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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
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).
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).
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.
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.
Senate hearings in the USA showed the CEOs of these companies (Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook and Jack Dorsey from Twitter) to be as wimpy as Dorsey’s sad beard. Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley called them to account for voter suppression, bias against conservatives in what is allowed to be published, the cancelling of people and comments. The US government is considering introducing S.230 which would remove current protections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Despite being given a bad rap these days when every child wins a prize and any tall poppy can be cut down to size, competition remains a valid and valuable developmental tool for human endeavour and personal maturity. Games and organised sport have proven important personal and community pursuits.
Occasional disputes over the rules or who has won do not invalidate the value of playing the game. In a civil society, issues at dispute can be debated and changes negotiated without resorting to violence and destruction, whether social or physical. Life can move on, improved. Respect and acceptance of the outcome will see us through if we all understand common parameters of the game and share common values.
It’s hard to be sure today, when cancel culture dominating the air waves has overturned much of what is known and understood from centuries of evolution of western civilization. Until recently in this country, it was given that all people were equal before the law and we enjoyed freedom of speech and choice, based on enlightened Judeo-Christian traditions.
Decline in practice of religion has led to two outcomes – decline of common values and the need to fill the faith vacuum with new beliefs of other gods, perhaps even becoming a god oneself – the very thing scriptures warn against. As ever, power, money and moral superiority are the incentives. Judge not lest you too be judged we were advised.
Values have certainly become more diverse in this era of disruption and there has been a significant decline in respect for alternative perspectives. While we might try to learn from the prevailing message, it is hard to get involved when the message constantly changes, as does the game.
Take for instance the issue of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. A lot of protest, anger, hatred and destruction directed against innocent parties, even black people and businesses, often by whites claiming virtue and purpose. The game changes when underlying truths are exposed and a black person pronounces that “all lives matter”. Trolls pile in to destroy the character and standing of the “traitor” to the black cause. Rules of the game’s code are no longer understood as in the original handbook of the bible or the footy, but become fascist interpretations of whoever chooses to take offence first and fastest. Truth, history and respect have no part in the game.
These days as we are divided into in identity groups (skin colour, gender, gender preference, climate change, religion) the zeitgeist can approve of our particular victim hood with empathy and feel good about it. Problems and opprobrium arise when sections are crossed.
JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame and a strong supporter of feminism found out just how badly when running afoul of the transphobic Twitterati defining woman by their gender identity and capability to menstruate. The ensuing pile-on sought to discredit Rowling and everything else she had achieved for this grievous misdemeanour according to the transgender bible of the day. Rowling’s approval for gender preference lost out on her definition of women in the intersectional game.
We have certainly come a long way in the acceptance of LGBQTI identification and gay marriage, but when innocent words, deliberately misinterpreted, can cause such a global wave of hostility in cancel culture, it makes one long for the old days when understanding of the rules of the game were simple and well understood. Unconscious bias and preferred pronouns seem so remote from those of us battling along in a COVID era, too busy to take offence.
You would think that Jacinta Price, an outspoken, articulate aboriginal woman with particular leadership qualities would attract support on gender and colour identities. Jacinta’s failing, according to the moral gods of now, is that she is honest about aboriginal on aboriginal violence and community dysfunction, challenging aborigines to greater responsibility. At the same time Jacinta acknowledges the countless, costly ways that indigenous Australians receive special support from the broader community. Because her pragmatic approach aimed at truly advancing aborigines does not comply with the accepted narratives of institutional racism, colonial exploitation and white supremacy, Jacinta suffers relentless abuse from moral arbiters.
Yet even in our simple day to day lives we can be affected by the games people play. Take the marriage where the wife demands that unless the husband (or vice versa) improves his performance she will leave. So he gets professional advice and makes a valiant attempt to shore up the relationship by complying with her wishes. To no avail. The game changes and there are new demands to be met. She leaves anyway. He can’t win.
Or take the young mother who judged the children’s grandmother to be ‘unworthy’ because the birthday greetings and gifts were inadequate. Even the grandmother’s concerted effort to upgrade presents on a limited budget made no impact on the referee. The rules changed and the grandchildren were denied the gifts. The grandmother had no chance of scoring; ultimately refusing to participate in a “game” without respect or fairness that she could not win, even if it meant no access to grandchildren by the almighty judge.
Similar unreasonable demands can be made in a workplace, or between a contractor and consultant. Unrealistic time frames and under-resourcing put pressure on the worker who must deliver the output. The person paying holds the power of referee in the game. Where respect and fairness prevail, both parties may be satisfied. Yet it is not unknown for limitations of the “referee” being projected onto the person expected to deliver to judge the work unsatisfactory and refuse to pay, or even worse, expect payment for the inconvenience of being unreasonable. Situations like this can occur even when the parameters are spelled out clearly at the beginning of the work.
Conversely, when people understand the rules of the “game” and comply willingly, everyone can advance happily. Having moved house recently I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter fair play and experience the good cheer that accompanied it.
When movers arrived at the house, they went through what I had ordered and what was expected of them. Costs were clarified and methods of payment. Then cheerily they went about their business, two strong young blokes working in seamless tandem. On arrival at the new abode the same attitude prevailed, though they had to manage to move via a lift. Each was respectful and careful of the furniture and equipment, clarifying position and arrangement. Costs were confirmed and payment made. The difficult task of moving house was made more bearable by everyone playing the game to the rules.
