PSA: How to proceed if we disagree.

Please, be very, very careful about what you defend.
More importantly, please be careful about how you defend it.

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I don’t take sides in politics.
I take sides in life.
 
I side against prejudice, hatred, family violence, oppression and injustice.
 
Therefore, I will state quite openly that I do not endorse Trump as POTUS. At the same time, I do not endorse Madonna’s comments either. There are Australian politicians and various other public identities that I do not endorse, for exactly the same reasons.
 
If something I post offends you because you don’t agree politically, stop and think before you jump down my throat and give me grief about it.
Am I saying “I hate this person”? No.
I’ll be saying “I don’t like this action or these words”.
They’re very different things.
Chances are, if someone on the other “side” did or said that, you’d criticise them for it, too.
 
Consider that I will call *anyone* out on bullying, lying to the nation/world, or inciting mistrust, hatred and violence. I will not accept misogyny, sexism, sizeism, ageism or racism as “humour” or “lighthearted”. 
Today, it might be someone you like. Tomorrow, it might be the person you don’t like.
 
Please, be very, very careful about what you defend. More importantly, please be careful about how you defend it.
 
I am not your enemy unless you make that choice.
fyi-card-6

Love Trumps Hate. 

In the aftermath of the US election, it’s important to remember that there’s anger on both sides. Many, many people in the US, as well as elsewhere, feel marginalised and overlooked. For some, it’s been many years of actually being treated that way. For others, it’s hopes and dreams that have been kept out of reach by social forces that they haven’t been able to change or address. You only have to study a little bit of US history to see those things happening.

I think of this election as a pressure cooker – after a long time on “high”, the thing blew its lid off and left a heck of a mess when it did.

We must remember that people don’t always vote from a perspective of good policy. People vote because they long for a change, they yearn to be heard… or at least to feel as though they have been heard. Sometimes it’s a reaction to something as visceral as revulsion over what one candidate or the other has done or is accused of doing. There was a whole lot of all of that in this election.

This election in itself won’t fix anything. A new president, regardless of identity, is a figurehead. The real problems lie in the structure of the society under that leader. The anger and polarisation of the American society will only get worse while people engage in anger, vilification and distrust – of their leaders, yes, but particularly of each other.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t hold their government and its actions to account. I’m a very firm believer in doing that. But let’s not destroy each other in the process. Let’s ensure that our commentary is focused on what needs to happen, what needs to change, and how we can work together to achieve that.

Personally, I don’t think either candidate was a good choice for uniting the country, or solving the underlying problems. That has to come from the people, and it starts with one, then two, then more, choosing to build rather than tear down.
I pray for America, and I pray for the world that still looks to her for military and international leadership. I pray for Australia, because we’re guilty of all the same things.

Today, I choose love. I choose encouragement. I choose peace. I choose friendship. I choose positive over negative. I choose proactive over passive.

Will you join me? Will you work to make a difference, too?

The Day After Election Day. 

It seems, at this point in time, that Australia may have a hung parliament. 
The Greens, the Nick Xenophon team and other independents are likely to hold the balance of power. Some see that as unstable. 
I see that as the voice of ordinary Australians exerting itself over the clash and hullabaloo of the major parties fighting each other for power, often at the expense of the little guys. 

For as long as it remains a possibility, I am still hopeful of a change of leadership. If those standing up for compassion, justice and a positive response to the challenges of living in the 21st century are able to have a significant influence, even better.

Double Disillusion.

So, it’s on.

Australians will head to the polls on July 2nd in an election that will see a “spill and refill” of all the seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament. For those unfamiliar with the Australian political system, this process is called a “double dissolution election”.

I had to laugh, though, when an ABC commentator today commented that “it’s going to be a very long campaign”. Has he not seen what’s going on in America? Months and months of campaigning just to obtain a party’s nomination to run for President, which means even more months of campaigning.

Fact is, I’m very interested in politics, but I don’t like any of the choices, either in America or here in Australia.

Why can’t we have honest, hard-working people who just want to serve their country as candidates for leadership? What happened to the statesman who believed in doing the right thing morally, both individually and as a nation?

