I am disappointed that the way women are treated in Australian politics, appears to be regressing. Last week, the Prime Minister interrupted our female Families Minister, when journalists directly asked HER, for HER view, on the sexist culture in Parliament. He interjected and directed debate in the way that would divert attention and benefit him before allowing her to answer the media’s question.
After being interuppted by the PM, this is what the families Minister Anne Ruston finally said when she got to be heard.
“Well, I can only reflect on my own experience since I’ve been in this place since 2012, and I have to say I have always felt wholly supported while I’ve been here,” she said.
Is her skirt on fire?
In 2019, he gagged a female Minister, (by his own admission), for tactical reasons and kept her out of the limelight for the duration of the election campaign. She was out of favour. It was best for her not to say too much, or anything really.
Is our leader a misogynistic politician, or a master manipulator and campaign Bull terrier? You tell me.
It seems that when female politicans on one side of politics do get to speak, they know not to say too much. A sideways look from their fearless leader is enough for them to watch their words around the Prime Minister. This is the Prime Minister’s domain. He diverts attention. A sympathetic media does not always highlight his retrograde attititude.
However, the misogynist attitude hasn’t entirely escaped notice. Satirists at the ABC televised this somewhat humourous segment, which could be closer to the truth than any of us would like to believe.
Ex Independent politician Tony Windsor had the following tweet:
Another example of how power works against women….
17 yr old harrassed by [former Deputy P.M] Joyce in Canberra pub in ladies Toilet
> Mother is [Prime Minister] Scomo’s LNP blind follower
> Complaint is shut down by Georgie Somerset – Quid pro quo
> Somerset is promoted to ABC TV Board.
> Julie Bishop’s (former Deputy LNP PM)’s brother hi flyer in Clayton Utz [a law firm] > 17 year old Girl now works @ Cl Utz.
> All quiet.
There is a history of Inaction by senior staff and politicians from Tony Windsor:
Abbott (as P.M.) knew …did nothing
Credlin (as female assistant to P.M.) knew ….did nothing
Georgie Somerset knew….got promoted as voice of Australian rural women. ..and the [culture] caravan moves on.
Tony Windsor – Twitter
And now the Four Corners TV program has alleged the Attorney General has been making unwanted advances to female staffers.
A Four Corners investigation reveals concerns about Christian Porter’s attitude towards women, dating back decades. His alleged behaviour includes making unwanted advances to women while in federal office. Mr Porter released a statement denying the claims made against him.
“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” – Klaus Balkenhol
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
What makes a good leader?
Does a manager lead by example or by words?
Is compliance of employees achieved by checking, verifying, straightening those who they see as divergent from their policy or procedures? Can successfully managing a team mean you do not need to mould, reform or control?
Some years ago, I worked in a friendly and collaborative workplace, until sweeping changes created some newly appointed Team Leaders and the group dynamics changed.
The decline in morale and mood in the workplace was palpable. Many Senior staff left the organization and the atmosphere became toxic. Harassment, and criticism became commonplace. The boss tacitly supported this through direct, brusque emails. Softer, quietly spoken colleagues were the first targets to suffer under this micro-managerial behaviour.
The result: A disconnected, ineffective workplace with high absenteeism rates and resignations.
To be an effective manager of staff, you must possess a range of skills. Particularly decisiveness, empathy, intelligence, problem-solving skills, and great communication.
Similarly, in Government, we see politicians sit idly by until the public who elected them cry out for them to do something. Then, threatened by their own downfall, they move, often in the wrong ways and far too late.
The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.
– Woodrow Wilson
Our politicians would do well to remember Woodrow Wilson’s words.
As always, the old pearls of wisdom and quotes provide us with much insight into learning what constitutes leadership.
This is Australia, a continent not ravaged by war, disease or famine.
A country rich in resources and a friendly open public.
It should be a vanguard for a successful democracy, shouldn’t it?
Australia in 2020
A wobbly renewable energy sector,
Over-reliance of exports of raw materials,
A powerful and corrupt financial sector,
A struggling research and tech industry.
Environmental devastation from natural disasters,
Bushfire, drought and cheap imports.
Declining export markets and competitiveness.
Decreasing full time unemployment and
increasing casualization of the workforce.
It all sounds like a bit like a third world country, but it isn’t.
