What does the future hold?

September 22, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Australia, divisions in society, family responsibilities, Health, heritage, History, Mental Health, Politics, Religion, Social mores, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 10 Comments

 

I sat down tonight and just began to write. This is what came from my pecking at the keyboard:

 

All the news on the TV is bad. Nothing is positive. All we have is hatred, violence, intolerance, war and war-mongering, people being treated as cannon fodder. It is not a good world to live in – apart from local communities which support and nurture their residents.

 

One always must come down to the place where you live, where your family belong. Here in Australia, we have a reasonable lifestyle, though it is gradually and by stealth becoming more difficult for the ordinary person to make ends meet.

 

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it seems we had a golden age, though things began to change in the 1980s. There was a decent level of employment, and when one talked about employment, it related to full time positions, not to those who work only a couple of hours a week so the government can ‘cook the books’ to make itself look better. The government wasn’t working too hard to transfer financial benefits from the less well-off to the rich. We actually welcomed refugees and gave them a safe place to make their home. After Vietnam, we were not a part of any major violence in other countries. We were trying to preserve our environment and even make it better.

 

We raised our children to be tolerant and considerate of others. In Australia, education was free and available to all who wanted to improve themselves, whether through the university system or through trades with the TAFE system. We actually believed that money flows from the people upwards, to the owners of industry – who even had socially progressive policies. And so did governments, who realised it was financially better to support the poor and benefit from the taxes they paid than to demonise them.

 

But now, everything is focused on money, on the financial gains that can be made from those who have the least. A social conscience is seen as a weakness rather than a strength. The focus is on  so-called ‘trickle-down economics, where all the wealth goes to the rich but does not, in practice, benefit anyone on the lower economic scale.

 

Education, health, income support, in fact any formerly government-run social enterprise, is being privatised to companies only interested in making money, not in improving the lives of their clients. The environment upon which we rely has become the resource, with destructive mining practices instead of conservation.

 

Refugees are seen as a threat, rather than as people in need of assistance. Their presence is regarded as a negative that will destroy our society. But we have, through history, seen the great benefits brought to many nations through new blood, new ideas, new ways of thinking, and from the efforts of entrepreneurs who are happy to be safe to pursue their ideas and to develop new ways of doing things that benefit all of society.

 

The poor are seen as bludgers on the common purse. They are treated as if they have nothing to offer. But so many of them have, in the past, brought freshness and enthusiasm to the workplace when they have been given the chance to work. Now, however, they are relegated to a cycle of poverty from which there is little chance of escape.

 

The selfish and heartless policies of too many modern government have led to intolerance of those who are different, to violence against a society that has become indifferent to their frustration, to hatred of the unknown. Here in my country, they have resulted in the loss of the tradition of a fair go that so many Aussies prided themselves upon. Now, the mantra is, ‘if you don’t do what we say, then get out!’

 

I despair at our modern world. Our hopes for a brighter future for all have been shot to pieces. I see that my grandchildren will have to fight for the human rights we once took for granted – unless they become brainwashed by narcissistic and power-hungry leaders to believe they deserve to be the dregs of society. Dregs who are not entitled to the benefits the rich accrue unto themselves.

 

I wish I could be more positive. I know things go in cycles – what was once seen as normal becomes abnormal, what was once a moral value becomes something to avoid, what was once ‘good’ becomes ‘bad’, and vice versa. I hope that what is now negative changes to become positive.

 

So, I hope that my grandchildren will not become that which is acceptable today. That, at least in their local communities, something will happen to show them it is better for them to respect others, to help those less fortunate, to bring out the best in people rather than the worst, and to strive for a world that sees real justice for all instead of the false and negative world we see today.

 

What do you think of the world today? Do you have concerns for the present and the future?

 

(c) Linda Visman

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Information Overload

June 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Australia, Mental Health, Politics, Psychology, Reflections, Social Responsibility, Society, Ways of Living | 8 Comments
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I just watched the first ½ of our ABC news programme and I’ve had enough.

