Yet another cretin – this time in a dark 4WD ute – chasing the roos tonight.
As soon as I saw the roos scattering, I knew. Looked out the window and there he was. Ran outside with the torch but he drove away – not enough time to set up the floodlights and couldn’t get the plate number.
I really wish I had proper infra-red cameras so that I could report the bastard. I can’t believe it happens the night after the news reports.
We’re bringing everything in tonight – even if I seem to be getting chest cold.
I just had a long chat with a video surveillance expert who saw me on the TV news. He stated that my proposed system is inadequate for the task – that the pictures will be too blurry to useful to the police. I understand that he was probably just trying to sell me another (much more expensive) setup but I admit very little experience in this area. Any comments, ideas, suggestions regarding the idea of a $1300 setup v the $5000 setup suggested by the other guy would be welcomed.
We live in a bushland area, right next to the Churchill National Park. We see kangaroos at dusk and dawn every day and sometimes we see over a hundred of them on the empty blocks around us. It is truly a privilege to see these beautiful native animals so close around our home. We even had an echidna take up residence in our patio for a while. Despite our dogs objections, we didn’t disturb it and it stayed for a week or more before eventually ambling off.
Our spiky guest.
Earlier tonight, at about 11 pm, we had yet more idiots hooning around the empty block next to us, chasing the kangaroos with their 4WDs. There were two vehicles and they were screaming and yelling out the windows as they sped after the poor terrified animals. Sadly, this happens far too often often. I did what I usually do; I went outside with my brightest torch and shone it at the cabins of the 4WDs. The two hooned around a bit more, then stopped. They screamed abuse at me without leaving their vehicles, then finally drove off down the street.
As I said, this happens all the time but things took a much darker tone about an hour later. My family had gone to bed but I was awoken around midnight by the sound of loud voices and a hammering kind of noise. Naturally, I went outside to investigate. In the street lamp at the bottom of my driveway, I saw a group of males gathered around a twitching kangaroo. They were standing in the headlights of a very large, white 4WD. I don’t know what brand but it was bigger than the usual 4WD. The unfortunate kangaroo was upside down, its legs splayed wide and one of the men was hacking away at it with a very large knife. The other males were talking excitedly and watching the spectacle. Another group was on the grass and I could hear a hammering sound coming from them.
I immediately went back inside and called the police. I feel bad that I didn’t sneak down the drive and maybe get a number plate but I’m not a small man and anyway, it never occurred to me at the time. While I was on the phone, explaining the situation to the dispatcher, they left, but not until they had driven a short way up my driveway, shining their full high beams directly at my front door. This frightened me and I wondered if they were the same crew as I had chased off earlier with my flash light.
I walked down to survey the carnage. Both had had their throats widely slashed. Both kangaroos had been gutted and their entrails were spilling all over the ground. One of them had even had one of its legs hacked off. I tried to find the leg in the dark but couldn’t. One of the kangaroos was female. I discovered this while I was looking for the leg. In the gutter, I found the dead body of a tiny, yet-to-be-born baby joey. It must have been alive when they killed its mother because they decapitated that as well before discarding it on the road..
After about ten minutes the police arrived. Because I had been useless as a witness, they took some pictures and some notes, asked a few questions, and then left. They were not dismissive – in fact they were very sympathetic of the poor kangaroos and of me having to see such depravity happening literally on my front doorstep. One of the officers asked me if I had CCTV cameras that may have captured the license plate. I said I couldn’t afford such a thing but that would have been handy.
Afterwards, I tried to get to sleep but was too disturbed by what I had seen. Thinking on what the officers had said, I wished I had installed some CCTV cameras and I wouldn’t have felt so useless to the police. While lying there, tears in my eyes, I had an idea so I got out of the bed, got my camera, walked back down my driveway and then took the pictures in this article. I did so with deliberate intent. I want to put up some poles inside my property line and install remote CCTV cameras. That way, the next time some low-lifes decide to terrify and harass the kangaroos in our street, I can get footage to give to the police. And, if such a dreadful butchery should happen again, I will have clear footage to place on youtube and show the world the carnage I witnessed tonight.
i am physically sickened by what I saw tonight. I would install the cameras myself but my family live on my disability pension and such luxuries are way outside of our price range. I love animals and am still shaking as I type, horrified by the blatant and evil cruelty visited upon those poor animals. Please help me protect these wonderful creatures and perhaps stop such a horrible incident from happening again. I can’t do it on my own. Please help.
Only one of the media outlets has posted a link to the fundraising site. Looks like I didn’t get the media to work for me – just garnered unwanted attention from the thugs that knocked over our bins and emptied them all over the street last night. Bastards.
Tonight I feel as if I will drown in the bile that fills my mind. I must write it down, lance the boil, and try to quiet the voices that will not let me sleep.
I will probably publish this. I’m not sure why. A cry for help perhaps. A suicide note without the horrific consequences. A scream into the darkness outside and in. It feels whiny and childish. The number of folk who read my blog is minimal and I know that all who do read it are supportive of me while I fight the demons in my head. I have no pity for myself and so I suppose I seek some from an external source. If you consider me pathetic, please don’t comment.
Tonight, the phrase “You have never lived up to your potential” is on repeat inside my head. I have realised that this phrase is just about the mantra of my life. There are not many days in my adult life that I have not scolded myself about this.
Ever since my Year 12 results came out in January 1985, I have understood this to be true. I could not really cope with University and merely attained a passing grade – and then only in a Bachelor of Arts – the “Claytons” degree. I could not have coped with a real discipline – medicinal, engineering, law, or any genuine professional pursuit. I demonstrated potential at primary school but have consistently lacked the mental discipline and fortitude to ever do anything real or genuinely academic from that point forward.
This is a very painful realisation.
I wanted to be a teacher but even in that practice, I am a mere flim-flam artist.
I have taught English but lack familiarity with Shakespeare, any poetry, or any decent novelist. I have only read two books by Dickens and I have found most poetry to be impenetrable. I can put together words in a nice fashion at times but even in this, I am a failure. I have tried to write stories but they remain unfinished – testament to my inability to discipline myself to do anything too difficult.
I have taught Maths but this is just bullshit artistry. I know some formulae but if the problems step outside the mundane, I struggle to solve them.
I have taught religion – the ultimate irony – but was an atheist before I even started. I often pretend to have a grasp of some theology and scripture but in reality, this is akin to saying you are familiar with the works of Mozart because you can hum a few bars of “The Magic Flute”. There is no depth to my claim.
I enjoy Geography and history but have nothing more than a first-year Uni level grasp of a select few geo-political situations. I know a little bit and fill in the gaps with bullshit. Teachers in this subject are more common than sand – because it is easy. It is tthus almost impossible to get a job in this area.
I worked teaching Information Technology for years but this was almost a textbook case of “those who can – do, those who can’t – teach”. I was a competent teacher in this area but again, there was no depth to my knowledge.