Both countries have, in the past, had leaders who stood up for what was right and made vital changes in one way or another. Think of Lincoln standing against slavery, or JFK challenging the people so directly on issues of civil rights. Think of Whitlam putting an end to the White Australia policy. Whether or not one agreed with them, then or now, those men stood up for what they believed was morally correct for their country.

Contrast that with what we see today. People hungry for power, and willing to sell their souls to the devil to get it. “Campaigning” means bludgeoning one another with lies or, at best, insinuations. It’s not about policy or what the people want any more, it’s about being the last man, or woman, standing in a very personal and sometimes excruciating competition.

So often, I watch and listen aghast as they deliver speech after speech full of vitriol. Some speak hatred and intolerance. Some barely have any policies on anything much at all – who am I kidding? Why let policy and standards get in the way of politics? Candidates mock and discredit each other in the false belief that it makes them look better, but it only serves to demean themselves. Muckraking and sledging are no way to win respect. I just don’t understand why more people can’t see through them.

I’m so tired of the modern political game. Give me a candidate I can believe in. Give me policies that don’t involve vilifying or punishing an entire group of people because of the actions of a few. Give me someone I can vote for without killing part of my own soul.

My not-so-secret hope.

It’s widely known that comedians often make something sound lighthearted when they actually speak deep truth. 
Alan Alda was just interviewed on ABC television here in Australia.
When asked about being invited in previous years to run for President of the USA, he stated he wouldn’t have been any good at it, but neither party cares if you could do the job, they just care about whether or not you could get elected. 

I was about to comment on one of the current candidates when the interviewer asked Alda if he had a preferred candidate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, he said, “I don’t make pronouncements. I don’t make predictions. I do have my own secret hope for the survival of mankind. Maybe that will give you a clue.” 

Something tells me his hope is the same as mine. 

Outrageous outrage.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision in recognition of gay marriage, I’ve noticed a few interesting things.

The flood of rainbow coloured profile pictures on Facebook and other social media and the parallel flood of statements in support of marriage equality for all suggest at first that there is stronger social support for marriage equality than the Australian government seems to believe.  I wonder how many of the people I know splashing rainbows around this weekend have written to any Australian politicians voicing their support.

All those rainbows have also prompted a wave of people bemoaning the loss of their “Christian” right to object or to openly state that they do not support gay marriage.
What nonsense.
Nobody is being asked to live against their morals. Nobody is having their personal ethics persecuted or the security of their family endangered.

In fact, if gay people are allowed to get married, I’m pretty sure that the only personal lives affected will be their own.  For heterosexual couples, kids at school, and Rover the family dog, absolutely nothing will change. They can still go on doing what they’ve always done. So can your church, mosque or local football club.

In terms of the Australian constitution, nothing will change. The Marriage Act would change, but that isn’t going to annul or change anyone else’s marriage. And please, don’t start bleating about “undermining the sanctity of marriage”.  A 50% divorce rate in Australia, the chronic problem of domestic violence, and a popular culture full of dysfunctional families and parents, usually fathers, made out to look like idiots by smart-arsed kids has done more to undermine the sanctity of marriage than legalising gay marriage ever will.   If heterosexuals want to be precious about their marriages, it’s about time more of them started treating their marriages as precious.

I fully understand that the Bible teaches that homosexuality is immoral.  No argument there.
However, what most of the predominantly Christian outrage against gay marriage conveniently overlooks is that the Bible teaches that there are many practices and lifestyles that are immoral: anyone who is dishonest, greedy, prejudiced, cruel, selfish, rude, atheist, or sexually active outside of marriage is just as guilty in terms of what the Bible teaches.  Let’s not even start on different religions. And judging other people? Oops. There are plenty of people in our world who are guilty of that.
All of these things are called immoral in the Bible. Yet all of these other people are fully entitled, as consenting adults, to marry the person they love. That is, of course, as long as it’s a heterosexual marriage.  Anything else would be… well… sinful.  And we can’t have that, can we?