 

information-overload

 

The avalanche of bad news, with a sprinkling of good, becomes too much. I often wonder how can we absorb so much information and remain sane.

We are constantly bombarded by information, options for belief or non-belief, decisions to make, people to assess from too little information, war-mongering and actual war, the hypocrisy of so many of our so-called leaders, the terrible conditions in which many people live, the intolerance and bigotry of religion and social attitudes, and much, much more.

We were never meant to take in so much so quickly, and so constantly.

 

brain- too many tabs

 

How are we supposed to process it all? I know many people who don’t even try. They take a slice of life and concentrate on whatever relates to that. They don’t look at anything else, even important things that may seriously affect them.

That, I believe is one of the reasons well over half of the population refrains from involvement in politics, in social welfare issues, in human rights issues, and even in potentially world-changing issues such as climate change and refugees.

They simply identify what they want to believe about an issue – something that reduces it to a slogan is the preferred option – and make that their ‘belief system’. That way, they don’t have to think through an issue – they can just chant their slogan.

They are the people who blindly follow autocrats who seem like they know what they’re talking about, or at least make a lot of noise about it. If they did take the time and the effort to open their minds and think about what that person is really preaching, they would turn away in an instant.

But they don’t, and that is how (almost always) men become dictators, leading their countries into totalitarianism, a complete regulation of life and destroying whatever freedom there may once have been.

I could point the finger now at several countries around the world where this is happening, but those of you reading this are probably thinkers (non-thinkers are too lazy to bother) and you will already know to whom I refer.

And isn’t that always the problem? We are all talking to those who already agree with what we are saying. There are so few who honestly consider at least a few sides of the problems we face (there are always more than two).

I read somewhere that human brains are wired primarily in two ways. Just under half – about 45% will lean towards conservatism and control; 45% will lean towards liberalism and freedom. Only about 10% will actually be fully open-minded and therefore consider issues on their merits.

 

Comparison -liberal or conservative

 

Several studies have been done on the differences between the brains of Republicans and Democrats. This one is interesting, and others show similar results. More study is needed of course, but if the differences could be taken into account and issues presented in different ways, there may be some small change.

But it will always be a battle, I think, to get general agreement on many issues.

So, I left the news programme to my husband and came to my study to write this post. That’s enough television for tonight. I think I will go and overload on Facebook instead.

 

 

(c)   Linda Visman

 

 

The Old Year Ends – a look back at 2015

December 28, 2015 at 2:00 am | Posted in Australia, Making History, Migration, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict | 8 Comments
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2015 Behind the News ABC

Apart from my lovely family and friends, I must admit that I have not enjoyed 2015. Not on the state, national or international level. There hasn’t been very much to enjoy in the world of politics, religion, economics, international relations, terrorism, whatever.

With one of the defining images of the year being the body of a little refugee boy washed up on a beach, how could it have been a good year for anyone who looks beyond their own safe little bubble? I for one wouldn’t mind having another go at it to see if we could somehow change how it all went. Failing that, is the hope that last year was as bad as it will get.

TOPSHOTS Kurdish Syrian girls are pictur

Children among the destruction in Syria

I started to write a list of the nasties that happened through the year:

  • the terrorism in the name of religion that is not a religion;

  • the racism and violence in many countries across the globe;

  • the lack of support in many instances for the millions of people displaced by war;

  • the ineptitude, idiocy or corruption in too many governments in too many countries;

  • the failure to address global warming on a global scale;

  • the brain-dead far right-wingers who would prefer the whole world to collapse rather than help those less fortunate than themselves;

  • the destruction of our valuable, even precious, environments and wildlife, to feed the greed of multi-national corporations;

  • the extremes of weather – excessive cold and heat, floods, droughts, huge wildfires, hurricanes, typhoons and tornadoes, the melting of the polar ice caps;

  • the extreme polarisation in politics, race and religion, and the fear-mongering among our so-called leaders;

  • the overwhelming power of the arms industry, the far right press, and corporations in deciding national and international government policy.