This is Australia!
And it might be a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.
The Tyranny of Distance
Many companies find trading in Australia logistically difficult, due to the ‘tyranny of distance’. We are, after all, stuck right down the bottom of the planet, on the way to nowhere except perhaps New Zealand and Antarctica, and not too many companies head to the southern continent. (No offence there to my Kiwi rellies intended).
In order to stay competitive, Australian companies might decide to decrease production costs, and one popular method of achieving this is reducing staff. Any profits made via increased productivity, is then divided up amongst shareholders. So there is not much incentive to hold onto staff.
Offshore Corporate Relocation
Companies that formerly hired Australians in varying sectors of the economy have, in the last decade, moved company operations off-shore, to a cheaper labour market in Asia, Bangladesh or India.
The result: Lower quality control, poorer reliability and worst of all: – less jobs in Australia! Not only is there less job vacancies, there are less permanent full time jobs – with the end result being a workforce that is highly casualized and contractual. That sure doesn’t help economic stability.
The solar energy industry and the Green movements are not to blame, yet that seems to be the mantra from conservative politicians and mining companies magnates. The country has became so very much dependant on them, that it is their voices that now carry weight over any others.
The agriculture and animal farming industries are in constant decline too, with perhaps the worst, yet to be experienced, as we feel the full brunt of the aftermath of the bushfires and the Chinese slowdown.
Australia grew up on the “sheep’s back.” That is, we sold wool and wheat to the world. But as the third world develops along western lines, Australian products have become far too expensive, and we have to add in long and expensive hours of transport, from this corner of the planet. Thus, Aussie products are no longer selling well, and there is nothing yet to replace that.
This gives the mining companies so much power to influence public policy and push their own agenda, to politicians.
We have a non- existent manufacturing sector – what we did have already disappeared overseas. The banks and mines and perhaps, housing construction are the only thing keeping our economy going and thus, our current standard of living.
Is this enough to maintain our current standard of living into the future?
“… the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she’ll be right.”
Paul Keating Former P.M and Treasurer
Education in the form of mostly Asian fee-paying students, is the only other small growth area in the economy, and wholly depends on Australia’s immigration policy towards foreigner students.
Universal Compulsory Voting
The outlook seems bleak, and even more so, as the majority of people do not realize the long term implications for our country. They appear easily swayed by sweet talking politicians.
Politicians with a complex and well thought through economic plan did not seem to find favor in the electorate at the last election.
Franking Credit Scheme
The Government pays out an enormous amount of money on public schooling in Australia, and an equivalent amount, is paid out by the Government to shareholder investors, in the form of franking credits for shares. The shareholders get paid a second time by the Government on top of the dividend itself, and the proposed scheme to rein this in, was complex.
Dividends are paid out of profits which have already been subject to Australian company tax which is currently 30%. This means that shareholders receive a rebate for the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends.You are entitled to receive a credit for any tax the company has paid. If your top tax rate is less than the company’s tax rate, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will refund you the difference.
With the Opposition not being able to communicate this properly to the electorate at the last election, meant the incumbent Government hoodwinked voters into believing money was going to be taken off their investments and another new tax imposed!
Suggestions of introducing Emissions trading schemes have ended many a politician’s career on both sides of politics. The media and oppositions have turned these suggestions in to the popular and false threat of a “new tax,” and the Australia public runs scared.
Voting in Australia
Compulsory voting means these folks who are ill-informed, or who might hear a mere headline or snippet of news from a tabloid source, vote with a knee-jerk reaction. In key electorates, this can make or break a good policy and Government, even though the majority of voters see through this charade.
Another example of voter ignorance was the suggestion of introducing a subsidized Electric Car Initiatives to tackle Climate Change and Emissions, which was scoffed at by conservatives who believed, quite incorrectly, that if elected, the party with the Electric car proposal would destroy the Aussie weekend culture, that centres around activities, in the ‘Ute” – (pickup truck)
Solar Power Generation
A country bathed in perpetual sunlight should be the solar powerhouse of the world. We should have our own solar panels in endless production, but instead we import solar panels from colder countries like Canada, Germany and China.
Because Australia has alway relied heavily on Coal fired power. Dirty Coal. The current Prime Minister loves it so much he brought some into parliament. What a joke!