The Bible wastes no words in condemning those who oppress the poor, the vulnerable, the widow or the hungry. The Old Testament is very direct in that regard. Ironically, though, we don’t hear people raging against the relationships or marriages of the Australian politicians who are actively involved in locking up asylum seekers in small neighbouring third-world nations, do we?  No,  because that would be stupid. So would opposing the marriage of Joe Schmoe and Mary Bloggs down the road because they don’t believe in God at all, or they worship the fairies at the bottom of their garden. In fact, I do believe it’s been a very long time since anyone living in Australia was publicly stoned to death for “living in sin”, but that’s immoral too.

My point is that it seems that marriage is an option for everyone except gays and lesbians, even though everyone is flawed or immoral in one way or another.

Nobody is suggesting that churches or individual pastors or priests who hold convictions and teachings against gay marriage should be forced to perform the ceremonies. Nobody is suggesting that because something becomes legalised, everyone has to do it.  Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are both quite legal, yet many people choose to do neither. It’s quite legal to be a nudist if someone wants to be, but most people don’t practise that lifestyle, either.

It’s high time that we all just got over ourselves and treated one another with respect and kindness.  If someone wants to marry, let them.  If they don’t want to marry, don’t make them. And for heaven’s sake, stop pretending that someone else’s marriage or relationship has anything at all to do with yours.

It’s official: Australia’s Prime Minister is a real winker.

 

Australia’s Prime Minister has proven to be a real winker… or something like that.

I was listening to 774 ABC Melbourne radio in the car on my way to work this morning when a woman named Gloria phoned in. In introducing herself, she told the Prime Minister that she was a grandmother with several chronic, life-threatening illnesses who had to work on a phone-sex line to make ends meet.

When she said that, Tony Abbot smirked and winked at the radio host, Jon Faine.  Obviously, I didn’t hear that on the radio, but it was all captured on film, since the station had the video camera rolling as well. Not surprisingly, outrage immediately flooded Twitter, Facebook and every other social media site people could get their fingertips on.

Apart from the fact that it’s kind of creepy, it’s totally inappropriate.
Gloria didn’t call to be sensational or give anyone cheap thrills.
She called to let the Prime Minister and all of Melbourne know how she feels about the way things are for her now, and the ways in which they’ll be worse when the Government’s latest budget is implemented on July 1 this year.

He acknowledged she was doing it tough and then started talking about how repealing the carbon tax would give her an “extra couple hundreds of dollars a year” more.
I was dumbfounded.
For someone in her situation, is “a couple of hundred dollars a year” more going to make a significant difference? Is it going to release her from having to work that part time job on the phone lines?
He didn’t even sound sympathetic. She was just another opportunity for him to tell the world how good he thinks he and his Liberal Party Government are.

I’ve got news for you, Tony Abbott. You’re getting harder and harder to believe all the time.
Gloria was right. You don’t give a stuff.
And I don’t feel very nice about you either.

What my political posts on social media say about me.

I often post political content on social media. Any politician who appears to be breaking promises or doing things that are deceitful, immoral or harmful to Australia, her people and her international reputation are sure to get a mention. That’s because Australia, Australians and our international image are important to me. This is a fantastic country, even though we haven’t always done the right thing or managed things in quite the right way. Yes, the white settlers were generally hateful and cruel to the Aboriginal people, although there were some exceptions.  I rejoiced when the Mabo decision in the High Court gave back  some of the land to the Aboriginal peoples from whom it had been wrenched. I agreed with the report into the Stolen Generations, and I rejoiced when the severely overdue National Apology was made, even though I didn’t like the Prime Minister who made that apology very much at all.. I applauded last year’s apology to victims – both mothers and children – of forced adoptions in Australia during the 50s, 60s and 70s, who had waited and grieved for decades before their pain was officially acknowledged. I supported the review of educational funding carried out by the previous government, regardless of the fact that I didn’t like many of the things that PM did during her political career, either.