Need I go on?

Of course there were good things happening too:

  • the rise of people power through social media, demonstrations and actions to show their displeasure at where the world is heading;

  • the rise of a pope who, against those Catholic extremists who would prevent him, speaks for the people, the environment, and the cessation of war;

  • the countries like Germany who have taken in tens of thousands of refugees;

  • the individuals who stand up for right when they see wrong.

not-in-my-name

We need the good so much, but it is demonstrated by individuals and small groups in small and seemingly insignificant actions and interactions, whereas the bad is overwhelming in its ability to create a sense of despair, depression and hopelessness.

However, I must concentrate on those small things and the ordinary people like me who do them, and hope they will add up to more than the bad stuff and overcome it. I must do what I can for my own sanity, but even more for the sake of my grandchildren. I don’t want them to live in the kind of hateful world that seems to be all too possible right now.

I must cling to the hope that springs eternal from the human heart. If it didn’t, I would end it now. So I hope with all my heart that, through good people standing up to corruption and violence, hatred and destruction, at least some of the horrendous problems we’ve had in 2015 will get better in 2016.

(c) Linda Visman

 

 

Some Thoughts on Indoctrination

November 2, 2015 at 12:30 am | Posted in divisions in society, Philosophy, Politics, Religion | 8 Comments
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monday-memoir-badge

This may not be strictly memoir, but it is related to issues that writing my memoir articles is throwing up.

After I had written last Monday’s post about the things I learned as a Catholic child. I went through it and added the photos – including one of the Sacred Heart statue that sat in Mum & Dad’s home for 72 years.

The statue made me feel somewhat nostalgic, as did the photos of the holy cards I used. But my overall feeling after having written and thought through those things I learned as a child was a mixture of sadness and anger. Anger at what I was brainwashed into, anger and sadness at both what I lost as a thinking person, and at how my life has been blighted in some ways by the doctrines I believed were true when I was a child.

There were other feelings there too; anxiety and foreboding, but also an awareness and understanding of one of the problems we face in today’s local and international turbulence. Looking back at how we were taught Catholic dogma, kept within the confines of that one religion, and with no comprehension of what the real world was like, certainly makes me much more able to understand now how young people can be brainwashed by authorities into believing pretty well anything.

They are taught, and can come to deeply believe, that theirs is the only, the one true religion. That theirs is the only system that will save them and the world. That all those who don’t believe as they do wish to destroy them. And, therefore, that those ‘others’ must be destroyed before they themselves are destroyed.

The younger and more isolated they are from the outside world and its pluralist nature, the more easily children – and even adults – can be controlled, even to the point where they will freely give up their lives for the cause.

I look at how I believed, as a child, that I would have given my life for my faith if called upon to do so. I’d been taught that martyrs would be automatically granted entry to Heaven. And that is what the teachings of some other radical religious groups are. The fear of dying can be overcome by the intense belief that Heaven, Paradise, whatever it is called, is there, just waiting for you when you give this earthly life for the cause.

I am not doing research here; I am just looking at my own life then and now, reflecting upon it and seeing what could have been had the Catholic Church in the 1950s and 1960s been as militant as it used to be only a few hundred years ago. As militant as some factions are today. And it is not just religious beliefs that can be this way.

What about other belief systems – political parties and governments; belief in racial superiority and inferiority; the ‘them’ and ‘us’ of any situation that human beings find themselves in? Look at what has happened in history – Communism, the Nazis, the KKK, and what is happening today in North Korea and the Middle East, among others.

This polarisation will continue for a long time yet – perhaps for millennia if we survive that long. Because, unless our brains and bodies evolve from the base animal instinct of fighting for survival against any group we perceive to be different, to an instinct that is more co-operative and supportive, I believe we will always see Them and Us.