Apparently it is cheaper to pollute the planet, than support Australian jobs and industry. In fact, the coal mining lobby is so widespread and so powerful, it spreads so many lies and falsehoods about solar power generation, it is scandalous. And the naive voters lap this up and spit it back at backyard barbeques to other ignorant constituents, who don’t know any better. Closed minds and closed hearts.And these folks vote.
An initial scheme to subsidize the introduction of solar panels in residential homes was SO successful, the government put a stop to it, as the coal industry was feeling the financial pinch and the government was losing royalties paid by mining companies.
Notwithstanding a solution is urgently needed to dispose of used solar panels, why on earth would you not want free, clean, non-polluting energy, I ask?
I’m irritated by the incumbent government and the future of my country. I now question universal suffrage and the abilities of the opposition parties to communicate their policies with the electorate.
Is this where democracy is flawed?
The public votes for short term gains, and not long term benefits for all?
Australia – become informed and think about where your vote goes.
We all know the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The exact opposite is true of Gdansk.
Their slogan is: ‘What happens here moves the world.’
The selfie is mine, but this iconic location belongs to the people of Gdansk, (until 1939, known as Danzig, Poland). This particular spot holds a significant place in history as the birthplace of a movement that changed the world.
Known to many people the world over, via their television sets, the gates to the Gdansk shipyards was where a group of disgruntled shipyard workers formed an illegal, freedom-oriented, trade union, named Solidarity.
Not so significant in itself, you might think.
The Rise of Solidarity
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, this site was a hotbed of protest. The illegal Solidarity Union, led by the charismatic electrician, Lech Walesa, demanded the immediate adoption of (21) reforms to working conditions, including the right to strike and better wages, in total defiance of the Soviet regime and puppet Polish Government. Not only that – they went further demanding the abolition of censorship and the release of political prisoners. From there, Solidarity developed rapidly into a populist, political movement that gained support the world over, but never more so, than in Poland, itself.
It had been a sacking of a female crane operator, just months before her retirement, that initially galvanised Walesa and the workers to strike. Risking imprisonment and perhaps execution by the hardline authorities, these protests are considered to be a pivotal moment in history.
One that eventually triggered a reverse domino effect – the eventual collapse of the old Soviet political order in Eastern Europe and an end to Cold War hostilities.
Rumour-mongers later discredited the motives behind Walesa’s actions, suggesting he had, at one time, co-operated with the Soviets when threatened with the loss of his job. However, the authenticity of these documents is disputed and may have been politically motivated, for, in 1989, Lech Walesa became the first President of the newly independent Poland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
He later retired from politics to lead a quieter life, living in a house that overlooks the same shipyards where he was began his activist journey.
Despite the negative claims, as a high school student in the 70’s whose head was filled with Marxist ideals, seeing Walesa and Solidarity protesting on the TV, was inspirational. Standing up for the powerless, Walesa became an instant hero of mine. Here was an underdog fighting against injustice, and moreover, against the biggest power in Eastern Europe. What guts!
Walesa’s words maintain potency even today:
“We showed that the biggest problems should be solved at the negotiating table. They should be solved in an intelligent way… using argument rather than force. “
Right there – Lech had me on his side.
A Tribute to Workers
An imposing monument to the fallen workers stands at the shipyard gates. It was a poignant moment reading thepoetic words I found engraved on one of the plaques. It carried a solemn warning:
You who have wronged a simple man…
Burst into laughter over his suffering…
DO NOT FEEL SAFE
Gdansk Shipyard Plaque
The Price of Freedom
For the Polish people, the new political order was both an incredibly exciting and an exceedingly difficult time. I learnt of a Grandmother, who had worked extremely hard for many years under Polish Soviet rule, saving to buy a house. When she had finally saved enough money and was close to her financial goal, independence from the old communist order arrived in Poland.
Unfortunately, along with economic independence came a massive devaluation of Polish currency and a huge financial shock. After independence, I was told the only thing the Polish Grandmother’s savings could buy was a pair of shoes!!
Poland has duly honoured the contribution of Lech Walesa by naming the city’s Airport after him.
Lying 12 km Northwest of the city, Lech Walesa airport is well served by both budget and major airlines such as Ryanair, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines and Polish LOT and is the gateway to beach resorts, such as Sopot and Gydnia on the Baltic Coast.
