prepared to accept blunter truths when making a choice to vote.

For important retrospective lessons on how we served ourselves poorly in recent electoral history, we need look no further than the following:

  • Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party in 2009, taking the party to a near win in 2010 and an absolute win in 2013. Abbott demonstrated all round decency and deep community engagement by decades of active participation in surf lifesaving bush fire brigade, polly pedal raising funds for community organisations and regularly living with aboriginals to inspire advancement. He has been married to the same woman for almost thirty years and they raised three outstanding daughters. Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar, an Oxford Blue, a thoughtful man who outlined his political philosophy in books published.

Yet despite these hard-earned personal attributes and implementing the policies promised (dumping the carbon tax, stopping the boats), Abbott was attacked on superficial issues: for being too conservative, biting an onion, looking at his watch (misogynist), wearing budgie smugglers in a surf proficiency race. Relentlessly he was trolled in the media, all the time being undermined by the silky talking Malcolm Turnbull who had ever craved the Prime Ministership. Turnbull proved to be a green flop in the job and a sad, mean ghost in retirement. All those who piled in on Abbott contributed to Australia’s loss.

  • Campbell Newman had already proven his extraordinary administrative ability during seven years as Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia’s largest local government, before becoming Premier of Queensland in 2012. As a former army major and successful management consultant Newman set about implementing a plan for infrastructure development, engaging public/private partnerships to get projects completed on budget and often before time. By appointing former LNP Leader, Laurence Springborg as Health Minister, Newman was able to rein in the bloated, under-performing department, reduce staff and budgets, yet still improving performance, waiting times, staff and patient satisfaction. Despite Queensland’s burgeoning debt, then over $80billion, Newman set about implementing efficiencies throughout the system and reducing the number of public servants and the debt – all to our advantage.

Newman did what he said he would, yet the media and the public orchestrated outrage that he did it too fast, did not consult, and did not bring the public along with him. How willing were we to look at the current and long term benefits of his efforts on our account, rather than take personal offence and seek to “teach him a lesson” by voting him out?

Having won the consequence of our vote, Labor was re-installed under Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk. Now the public service has an additional 35,000 bureaucrats, the State’s debt has ballooned to over $105b, countless projects have been cancelled, stalled or rejected and unemployment is the highest in the country.

Rather than teaching Newman a lesson, we have been compelled to learn one. All the more reason why we should put aside our automatic reaction to the candidate as depicted in the media, to look beyond to the policies and the willingness to implement them in the interests of ourselves and our families, now and in the future.

  • Donald Trump, current President of the United States often evokes an immediate response of hatred, resentment and cringe worthiness, not entirely unwarranted: he is a flawed character as are we all. Trump is invariably portrayed negatively by the media mouthpiece for the Left (they use the same words). His Tweets, regardless how objectionable to many, go direct to his 87 million base, cleverly circumventing the fake news.

‘Deplorables’ elected Trump on his policies to Make America Great Again and to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington elite who had ignored them for so long. Like the businessman that he is (and like Abbott and Newman), Trump boldly set about simply doing what he said he would, dealing with issues directly as they arose. As a result the economy boomed, wages increased, businesses profited, more blacks, Hispanics and poor found jobs, those on food stamps declined. Trade deals were renegotiated, especially against China’s $500b annual deficit; major organisations like NATO were challenged to lift responsibility for their own defence; the UN and WHO threatened with defunding should they fail to live up to their constitutional obligations. The military has been refreshed, strengthening American (and our own) security. Instead of starting wars, troops are being brought home, peace has been negotiated between Israel and Arab nations Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, between Kosovo and Serbia, and is in progress between the Taliban and government of Afghanistan. Veterans are guaranteed prompt health service, instead of dying waiting.

Under the First Step Program Blacks have benefited exponentially from prison law reform; development of 8,000 Opportunity Zones for black jobs and businesses; School Choice programs for improved education; and ten year funding for black colleges. Rather than being the racist the media portrays him, Bright young black woman Candace Owens, author of the book Blackout, believes Trump frees African Americans from the Democrat plantation.