Maybe I enjoy working with kids because they are the only ones I can impress with my flim-flam. They think I am smart and that makes me feel good. Adults see through me and understand that it is mere bluff and bluster. Thus, as a teacher, I have always enjoyed being in a classroom but never actually made a friend in a staffroom. Bullshit will only get you so far.
Now, I am unemployable as a teacher. I have not worked full-time since May 2003. This gap means that if I were ever to return to teaching, I would be competing for jobs with first-year graduates. All those years and all those classrooms count for nought. I know this because I have tried to gain employment but my lack of current practice means my experience is irrelevant.
I was “gunna” attempt a Masters in Education next year but found out that I cannot change my teaching methods – and thus I would be on the same rung as a kid who has finished his or her Masters – except the school can pay them at a lower scale because they are a graduate. Guess who is more employable?
In most situations, I consider myself to be inferior in practice or in knowledge to those around me. I know that this is common. The only time I know I am right is in situations where people express racist opinions. I know that this is wrong and it gives me a chance to get up on my soap box and get cranky at them. I have realised recently that all my bluster will never ever change the mind of a bigot. I am wasting my breath. So – I still care and so I write about it but I have no hope of anybody actually changing their bigotry – so this is a pointless exercise.
Same with religion. I don’t care any more. Religion is irrelevant to my life but relevant to others. I now know that saying anything about it just annoys people. So, I won’t say anything.
I have been writing for 40 minutes now. I think I have spat out most of the bile. The bit that is still stuck in my head is the bit about not living up to my potential. I think I want that phrase inscribed on the urn containing my ashes – “He never fulfilled his potential”. It defines me.
Every time you and I see the news about yet another atrocity committed by one group of human beings upon another, we will react in different ways and along a spectrum ranging from complete disinterest to a burning need to avenge the victims in one way or another. Most of us are somewhere in the middle but feel powerless. We are outraged but need to peel potatoes for dinner. It makes us sad but we still need to get the kids ready for bed or finish that job for work tomorrow. So, we post our thoughts on Facebook or Twitter, we change our profile pictures (or use the latest Facebook filter), we talk about it at work, we read the newspapers for the latest development, and we move on with our lives. In the aftermath, after the initial reaction, we begin to form opinions about the event – or, more usually, are influenced by the opinions of various talking heads or columnists which varies according to our political persuasion and levels of literacy.
In the aftermath of the Paris bombings, and of those in Beirut, Baghdad, and various other places (watch this space), there is a natural tendency to blame religion for this atrocity – and perhaps with some justification. This is nothing new. Fundamentalist Christians have been committing terror acts since the time of the Crusades – European history and the history of every place colonised or conquered by European settlers is a bloody tapestry of militant Christianity and the gory fate of those who resisted conversion. Fundamentalist Muslims have been committing acts of terror all across Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe since the fateful day an illiterate merchant acquired a religious fervour and declared himself the final and most important prophet sent by his version of a God. After we blame religion, there is then the inevitable call to ban religion.
Christopher Hitchens wrote an entire book on this subject and, to my mind, did a fair job of justifying his premise that “religion ruins everything”. Sam Harris has written multiple pieces warning about the evils of religion, calling for an end to all theocracies across the globe, and generally warning us all about the perils of ignoring the beast of fundamentalism in all its forms – although I feel he is getting “a bit carried away with it” of late. Those who have read anything written by these two, or indeed by Dawkins, Dennett, or any other influential atheists, will be familiar with most of the arguments regarding the abolition of religion. I really don’t want this essay to stumble into the territory of being a book review, or a “compare and contrast” exercise regarding the positions of these people; I merely wish to nod in their direction and apologise if I seem to be regurgitating any of their ideas.
In perhaps another caveat, I also want to make my own position clear. I was raised a Roman Catholic but am now an avowed atheist. I do not believe that I am an apologist for religion – I can rant and rave complete with flying foam-specked spittle when it comes to the cherry-picking Christians who chose to ignore the yucky bits of the Bible, the hypocrisy of the Roman church when it defends the paedophiles within its ranks, the unadulterated stupidity of redneck yokels who claim it is their divine prerogative to be utter arseholes to those who do not fit their excessively narrow definition of what it means to be an acceptable human, and all the other dreadful inconsistencies that can be found in the general behaviour of a large number of theists. I hate the fact that children are indoctrinated at a young age when their abilities to discern truth from fantasy is very limited. I do not believe for one moment that any church or church-related activity – especially education but not including charity – should be exempt from paying tax on derived income, bequeathments, or any other remunerative sources, or be considered exempt from common law or “normal’ social expectations. I don’t like religion. Those who have read my Facebook posts and the previous incarnation of this blog are muttering “no kidding” at this point.
While I stridently deny that atheism can be labelled as an ideology or at worst, a theistic position, I do live my life by a personal ideology. I don’t have a label for it, nor do I feel a need for one. I can, perhaps, be described, at least in part, as a socialist, a humanist, an idealist, an environmentalist (at a stretch), or at one point in my life, as an “angry young man”. I am, like the rest of us, a deeply flawed human being but I try to act in a conscionable manner and to confine my actions to the general moral code followed by most of us in “Western” society – the social contract to which we all adhere (more or less – or at least try to – most of the time anyway). This personal belief system contains within it a deeply held conviction that everyone possesses the inalienable right to form an assembly, to speak their mind, and to hold any convictions they please. The assembly should always be non-violent, your convictions should never impinge on the rights of your fellow human-beings, and you do not possess the right to inflict those convictions on any other person – including your own children. The bit that relates to “Freedom of Speech” is still a grey area to me – and will be discussed at a later date. To sum up, I do not believe that I have the right to tell any other person what to believe or what not to believe. I do not have the right to tell them not to gather at their preferred places of worship or not to engage in non-intrusive religious activities like the Salah. In short, I think banning religion is morally objectionable.
I could, at this juncture, just stop writing. I haven’t expressed anything particularly new, and those who I know read my blog would, for the most part agree with the core of my message. Some would profoundly disagree with many aspects of my paragraph about why I dislike religion but most would agree, for the most part, with the previous paragraph about why I feel banning religion is morally objectionable. I might even get a comment about some of this.
I have started and re-started this section of my essay quite a few times now. I am trying to segue smoothly from the last paragraph of Act I with a seamless movement into Act II. So far, I haven’t managed this. So, I will blunder on (and perhaps have a blinding revelation during the editing process). Please excuse the literary “clank”.