You can also arrive in Gdansk by Train and Bus from mainland Europe, or Ferries from Sweden.
A pilgrimage to the shipyards can be combined with a delightful day visiting the Old Town of Gdansk – where the 18th Century comes alives and more UNESCO sites await you.
But more of that next time, at Something to Ponder About.
Today is Australia Day, or if you are a First Nation person, you might call it Invasion Day. Back in 1788, the “First Fleet.” of British ships arrived on Australia’s eastern coast and began establishing a British colony.
The British considered the Australian continent unoccupied – as the indigenous peoples were not considered as a nation in themselves. However wrong this was at the time, it happened and today we still celebrate this day with a public holiday.
January 26 in Australia, marks the end of the long summer holidays and that means lots of folks travelling on the roads and lots of pool parties and barbeques.
At a time when the dude from Top Gear is making egotistical comments about Australia, Boris Johnson comments on our ‘resilient spirit.’
Is our country still resilient? When many of us support dirty coal fired power generation? Or deny climate change?
Not all Aussies fully comprehend the gravity of the planet’s situation as they only hear what the media here tells them. The media often fails to give a balanced view!
So, What can you do, when those who are ignorant or closed to new ideas vote in ignorant fools, because they read and listen to tabloid tripe? It’s a little depressing.
Whilst European economics has its problems, at least they are aiming for better air to breathe, and a better country for their children.
We seem to be taking a longer time to understand the problem.
This Australia Day – take up my challenge and show that Australians can:
Read more widely – especially those opinions that you don’t at first agree with – they may have a point of view that resonates somewhere. It can’t hurt you even if you don’t change your opinion – you will just be better informed.
Seek out facts to substantiate your opinion. The Radio and TV commentators might be and often are misinformed or wrong.
Discuss this with your friends and listen to feedback.
Challenge long held beliefs – the world is changing.
Recently I had a discussion with another blogger and it highlighted to me how the bulk of Australian public opinion appears to differ greatly from the rest of the First World in the North.
Coal and Renewable Energy Sources
Australia could, and should be, a solar energy powerhouse of the world with our almost constant sunlight and extreme lack of rainfall, right?
It is not.
As India and China, the major markets for purchasing Australian coal, move towards solar and renewable energy sources, it makes good economic sense in the long term to utilize a raw material is FREE and infinite.
Surely there must be a tipping point at which the Australia coal industry no longer becomes viable, yet some companies and politicians still support expansion of coal fired power generation. Will we see subsidized fossil fuel generation as a way to prop up employment?
Why? When there are alternatives.
The baseload power needed to support solar energy argument doesn’t make sense when it is solar that is putting more energy into the grid at times of peak demand. I am happy to hear otherwise along with hard evidence. Enlighten me.
For decades the coal industry has supplied power to Australian homes and so many jobs, towns and industry are heavily reliant on it. Past and present governments have been reluctant to invest in solar, due to vested interests who benefit from coal making large political donations.
Is it such a good idea to penalise those folk who choose to invest money in solar by making them pay for infrastructure? Infrastructure that actual makes power companies money by tax relief?
I would love to see coal industries leading the charge to investing and promoting/converting to solar. Why not? Currently, we import solar cells from countries like – wait for it – Canada, Italy China and Germany! Canada and Germany are not exactly renowned as warm weather countries are they?
What madness is this?
Prior to moving to our Home by the Sea, we had a wonderful solar system with German solar panels, and Italian inverter and expertly installed by an Australian small business – providing jobs to Australia.
Five years later, that same company had to close its doors and sack workers because the government initiated moves that caused extreme business uncertainty for companies in the Solar and Renewable energy sector, by reducing the incentives to Australian solar energy customers, thereby assisting the coal industry to further entrench reliance on itself by the energy grid and the monopoly they have enjoyed for years.
Pariochial Thinking and Media Control
Foreigners often direct criticism at Americans for having “blinkers” and closed thinking. Meaning that they seem to have a lack of awareness of external issues, due to their media focus on internal matters. However Australians may also be guilty of inward thinking and thus, are far removed from the levels of environmental awareness and action found in the many parts of Europe, where using dirty coal is regarded with much derision. For example: Finland
Have a vision for your country moving forward for the sake of your children!
