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Weaponising Children

All credit to those parents who front up daily to deal with the challenges of raising a family in this disruptive era. May they continue to be encouraged in their efforts, to find direction and satisfaction in how their children mature.

That many fail is not surprising. During 2017-2018, 159,000 (28.7 per 1,000) Australian children received child protection services and/or were in out-of-home care. (https://www.aihw.gov.au) For many, neglect, abuse and abandonment will have distorted their psychological and/or physical growth that will be hard for them to overcome.

History has form

Throughout history, due to the distortion of power between adult and child, children have been misused and weaponized, deprived of normalcy.  Child soldiers kidnapped from families in Liberia were forced to fight a mindless war. Girl students in Nigeria were kidnapped from school and deprived of education to become breeders for Boko Haram. Rules of engagement in the Middle East mean little to adversaries who use women and children as shields for military action. Rapidly industrializing Britain used child workers in their factories until concern was raised that the supply of able bodied adults would be insufficient to meet future needs. Though the UN outlaws child labour, children are still exploited in developing countries. From kindergarten onwards, the PLA brainwashes children with a hatred of Jews and promotes the honour of killing them, distorting any hope of peace and progress for their people. In China, Mao Se Tung weaponized children against their parents and other adults, resulting in the death and re-education of tens of millions. Globally, the deplorable sexual exploitation of children is commoditized by deep web commercial activities.

The Family Court

Smug as we may feel in Australia about how well we’ve done as a developed nation, the tide seems to be turning as families fragment. Take, for instance, the Family Court, which is supposed to hold the interests of children paramount. All too often children are weaponized by parents trading blows to assert power. Shared parenting often means the conflict continues in undisguised hostility till the children become adults. On unproven allegations of domestic violence, the Family Court is known to deprive the alleged offending parent of access to children, while payment for child support remains compulsory. Legal endorsement by the Family Court for weaponisation of children for financial gain is not uncommon. How else could a psychologically abusive father claim inability to pay netball fees, while buying himself a Maserati?

All strength to Senator Pauline Hanson for pressuring for an enquiry into the processes and outcomes of Family Court operations! Let’s hope that people come forward with their stories, so that the costly, complex processes are addressed to become more simple and the outcomes fairer, more truly in the interests of children.

Grandparents

One of the areas of concern that Senator Hanson intends pursuing is the loss of access to grandchildren that grandparents experience as a result of a divorce. Understanding where you come from is in the interests of children. For the grandparents it is important to their sense of family and continuity that affirms the worth of their lives. Deprivation of access to grandchildren – the weaponisation of children against elders – is not restricted to those divorcing; it is common enough practice amongst those grown busy and successful on the back of elders’ investment in their lives. While abandoning elders may suit parents’ present interests, little do they realise that in time, they may find themselves in a similar position. Tolerance and respect would be preferable: affection may be a step too far.

Education

It is a while since I’ve been to school or even university, so my idea of education may be somewhat outdated. Education, I believe, should support the parents’ efforts in bringing the child to productive adulthood by inculcating literacy, numeracy, fact seeking skills and a life-long love of learning.

Whereas that is the case in many instances, educational edicts embedding political and social issues into every element of learning has diluted both the quality of education and the outcomes. Literacy and numeracy standards have stalled or are falling and capability to seek out facts has been subsumed by indulgence in conspicuous compassion and privilege pain.

  • Climate catastrophe strikes by children globally and extinction rebellion activists exemplify just how feelings trump facts and how far children have been weaponized by educators and global elites. Follow the money. Elites stand to profit from renewable investments and educators gain power by weaponising children – other people’s children – even if those children are short on literacy and lack facts. Berating the government and responsible adults takes on shades of Mao’s Red Guard. Next may come public humiliation and a spell on the re-education farm for the olds!
  • Gender fluidity: Publicly funded Safe Schoolsprogram, supposedly to deter bullying, ends up being a weapon for promotion of gender fluidity, sex change and LGBTQI+. Normalcy for the 1% is pitched as normal for the 99%, creating confusion amongst those trying to find their way into productive adulthood. Again, other people’s children are weaponized by recruitment to the cause. Respected professionals can be sacked for daring to question the intent.
  • Colonialism portrayed as damaging to aboriginal culture and lands fosters guilt for actions by people long gone against those long dead. No amount of apologies, recompense or care can erase the guilt now used by educators to weaponise children in the cause.