I mentioned earlier today on Facebook about my usual habit of reading and sometimes bookmarking, many articles from a variety of sources across the internet before I begin to write. I read articles by those with whom I agree, by those with whom I mostly (or even partially) agree, and by those with whom I vehemently disagree. By this method, I hope to learn more about my topic, perhaps clarify my own position on a contentious issue, and often it is an attempt to understand alternative viewpoints. My intention is to write an intelligent, if somewhat opinionated, article that may provoke thought or even discussion. If nothing else, it becomes something to read. This morning, however, I found that reading the thoughts and opinions of the “other side’ actually brought me to tears. I became so depressed and disconsolate that I dismissed the idea of writing this article because I am fully aware of the ineffectual, futile nature of my efforts. My readers are not those who would ever give credence to the dictums of disenfranchisement that are actively promoted by so many websites, organisations, and political parties; the members of whom would burn every mosque to the ground, deny shelter or any form of succour to those who aren’t aggressively and obviously “’Strayan”, and whose world-view effectively denies the existence of a world beyond the limit of Australian territorial waters – except perhaps for the antics of those Kardashian critters or the more photogenic in-breds from various vestigial monarchies. However, I decided to continue pissing into the wind because once I divested myself of sadness, I felt the need to yell into the empty void of the internet and shout out that I want no part of their hateful creed. I know I am wasting my breath and my time. Those for whom this is written would never read anything I write.
Muslims are the current bogeyman used by politicians to create fear amongst the uneducated, the gullible, and the plain stupid. The monstrosity that is ISIS and the bombings on Friday night in Paris are all fuel to this fire and have elicited the usual ill-conceived, unconsidered, and ignorant responses – from Jeb Bush’s statements about only accepting Christian Syrians as refugees (seriously?), Donald Trump’s asinine remarks regarding gun control in Paris, and, at home, the unconcealed joy of far-right simpletons like Pauline Hansen as they brutally, callously, and unashamedly form a metaphorical pile of dead Parisian bodies into an opportunistic soapbox from which to deliver their hateful, indiscriminate and bigoted diatribes against any and all Muslims here in Australia and overseas.
Pauline Hansen and Donald Trump. I could go on but I won’t. Seriously? They get votes? Sigh
I have a planned structure on another page when I systemically denigrate and disintegrate all the reasons for burning mosques and blah blah blah but I’m bored. I’ve been yelling about this for ages and it doesn’t make one lick of difference. The haters are gonna hate and the pig-ignorant are going to remain as dumb as fuck. I thought on this subject all night and in the end I told myself to shut up.
Oh look! Kittens!
My friend Mick is right – puppy attacks are so much more fun.
This is a considered response to the festering bubbles of hatred boiling up all over my news feed. I want to pop some of these bubbles. It is not aimed at those who have expressed solidarity with the people of Paris, those who have expressed indignation and are aghast at the scenes shown on our news channels and our news feeds. I understand why the flag of France now adorns nearly every profile picture on my Facebook feed and I think it a sweet gesture. It is not a specific response to the grotesque acts inflicted upon the citizens of Paris less than 48 hours ago. The information about that carnage is still incomplete and a clear viewpoint too impaired by outrage, pity, and consternation to be accurately discussed in terms of cause and effect. If I gain any clarity about this event, I will attempt to come to terms with it later. In the meantime, I am deeply saddened and appalled by many of the reactions across social media.
There have been a number of blogs I have read thus far that have addressed much of what I want to say. One is here. Another is here. Please forgive me if I repeat their viewpoints.
The initial response yesterday was to draw a direct cause and effect relationship between the current massive refugee crisis in Europe and those who inflicted terror upon the citizens of Paris. This response is akin to piling up a few of the dead bodies strewn across the walkways of Paris as your own gore-soaked soapbox to once again shout your message of intolerance and bigotry to anyone who will listen. The message you speak today is no different to the message you spoke last week – you are using the murder of innocents as an opportunistic and abhorrent stage upon which you can further inflame hatred and your hateful creed.
“fuck them all off before they slaughter us like animals like they have just done in France“
Who are “them”?
The man who cries at night in his cold tent in the refugee camp in Calais as he mourns the life he has left, the friends he has lost, and the familiar culture that encased his life?
The man who lies awake in that same tent worrying about his future and how he might fend for his family?
The woman who sits up in her sleeping bag and stares, empty-eyed, at the sleeping forms of her children beside her, helpless in the knowledge that she is unable to care for them as she once did, unable to feed them or clothe them, unable to embrace the sweet, unfettered innocence and wonder of their youth?
The time when my boys were very young was one of the happiest times of my life. These people will never know that depth of elation and joy. Their children will not know the carefree existence that my children enjoyed.
Are these the people you want to send back to a warzone? Are these the people that you want to “fuck off back where they came from”?
Do you not understand that trauma is the pre-eminent, leading, major cause of mental instability? Those who blew themselves up outside the Stade de France were not mentally stable. They were not soldiers. Soldiers plan an action in three stages – approach, engagement, and withdrawal. This is rational. It recognises the possibly of death or injury but plans for survival. Horrible – but rational. These guys had no such plan – and thus were utterly irrational. How did they get that way? How did they reach the point where their own lives became unimportant? As a person who has attempted suicide, I can answer that question. Such actions are rooted in sadness, despair, and, most importantly, a lack of hope for the future. It is also a significant (albeit belated) indication of a mind that has lost touch with reality.
We “send them back to where they came from” and those who survive will become the cannon fodder of extremists and war-mongers whose twisted agenda festers and flourishes amidst the bombed-out houses, the fetid drinking water, the starving bellies, and the sick minds of those who are daily traumatised by warfare. By “sending them back”, we are cultivating more terrorism, more death, more horror, and directly contributing to the grief of future generations.
You may accuse me of being a “bleeding heart” who fails to see some twisted reality that only you, and others like you, can see but my motives are, at their heart, entirely selfish. If we look after those who flee the warzones of the world and give them food and shelter, we deny our enemies some of their future armies, their future terrorists, their future suicide-bombers. We may not stem the flood, but we do reduce the flow. And this can only be good for me and my children.
This is wrong, as the cliché goes, on so many levels – but boils down to one simple truth: If we voluntarily dismantle the pillars of our own democracy, it is akin to removing the supports for the roof above our heads – and thus we cannot express surprised when it all comes crashing down on our heads.
Dismantling or significantly altering our legal system will be a massive victory for the terrorists. It is a very short step (followed by a slippery slope – leave no clichéd stone unturned) to the creation of a totalitarian state where people are “disappeared” on suspicion of a crime they may or may not have committed – or are thinking of committing. We will have created “thought-crime” just like Orwell envisioned, and we will be reading and acting from the same play-books as Pinochet, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and various other fascist leaders – and that’s just in the last century. Is this what we want? Most corporations would love this – terrified people don’t ask awkward questions.
How do we pick those who we unceremoniously dump into prisons? I want to ask if we judge them by the colour of their skin – the temptation is great – but then that would be racist – and the proposal is logical, not racist. Isn’t it?
Internment without trial – without due process of law – is an anathema to our current social contract. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty – it underpins our judicial system and thus our society. The system is far from perfect. I know that. We all know that. However, it’s the best one that anybody has come up with so far – and it is far more civilised than the alternatives.