Media rhetoric criticises Trump’s management of the COVID response, yet he has had to deal with the same issue we have had under Australia’s federalism: recalcitrant state governments which go their own way. It is unarguable that Trump stopped international flights from China and Europe, setting up a pandemic management team under VP Spence, mobilising PPE equipment and ventilator manufacture, marshaling two military hospital ships and fully equipped pop up hospitals.

All this has been accomplished while under rolling threats of a presidential coup orchestrated by the Democrats, initially to distract from Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, then failure to accept the outcome of the 2016 election, even four years later. No wonder Trump might seem a bit erratic at times. Love him or hate him it could be said he is an exemplar of resilience under pressure that few could emulate: how to keep focussed on the job at hand for the American people while subject to relentless lies, false allegations, misrepresentations, by the Democrats, media, Washington insiders, corporate and Hollywood elites.

Voting in coming Elections

Queenslanders have a serious obligation to consider their vote on 31 October – whether to vote for more of the same spiralling downward trajectory, ballooning debt and public sector, unemployment and investment uncertainty, or to try a fresher approach to investment, infrastructure development and employment prospects for themselves and coming generations.

We cannot vote in the USA election on 3 November, which has similar dramatic contrast in impact, not just for Americans, but also for Australia and western civilisation. As the Democratic party leans to the radical socialist left and China threatens, we need an American patriot like Trump to stand up for his country, the American people, the economy, faith, families, the constitution and history.

Votes lodged in the next few weeks will determine the course of history. Be mindful how you cast yours.

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Don’t be afraid

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In a crisis, politicians feel they must be seen to be doing something, so assert extraordinary powers over us that curtail freedoms, life and business. Under the unknown of COVID-19 this has certainly happened. Maintaining the fear is a large part of it, though President Trump has been pilloried for trying publicly to allay panic, while actively pursuing solutions at “warp speed” throughout the country. Bureaucrats, comfortable with their secure jobs, assured salaries, salary increases and bonuses, are given the job of administering the new laws.

In Policy 101, one learns that the hardest part of policy, no matter how well intentioned, is implementation. New regulations are inevitably reinterpreted at the coal face. And over this COVID crisis haven’t we seen some doozy interpretation of the dictatorial constraints on freedom of movement, speech and borders.

Authoritarian over reach

To a person we’ve been appalled by Victorian police breaking down the door and handcuffing a young pregnant woman in her pyjamas for daring to post on Facebook an invitation to attend a peaceful, safe protest in a park in the Victorian country town of Ballarat. No cases of the virus were present there, although lockdown still pertained. Zoe Buhler now faces half a dozen charges and enormous legal expenses.

The same Victorian police were nowhere to be found when gangs of Sudanese youth ran riot through suburban streets, terrorising residents and destroying property. Go figure.

Then there are the ridiculous constraints on the Canberra resident wanting to visit her dying father and attend his funeral. Why would it take 20 days to respond to an application, when there are so many public servants (the Premier has added an extra 35,000 of them in Queensland, now over 230,000) who must have a bit of slack time between them to be able to turn around an application within 24 hours, in keeping with good business practice. The woman’s father died before she was able to cross the border. The grand concession from Queensland bureaucracy was to allow her an hour with her father’s body after the funeral. Shameful!

Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, comes a story of a farmer’s indomitable good humoured spirit. The bloke farms sheep or cattle 25 miles the other side of the border and needed to feed them. When he dutifully approached bureaucrats for permission as an essential industry to cart 25 tons of feed hay to the farm to feed his animals, it was suggested he drive the hay to Sydney and fly it to Melbourne then drive it to the farm. He was shaking his head in disbelief. Imagine the cost and stupidity of undertaking such an exercise. Animals and the farmer can go heave!

There’s no question that extraordinary authority invested in the immature brings out the dictator. Even while waiting patiently in the queue for service at the Newsagent, I was chastised for being too close to the person behind me. Whatever!

In an ever increasing crescendo, the escalation of fear has brought with it an escalation of rules, which further increases fear, bringing out the dictator within. Yet were we to look to the facts, common sense would allay our fears. This advice follows recommendations for the Maturity Model in my book Becoming – to seek truth on which to make decisions to remain confident, rather than fearful.