I’m a bit past assembling flat pack furniture, so engaged the services of a bloke who does it well and likes doing it. His quote for assembly was confirmed or adjusted once he sighted the items before he went about his business, chatting cheerfully. When he was finished, satisfied with his work as was I, payment was gladly made and we parted ways, both enriched, until next time. We have both understood the rules and played the game.
How to play the game in future
The year 2020 has been a particularly disruptive one, not only because of constrictions brought about by COVID-19, but also because of the shake-up in understanding and values as we are challenged to grapple with a new order at so many levels. Even the footy is struggling to gain momentum after being shut down like everyone else.
Don’t be like the Palestinians who never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We can take time during disruption to reset the parameters of the way we play our “games”. Sticking to what is tried and true, respecting history and people and playing fair will ensure peace on our patch as, like the movers, we cheerily do our bit.
Every now and then something surprising pops up from an unexpected source, colouring a vision for the future. Gratitude can do that for us.
In this case the surprise came from a black African former refugee who had been granted Australian residency. While his name escapes me at the moment, as does the television show on which he appeared, I am sure we will hear more from him.
Having spent years in a refugee camp, eventually making it to Australia, he had secured a job, accommodation and a new life. His main message to all his fellow travellers and to us was that he was no longer a refugee but a resident contributor to Australia, ever grateful for the chance of a new life this country had bestowed.
The fellow was concerned with questionable claims of racism and victimhood projected in the media by ethnic youth gangs raging across cities and suburbs. With support from his work colleagues and community he was reaching out to those of ethnicity feeling disenfranchised to undertake a similar psychological transformation – from refugee/victim to becoming free and grateful contributors.
The message that they are free – free to take charge of their lives and make of life what they choose – is being voiced by more considered media as we are being besieged by Marxist leaders and ‘useful idiots’ of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and around the world.
Western civilization is under threat from within and without. Yet even in its imperfection, democracy continues to evolve and people can have a say, unlike in Marxist/socialist cultures BLM seeks to advance. Little do they understand the irony that once achieved, the protests and riots they espouse would not be allowed. Revolutionaries tend to consume their own, as the death of 100 million over the last century attests. Perhaps knowledge of history or a visit to Marxist countries or corrupt African dictatorships would clarify whether gratitude rather than contempt should be afforded Australia and the USA for democratic, capitalist advances on the countries of origin (e.g. Africa) or ambition (communist China, Venezuela). An entirely new vision could be formed. We could be spared the wanton destruction.
The personal becomes the political, ultimately influencing a community of interest, so it is wise to reflect on how grateful we are no matter how poor or wealthy our circumstances. Alternatively we can slide into bitterness, victimhood, helplessness or greed, when, with a slight change in attitude to gratitude, like our former refugee, we could become a grateful contributor.
Saying grace before a meal may have become passé as the practice of religion has declined and family meals around a table have been replaced by a bucket of KFC or pizza in front of the TV. Yet a family I know asks all present at a meal to nominate three things for which they are grateful that day. Gratitudes mentioned may be for food, providers of the meal, minor successes, the companionship and consideration of others. Tenor of conversation changes family dynamics for the better.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough. This message is true whether one is poor on benefits, or well off, ever grasping for better home, car, assets, status and money.
Victimhood is not a healthy position for someone receiving the largesse of public housing, free healthcare and services, as well as discounts and other benefits. Gratitude to the taxpayers who fund the benefits would more likely mean the funds would be well spent.
Similarly, a healthier appreciation of the present and vision for the future could be formed with more modest aspirations flowing from a spirit of gratitude for what fills our present, than the relentless pursuit of more to advance assets and status to dull the hollowness within.
The Gift Box
In the dynamics of generosity, awareness of the gift and benefits bestowed is a prerequisite to the ability to express gratitude.
Australia’s provision of generous welfare benefits, though never enough (the poor will be with you always), can tend towards entitlement, diminishing awareness.
As mentioned in my book Becoming, when explaining the dynamics of giving under the heading of The Gift Box (p40),
Moral imperatives imposed only on the “need to give” cause imbalance when there is no concomitant expectation of appropriate response from those who “receive”, in whatever form.
The pool of productive “givers” may shrink in a selfish self-absorbed world should there be little to no evidence of the worth of giving.
Explanation of the 3rd and 4th quadrants of The Gift Box diagram cite the lack of awareness of the value of what has been received and even hostility towards the givers, whether taxpayers or “the rich”. Productive change is impeded all round. Gratitude, the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness is the missing element.
Measured against my Maturity Model, continuous giving without change, in these circumstances, leads to loss of wholeness and maturity of both parties. The “rights” of the audience to wallow in dysfunction may be respected, along with their “rights” to wear the consequences. The generous can also choose to take their gifts elsewhere to more productive pastures.
That is why it is so refreshing and inspiring to hear the story of the African refugee who has become a grateful contributor to Australia. Our gift of residency to him has been transformed into a spirit of generativity, reaching out to influence others from the refugee community. At the same time, his gratitude has proven a dynamic gift multiplier, as his workmates and the community around him have rallied to his cause. Therein lays disparity between ingratitude and gratitude.
Let us be grateful for what we have today, the blessing of being enough.