Stand up to the Media Moghuls and radio shock jocks who claim they dictate Australian public policy and public opinion!
“We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.” – Greta Thunberg
Climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, 1 March 2019
I hear vehement criticism of Greta Thunberg in the hair salons and in the cafes and even by Australians, at backyard barbeques. It utterly shocks me that many Australians think she is some kind of spoilt child throwing an environmentally themed tantrum.
What has happened to my countrymen that they can be so narrow-minded as to criticize and poke fun at a child with a wish for a better future?
Time magazine didn’t think she was a climate brat; they nominated her as their person of the year for 2019.
Australians who deride Greta Thunberg, a child with a vision and the guts to speak out, disgust me, but then I think perhaps they have not had an opportunity to hear another opinion and don’t have the smarts to listen to information sources that are not mainstream.
How does one get through to this sector of the population if the media is so regulated by powerful self-serving interests?
The ageing population here is a hard line conservative group who favour stoic right wing governing with a touch of xenophobia. Compounding this and disappointingly, there seems to be a political swing away from the green movement by the middle income, middle aged voting cohorts. And this is happening when the young folk are much more environmentally aware than any of my peers.
Is it uncertainty over job security that drives this? Australia has always been so reliant on exporting its raw materials, that is has no manufacturing base to speak of. Research and the IT industry was beginning to develop until it was all but destroyed by government cutbacks.
I am unsure why.
On our final day of this decade, open your minds to new possibilities and new solutions, and cast away the hard line thinking of the past.
In case you are not aware, the head of our country has taken himself on holiday. He is out of contact – although supposedly still being sent daily briefings.
There would normally be nothing at all wrong with that, except that there is a national crisis – we have had months of bushfires burning through swathes of country to unprecedented levels.
And the head of our country is nowhere to be seen and remains silent.
Or is he?
Some say he deserves some quiet time with his family at Xmas. I agree, but if you are elected leader of a country, are you not on standby, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
Would you not want to support your people in a time of crisis?
Nurses, Doctors, Hotel Housekeepers, hell even Taxi drivers have to work over Christmas, so why not the leader of our country? Someone that has given himself a big fat pay rise of late, when the rest of Australia waits six or more years for a pay rise. Six years.
Some say the P.M. has gone to New York to open a Hillsong church there – his faith is admirable, but how is this more relevant than our country?
Is he serving our country to the best of his ability or massaging his own ego?
Over 800 folks have lost their homes to fire in the last months. Rural fire Service folks, often volunteers themselves, have not had a day off in months. They are soent, exhausted and get NO pay, but the P.M. is entitled to a holiday, on full pay to open a church in New York?
It makes my blood boil!
I was discussing this with another blogger, Snow on her blog who wondered why we can’t boot him out of his job for this. We can’t kick him out as he hasn’t done anything wrong – legally. Morally – yes, there is an error in his judgement, however, he enjoys the full support of his cabinet ministers, so any repercussion is unlikely.
This is the same Prime minister who brought a lump of coal into parliament to show his support for maintaining coal fired power generation sources!
His government believes coalfired power is still the way forward because it is so very cheap to produce here and supports lots of jobs.
But the shift in public opinion is building. The youth in Australia want action on Climate change and they know burning fossil fuels is not good for our planet.
In the meantime, the only thing burning at the moment is Australia and Australian homes. And the #AussieNero sits idly by.
Smoke alarms are being triggered in our nation’s capital, Canberra, such is the poor air quality from bushfires.
Sydney suffers with a constant smoke haze and I can even smell it up here in the North, 800 km away.
Last year, the Amazon and Columbia suffered through many fires. The land in many areas is becoming drier and the rainfall is dimishing. This year, even the Monsoon rains in Indonesia have not yet arrived.
With lower rainfall, the soil becomes ignited far more easily from a stray cigarette butt, or a deliberate back burning off operation, or other accidental or deliberate causes.
The high winds that accompany climate changes fans any bushfires to catastrophic levels.
And the rainfall needed to saturate the ground does not come.
Here is a recent map of the fires across Australia from abc.net.au
And still the P.M. is silent. I hope the New Yorkers realize the price our country is paying.
Perhaps they might even say a prayer.