Managing COVID Fear

Earlier in 2020 when we were just beginning to understand the threat of the China virus, a high level of concern was raised due to a lack of understanding of the nature of virus, how contagious the spread and who was most affected. Frantic footage of ICU in hospitals in Italy being overrun and the lonely deaths and funerals stirred everyone’s emotions, imagination and fear of the unknown.

We now know that COVID-19 spreads by contact, leading to the rules we know by heart: safe coughing, wearing a mask, hand santisation, keeping 1.5m distance and isolation for 14 days if in contact with a person infected or returning from an infected area.

Despite further knowledge that the majority of those severely affected by the virus are people older than 70 with co-morbidities, orchestration of anxiety has continued by governments and the media, with a focus on new cases and deaths, rather than numbers who have recovered. Deaths from COVID have been exaggerated by counting those who died with, rather than from the virus.

Businesses and schools have been closed or employees and students required to work from home. Borders have been closed and ever more rigid rules have been put in place with ever greater threats of penalties that would do the STASI proud, despite knowledge that very few will die from the virus.

Whereas the federal government has come to the aid with JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments to keep workers engaged with businesses and families with income supports, State governments have taken to heart the power to control people with threats and penalties. Original intention to “flatten the curve” to prevent ICU units being overrun morphed into “suppression” then “elimination”, without revisiting information about the virus, reworking the computer modelling and inputs (rubbish in = rubbish out), or going back to the people for consent. The virus has become political.

The facts are:

  • The number of people who died from the virus is fewer than those who would have died from the flu
  • The effect on most people younger than 70 without co-morbidities is mild
  • Children seem to have high immunity, seemingly due to their high level of T-cells
  • Treatment with existing remedies has proven effective in curing the disease and saving lives. Rejecting this because Trump suggested is not a good enough excuse to continue killing people.
  • Vaccines are being developed rapidly around the world.

No need to lock everybody up at great expense and social disruption. Most oldies are grateful for the length of life they have enjoyed and may already have restricted social contact.

Fully realising the facts, we should be able to get back to life as usual, having captured fear rather than being ruled by it. All that will be left is to pay for the disruption. Now that’s scary!

Managing Climate Fear

Though the immediate health crisis has captured our attention, the end of the world from climate catastrophe promised in 10, 20, 30 or 100 years by the various pundits has not entirely faded into the background. Occasionally little gems arise that give us hope over climate terror that has school children weeping in the streets.

Australia has been bullied by domestic and international conservation agencies about our alleged poor management of the Great Barrier Reef, causing $millions to be spent of research to prove just how bad. As a result research funding has skewed research findings. Those who challenge the veracity of outcomes have been severely castigated for daring to disrupt the populist political story that feeds the research gravy train. Professors Bob Carter and Peter Ridd suffered greatly: Carter died and Ridd was sacked by James Cook University.

Recently Professor Peter Ridd highlighted a study that showed a mere 3% of the Great Barrier Reef was affected by agricultural runoff, and that was only on shore side of the reef. Findings like this are heartening to the farmers who have bent over backwards to employ best environmental practice while being severely pilloried by the Greens, Labor, conservationists and international experts hoping to run them out of business and us out of food.

Destruction of the GBR was another reason for trying to stop development of the ADANI coal mine and half a dozen other mines mooted for the huge coal reserves in the Galilee and Carmichael basins.

Fear of destruction of the GBR demonising the two activities that keep this country prosperous (farming and mining) has been turned around on facts that have not changed, but have selectively been ignored – facts based on distance and geography.

The facts are:

  • GBR is 50-100km from the coastline, hence the limited effect of agricultural runoff
  • GBR is not one, but a series of reefs often kilometres wide.
  • GBR is 2,400km in longitude, crossing a wide range of temperature zones
  • ADANI and other coal mines from the basins are a further 400-500km inland

As with COVID, destruction of the reef has been politicised to engender fear and guilt, to attract attention and money and to destroy coal mining.

We need to seek out the facts to stay in charge of our lives, livelihoods and our money. Don’t be afraid.

Franklin D Roosevelt’s memorable message during the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, is well remembered and applies today. His message ended with the reassurance – “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needs efforts to convert retreat into advance”. Let’s go forward boldly.