Facts, context and forgiveness

Every one of these social issues drives a nail into the heart of western civilization, in order to destroy it in the best socialist/Marxist tradition, with children weaponized to expedite. Whether the family (children against parents), environment (against parents and government), gender (against biology and religion), or colonialism (whites against blacks), the focus is on division and virtue signaling rather than coherence of people of the nation and celebration of (imperfect) achievements in progress.

Children are being weaponized to believe virtue signaling on any or all of the issues has higher moral value than any other morality recognized under western traditions. Issues presented lack truth (facts) and context, so the virtue and compassion they are being called to are deeply flawed, and, according to my Maturity Model, unsustainable, with high social and economic costs.

Of course western civilization is not perfect: its value has been in open, honest debate to determine issues or take an alternative path, rather than unquestioning authoritarian, dictatorial bullying now used with hatred and condemnation by drivers of the current social issues.

Absent from the repertoire of hatred and condemnation of the dictatorial virtue signalers is the power of redemption and forgiveness, a central element of the Judeo-Christian traditions from which western civilization emerged. Douglas Murray, in his book The Strange Death of Europe, talks about “the tyranny of guilt” foisted on “denialists” of any of the new religious cults. If offered no other options than slavish adherence to the latest belief in the end of the world, the end of family, of culture, if you no longer know whether you are male or female, no wonder children suffer anxiety, depression and distress.

Weaponising children is just another form of child abuse that has abuse of others as collateral damage.

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Enquiry before accusation

In this era of emotionally charged activism and hyper-sensitive victimhood nearly everybody can be offended or offensive at previously unimagined missteps that have little bearing on reality.

Increasingly we are seeing decisions for action, whether in personal, social or political matters, being made based on emotions, prejudice or group think, rather than facts.

Those acquainted with the Maturity Model for decision making outlined in my book Becoming, will recognise that such a pattern of decision-making is unsustainable. As the model shows, inevitably action based on emotion rather than fact leads to fragmentation and division with high social and financial costs, whether in relationships in families, firms, government or in communities. Recovery from such devastation is fraught and may take longer than a lifetime. Best to become informed and avoid social and financial devastation.

Being well informed about an issue, situation or person leaves us in an advantageous position to assess the best way to respond, or not. Indulging emotions may be momentarily self-gratifying, but does not augur well for downstream results.

Climate catastrophe

Take the case of global protest against inaction on what privileged children believe is a coming climate catastrophe that will end the world in a matter of years. Why study for a future that won’t exist?

Not enough is being done they claim, without awareness of the facts about what is being done, how much it is costing economies and how futile the exercise is proving to be. Missing is the evidence upon which rational decisions can be made. Passion runs as high as the media profile of leaders and groups, stirring anxiety along with challenge. No proper enquiry has been made before final judgement has been reached. Context is missing, as is the courage to confront truth.

My Maturity Model shows that the situation is less sustainable than the planet. Predictably fragmentation of individuals and groups is already occurring. Cost of attending to the belief in climate catastrophe and extinction is already damaging the Australian economy in unaffordable energy prices, financially crippling the elderly, the poor and small business. Tourists are staying away from the Great Barrier Reef because of widespread alarmism that it is damaged by bleaching and runoff, as farmers and graziers face increasing regulations that are remote from scientific reality. A farmer is fined $100k in a city court for the common farming practice of knocking down mulga on his own property to feed his starving cattle. The mulga grew back before the court completed its ridiculous exercise in law.

The cost to individuals, families and businesses at the mercy of bureaucracies justifying their existence is devastating, personally, socially and financially. We have yet to count the cost of the emerging havoc of treating global child protestors for anxiety, medication, indifference to education, inability to seek out facts or context, and therefore patterns of poor decision-making.

The planet, meanwhile, has shown a remarkable capacity to revitalize and continue to produce, at the same time that mankind has shown every bit as remarkable capacity for innovation to solve problems. Of course, hope, inspiration and knowledge are necessary elements for resolving global challenges.

Sexual abuse

Feminism, institutional sexual abuse of children and the #metoo movement have each contributed to heightened social awareness of what is acceptable sexual conduct by exposing practices that had been kept pretty much under the radar in past eras.

Had perpetrators been familiar with my Maturity Model they would have realized much earlier that loading unbearable burdens onto less powerful people is not sustainable and can lead only to financial and social disintegration. Woe to you who load up a pack too heavy for (wo)man to carry. Churches are floundering financially paying compensation and members depart as a result. Powerful men are being tried and sent to jail. Moral leadership of the ‘message’ has lost out to higher virtues of conspicuous compassion and privileged pain.