Another consistent and really fucking annoying statement I have seen pop up in my Facebook newsfeed in the last couple of days – and far too regularly – is the one along the lines of “we will be taken over before too long”. This has also been a consistent feature of recent responses – especially from those who are immigrants themselves – or are first generation descendants.
“We” will be “taken over”. Who is “We?” The Aboriginals? Too late.
By whom? The Muslims? Which ones? Shi`ite or Sunni? Druze, Alevis, or `Alawis ? This really matters.
And can you define “taken over”?
In the case of my own country, all of this was said about “The Asians” in the 80s and before that about every other wave of immigrants that has settled on this shore. How have “they” taken over? There are suburbs where we have a predominant cultural population – this is true. The Irish did this in New York, Boston, and Chicago; the Greeks did it in Oakleigh here in Melbourne, “Little India” in Dandenong – the list goes on. These areas allow the gastronomically adventurous to visit restaurants serving genuine samples of cuisine from that particular culture without the cost of an airline ticket! Works for me. I work with many children from the southern part of the Indian sub-continent as well as Sri-Lanka. Through conversation during class, I am gradually learning more about the cultural norms of their ethnic background, their history, their geography, and even some of their language! This is a privilege and a definite perk. I recognise that others may not be so curious – and that’s their prerogative – but I can assure you that these children’s children will have an Aussie accent, love their AFL or NRL, and while they may not celebrate Christmas, most will still just be “Aussies” like the rest of us.
The irony is that, in Australia, the only group of immigrants that have had a lasting and permanent impact on this country are the English. Look at the names of our states and our major cities – the history behind all of them is English. The vast majority of Australian who trace their ancestry back to immigrants – which is all of us who are not 100% aboriginal – are of English heritage. This map – based on genuine statistical analysis – is fascinating evidence for my statement- and it makes sense. The initial European invaders and white settlers of Australia were English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh – but the Poms ran the government. To the victor go the spoils – and the naming rights.
That “they” are “taking over” has absolutely no basis in fact. None. None at all.
To paraphrase myself, my brother-in-law, and a few fellow bloggers, I think that the sense of outrage that we all feel about the bombings in Paris are because this is a city to which we can relate. May of us have been there. We may not have the familial connections but our cultural connections with the French language, history, and culture go very deep. They are also “white” and “Western” like us. I do not like to admit this – especially when I like to regard myself as “skin-colour-blind” and utterly incapable of using the phrase “I’m not racist but…” – but…. the impact of the pictures and video from Paris DID impact on me to a greater degree than the repeated pictures and video coming out of Palestine, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other similarly war-torn hell-on-earth locations across the globe.
I have observed an outpouring of disproportionate disbelief and grief in the immediate aftermath of the Paris bombings from just about everyone on my Facebook news-feed – and I changed my own banner picture in response – not a meme but my own creation. The Facebook filter of the French flag is as I have written, sweet – but why are our profile pictures not (permanently) covered by the Palestinian flag? Why do we not post messages of sympathy for those who are terrorised by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon? My initial response was that we all have an involuntary and dichotomous reaction towards “brown” versus “white” victims – a primitive reflex based on “us” versus “them” – and perhaps there is an element of truth in this. However, it is more complicated than that.
When a city with a similar culture is hit, we in “The West” all feel a greater degree of empathy. The concept that the victims could easily be us hits harder than pictures of inert brown bodies striking grotesque poses in the rubble of Gaza. We recognise the surrounding streets, shops house as something akin to our own cities. The French language uses the same alphabet as English and they have many words closely related to our own language. We can read some of the street signs and some of us can catch a basic grasp of what is being said by the witnesses on television. The white-washed stone and mud-brick hovels of the Middle East, the dusty streets and Arabic lettering of the shop signs that hang from the corner of a bombed out shell are harder to identify with – the vast majority of us have never known such streetscapes – and thus it is easier to stand in the metaphorical shoes of the people of Paris – the victims and the survivors.
This is why we are angry. It could have been us.
And this is why we must not be angry.
Paris was chosen for a reason. The wounds left by the murder of those in the “Charlie Hebdo” offices have not healed in that city. After all, the last horror happened only 10 months ago.
The beautiful response – the only response – to Terror.
It is more effective to press on existing scars than to create new ones. This was known by the IRA in terms of the many horrors they inflicted on London, ETA knew this when targeting Madrid; history is full of similar patterns.
The desire of all terrorists is evident in the name that we give them. Terrorists. They evoke Terror. They create Terror. They want us to be terrified. Frightened people are easier to influence and control – recent Australian and U.S. domestic policies are entirely based on that premise. Terrorism is not new. It is effective because we allow it to be effective.
Terrorists want us to marginalise groups within our society – especially the children and the uneducated.
Terrorists want us to spit on the woman wearing the Hijab, the Shayla, the Al-Amira. She will bring that resentment, anxiety, and fear into her home and the baby she holds will be directly infected by her negative emotions – we will help to “grow them young”.
Terrorists want us to ostracise their children, to make them feel unwelcome and unwanted. The children become disenfranchised (a spectacularly useful precondition for those who recruit for radical causes), disillusioned, and dispirited. From such malignant seeds grow the future cancer of children strapping bombs to their bodies, children voluntarily boarding aircraft to join ISIS, and young men wielding Kalashnikovs in crowded arenas. The more we hate, the more we fan the flames of their desired world-wide conflagration.
Our most effective weapon against terrorists is to love and accept the children of the Middle East. Embrace the refugees. Sate their hunger. Make them feel safe. Give them hope for the future. They will love our country like we do – and will reject those who desire harm against us and our children. Sadly, this approach is easier to dismiss by those who prefer violence (the human base preference for immediate action or reaction as opposed to thought and/or empathy will always hamper our progress as a species), does not create an atmosphere of fear, and above all, is not profitable. So – it will never happen.
The very worst thing we can do is “fight fire with fire”. This has never worked. The U.S. government reacted with violence in retaliation for the bombings of 9/11 – their reaction concurrent to the toxic smoke and ash of their own lesson in retribution settling on the streets of Manhattan. There is no retribution in violence – there is only more violence. ISIS was born in the fiery aftermath of the Iraqi invasion by the U.S.-led coalition. The pre-conditions were ignored. (Edit: – actually – they known by 2012 – read this) The U.S. government and its arse-rimming allies – including Australia) – are directly responsible for the creation of ISIS. A solid argument for this can be found here. The Sunni majority – oppressed for so long by the Shi’ite minority – rose up and are now attempting to carve out their own state using the instability caused by the power vacuum created by the deposition of Saddam as well as the inherent instability of the government in Syria – the historical and ideological internal rifts between the Sunni and Alawite factions in the ruling Ba’ath party along with the oppressed Kurdish minority made the Arab Spring uprising almost inevitable – and the ensuing civil war made Syria ripe for the picking when ISIS turned its gaze, and its forces, towards that hapless country. I do not wish to debate the pros and cons of the invasion of Iraq – I am merely stating that this event directly led to the formation of the phenomenon currently known as ISIS. The Middle East is aflame and, as I type, the war planes of my very own nation add fuel to that conflagration. There are no easy solutions to the phenomenon of ISIS – but the most effective ones will not involve random fire-power injected into the cauldron. They will involve thoughtful consideration of the rights and needs of the populations of Kurdistan, Syria, and Iraq – so that the ISIS leaders are robbed of their power-base and their hateful rhetoric will fall on deaf and contented ears.