Well may we say, #wherethebloodyhellareyou Mr Morrison.
Following on from the Sunday Sayings post about Truth – [which seems like a topical theme at the moment, given the preponderance of so- called fake news, in our world], is Consensus.
The Effects of Consensus
Is Consensus a noble objective, or can it be implicated in watering down any goals, objectives or even, progress that a group, workplace or family unit, might make?
Consensus in a group, setting, might mean respecting differing opinions and finding that sometimes illusive, “middle ground.” The group seeking consensus might be a family, a workplace or a community of individuals.
Some believe that in order to get agreement on group issues and direction, it is important to have a background of common values and goals and thus, workplace employees are often selected on that basis, when they begin employment. That makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, like-minded people, tend to agree, don’t they?
Intertwined in this concept of consensus and truth, is the complication that everyone is an individual, and comes with a pre-set of values, developed via their upbringing, culture, or their own personal bias. Our previous discussion on ‘Truth,’ appears to indicate that truth, like individual opinions, can vary greatly according to each person’s perspective and a given moment in time, as Mann suggests below:
Do not think of knocking out another person’s brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
This link claims, “Consensus implies that everyone accepts and supports the decision, and understands the reasons for making it.”
Sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? Everyone having a say, and everyone agreeing with one end decision after a friendly discussion? The world should therefore be a happy place, if consensus ruled. But then there is this:
As consensus does not imply perfect unanimity, it implies that the majority of people express a particular view, which is accepted as the consensus by all the members including those who actually oppose it. The dissent of the opposition is sacrificed in the interests of the harmony among the members or in the larger interests of the organization.
The words posted above suggests that dissent is sacrified in the interests of harmony. That means some folks might give in. Are they really always happy about that?
Are they adult enough to side with harmony for the common good?
Does this happen in Politics?
Some will be confident enough in their self-concept and objectives to accept the outcome, or let go of dearly held viewpoints, for the sake of harmony, or for the good of the group, whilst for others, it will eat away at them, and perhaps also at group dynamics.
Might this lead eventually, to mutiny in the workplace and conflict, in the family group or political sphere?
The Blog Endless Weekend, also was moved to probe at this concept of truth in a recent post on Consensus.
Collective Responsibility of the Team
I feel the degree of collective responsibility within a given group, something more commonly referred to as team effort, or being a responsible team player, could perhaps, be one factor in overriding any concerns of jealousy, resentment or disregard in finalizing decisions.
How mature are we at handling group conflict and disagreement?
Do you always seek consensus in a group setting? Are you always happy if the outcome is progressive, even if your concerns were not elucidated or discussed?
Does a powerful boss or leader intimidate the group so that the following might be true?
Sunday Sayings Weekly Proverb
“The squeaky wheel gets the most grease.”
Are you a vocal or silent team player?
What do you think of the quotes and proverbs presented this week?
I invite you to join in the discussion here on Sunday Sayings.
Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi should have the last word –
Sunday Sayings – Something Topical to Ponder About today
Many judge others who are dissimilar to them, far too quickly and without compassion. Judgements are a breeding ground for misconceptions and left to fester uninhibited can develop into prejudice, fear an in its worst incarnation, racism.
Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted – whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or ‘stuff’.
The streets are empty of children, neighbours are sometimes strangers. We don’t seem to talk to each other, so much anymore. Now in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy and upcoming elections, immigration and security is on the political agenda.
There is intense discussion on the social problems of rising prejudice, racism, fear and extremist sentiment. An undercurrent of fear and divisiveness, is deliberately or unwittingly perpetuated by media forces. What can the individual do?
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured
Yesterday I wrote a post about Neighbours from Hell, and heard Social Researcher Hugh Mackay’s concept of nurturing our neighbourhoods by developing compassion. Hugh believes it is compassion that will save mankind from divisiveness, radical viewpoints and extreme behaviour.
With a sweet tongue and kindness,
you can drag an elephant by a hair
~ Persian Proverb
Once I turned 20 years of age, I was keen to contribute and be actively involved in the community, be that in the educational setting, workplace or community leisure groups. Involvement in these groups has brought me many lasting friendships and taught me valuable life lessons. I had to find ways to get along with different kinds of people, to make things work. Resentment and dislikes impaired the team effort. Community cohesiveness became impportant to me
Compassion and a sense of acceptance of others for their differences can assist us to understanding our neighbours, and colleagues and, in doing so, we foster a sense of community, of inclusiveness.