In that sense, I’m not particularly aligned with, partisan to or biased against any one party of politicians or another. I take pride in being a swinging voter who makes decisions about voting through conscientious debate and careful research into the policies, intentions and past behaviour of both the candidates and the parties who jostle for my vote. I don’t start from a position of having trust in any of them.  I don’t doubt that there are some who genuinely want to serve their country, at least when they enter politics, but the overwhelming impression I get from watching our politicians in action is one of a bunch of people who manipulate, connive and seek their own power and glory rather than working together for the best outcome for Australia and Australians.

Viewing Question Time from Parliament House on the ABC is enough to make anyone wonder what’s really going on in our government. Are these adults? Should they not be building Australia instead of mocking each other and acting like buffoons? Shouldn’t the debate and question/answer process be mature, dignified and centred on Australian concerns rather than party political interests? And our current Prime Minister wonders why the national broadcaster, the ABC, isn’t very sympathetic toward him? Give me a break.

Last night I posted about some of the “promises” our Prime Minister made on the eve of the Election last year.   I started by asking how long the Prime Minister and his government would continue to aggravate, disappoint and embarrass Australians with their behaviour.  I asked whether or not he realises the damage they are doing to their own reputation as well as that of this wonderful nation?  The post finished with “Please re-post to keep him to account”.

Someone commented that the post said more about me than it did about the Prime Minister. It’s only been four months, after all, since they got into government.
I replied by saying that if what this post says about me is that I believe in keeping politicians to their word and holding them accountable, that’s absolutely true.
If what it says about me is that a great deal of what Tony Abbot and his government are doing is offensive to me, that is also true.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I am cynical, outspoken and critical of anyone who brings disrepute to themselves and/or our country by being dishonest, inhumane, or publicly ignorant of the facts.
Call me judgmental, or critical, or anything you like. I don’t care. The future direction and the reputation of our nation is at stake. That’s bigger than me and what people think of me.

The Australian constitution says that our government is to be representative. The opinions, voice and concerns of the people matter. Tony Abbot believes he has a “mandate” but that isn’t why he was voted in. Nobody liked the way the previous government turned on itself and imploded. The Liberals didn’t have to do a thing to win except watch the Labour Party implode and melt down. Their behaviour toward each other over time was unconscionable, and that’s why the Coalition won the election.

I’m not prepared to be lied to, snowballed or smokescreened by any government that is behaving this way.
I’m not going to accept that their suppression of information about asylum seekers is crucial to their ability to stop them coming. I believe that it is designed to establish an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality among Australians in the hope that one day, we’ll stop thinking and asking about them, and being active in the hope of a better outcome for them all. I’m not going to accept this week’s suggestion by Tony Abbot that the ABC should be more sympathetic to the “home team”. The ABC is taxpayer funded… employed by the people of Australia, not the government of the day. When the “home team” plays poorly, and does dreadful things, reporting on that is exactly what I want the ABC to do.  Threats to the ABC’s funding in response is not going to win the government any support from me, either.

Anyone who knows me knows that I spoke out against some of the things that the previous government (s) did. I also spoke up in support of some of their actions. I’m not going to wait however long for this lot to do something good, and then say, “Well, in the light of this good action, I’m going to ignore all the other stuff.” That just doesn’t make sense.

I will be outspoken. I will say what I think. It’s my right and responsibility to do so. My aim is not to have everyone agree with me – that’s not what democracy is about. My aim is to challenge people to think, and not to follow blindly. I want people to engage in debate, to talk to their local MHR and senator, to discuss things in public forums, and to be active in the processes of democracy and representative government in this nation.

I know I’m not perfect and I get things wrong. On the other hand, I’m not leading the nation and causing the rest of the world to shake their head in disbelief at my behaviour.

What’s wrong with keeping the Prime Minister, and all the other Members of Parliament, accountable?

Wherever you live, whoever is in government, let me encourage you to participate in the process of democracy.Call, email, write to or visit your local representative, the leader of the government, and the press. Make your voice heard. Encourage others to think critically, to evaluate situations and promises and actions, and to be heard. Don’t just think about today, think about tomorrow and the future. What sort of nation are we leaving to the next generation?

If we don’t hold them accountable, they’ll just do whatever the hell they want. That’s not democracy. That’s an abuse of power, and it spells disaster for any nation that allows it to happen.