I don’t have a solution. I am far too ignorant of the historical and cultural complexities involved in this regions. However, I know that the lessons of history teach me that “bombing the shit out of ’em” is definitely not the answer.
I have felt very content lately. I still get dreadful bouts of sadness and profoundly irritating days when it seems that the very effort of stringing two thoughts together is just “too hard” but I have worked at being mindful, even in these times, of a realisation that I am, in general, content.
I sat in my dining room last night and watched a large mob of kangaroos graze within metres of the windows. I watched two young males “boxing” and trying to get the hang of sitting back on their tails so they can kick with both feet at the other. I have previously watched older males going at each other pretty hard and could see that while the younger ones were trying to land blows, it was more a play-fight. The other ‘roos just ignored them and munched away on the grass.
While I was watching, I voiced the thought that “This doesn’t suck”. Wild creatures right next to my house being.. well.. wild. How cool is that? I have the same thought when I stand on my driveway and look over the Dandenong Creek valley towards Port Phillip Bay – a view of up to about seventy kilometres. Even if the sky is too hazy to see the water of the bay, and the hills of the You Yangs to the west, the phrase, “This doesn’t suck” often springs to mind. I use this view during times of mental duress – my logic being that although the mind is sad, this provides immediate visual stimulus to create a deeper feeling of contentment. It works.
Is it enough to be content?
The U.S. declaration of Independence contains a famous phrase to the effect that humans are born with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Arguably, the inspiration for this oft-repeated expression derives from many sources – Robespierre’s “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, or perhaps in part from the words of John Locke – “”the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness”, but it stands by itself as a laudable ideal. In particular, when the pre-eminent conditions of “Life and Liberty” are assured, there is a persistent undercurrent in everything we do and everything presented to us via popular media; we are all constantly engaged in “the pursuit of happiness”.
Lose weight and you’ll be happy. Apply this moisturiser and you’ll be happy. Use this deodorant, drive this car, or wear these clothes and life will be a joyous parade of smiling, beautiful people against a backdrop of blue skies and bright sunshine. Eat this cereal and your husband will wear a suit and look suave and trim, your children will become animated, adoring pictures of blissful youth, and your kitchen will be spotlessly clean and tidy. Pursue happiness!
Look, maybe buying that cereal will create such changes – I’ve tried them all to no avail – but I somehow doubt changing my brand of Weet-Bix will ever keep the kitchen bench clear. However, check out the next set of ads in front of you – and they are everywhere, not just on the telly – and you will see that the theme always revolves around an end result of smiles and blue skies. It’s really daft but it is what we all want.
I worked to attain my High School Certificate. I worked hard to achieve my Bachelor’s degree and then Postgrad to work as a teacher. I worked with youth in urban areas, on rural camps, as a basketball and a football coach. These were busy years and I had a clear goal in mind; I sought out as many experiences as possible so that when I would finally be a professional educator, I would be happy and competent – and to a large extent, I always have been. The actual job (or, at least, being in the classroom) has never been a problem.
Later, Pauline and I bought a house in preparation for starting a family. She worked an obscene number of hours in pretty ordinary conditions and I juggled three jobs as we built our common financial equity. We wanted to be happier about owing a bank so much money. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the notion that debt is acceptable so long as it is manageable – I was brought up to fear debt as a dark monster that would consume me whole the moment I signed that paperwork. Home ownership was the goal with happiness as the end product. I have now been the joint mortgagee on three houses – and owned the last one outright for a number of years – but severely and clinically depressed during the majority of the latter circumstance. Home ownership does bring a sense of happiness – but only in that the alternative – renting – is horrible. Shelter is a basic need – and it may as well be on your own terms as much as possible.
Then, we had kids, moved to Queensland, and an entirely new range of challenges rose before us. Full disclosure of this would require a lot more space so, as all parents would attest, I will simply say that the boys’ early years consisted of lessons learnt, furrowed brows, and many moments of purest, unadulterated joy. This changes a bit as they get older – but only in intensity.
Then, the mental struts within my brain gave way and my mind collapsed around me, along with the majority of my personal goals and aspirations.
There are other experiences after that but somewhere along the way I stopped trying to pursue happiness. I realise that if I replace the word “happy” with “content”, and then “happiness” with “contentment”, I am, ironically, much happier. I have re-read what I have written so far and when I engage in that word-replacement exercise, I see greater truth in my endeavours – and more achievable goals.
There is more I want to write about this – I’ll come back to it – but I am mentally tired and flat today. Pauline encouraged me to write and so I did. In some ways, it is yet another way I am pursuing happiness. When I post this, I will be somewhat content.
Please treat this as scribbling. Draft-y versions of incoherent threads of thought. However, please keep reading my stuff – I cannot write to a vacuum of reception.
My name is Robert Bishop.
I was born in Ireland on September 7 1967 – I am 47 years old.
I suffer from “Borderline Personality Disorder” – a mental condition resulting from childhood trauma. This results in frequent bouts of profound depression that are utterly disabling. As a result of this illness, I was “Total and Permanent Disability” retired by Education Queensland in May 2003. I now live on a disability pension, my wife has a carer’s pension, and I have two autistic children – two boys ages 16 and 18.
During my 16 years in Queensland, I often felt isolated. However, with the advent of “Facebook”, I could resume contact with many of my school friends from Ireland and several cousins – all of whom helped me through and out of some very dark depressive events including 2 suicide attempts and numerous pits of despair.
Every two weeks, I see a psychiatrist, Associate Professor Brendan Murphy, at Pinelodge clinic in Dandenong.
December 5, 2014 is the date of the 30 year class reunion of “Class of ’84” from Sandymount High School in Dublin. As so many of these people have become vital to my mental health, I was eager to meet them again. Also, my brother lives and works in Dubai and so arrangements were made to spend some time with him.
Professor Murphy approved of the notion and arrangements were made in May to go to Dubai and then Ireland.
My family could not afford for four of us to go and my children cannot be left without a carer so it was decided that I would go alone.
Sunday, November 23 2014 at 15:30 AEST; I am 187cm tall so I took the time to be first in the Emirates check-in line at Tullamarine for my flight to ensure that I would get an “emergency exit row” seat as I was advised that these provide extra leg room. This was successful.