In a perfect world, no one group or individual would feel so threatened or socially isolated they would need to resort to violence or aberrant behaviour. We can all do our part in our own small neighbourhood, to drag the metaphorical elephant by the hair.
“We do not have to agree with them, but we Do just have to understand them.”
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling,
What do you think?
Could compassion and community be the antidote to social extremism?
Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?
Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.
Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations
and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived
and lessons learned.
Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
It is 1942: a Norwegian soldiers fighting on the Eastern front, on the German side, is killed. One of his comrades, injured in the same incident, falls in love with a Austrian nurse whilst recuperating.
57 years later, a Detective in Oslo with the unlikely name of Harry Hole is appointed to the Norwegian secret service, his brief is to monitor Neo-Nazi activity in Norway: a fairly mundane assignment that turns out to be anything but….
With many parallels to recent world events and rising anti-multicultural sentiment, Nesbø’s, ‘The Redbreast‘, (which won the Glass Key, the Riverton and the Norwegian Book club Prize for the best ever Norwegian Crime Novel), will take the reader both on a historic and also a contemporary journey.
Chillingly ironic and yet at times, familiar were some of the attitudes found amongst the more despicable characters in the book. It digs deep into the hearts and minds of those Norwegians who felt passionate enough to risk their lives, fighting alongside and for the Nazis, during the war. They believed in saving Norway from, what they saw, was the Bolshevik advance.
The Novel delves into their individual motives and how they might have felt on their return to Norway, when they discovered they had been labelled ‘traitors,’ shunned by their own society after war’s end; a topic rarely written about in the Western world.
A different perspective can reveal things hitherto unseen, and at times, I was surprised I that Ifelt a little sympathy for these men, despite philosophically being poles apart from them. It made me question the modern politic climate of Norway. The massacre on Utøya, Norway and now the terrorist attack on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, which appears to have links to Utøya, made me wonder if there might be some more citizens with these beliefs, hidden surreptitiously, under a guise of normality. Let’s hope not.
The Good: Following a hunch that several murders are linked, Harry pays a high personal price in the book, but still manages to find a little romance in all the horror. I found this an unlikely but interesting diversion, but it provides Hole with a clue vital in solving the mystery.
The Bad: Although we know the killer’s mind from the start (but not who he is), he remains carefully hidden through out the book, his actions being explained by a slightly unbelievable trip to a psychiatrist.
The Ugly: One wonders how many readers might feel sympathy for these “traitors” or even perversely idolize them as historic “warriors,” using this as justification for the Neo Nazi “thuggish” behaviour. I am not sure. Yet there is still the theme of redemption offered up to readers too, albeit in small amounts.
This was the first of the Harry Hole series to be translated into English, and since then, every book in the series has been translated and was a best seller.
Recommended for those who like Nordic Noir/Scandi Detective fiction and have not yet read Harry Hole.
“We don’t catch hold of an idea, rather the idea catches hold of us and enslaves us and whips us in to the arena so that we, forced to be gladiators fight for it.”
– Heinrich Heine 1797 – 1858
So says the inscription on the statue of German Poet, Journalist and literary critic, Heinrich Heine, in Berlin, Germany. His words of wisdom have often intrigued me and it was for that very reason that I tracked down his statue, on a recent trip to Berlin.
Why bother to search for a statue, you might say? After all, the Heine statue is a little off the usual tourist path and one has to actively search for it, [and you already know that I was doing just that]. It is because I’ve been fascinated by the liberal, and at times prophetic words, of this free thinking writer and how his words written in the 19th century, became catastrophically true, in the twentieth century. But more about that a little later.
Heine’s statue sits in a small square, fringed with manicured hedges and shady trees, and is a suitable spot to rest and reflect, as Heine did, upon the world, (although I suspect, today’s visitors might update social media, rather than navel-gaze). Whilst mapping out my walking route around Berlin attractions, finding his statue was a short stop before my walking destination – the Pergamon, a Berlin absolute ‘must – see’.