Distressing as the exposure of sexual abuse has been, expectations for better behaviour in interpersonal relationships have resulted. Recognition of hurt, compensation and counselling go some way towards healing those traumatized, though can never entirely “make good” for disturbed lives.

All this is fine progress. But some individuals and media take licence and go too far, contriving sexual or physical abuse where none has occurred, often to satisfy personal agendas.

Extremes betray us

While a victim’s account of abuse is now more readily believed, as with climate catastrophe, it is wise to reserve healthy skepticism, as can be demonstrated in recent cases. 

British peers and their families had their lifetime’s work and reputation destroyed by a young man who claimed he had been sexually abused by them. The accuser now is in jail for being a pedophile himself and admits to lying about those he previously accused. Fifteen minutes of fame for lives destroyed, when skepticism would have demanded more intelligent investigation!

Publication of 40 year old sexual abuse allegations against newly appointed US Supreme Court Judge, Brett Kavanagh, is a case in point. That the alleged “victim” had no recollection and was not party to the allegation seemed of little relevance to the political and career damage intended by publishing the story.

Families and reputations can too easily be devastated by allegations of sexual abuse, which are hard to disprove. When small children and improbable circumstances are involved, management of the situation is best handled quietly and directly in a way that does not cause more problems than would the initial allegation. Context is important, as is the courage to seek facts to inform the “wisdom of discernment to administer justice”. Otherwise families, lives, work and reputations can be sacrificed, quite unnecessarily and uselessly, on the altar of orchestrated emotional self-interest. Again the high social cost of intolerable burdens roll out like tsunami taking out the target and anyone else within reach.

Family Court

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is to be commended for persistence in pressing for a review of Family Court processes in which, under the perception of “toxic male”, women have successfully been encouraged to perjury, claiming domestic violence for higher leverage in gaining access to children and assets.

As with any lack of truth, there are consequences. Firstly a man’s reputation may be damaged forever; he is likely to lose his family, home, children and the majority of his assets; and the cost, injustice and length of such a damaging process may result in the ultimate fragmentation ending in his suicide. There is a further unfortunate consequence in that attention to genuine claims of domestic violence may be diminished.

A review of the Family Court should at least shine a light on the suitability of processes from the lived experiences of people who have been through them, including women and children who have been seriously disadvantaged. Hopefully the review can achieve a greater element of truth that would balance expectations, choice and responsibility, as shown in my Maturity Model, so that fairness will be better served by the “wisdom of discernment”, allowing people to move on more productively with their lives.

The principle of seeking enquiry before making accusation holds true.

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Go Woke, Go Broke!

Gerry Harvey Chairman of Harvey Norman with his wife and CEO Katie Page

What a relief to hear Gerry Harvey (of the Harvey Norman (HN) chain of furniture, whitegoods and technology stores) speak out against the “woke” demands of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and other business associations. These associations are demanding that boards tick the box to reflect diversity (race, gender, age) and turn over on a regular basis so as not to become entrenched, insensitive to the needs of the community, market and shareholders. Businesses, they say, should have a social licence to operate, hence the demand to be “woke”. A psychologist should be on every board!

Gerry Harvey admitted that structurally, we are going through a tough trading period in which his company’s profits were doing OK at 7% increase on year. During the 50 years of operation, Gerry had the same CEO (his wife, with whom he sleeps) and Chairman (himself) and long standing board members who knew the company and the market implicitly. Competitors Good Guys, David Jones and Myers, who had ticked all the right boxes for board diversity and change, were struggling. Go woke, go broke!

Gilette

Gillette is another global company that thought it was being sensitive by rolling out a TV advertisement deferring to feminism, highlighting “toxic masculinity”. Why ever you would demonise your target market defies good business sense. Silent men left the brand in droves. Gillette’s sales dropped $8 billion worldwide.

Rugby Australia

Not insignificant is the Israel Folau case. You will recall Israel, a lay Christian preacher, was summarily sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for quoting on his online media, an excerpt from the Bible which invited sinners (including gays) to repent. According to Raelene Castle, CEO of RA, rugby is an inclusive organization (except, it seems for Christians). Of course, RA was heavily influenced by main sponsor, Qantas, whose CEO is openly gay, an activist in the same sex marriage debate. At risk to RA was Qantas’ sponsorship said to be around $4m.

