The Price of Progress

April 4, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Australia, discrimination, divisions in society, Politics, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 12 Comments
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This is a short story I wrote about power & powerlessness; rich vs poor. 

 

“Can’t you just admit that the Council laws are only meant to help the rich?”

“Of course they aren’t. You’re just like the rest, trying to find somebody to blame for your own shortcomings. Our city re-development is for the good of everyone; who wants to live in a slum? And our labour laws are fair and just. They reward those who put in the effort.”

His words seemed relaxed enough, and he appeared outwardly at ease. However, to the eyes of a keen observer, the Mayor’s impatience with the journalist’s questions showed in a brief narrowing of his eyes and a slight shuffle in his chair. He was tired of this incessant revisiting of the subject.

“It’s a pity those sixty people were made homeless when the old tenements were bulldozed, but there was nothing I could do about that. Those old buildings were an eyesore. How could we hold a major inter-city event with buildings like that still standing? We’d be laughed at.”

The fact that many, indeed most, of those former tenants had been forced to move derelict houses outside the city boundaries and were living there in squalid conditions was not his fault. His tenure as mayor had seen continual development and economic progress in the city. Many people had benefited from his social and industrial reforms.

“But those people can’t find a decent place to live now. They’re too poor.”

“True Kangans should be too proud to live in such conditions. Those people should get themselves a job like any other good citizen, instead of blaming the Council for their plight.”

“But Mayor, most of the men do have jobs.”

“Then what’s the problem? What are they carrying on about? Can’t they manage their money properly like sensible people?”

“Mayor, the only jobs they can get are menial ones, like cleaners, or factory labourers or hospitality work. Those jobs pay so little that no one can afford to even rent a decent house in the city.”

“Then they should work harder instead of whingeing. The reforms in the Council’s labour agreements means that if they work hard they’ll get more money.”

“That would be fine if the hourly rates were sufficient, but even when they work ten hours a day, they barely make enough to feed and clothe their families.”

“They signed individual agreements with the Council that they would work at those rates. They didn’t need to do that. They could have found other work.”

“There is no other work for them. They don’t have the education required for higher paying jobs.”

“They should have finished their education, just as I did, then they could have well paying jobs. Why should I be blamed for their indolence?”

“Their parents couldn’t afford to send them to high school, Your Worship. You abolished free secondary education, remember.”

“Education is never valued unless it has to be paid for. It’s not the Council’s role to provide free services. Anyway, that’s not the issue here.”

“It’s part of the problem, sir. If these people had been educated, they might have been able to bargain a little, at least at one time. Now, with your new laws, the employers have all the say. The workers don’t have a chance.”

“But of course the employers should have a say in how they run their businesses. They are the ones who are putting up their own money, after all. Look how much these companies have done for the people of this city. They’ve cut the cost of production so that goods are much cheaper. Why, I can buy a computer package now for half what it cost five years ago.”

“I’m not denying that, Your Grace. You certainly can, but those workers can’t. They get less money than they earned five years ago – a third of the pay, and they must work longer hours for it. They don’t even get a guaranteed fifteen-minute meal break, or annual holidays.”

“That’s their own fault. They took the jobs. They knew the conditions.”

“What I’m saying, sir, is that you’ve taken away the workers’ right to fair conditions. They are not allowed to unite to provide a common argument to help their cause. The employer just tells them that if they want the job they must accept the conditions. They are just like slaves.”

“Don’t be silly. That’s just using emotive language instead of reasoned argument. Now, if they need more money, then their wives can work. After all, we live in a city that values women’s input just as much as men’s.”

“The women who have children can’t go out to work, Mr Mayor. There’s no one to look after the children. You passed a law forbidding children to be left alone after that boy fell off the broken swing in the park and the parents threatened to sue the council.”