The Pergamon is situated amongst a complex of museums, housed in several palatial buildings on Museum Island. The classic architecture of the museum buildings harkens back to Ancient times and is an excellent visual attraction in itself.
Also in the Museum complex, the monumental Neues Museum, circa 1800’s, contains Ancient art and archeology, whilst Neoclassical art fills the neighbouring and awe-inspiring Altes Nationalgalerie.
But, I am here to see the Pergamon itself, and its jewels in the archaeological crown – one of which is the excavation finds of frieze panels of the Pergamon Altar, reclaimed in archaeological digs, from 1878 to 1886. Disappointingly, for me and future visitors, I find that the Pergamon Altar exhibit is closed for renovation, until 2019. Well, maybe next time.
What you won’t see till 2019. Wikipedia Photo
Nevertheless, I am aware that one ‘altar’ doth the Pergamon, not make. There are other ‘jewels’ to see. Some of the other monolithic exhibits, such as the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way from Babylon, are overwhelming and to say that is a complete understatement. Just look at them!!!
If you don’t ever get to visit the historic sites of the Middle East yourself, visiting the Pergamon will make you feel like you have!
The exhibits are unlike anything I have seen and are but a small window into the world of ancient civilizations. I am completely gobsmacked by the level of intricate detail and the skills necessary to produce such fine work.
To Plan a visit, go to the Museum website here, and please note there’s an option to purchase a combo ticket, for entry to all three museums, at a discounted price. A good tip to remember is to arrive at the Pergamon around opening time so as to avoid the lengthy queues commonly found, later in the day. I arrived just on opening time, and already the queue to enter took around 20 minutes.
If you decide the queues to the Pergamon are too long on your arrival, the surrounding gardens and Berlin’s Domkirke cathedral are in themselves, a delight to see. The square in front of the Cathedral church is filled with buskers, street artists, and unfortunately, a few less desirable folk angling for the tourist dollar, legally or illegally. Be careful with your money around them.
The Pergamon Museum complex is located on Bodestraße 1-3, Berlin and if you don’t want to walk there, from your accommodation, as I did, you can take a Bus, Tram, UBahn or Uber. Me? I enjoyed the a brisk, but lengthy early morning walk from my room at Comfort Hotel Auberge, which is located on Bayreuther Straße, a few steps from Wittenbergplatz station, but the walk back was a little too much, after being on my feet all day, so a bus near the Brandenberg gate took me right back to Kurfürstendamm, and then it was only a short stroll home past the farmer’s markets.
Hotel Auberge is family run boutique hotel with classic old world features. Think ornate plaster ceilings, chandeliers in every room, carpeted stairs with turned wooden banisters, and a spacious room overlooking a leafy courtyard. Breakfast is an ample and satisfying buffet and tea is served to your table.
On a 37° Celsius summer day like this one, the balcony seat was a perfect place to enjoy the sounds of the birds, and the city waking from its slumber before embarking on my walk.
The modern KaDeWe and Kurfürstendamm shopping precinct, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Europa-Center and the Zoological garden are an easy 10 minutes walk away.
On my lengthy walk around Berlin, and the Pergamon, I was happy to find Heine, and pondered his thought-provoking words, especially his tragically prophetic line from the 1821 play, Almansor,
“Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too.”
Today, as I read a book called Stasiland by Australian author, Anna Funder, and learn of what it was like to live in the GDR, prior to the fall of the infamous Berlin Wall, I remember the inscription on Heine’s statue and ponder more his words, in much the same way as Anna Funder did, in her book:
“Heine, the free thinking poet, would be turning in his grave to see the sort of enslaving and forcing and fighting that has gone on here, under his cold black nose and pigeon shit shoulders.” -Anna Funder in Stasiland.
Have we really learned any lessons?
If you enjoyed reading my Tuesday Travel adventures, and are looking for other Travel themed blogs, you may like to check out:
It is becoming more difficult to know what to believe from social and commercial media outlets, so blogging from real people is a future force to be reckoned with. We can give good news, positive, inclusive, stories the “air time” they deserve.
This is a blog post that is worthy of re-blogging over and over again! I think it has positivity, addressing judgemental ism and prejudice and definitely restores one’s faith that we can all feel that we are in this together – we, as humans of all kinds and persuasions, but the world’s people first and foremost.
Thanks to Leggy peggy for directing me here!