The “woke” sacking of Folau is likely to cost RA much more than Qantas sponsorship. The silent people, outraged that a person could be sacked for quoting from a book on which this country was founded and on which we are required to swear to tell the truth, rallied to Folau’s support – not because they necessarily believed the biblical quote, but because they could see a basic freedom of this country being destroyed and that they may be next. Neither did they like the transference of malice to Folau’s wife, Maria, a talented netball player for the Silver Ferns. Others have been taken to court or sacked for expressing the traditional view of marriage. In a couple of days the funding page set up by Australian Christian Lobby raised $2.2m from the silent people towards Folau’s legal fees to defend his right to play rugby while retaining his faith.

In the meantime, people have turned away in droves from “the game made in heaven”. Attendances are down, and in a World Cup year the Wallabies prospects, once daunting, now appear grim. People have vowed not to follow rugby until the matter is resolved. Others have shunned Qantas.

If not for “woke” pressure for gender diversity and inclusion, RA could be in a far more propitious position. Not only would they be fielding their best player, they would be spared the cost of defending the indefensible. All they had to say on the quiet was that while they respected Israel’s faith, but it was not that of RA. One’s beliefs and freedom of speech are not for RA, Qantas, or the government to bestow or take away. Go woke, go broke!

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

Now we have the AMA talking the same left/green woke claptrap that seems essential for the leaders of that organization to find a way into a seat in parliament. The latest claim is that “climate change is a health emergency” that, amongst many claims, will cause:

  • “high mortality and morbidity from heat stress” – not true as facts show more people die from the cold than warmth;
  • “food insecurity resulting from declines in agricultural outputs” – again not true, as facts show agricultural production globally has increased significantly;
  •  “higher incidence of mental ill-health” – again without any substantiating scientific facts.

Nevertheless ” the AMA is proud to join the international and local chorus of voices urging action to address climate change on health grounds,” Dr Bartone said. Says it all! No wonder membership of the AMA is declining, down from 46% to 23% –no longer representing the silent professionals who harbour long held values not swayed by any woke chorus, local or international.

Adani and Queensland

Relentlessly over nine years we have been assailed by protesters against development of the Adani coal mine in central Queensland, saying that it would increase C02 in the atmosphere and destroy the Great Barrier Reef. Never mind the facts that the Australia’s share of the minuscule amount of C02 in the atmosphere barely rates, that the mine is hundreds of miles from the coast, the reef a further 100-200km off shore and that 300 millions of Indians stand to rise out of poverty using the coal.

The silent people spoke up when Bob Brown led a convoy of vehicles from Tasmania to protest against Adani prior to the 18 May election. At Clermont a noisy counter protest by locals dusted the Adani protesters out of town. It was a joy to see good old fashioned Australians speaking up for projects, work and jobs for their region. Having stalled the project expecting a Labor win nationally, the State Premier had to concede to commencement of the mine. In the meantime, Queensland has accumulated the largest debt in the country (>$80 billion), the highest unemployment (6.2%), the biggest public service (+30,000), largely as a consequence of declining to build necessary infrastructure like dams (Stanthorpe and Rookwood Weir) even with federal funding, buildings and social housing on “woke” green decisions. Even States go broke when they go woke!

BHP

Blow me down if we don’t have BHP Chairman Andrew McKenzie drinking the woke Koolaid, talking about getting out of coal on which much of the company’s fortunes have been built. He has probably signed up to Global Shapers, a global organization of heads of companies committed to the climate change catastrophe, fronted by a 16 year old with mental health issues (Greta Thunberg) and failed climate prophet (Al Gore). Spare the silent people!

As Gerry Harvey said, each of these CEOs is one of a very small elite talking nonsense and they are wrong. Conversely they think he is wrong. But like Scott Morrison, Gerry Harvey is dealing with the reality of the silent people by providing needed services. No need to go broke being woke.

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Garden of Memories

 

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Memories of travel gardens

Travel opens eyes to many wonders. On overseas jaunts I have taken such delight in the gardens visited, public and private, comparable locally only in the colder climates of Australia in Toowoomba and Canberra, where it is easier to amass flowering species.  Otherwise Australian bush flourishes in the harsher climate, when wattle blossom in the winter and full flowering pink of pongamia emerges later.

What has so often enchanted me are the large and generous flowering hanging baskets to be found in spring in the UK, Europe and Canada that are a sight to behold. Full of colourful petunias and dangling vines, they hang from lamp posts, brightening the streetscapes in the ever so brief northern summer. Complementary tubs full of similar bright flowers decorate the sidewalk, inviting custom, admiration and photographs.