“That was a good law, just like the one forbidding parents to traumatise their children by smacking them on the wrist. If people can’t look after their children and keep them safe from abuse and danger, then the Council must pass laws to make them. Anyway, they can put them into child-care centres. The Council has wonderful facilities to care for children. It’s one of Kanga Council’s achievements that I pride myself on. My wife thinks the one our children attend every day is wonderful. She wouldn’t be able to go to the gym or to tennis or even to civic functions if we hadn’t established those centres.”

“Mr Mayor, you can afford child care at those centres, but these poor people can’t. The cost for one day there for one child is equal to what a woman can earn in a week.”

“Well I’m not to blame for that. The centres have to make ends meet.”

The mayor stood up and leaned across the desk.

“Look, young man, I’ve had enough of all this. You want me to back down and say that my, er, the Council’s policies, are to blame for those people living in disgusting conditions. That’s simply not true. Everyone makes a choice. If they’ve made the wrong one then they have to live with it. Now, thank you and good day.”

“Your Worship, before I go, can I ask you one last question?”

“All right, but that’s all. I have to get to a banquet for the Mayor of Yankey, who’s visiting for our Games.”

“Mr Morris, why do you think “fairness” and “justice” and “equality” are dirty words?”

 

4th April 2019

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A Sixteen-year-old’s response to “Thursday’s Child”

September 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Australia, book reviews, discrimination, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, Reading, Social mores, Writing and Life | 7 Comments
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I had a great chat with my friend and her granddaughter, yesterday. We talked about my novel, “Thursday’s Child” which Natasha, who is in Year 10 high school, had recently read, along with my first novel, “Ben’s Challenge”.  Natasha told me what she thought were the issues raised throughout “Thursday’s Child”. We discussed the conditions most girls and women faced back in early 1960s and compared them with what they face today.

Natasha had written her thoughts on the book before we met, in the form of a review , and she said I could share it on my blog. I am really pleased to present the thoughts of a reader from the demographic my book is targeted at. Thank you Tasha.

 

*     *     *     *     *

Review of “Thursday’s Child” by Natasha Ireland

 

Thursday’s Child, by Linda Visman. Is a story of a teenage girl named Tori who faces many challenges around education and having to be brought up with a family on the poverty line. The biggest challenge she faces is the consequence of a violent incident which she experiences at the beginning of the story. Visman exposes her central character to many valuable lessons that come through the hardship that is face by Tori and how she is able to overcome this towards the end of the story.

 

Tori has many different people who influence her life in good and bad ways. The story shows how the men in her life have not impacted her life in a good way as life in the 1960s was tough for Tori ue to sexism and inequality towards women. Even her own father shows her no sympathy despite her terrible dilemma. He doesn’t care about what Tori wants or how important her education will be for her future. Tori’s mother says to her, “It’s not fair at all. But that’s what the law says. The man makes the decisions and we have to abide by ‘em”.

 

Tori’s treatment helps women of our generation now to understand how far women have come from those days and how many more opportunities we can have. Although this issue is still continued in certain countries, women over time will work to dismiss this issue for good.

 

The story will help boys to understand how difficult life was and can still be for women. This could explain many terrible issues women face and help them to respect us more equally.

 

Rape, abuse and unwanted pregnancy are a few of the major disadvantages of women in Tori’s time. However, Visman wants the reader to see how much of an independent and tough woman Tori becomes through the story after the stressful events that have taken place in her life. Increasingly empowered, she continues to do anything she can to do what is right for her and does not surrender to the force of the men in her life.

 

The protagonist is a bright and intelligent girl who is trapped in the reality of her times. She recognises her escape is through her education. She is a remarkable role model for self-determination and courage.

 

Natasha Ireland, Year 10.

 

Politics of Immigration

June 26, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Posted in Australia, discrimination, Immigration, Politics, War and Conflict | 34 Comments
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I am loth to write about political situations but, following the example of another writer-blogger,  I have finally gotten up the courage to speak out.

There is a lot of emotion being generated around the world by the Trump administration’s treatment of so-called illegal migrants in the U.S, especially the separation of children from their parents. These emotions – horror, disbelief, deep sympathy and compassion for the trauma these children are suffering – are well-founded and justified. What is being done there is appalling.