Sunday, November 23 2014 at 19:00 AEST; I boarded Emirates Airways flight EK 405 from Melbourne to Dublin via Singapore and Dubai.
Sunday, November 23 2014 at 20:00 AEST (approximately); I began to feel acute symptoms of what can accurately described as agoraphobic. The turbulence, the noise from the engine, the oppressive heat in the cabin, the lack of airflow, the extraordinarily tight seating conditions, and the unfriendly fellow male passengers jammed into the seats on either side of me all contributed to my ill-feeling.
When the seat-belt lights went off, I got out of my seat and walked around the cabin for a while. Despite my best efforts, tears were streaming down my face and I was finding it difficult to maintain balance.
Eventually, I asked a stewardess for help. She summoned the chief steward and I was placed in the galley at the rear of the aircraft – alone. There, I cried for about 15 to 20 minutes, uncontrollably shaking and feeling utter despair and loneliness.
Eventually, the flight stewards fed me several cups of wine and I took 60 mg of fluoxetine. I also had in my possession 25mg of quetiapine and 20mg of Temazepam but was terrified of what might happen if my self-control was further reduced by taking such strong sedating medication. The cabin crew were obviously untrained to deal with such a situation and were polite but very distant in their approach. There was absolutely no sense of support and no genuine concern on their behalf. The crew, including the pilot, repeatedly referred to my episode of mental imbalance as “fear of flying” despite my protestations that I have flown domestically (on much smaller aircraft) and internationally (even with Air China and Air Yugoslavia) many times before without incident. I felt quite ignored and very much abandoned on the aircraft.
I was asked what I wanted to do. Feeling like a “little-boy-lost”; alone, isolated, and quite frightened, I asked to return home to Melbourne. I also asked what this would entail in terms of my ticket. I was told not to worry – that the airline would “look after me”. This definitely did not happen.
I was disembarked at Singapore and told to follow a man. He informed me the following:
• At my own expense, I would have to consult a doctor before I would be allowed back on any aircraft. He assured me that this would be “very expensive”.
• At my own expense, I would have to stay in a transit hotel overnight in Singapore.
• A return flight to Melbourne would cost about $ (Singapore) 1,000.
When presented with this information, I panicked and begged to be allowed back on the flight to Dubai. My family operate on a very tight budget and I had already stretched that by taking the flight in the first place. Now, it appeared that I would blow our budget right out of the water and put my family in financial dire straits. I tried to appeal, saying that I could not afford all these extra expenses but to no avail.
The demeanour of the Emirates staff was like cold stainless steel – functionary but utterly without empathy, sympathy, or concern for a man deep in a psychological crisis. The man I dealt with repeated the same phrases in broken English over and over again about Ticket policies and various other policies that made sure I felt like I was no more than baggage with a heartbeat – devoid of rights or needs – and my humanity.
I saw a doctor after sitting in a clinic waiting room for over two hours. My blood pressure was 150-odd over 110 and my pulse was racing. A male nurse sat behind a desk and utterly ignored me. The doctor deemed me fit to fly after asking me about symptoms for Ebola. No, I’m not kidding. This cost me approx. $AUD160.
I was then trundled along to the other end of the airport to a transit hotel by a young kid in an oversize suit and scuffed brown shoes – the original Emirates person had disavowed responsibility for me at the earliest point. The hotel staff got me to pay for 12 hours in the room. I found out the next day that the minimum was 6 hours with hourly rates charged after that point. Kicking a man while he is down. This cost me about $AUD150.
I took the sedatives and slept fitfully for nine hours. My anxiety levels were still too high to relax.
The next day, at about 11:00am local time, I spent 1 hour and 18 minutes on the phone to the Emirates call centre – mostly on hold. I know the time because the phone had a call-time counter on it.
Feeling a bit better, and very much wanting to continue my journey, I started with the concept of flying on to Dublin. I was informed that this would cost me an extra $4000-plus as my ticket was now invalid – despite my lack of informed and considered choice in the matter the night before. I pointed out that my next flight from Dubai to Dublin was not until Nov 16 at 14:40 local time. Eventually, after use of mental resources I did not really possess to argue my case and stand at length on hold, I was informed I could take that flight but it would cost me approximately $1500 to get to Dubai from Singapore. The utterly impassionate tone of the person on the other end as he repeated the same lines about policy I heard the night before led me to sinking lower and lower over the phone as I stood there, shaking, tears once again streaming down my face. I was, to Emirates Airlines, not a human but a piece of cargo unworthy of help or consideration of my plight.
I collapsed mentally and just humbly asked to go home. I paid an extra $560 and got a flight back to Melbourne that night.
I have since approached Emirates via the call centre for some flexibility or at least human kindness about my situation but remain without an answer.
The entire experience was terrifying and dehumanising. I would not wish it on anybody. I knew that getting an economy seat would put me in “cattle-class” but I did not expect to be treated as if I was indeed no more than a bothersome bovine. Emirates and their staff were utterly indifferent to my mental illness. I should not have been left alone, or in the care of a child – I had lost rationality and the ability to think straight. I could easily have committed suicide or at least inflicted significant self-harm in such circumstances. This has happened before under similarly emotionally distraught circumstances. I had told the doctor I was not feeling suicidal as I was convinced that if I said such a thing I would have been locked up and all humanity would have been stripped from me, such was the coldness and lack of concern evident around me. I felt inhuman enough – I did not want to end up in a Singaporean mental ward.
I want others to know my story so they can make an informed choice as to which airline they fly in the future and the possibility of being left alone, in shock, and mentally in a very dark place. I have been ill for 12 years and have learnt some coping skills in that time. If this has happened in 2005 or 2006, it occurs to me that I would not have survived the experience and there would now be an inquiry as to how Emirates handled a mentally-ill person so poorly and with such disregard for his humanity that he was desperate enough to take his own life. Given the current situation, such an event is almost inevitable.
My first thought this morning was along the lines of “What will I write about today”? This is very good. This is exactly what I want.
My next set of thoughts sifted through the various things I wanted to write about and I soon realised that most of them are not high-minded concepts I alluded to yesterday. In fact, I considered changing the name of this blog to “Shit I want to gripe about” – perhaps a better description. I thought about rap music (using the term “music” very loosely), reality television (I mean seriously – that’s entertainment?), and Australians who put Confederate flag bumper stickers on their car (so – you’re pro-slavery and wish to keep alive the memory of a conflict that killed around 750,000 people and destroyed so much? You’re an idiot – or perhaps you would write “Your an idiot”). Source
Thinking about these things, I quickly realised that I am being curmudgeonly, grumpy, and sounding more like some old geezer whining about “kids today”. Next thing, I’ll be uttering “back in my day”, “things were better in them days” and wittering about drinking water from a hose or other such rubbish.