So enamoured of these images, I have tried to emulate them at home with my own little corner of reminiscence as demonstrated in the photo, that takes me back to places, remembering fondly the people associated with the images.

Bedford Landing near Vancouver conjures up several images: one of a freezing cold Christmas night walk along the canal, full moon shining on the water, after the warmth of a huge festive dinner with the Vairo family; and later in the spring enjoying special time with sisters traipsing the boardwalk admiring the floral show over a coffee at the local cafe.

An enormous heart shaped floral display centre square in Copenhagen conjures up memories of a jolly campervan trip with sisters and one husband around northern England and Europe, including a visit to the amazing Viking Ship Museum at Roskilde, rowing out into the Fjord in a ship much like the relatives would have back in the day. By now you would be getting the drift – the garden reminds me of people I love and past experiences savoured still.

Family garden mementos

One pot plant that is an enduring memory of the love of family is the one I have kept alive for over fifty years, still flourishing today. The pothus plant is a daily reminder of Frances, my mother in law, who gave the plant to me all that time ago. Frances was a quiet, religious woman, who tried her best for her family, helping where she could with the grandchildren, and leaving each of them with a beautiful hand- crocheted rug. For her deep love of faith, family and flowers, Frances is daily remembered with love, stirred by her enduring bequest in a vibrant plant.

That plant sits on a kitchen trolley made by my father Allan, who was similarly constructive, decent, though less religious. Allan was a wonderful home handyman in retirement, who would consider the list of jobs to be done, take a nap, and wake to have all consumables listed and calculated without the need for digital assistance. The trolley reminds me of the past and its contribution to our present and future.

With only a pocket handkerchief (i.e. tissue in today’s speak) size garden, I have to be aware of the space plants might take up before planting them in the ground.  One huge grass like plant given by a sister Jan living on acreage, grew to take over more than its share of garden till it was reduced by seven eights and moved to the corner, where it is less dominating, yet still a reminder of fondness for the donor.

A pot of curly leafed fern is a contribution from my loving and generous sister in law, Patricia, who cannot allow a person to leave without gifting them with something. The fern is a constant reminder of the kindness of Patricia and my brother, as is the cherry tomato plan that sprang from the same soil and has since spread to other sites in the garden where it is allowed to prosper.

Then there is the geranium cutting taken from plant at Diane’s, showing all manner of hardiness as it thrives and expands, regardless of the weather, making a fine showing against the stark rock wall. The golf stick plant, bought in a pot from the Rocklea markets years ago, has been released into the soil to fill gaps in the foliage, along with donations from neighbor Joan, making pleasant, memorable viewing, and an orchid taken from a cluster at Uncle Pat’s has thrived over the years, putting out spectacular canes, despite birds stealing its copra basket for their nest and Uncle Pat having passed on at 101.

Wildlife

Bromeliads from a pot given by Jane made a fine display, turning a glowing red under the fig trees until favoured by crows, pecking energetically at the leaves for the water, dislodging and disfiguring the show. Other pots and plants marking birthdays and special occasions are opportunities to remember the givers fondly, memories sometimes outlasting the plants.

Similar tussles have been waged with the possums which, in their evening ramblings, pounce on any new plantings, causing frustration (to me). A hanging wall herb garden gifted by brother-in-law John was not safe. Overnight parsley and lettuce were chewed to the nub until John fashioned a mesh cover. Even then the possums climbed on top and reached through the mesh, which is now held aloft by a length of washing line, unreachable by the natural predators. Bless John for his thoughtfulness.

Ecosystem of garden memories

Though the whole ecosystem of plant and animal life that sustains in my garden of memories may not be a substitute for a much loved pet favoured by others, to me it is an enduring reminder of valued people and experiences of the past, their contribution to the pleasures of the present and part of the hope in continuity in the future.

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Out with the Olds

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With a bit of luck and good management we all might live a long life, even if as a medical miracle, so it would be beneficial for all of us to mind how we treat elders. One day we will be one of them.

Those in their seventies and eighties (or older) – the silent generation – have experienced history: depressions, recessions, World War II, the threat of nuclear war and Vietnam are part of their living memory, or what’s left of it in the frontal lobe.

Resilience has been challenged as they adapt to changes in values, technology and materialism, from a base of thrift. They miss manners, respect, behavioural standards, empathy, compassion, understanding and kindness.