But evolution takes time. So our species may have killed itself off – along with the rest of the natural world – before we manage to get to that stage of development. I only wish it could be different

Isn’t it interesting how small things, like remembering one’s childhood, can provoke deeper thought – even upon the essence of mankind and our future of the world!

Are these thoughts familiar to you? Do you agree with the deliberate inculcating religious or other beliefs into the minds of young children? Please play nice! J

(c) Linda Visman

Share Your World – Week 37

September 18, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Family, Mental Health, Politics, Society | 2 Comments
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Share Your World blog badge

Here are my responses to Cee’s latest Share Your World questions.

List three pet peeves.

  1. Politicians;
  2. “Tossers” – those who leave their rubbish for others to clean up;
  3. Splashing water around when washing the dishes.

What makes you unique?

Just about everything! There is nobody in the world who is just like me – in appearance, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. I am the only one of me.

What would be your ideal birthday present, and why?

My ideal birthday present is being taken out to dinner; a day without having to cook or prepare any meals myself.

Which way does the toilet paper roll go? Over or under?

The toilet paper definitely goes over the top! If I find it the other way, I change it – no matter whose bathroom I am in.

There are several reasons for that. The first is that it is easiest to find the end when it is on the side next to you. The second is that spiders and other creatures sometimes hide under the paper if it is hidden behind the roll against the wall (I’m not afraid of them, but who wants to be startled by a spider?). And the third is that if the roll is right against the wall, it can be hard to get hold of – and if the wall is a brick or stone one, then you can scrape your knuckles against it – which I have done.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

Last week, we had several beautiful sunny spring days when it was a real pleasure to work out in the yard.

I am looking forward to travelling interstate this week to visit some of my kids and grandkids.

(c) Linda Visman

Fear and Prejudice

June 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Politics, Psychology, Social Responsibility, Society, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 6 Comments
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Australia’s first boat people

I received an email this morning from someone I will call James – one of those circular ones that play on the fears and prejudices of people to stir up emotions that suit their cause. It came from the U.K. and I live in Australia, but these things spread like a pandemic.

Note spelling

   This one stirs up xenophobia, nationalistic pride and fear against, mainly, Islamic migrants and the ‘fact’ that they aim to make ‘our’ nation into something it’s not.

The theme of the email is, “Speak our language, appreciate and conform with our established culture and customs, leave your own where you came from, or don’t come here at all”.

  To support their cause , the writers of the email have quoted a speech they attribute to our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. In the speech, Ms Gillard is purported to have said words to the effect of, “If you don’t want to be like us, don’t come”. 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Now, Ms Gillard is too intelligent to say such things. If she had, it would be in all the media outlets and shouted out by some to support their cause or by others to denounce her politically.

I am tired and saddened by items such as this, sent on through hundreds and thousands of personal computers by people who are too eager to pass on their own fears and prejudices. In doing so, they are supporting and propagating those fears and prejudices in others. So, I wrote back to James – and all those to whom he sent the email (he didn’t BCC them!).

Hi James, and the others on your list to whom this email went out.

I just wanted to make a few comments on this email and others like it that have been circulating for some time now.

Julia Gillard did not say the things attributed to her (even if she ever thinks some of them at times, she wouldn’t say them publicly). This is a speech by some American, in which Gillard’s face and Australia’s name have been substituted for political reasons.

Have a closer look at it and you will see that it describes the US culture and political system, not Australia’s. For example, Gillard is an atheist, and wouldn’t base a speech on the Christian foundations of our nation (all that is American).

Whilst many people will agree to varying levels with what’s written here, false attribution is dishonest and destructive. It is part of the whole fear-driven agenda of one section of society to get support for their own desires and, because it is fear based, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The fact that these emails are so popular is in itself proof of that.

I urge all people to look behind these email campaigns to find the truth. The speech was probably made by someone, but it was not Gillard, and that is one of the things that make the whole campaign severely suspect.