I then realised a few things. I don’t care if I come across as a crosspatch (what a great word!), I just want to write and any subject is better than none. My high-minded ideals are irrelevant. I wanna just play with words, spill thoughts onto the page, tune my writing synapses, just write stuff! I also realised that my thought patterns were leading me towards something to write about – a persistent and annoying style of post that pops up frequently on my news-feed. The “back-in-my day” memes.
In particular, I want to disparage the “when I was 14 -then and now” style of meme like those below.
This one is worse:
This really annoys me. It’s a prime example of rose-coloured glasses, selective memories and just pure bullshit. If I was to Google “14 year-old girls”, I would probably find a huge variation in kids and how they dress (as well as attract the attention of big-brother who might want me to explain my search habits). In fact, I just did that and I found a huge collection of selfies of girls who look… well.. normal! I’m sure if I kept scrolling and searching I could find one of a girl showing more skin that is probably age-appropriate but the first two screens or so are just… kids.
Get over yourself. I remember being a teen and having a keen eye for those girls who wore their school skirt with the higher-than-regulation hem. I remember girls who chose to wear clothing that was just as revealing as the choices made by girls today. I often thought that I would have preferred to attend a co-ed state high school: “bugger the education – have you seen those chicks?” I went to an all-boys school. No fun there at all. I also remember girls who, like my sister Catherine, wore the 80s big hair (prettier than Kylie – but much the same style), ripped stone-wash denims, and generally followed the fashions worn by her peers. These were her choices and I am glad she was able to make them. Others, like my sister Jackie, wore clothing that was more conservative. Such is her nature. and were also her choices – and as such were as valid as any made by her peers. I challenge you to walk through any area frequented by teens today – such as a shopping mall or a cinema complex – and I guarantee you will see much the same as you would have done “back in your day” – the full range from “Hmmm – I wouldn’t have the nerve to wear that” through to full-length cover-all clothing. The fabrics and styles may be different now but the choices are exactly the same.
Ah Charlene, I hated “Neighbours” but you made me consider watching.
And this is what really pisses me off about this kind of meme. I don’t have a daughter but if I did, I would want her to be self-empowered and have the ability to make choices about her own clothing. My boys haven’t needed me to dress them since they were 5 or 6 years old – why should it be different for a girl? We talk about empowering women and trying to have full equality between genders and then it is mostly women who bitch about the choices made by other females! I don’t get this. If they make a choice, do you really have the right to say they are “wrong”? If they wear clothing which makes them feel good about themselves and about their bodies, then is that not their choice? If you say that they are “flaunting it”, or worse, “just asking for it”, then you are propagating a horrible, misogynistic point of view that essentially condones the myriad unspoken forms of subjugation inflicted on just over half the human population. You, and I, are entirely entitled to an opinion and a choice of which manner of dress is apropos to any given situation. However, it is merely your opinion. Never inflict your opinions upon others.
Yes, I am aware of the irony in the last statement – but you made a choice to read this blog….
I understand the reality of our society where many men think that it is acceptable to impinge on a woman’s personal space, make her feel unsafe or commit any form of sexual assault – and then use her manner of clothing as an excuse for his criminal behaviour. I know that this happens – I’m not a fool. However, it is an attitude that must be erased. It must change. It is no longer acceptable for male managers to slap the bottom of an attractive young secretary, pass comment on her breasts, or make crude innuendos in the break room. This has been progress in the right direction but it is only a start – it must extend out past a regulated workplace and into the streets and plazas frequented by men and women every day – and an important step forward is the destruction of the myth that somehow the clothing worn by a girl reflects badly on her character. Let her wear what she wants. Let her choose the clothing she wears and then feel safe in those choices.
Impertinent advances, while usually inflicted by men upon women, and not always confined to young women. I was subjected to improper sexual advances when I was a young man. I wasn’t even vaguely aware of it at the time but I did have a body-shape that attracted the attention of some women. I had thick, muscular thighs and a 32-34 inch waist so the trousers I wore tended to fit me rather snugly. In fact, I mostly wore trousers with a larger waistband so that my legs would fit – especially jeans. I also wore shirts with a loose fit about my wide shoulders and then tucked in at the waist. This, upon reflection, must have shown off my shape and increased the visual appeal – maybe working for me because it diverted attention away from my face. By the way, I was utterly oblivious to all this until I met Pauline. During this time, while I was at University, I worked at a bottle-shop attached to a Safeway supermarket. The woman who supervised the check-outs and all the young casual workers had a habit of firmly grabbing my arse when she came out to the drive-through to pick up the till-takings at the end of the shift. I never objected because frankly, I didn’t care. I just thought of her as a randy older woman. I saw her behaviour as harmless and a bit pathetic. In fact, her actions were the source of great amusement for my work-mates – all male. Should I have complained? Probably – but it never occurred to me. However, I don’t think that my indifferent reaction justifies the repeat of any such action. I am just musing about my own experience.
Me, age 23.
I was in Munich many years ago, sitting in “der englischer garten”, having a beer or two when two women jogged down the central path wearing nothing but running shoes and a smile. I won’t pretend that I didn’t look – they were both very fine specimens of the female form – but it never occurred to me that they were inviting anyone to assault them. Sure, I concede that they were showing off their wares and probably enjoying the exhibitionist nature of their activity, but even in that state of undress, it would not have been acceptable to grab one of them and rape her. How could it be?
In the interests of being utterly transparent, I also acknowledge that I will “check out” an attractive pretty girl I encounter on the street. I might admire her physical body-shape, her pretty smile, her startlingly blue eyes, or most commonly, I will smile to see her laughing and enjoying the company of her friends as she goes about her business. I sometimes feel guilty because I want to say to her that I think she looks beautiful. I never do as I don’t want her to feel unsafe and it would be inappropriate. I certainly never feel a compulsion to touch her, impinge on her personal space, or make a derogatory or judgemental remark about her appearance. I simply admire her beauty and proceed on my way. If I am with Pauline, I might make a quiet remark along the lines of “Nice!” and tilt my head towards the person who has grabbed my attention. In return, I usually get a smile. Pauline will often point out a woman who she feels I might visually appreciate – and marvel that I missed seeing her. In fact, she has used this trait to help her judge my mood. When I am depressed, very little interests me and she construes it as a warning sign if my eyes don’t follow the wiggle of a rounded bum walking in front of me. Pauline tells a story of a time we were travelling along the esplanade in Hervey Bay and she drove past a tall, blonde, strikingly attractive woman dressed only in a rather skimpy bikini. Apparently I didn’t even so much as glance in her direction. Pauline already knew I was feeling very depressed but at that point considered checking me for a pulse.
I am also greatly amused when I spot Pauline checking out some guy – usually tall, athletic, and with an aesthetically-shaped bum. (I still haven’t figured out that bit – I don’t quite “get” what shape a male bum must be to be deemed worthy of female attention. I have tried to understand – but they just look like arses to me.)