Global working families may mean they are remote from children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Even in proximity, disconnectedness may be a function of the busyness of families combined with capture by devices intended to enhance communications.

Expectations held by the silent generation are modest, born of their history and experience: usually a measure of attention, respect and kindness is all that is required by this resilient lot.

We are not alone

Society has yet to adjust to address the needs of elders at every level. The disjunction leaves many of them vulnerable to many forms of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, financial, exploitation, neglect, even indifference. As the condition of elders declines, it seems difficult for younger people enculturated to self-absorption to treat elders with dignity and respect, even kindness and affection (the latter might be a stretch).

According to the UN, around one in six older people experience some form of abuse that can lead to physical injuries and long term psychological consequences. Much goes unreported. Estimates of global population indicate that people above the age of 60 will exceed the number of younger people by 2050, rising from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion. Current elder abuse issues are likely to increase in line with demographic changes. How well we adapt to care of our elderly will become an indication of our maturity as a person, family and society.

Regulate or resolve

Elder abuse is known to be significantly under-reported, hence the theme “Lifting up Voices” for this year’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is so easy to write off the importance, knowledge, wisdom and stories of our elders merely because of their accumulated years and diminishments, especially when it takes time to listen – time that others may not have, or be prepared to give. Much can be lost.

Higher incidence of abuse is reported against elders in residential care, as the current Royal Commission in Australia is finding out. Many of the findings will lead to increased monitoring of treatment and regulation to raise standards of care. All this will cost money that will be shuffled down the pile of priorities, relying for resolution on the dedication of carers and family members.

Abuse of elders in family and the community is likely to be under-reported, especially when the perpetrators are family members. Embarrassment, denial, shame and powerlessness become overwhelming.

In families, abuse takes many forms, or combinations that cannot necessarily be regulated, yet need to be resolved. To name a few along the spectrum:

  • Financial – coercing elders to hand over money and assets, even eviction, leaving the aged parent bereft, likely to be followed by indifference, neglect or threats of withholding grandchildren
  • Psychological – constant berating, humiliation, bullying and manipulation
  • Physical – actual or threatened physical menace to assert domination
  • Sexual – taking advantage of relative powerlessness
  • Weaponising of grandchildren – preventing access to grandchildren deprives all parties of love, knowledge wisdom and affirmation of the worth of life
  • Neglect, indifference, isolation – demonstrating laziness, inconsideration and ingratitude for the gift of life and the opportunities current generations enjoy that were not possible for the olds they now abandon. Loneliness has become a major issue for elders, which, for some lends to depression and suicidal tendencies.

Some regulation may be necessary, though resolution is more likely to achieve better outcomes by breathing fresh life into proven traditional Christian principles that seem to have dissipated along with the practice of religion.

Christianity

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’d be aware that rugby player Israel Folau has found himself in a lot of bother and out of a $4 million contract for quoting his Christian tenets on social media. So I am sticking my neck out by mentioning a couple myself:

  • Honour your father and your mother – one of the ten commandments that have guided western civilization, invoking respect for elders, along with the concomitant obligation that parents also honour their children;
  • Love one another as I have loved you – evoking empathy, kindness, compassion and love;
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – a call to treat elders how you would like to be treated when you are old;
  • Love thy neighbour as thyself – setting the gold standard for behaviour towards others and towards care of self.

Today’s elders were raised on Christian principles and honoured them, if imperfectly, over a lifetime of service, generosity and respect. They become confounded and dismayed with the deterioration of values that parallels their own decline. They wonder what the world is coming to, what their grandchildren will have to contend with and what they can do about it.

What elders can do

Firstly, they can confine concerns to caring for themselves. Having despatched their duties over a lifetime, they can take a cue from Jesus or Jordan Peterson and care for themselves first. Following the Maturity Model outlined in my book Becoming, they are responsible only for themselves at the later stage of life. Blessings of good will can be projected to all others, while focusing on their own lives.

Be cheerful and positive as possible in all communications. State your case simply and listen carefully. As far as possible remain independent and in charge of your own life. Be mindful, though not responsible, for the quandary that many adult children confront as they are compelled to deal with the multiple crises presenting in midlife. How midlifers deal with the crises will largely determine how generative (or not) their own later years will be. In this era of corporate social responsibility, elder abuse may not look good on a CV.

Governments recognise the commonality of problems and provide a range of services as outlined at the bottom of this blog to help alleviate concerns. Elders under pressure need to know that their problems are recognized and help is available.