Those who wish to control public opinion find that fear is their best weapon, and this is an excellent example of their rallying cry. Regardless of what any of us believe, we need to use intellect and reason, not emotion, to work out the truth of any of those beliefs.

Regards, Linda

I don’t know whether my reply to James and his friends will make any of them think a bit more deeply about what they hear and read. I may even be cut off from James’s mailing list because of it. But it had become too much – constantly receiving such destructive correspondence, and being unable t do anything about it.

But this time, I have done something – the email I sent, and this blog entry, may just get somebody somewhere to examine the bases of their thinking.

 

Do you receive emails like this? Do you read them? Delete them right away? Respond to them?

Do you like to receive such communications? Do you like to have your own beliefs supported? Or do they make you question what you believe and why?

 

 

© Linda Visman 29.06.2012

Looking Back; Looking Forward

January 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Experiences, Making History, Politics, Social Responsibility, War and Conflict, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I have tried to look back at 2011 and identify the times that have been significant to me – in a world context; nationally; locally; and personally. Of course, there are just too many to list in every area, but here are a few:

International: 2011 has been, again, a year where events all over the world have impinged on lives locally. Unfortunately, most of them have been decidedly negative.

There have been storms and floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, war and terrorism, the beginnings of democracy in traditionally dictatorial countries, droughts and famines.

The European Economic Crisis affects even us here in Australia, who have been fortunate in mostly evading the worst of the economic woes of the U.S., Europe and other area.

The events that caused me the most concern personally were the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the subsequent nuclear emergency with the melt-down at the Fukishima plant. My son, his Japanese wife, and my beautiful granddaughter live in Japan, and concern for their welfare is foremost in my mind. Fortunately, they live to the west on a more southerly island, and so far all is well with them.

    National: I speak here of Australia (though the same attitudes seem to be endemic in other countries as well) where the most belligerent, blame-shifting, back-biting, spiteful and divisive parliament I can remember continues to create stress, anger and frustration for the populace, and no real policy commitment. The worst collisions have been on refugees and the carbon tax.

Instead of working together for the future good of the country, both major parties appear to be focused only on scoring points against the other and looking to destroy the other’s chances of re-election.

Local & State: Housing and industrial developments continue to spread across the best country all over the state of NSW. Land that was producing meat and dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and other natural products is now barren, covered with concrete and steel.

     In other areas, farmers continue to battle the gas companies that are determined to despoil even more food-producing land and the groundwater that is its lifeblood.

Here in Australia, we have much more low-fertility land and desert than food producing soil, and yet short-sighted governments and greedy developers seem bent on destroying much of what is left. It breaks my heart to see it every time I think about it.

 Family and Friends: Thank heavens for the people in my life –family and friends, near and far!

They give me hope for the world, pride in their endeavour, role models to look up to, young ones to help set on the road to a good and honest life, and an ocean of love in which to bathe.

They help me to see the positive that surrounds me, and to put the negative into some sort of perspective. I don’t know what I would do without them.   

 My Family: We are a multi-ethnic/cultural family. My husband and I have eight children between us, and six – in April it will be eight – grandchildren; the latest was born in April 2011. Some of them have faced huge difficulties and shown wonderful spirit in fighting through them. All of them have brought sunshine into our lives and the lives of others. We are very proud of them all.

    My Writing: I have had several poems and short stories published this year in magazines and anthologies.

  A major event was the self-publication in June of my novel Ben’s Challenge. The response to it, from all over the world, has been wonderful, and has given me encouragement to continue with my writing.

I have increased the frequency of my wordpress blog entries and have begun another blog with Writing Our Way Home, taking on their ‘small stones’ challenge, focusing on seeing the wonders of the natural world around us.

And So, to 2012:

My hope and intention is to write more: journaling, blogs, poems and short stories. I especially want to make more progress on my second novel, Ben’s Choice, and have the first draft completed  this year.

On the personal front, my husband and I hope to overcome health issues, so that we can do the travel we want to and to visit our far-flung family members more regularly.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, happy and productive 2012.

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