What many people don’t see, because it is hidden as much as possible by the govt here in Australia, is an equally appalling situation. This is what is being done to seekers of refuge who came to this country by boat. To seek asylum in another country is perfectly legal, and yet we have our govt happily locking up refugee kids (albeit with their parent/s) in prison camps on Manus Island in P-NG and on Nauru in the Pacific in terrible conditions. Most of these refugees, kids included, have been incarcerated for several years – up to 5 years at present.

Refugee Children On Nauru

Refugee children on Nauru

The men, women & children, having already been traumatised by the life they fled, are in a bad way – physically, mentally and emotionally. They are treated appallingly – not given decent treatment for illnesses, injuries childbirth issues, and psychiatric problems associated with their incarceration. Several have died because of that lack of treatment. Others have taken their own lives because they cannot cope any longer with the conditions, the brutality of the system and its administrators, their demonisation by the govt, their lack of hope and uncertainty about the future.

Both our major political parties – the Coalition Liberal-Nationals in government and Labor in Opposition – are happy to stir up fear and hatred of refugees within the populace in order to create and conduct a disgraceful policy of deterrence. They say it will prevent more “boat people” from seeking asylum. They say it’s a matter of national security, but any thinking person knows it is simply to shore up the support of fearful, unsympathetic and uncaring voters.

Manus refugees

Refugee men on Manus Island

I hate to think what the outcomes of their treatment will be for those refugees when they are finally freed – what they will have to come to terms with and what they will have to overcome to be capable of living again in society. How much these refugees could have contributed to Australian society if they had been allowed to stay, we will never know. Instead, their lives have become a political football, and they may never know the peace they yearn for.

It seems that extreme right wing policies are having their day in many parts of the world. I just hope that the indignation & horror of good people– along with their raised voices and action – will turn the tide. I hope we can get back to what made Australia known for its friendliness and mateship. But I am afraid it will be a difficult road to return to.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” – Hebrews 13:2

A Review of Thursday’s Child

March 1, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Australia, book review, Catholicism, Culture, discrimination, Family, Growing up in the 1950s and 60s, historical fiction, Social mores, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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Review of Thursday’s Child by Jan Mitchell

27.02.2018

 

Local writer, Linda Visman moved to Wangi Wangi in the early 2000s and joined the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 2005, where she was encouraged to continue writing poetry and short stories. Later she decided to tackle a novel set in the place where she grew up. Some of her poems and stories have been published in this magazine

Like her first novel (Ben’s Challenge), Thursday’s Child is an historical novel set in the NSW Illawarra region. Both novels have young teenagers as their protagonists, struggling against the norms of their era, the late 1950s – early 1960s.

Victoria, or Tori as she likes to be called, is a bright schoolgirl not quite fifteen when the novel opens. Events during the next year change Tori’s life for ever. She moves from being a totally dependent child, to a young woman who has developed a degree of confidence in her ability to influence her own life.

During her year of growing up, Tori struggles against the rulings of her church and her society. She rails against the norms that place men in a position over women and their bodies, at the men who make all the rules and hold all the power. She fights for the choices she believes should be her birthright. Like her creator, Tori is a post-war child at the beginning of a social revolution – one which sees a new wave of feminism and sexual freedom emerging in the western world.

Thursday’s Child is an engaging story with a likeable heroine. It is suitable for teenagers who want to understand the norms and values of the early 1960s and also for adults who want to reminisce about times past. It is also worth a look for young men to see how their actions influence women’s lives – a marvellous starting point for moral discussion, because the gender issues raised in Thursday’s Child continue to beset us today, albeit in a more subtle manner.

Thursdays’ Child is available from Amazon books either as a printed book or in Kindle version. Go to http://www.amazon.com.au, or for the United States, http://www.amazon.com.

 

Book Cover Preview on CreateSpace

 

Linda Visman

 

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