The five in six

While the emphasis of this blog has been on abuse experienced by the one in six elders (common enough), there are another five in six who, thankfully, are exemplars of how things could or should be for elderly. Families including elders in events, celebrating their lives, sharing with grandchildren, phoning and visiting occasionally to let you know they care, bringing them along to grandchildren’s’ sporting events and performances, looking out for them with household assistance and meals where needed. None of these is spectacular or challenging – just thoughtful and considerate.

In doing so, benefits accrue both ways: a family can be enriched by the wisdom of elders and the elders themselves are affirmed in the value of their life, even in decline.

 

How to get help

https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day-1560584147-1
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Upping the Ante

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For many people struggling to pay their power bills or having to close their business because of rising energy prices, saving the planet is a vague concept, secondary to their own financial survival.  In fact, economically viable countries demonstrate best care of the environment. Getting the balance right between development of resources and environmental stewardship presents a challenge for people, businesses and government, especially when for many youth climate change is their number one concern (surpassing terrorism, poverty and unemployment).

How policy affects Energy prices

Clearly Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk was counting on a Labor victory in the recent federal election. Labor would then be able to banish the Adani coal mine to trumpet climate change credentials alongside Al Gore. Palaszczuk paid $324,000 to bring Gore to Australia to promote his doomsday prophesies, already discredited.

Voters amongst the productive “quiet people” of this country rained on that parade, preferring jobs and development rather than empty virtue signalling. When Labor lost the election, largely thanks to Queenslanders, Palaszczuk was put on the spot. Within days the Premier ramped up the rhetoric to finalise Queensland government approvals for Adani, already languishing eight long years under a hail of green law fare, so that mining may soon be able to start.

Al Gore is in Queensland to conduct climate change training for 1,000 people from across Australia and the Pacific during Climate Change Week, where he is running a three day strategy workshop.

Therein lays the problem. We can expect more of what was voted against when inspired activists once more take to the streets and the airwaves, influencing people, business, bureaucracy and government.

What’s in store

What won’t be promoted is Al Gore’s part in the global non-profit industrial complex the Climate Reality Project, comprising 292 Global Shapers, committed to delivering leadership training in SHAPE  events around the world (such as the one in Brisbane) to learn how to lead the global fight for climate solutions. Over ten years global warming, now climate change has been systematically promoted.

For the next ten years focus is to be redirected from oil, gas and coal, to biodiversity of land and forests. The stated intention of the Intergovernment Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPCC) report in Paris in May 2019 is to set biodiversity on equal footing politically with climate change by promoting a climate emergency, catastrophe and crisis. Furthermore, eco systems are to be capitalised (i.e.financialised).

For most people, being able to pay the power bill seems a long way from inner city elites who champion the new climate economy and climate finance partnerships, of which Al Gore is a prominent front. The global non-profit industrial complex is influenced by 350.Org, Rockefeller Foundation, Global Challenge, Avaaz (active in Libya and Syria), Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Ceres, World Bank, WWF, World Economic Forum and the European Commission, amongst other partners of the Climate Reality Project: Coca Cola, Salesforce, Procter and Gamble, Reliance Industries, Oando, GMR Group, Hanwha Energy Corporation, Rosamund Zander and Yara International.

Care for the environment and protection of nature is a cover for more sinister intent: a 10 year social engineering effort using environmental and climate crisis/catastrophe/emergency as a means to achieving full blown undetected cultural change to the financialisation of nature. Companies will be able to capitalize on their implementation of the Social Capital Protocol by ensuring the finance community and capital market recognise and reward social value creation. As understood, the value of services provided by nature and biodiversity in conserving our environment will be quantified in financial terms to become an essential part of any deliberations.

Methods

Methods to be used by the global non-profit industrial complex to drive the crisis are already in evidence, including, and not limited to:

  • Weaponising children as sacrificial lambs in the destruction of their own future, reminiscent of abuse meted out to elders by the Red Guard of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. That was a great success! Terrorising children with threats of immanent global destruction is a form of child abuse that has led to an epidemic of depression;
  • Driving and targeting female youth to lead protests (e.g. Sweden’s Greta Thunberg) – femography – to enhance appeal and reduce critical comment, while driven by adults in the background. Greta’s mother is an awarded Swedish environmental activist and Greenpeace representatives are nurturing Greta’s progress and publicity;
  • Extinction Rebellion Movement – sit down protests in central cities blaming humans for the alleged destruction of the planet, ignoring ongoing improvements in environmental stewardship being undertaken in responsible economies;
  • Green New Deal being pushed by particular legislators in the United States as the Trojan horse for the financialisation of nature in the new climate economy which aims to unlock institutional capital;
  • Green shaming to silence firms and organisations that do not comply with demands, de-platforming and coercing banks not to fund significant projects like Adani as has already happened here;
  • Climate eugenics – belief, especially amongst youth, who have been convinced that human impact is far greater to ecological devastation than corporations, the economic system itself or even the global war industry. This belief may be manifest in legislation for late term abortion and euthanasia; claims of the end of the world from population explosion and promoting the concept of humans as an existential threat to nature and biodiversity.

The quiet people going about their daily business may wonder what all this has to do with them. Well, participants in the global non-profit industrial complex are major investors in renewables, capturing much of the taxpayer subsidies, gouging profits, while being quite dishonest about the lifecycle costs of the technology they install and the environmental, biodiversity and aesthetic harm caused by large scale installations.

As a consequence of their action, energy bills go up, energy supply becomes less reliable, businesses close or move off shore, and households struggling with rapidly increasing costs default on payment. The environment may questionably be better, but the impact on ordinary families and business is quite damaging.

Cost/benefit of renewables

Most of us want to conserve the planet and the best way of doing so is to have a healthy economy. Methods for conservation need to be based on facts, rather than emotion or the religion of climate emergency.

Market manipulation is evident in coercion – green subsidies for renewables and penalties for fossil fuel users. Upfront costs of renewables are significant, the life span limited to 10-20 years with ongoing maintenance costs and the toll on birds, bats, insects and humans within range not inconsiderable for those professing to support biodiversity conservation and wellbeing.

Then there is the opportunity cost of the $3billion+ taxpayer subsidies annually invested in renewables that could go to other options – new HELE coal fired power plants for more reliable supply being built all around the world, new schools, hospitals and debt reduction.

Reality bites

Reality meets futility when 25,000 British steel workers lose their jobs because of inability to meet European carbon credit demands. Britain will still need and use steel that will now be sourced from countries with less stringent environmental standards. Similarly, Queenslanders voted for jobs and development over empty climate change virtue signalling that placed workers interests and the need for power of 300 million Indians of secondary importance.

Climate has always changed. Today is no more catastrophic than at other times, even those predicted by the great prophet Al Gore, whose prophesies failed to materialise.

On a more practical level, successful investor Warren Buffett is taking a US$10 billion punt on the future of oil and gas, buying into a US shale oil leader Anadarko at a time when the value of green technologies are rising and sentiment on hydrocarbons is bearish. (Mark P Mills, The Wall Street Journal, 20 May 2019).

Mills goes on to say that in fact, hydrocarbons are the source of 80 per cent of America’s and the world’s energy and are likely to remain so for decades to come. Wind and solar paired with batteries, are unlikely to add the 250 percent more energy to the world over the next two decades than American shale has added over the past 15 years. Energy starvation is an unacceptable market risk, as demonstrated by power failures in South Australia.

Even a 100 fold growth in electric vehicles wouldn’t displace more than 5 per cent of global oil demand in two decades.

While green advocates hope to persuade governments (taxpayers) to deploy a huge tax on hydrocarbons to ensure more green construction, wealthy nations are unlikely to be willing to subsidise expensive green tech for the rest of the world.

At least with the information above you will be forewarned, able to recognise the signs of pressure for action on climate catastrophe in the techniques used. Understand the impact it will have on you and your family, as the great climate zeitgeist ups the ante. See facts rather than be caught up in the momentum. And where possible, speak out.

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Religion for rich atheists

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

History tells

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fry and Die Urgency

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

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

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

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

The Climate Change Religion

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

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

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

Not the first time the end of the world is nigh

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

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

Truth has no agenda

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

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

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

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

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Democracy or Bureaucracy

architecture-structure-building-landmark-stadium-australia-1349051-pxhere.com (600x400)

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

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

Just do the job

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

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

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

Financial regulators

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

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

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

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

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

Bureaucratic decision-making

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

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

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

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

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

More of them

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

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

Flow-on effects

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

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

 

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Connectedness

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Tongan Dancers at 70th Commonwealth celebrations

British Commonwealth 70th Anniversary

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

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

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

Leadership

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

Language

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

Law

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

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

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

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

Getting together

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

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

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

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

Loyalty

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

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

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

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Hero or Victim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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