I have seen videos on the internet where an attractive woman walks down a street and an accomplice walks ahead of her with a hidden camera recording the reactions of males as she passes them by. I absolutely agree that she should not be subjected to unsolicited invitations of various intent nor lascivious remarks – either verbal or non-verbal. However, I do not see any harm in a guy quietly checking her out as she passes by – but these are included in the video as inappropriate behaviour. What do you think?
I’m off-topic. This will be a recurring theme in my blog. I do tend to let my attention wander. A lack of focus is, perhaps, a definitive aspect of my nature.
Put away those nostalgic filters and try to genuinely remember what life was like when you were young. My generation were perhaps the last “non-digital” generation. We didn’t have the internet, smart-phones, instant access to one another via social media, or the ability to take hundreds of selfies on our phone or ipad – or the ability to put these on Facebook (or perhaps Snapchat?). This doesn’t make us “better” – merely “different”. However, I don’t think that the nature of a child ever changes – no matter what filtered visions of our childhood we carry about in our memories.
A quote from Kenneth John Freeman in 1907 is often attributed to Plato or Socrates – but the point is that the sentiment expressed in this statement is ageless. It was said about us when we were young, about our parents generation many years ago, and so on back through time. It is said about our kids now and will, in turn be said by them about the next generation.
“The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise. …
Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs.”
Leave ‘em alone – let ‘em be. Work towards a future where women are not judged, verbally abused, molested, assaulted, or made to feel unsafe in any way because of her choice in the clothing she wears.This starts with respecting others right to choose.
I want to write. I need to write. I want to write a novel. A story full of characters that are memorable and sympathetic – or memorable for the pure recoil they cause when recalled.
I want the story to be utterly original. The plot may be original – “Mission” by Patrick Tilley – or maybe the story is not as relevant as the form – “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams – or the plot and characters are interwoven in such fine threads that one is simply part of the other – Shakespeare or Dickens.
The bar that I place in front of myself is impossibly high. I know this. However, I am a mediocre man with a mediocre life. If I am to produce art, it must be extra-ordinary, memorable, worthy of pop reference in “The Simpsons”; I must achieve something that is greater than the sum of my parts.
How do I achieve this lofty goal? No idea. However, I do know where to start.
Simple scratchings. Writing for the sake of it. A little bit every day. I have tried this before on a few occasions and failed to keep it going – but I go to bed every night with words, sentences, ideas spinning through my brain. Sometimes, my head is so full of words that I construct entire paragraphs, moulding them and shaping them so that they become more coherent to my bleary mind. Thus, I am compelled to try again. I may fail – again.
I want to write for an audience. I don’t exist in a vacuum. I live in a community – albeit a virtual one. I have no sense of connection with my surroundings other than my immediate family and friends but I do have a sense of connection with the many people with whom I interact via Facebook every day. I understand that it is not as good as “the real thing” but for now it provides me with a sense of belonging to a larger group. It is all a bit pathetic, I know. I was told many times when I was younger that my inability to be “happy in my own company” is a failing but it is simply a part of who I am. I like to be alone but I have a strong desire to be a part of a large group as well. The “Facebook crowd” is my community – and is the audience for whom I write.
For now. Later, I may be able to write for a larger audience. I don’t know.
What will I write about?
I thought about this for a long time. A very long time. I cannot write with regard to any subject with any authority. I simply do not know enough about anything in particular. I know a bit about myself but I don’t want to “go there”. It is not a happy place. Thus, I have decided to start from the fact that while I don’t know a lot about anything, I am curious about nearly everything. This gives me a start.
I do not understand. I just don’t get it. This will be my blog.
As a child, I genuinely thought that there would come a day when life would make sense – that I would “just know”. I kept waiting for the magic penny to drop. I’m still waiting. My parents seemed to have it all under control. I was never placed in a situation where any decision I made would have any impact beyond the immediate future. My parents made those decisions for me and I had faith in them. Now, as a parent, I – along with Pauline – make all the “big” decisions for my children. I attempt to ensure that their concerns are childish concerns.
Now I understand that this “parental certainty” (for want of a better phrase) is an illusion. To the child, the parent seems to be sailing along the currents with a direction to follow and all future courses mapped out in advance. Any intelligent adult knows that this is an utter impossibility – but we maintain the illusion for our kids. The duck appears to swim gracefully while, beneath the surface, it paddles madly just to keep up.
And this is as it should be.
As I grew older I started to understand that my parents did not know, and could not provide, all the answers to the questions forming in my mind. I came to understand that while they were following a general direction in life, their course was not cleverly worked out many years ago, step by step, with each eventuality planned out and subsumed within the master-plan. They were making it up as they went along!
As we all do.
However, I still maintained the illusion within myself that one day it would “all make sense” – that I would “work it out” – that I would, in common parlance, “get my shit together”. I’m still waiting.
As each day passes I learn a little bit more about the world around me – about my fellow humans, about the environment within which I live, about all the wonderful and abstract constructs available to the human mind. But as I open doors in the world around me, it just gets bigger. I have become aware of my very own version of “Socratic ignorance”. The more I learn, the greater my ignorance. If I open a small crack and peer through it into a new field of knowledge, I become aware of an even greater vista of information reaching out far beyond my new field of view – one I cannot ever cross – not in this lifetime – not in a hundred lifetimes.
This all sounds a bit hopeless and nihilistic. In times of mental darkness, I can find such ignorance overwhelming and think myself worthless. In fact, I have lately formed a notion that the unconscious realisation that my rainbow had no end that significantly contributed to my initial mental collapse. I often feel overwhelmed, worthless, aimless, useless – a prisoner of my own inadequacies. I don’t know if this is true. It’s just a notion.
On my brighter – read: rational – days I know that I am not worthless. My wisdom is worthless – not me. Then I realise that the situation is, in fact, reversed. No matter which crack I prise open, no matter the direction in which I choose to step or indeed the number of steps in that direction, there will always be something new to learn, new vistas to explore, new breadcrumbs of information to gather, to store, and to process. This is very exciting. I can never be bored.
My blog will deal with my ignorance. There are so many things I do not understand – from the mundane (such as tattoos) to the perplexing and entangled problems like our innate and utterly human ability to hate, mistreat, marginalise, and kill one another.
I am going to write about my ignorance – in no particular order. I might propose a partial answer to my questions but generally it will only be an opinion. I might muse about cause and effect but once again – only my opinion. Everything I write will be my opinion. I am prepared to be construed as right or contradicted as wrong. In fact, I encourage anyone who reads my blog to offer their own answers (read: opinions) on any issues I raise – or indeed ask questions themselves – on-topic or, if they please, off-topic.
I will try not to offend but it is inevitable I will. I have opinions on many subjects and can be scathing of the opinions of others with regard to any that I feel impinge on my rights or the rights of my fellow humans. I will not tritely beg forgiveness but if presented with a compelling argument for a need to apologise, I will do so – humbly and willingly. Well – maybe not humbly. I’m not good at that.
I do not possess any genuine answers – only more questions.