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
Tags: conservatives vs liberals, decision-making, human brain, information, news, social media
I just watched the first ½ of our ABC news programme and I’ve had enough.
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.
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.
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
Tags: 2015, climate change, environmental destruction, extremism, far-right intractibility, government corruption, injustice, Not in My Name, protests, racism, refugees, violence, war
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.
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.
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
Tags: pizza, self-knowledge
Here are more of Cee’s questions, which we answer and share with others. The questions are great also for looking into ourselves and seeing what is important in life. Thank you again, Cee.
What is your favorite toppings on pizza?
We have a pizza shop in our village that makes the best pizzas I’ve ever had. They are not wimpy scatterings of a few ingredients on a piece of thin, brittle pastry that you get in the well-known chains. Instead, they are a good, solid feed with plenty of topping on a decent pastry base.
One of their toppings they call ‘Rosita’, and that is my favourite. It is basically lots of lovely king prawns (you call them shrimps in the U.S., I believe) with pineapple and cheese, and a yummy sauce.
I want to learn more about …
Life. Mainly, I want to know how to stop being so terribly affected (angry, upset, distressed, disgusted, demoralised, depressed) by the awful things that people are capable of and the destruction of our world.
What are three places you’ve enjoyed visiting?
Central Australia; the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney; and the South Coast of New South Wales. In reality though, I love to visit anywhere in Australia’s mountains, coastal areas , the bush and the desert.
Do you prefer eating the frosting of the cake or the cupcake first?
Neither – both are too sweet. I prefer a fruit mince tart.
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 a lovely half a day in Sydney at the Powerhouse Museum, with two gorgeous granddaughters and their lovely mum (hubby’s daughter).
Next week we are going to see most of the kids & grandkids from my side of the family – 4 of the sons and 6 of the grandkids.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: childhood memories, favourite relative, hair washing, homesick, kitchen sink
What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?
The sink! When I was five, we came to Australia from England. We lived in a small caravan for almost three years – six of us! Then Dad transported a tiny three-roomed house to the block of land he’s bought. There was a lounge room, a kitchen and a bedroom – to house all of us. We thought we had moved into a palace!
The kitchen sink became an important part of the house, not just because we three girls always had to do the washing up, but the whole family also had to bathe there – not an easy task. The part of bathing I remember most was hair-washing. We would boil the electric jug – we had no hot water yet – and fill a bucket with warm water, which we sat on the draining board. Then we’d heat more water to put in the sink.
Standing at the sink, we’d wet our hair, rub on laundry bar soap and wash it, then pull the plug to let the soapy water drain out. The person who was strong enough to lift the bucket of water – usually Mum or Dad – would then pour it gradually over our head to rinse out the soap. Many a time we would all end up soaked when their hold slipped, or they poured too fast, or just because they wanted to tease.
Another reason I remember the kitchen sink so well is that when my little brother was three (I was thirteen), he was standing on a stool at the sink playing in the water with his little boats when he fell off it. He had contracted polio, the first of three in our family to get it during the epidemic that raged in our district during 1961.
I could not count how many times I have washed up at that sink. I took this photo last July, just after Dad died. It is the same sink that was in the house when I was about seven years old. The cupboards are also the same ones, and very much as they were back then.
As a child, who was your favourite relative?
I cannot remember much about being in England, and that includes my grandparents. I know they were special, but I guess I thought of them as just being there. In Australia, there was only Dad’s sister and her family, and at the time, they weren’t anything special.
In 1958 my mother’s parents came out from England, and lived with us for a while. That’s when I got to know Grandma. She was completely deaf, so communication was often difficult. However, she was loving and gentle, and had beautifully soft hands. She gave us children a shilling a week pocket money while she was with us, the only pocket money I ever received as a child. When my grandfather decided he hated Australia and took Grandma back to England in 1961, we were all devastated. Granddad died only two years later and Grandma, alone, made the journey back to Australia by ship. It was great to have her back.
What did you or did not like about the first apartment you ever rented?
When my first husband and I married, we were both posted as teachers to a country town eight hours’ drive from my family home. The first flat we rented there had just one bedroom, but a large living area and a decent kitchen and bathroom – better than I was used to at home. It was in good condition too. Those were the best things about it.
The thing I liked least about it was how dark it was. Being an inner flat of a row of four, meant that there were windows only at the ends. To me it felt closed in and unfriendly, and added to my homesickness and depression.
What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.
I wouldn’t want to make an ad for a commercial product – we have too many as it is. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”. BTW, I don’t watch commercial TV because I cannot stand the ads.
I would like to re-make the ads that our government ran in the 1970s, called “Do the right thing”. It was a tremendously successful campaign about getting people to put their rubbish in the bin and not trash our country. I would not change anything about them.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Gratitude: I am grateful for my husband who has been so patient with my depression over the last few weeks.
This week, I am looking forward to visiting a dear friend who is recovering in hospital after an operation for bowel cancer. She is 92, and the most delightful, funny, positive, talkative and caring little lady (under 5 ft short) I have ever known. Like my dad was, she is a real inspiration.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: graffiti, Lions Park Toronto NSW, litter, respect for property, tossers
I sometimes go to the parks that dot the shores of our beautiful Lake Macquarie. It is so lovely to sit in my little camper van and write without interruption. One of my favourite parks is on the outskirts of the town of Toronto (no, not in Canada; in NSW, Australia).
Last week I went there to enjoy a quiet and sunny winter’s day. I enjoyed the writing time there as I always do. Afterwards, I went for a walk before heading back home, towards the bridge that spans a backwater of the lake. You can see it in the picture above.
The thing that caught my eye more than anything else was the graffiti that had been painted onto the bridge supports.
After taking photos under the bridge, I wandered towards the lakeside. This time what caught my eye was the rubbish that had been left behind – possibly by the graffiti “artists”, or by others who had gone there to drink.
It really upsets me when I see such examples of vandalism. It seems to me that there is a certain element in society who have no respect for the property of others. Admittedly, the “property” in this case belongs to the people as a whole, but what right does it give anyone to deface a public structure or to contaminate a public park with their detritus?
This is our lovely park, well supplied with bins in which anyone can put their rubbish – if they aren’t too lazy to walk the few yards to get to one.
This is the lovely shoreline where the park meets the lake. This is what those thoughtless and self-entitled tossers are degrading with their refuse.
Do litterers and graffitists rile you as they do me? How can we stop such destruction of other people’s property – is there a way at all even?
(c) Linda Visman
Photos by Linda Visman
Tags: 289 Squadron, Allied spies, Battle of Britain, D-Day, Empire Training Scheme, enlistment, fighter pilor, Hurricane fighter, non-com, RAF, reserved occupation, WWII
It was 1938, when he was only 17, that my father, Ernest told Agnes (later to become his wife), “War’s coming and I’ll have to go.” They lived in England, had just started courting, and the situation in Europe, with Nazi Germany was not looking good.
In late 1939, soon after war broke out, Ernest tried to enlist. However he worked in a reserved occupation, engineering and weapons manufacture, so he was exempt, and even discouraged from, doing military service.
So Ernest joined the Home Guard. After working a 12-hour shift at the engineering works, he would train with the local unit in the evenings. He also went regularly to the recruitment office in an effort to join up. Eventually, he was told that the only way he could enlist from a reserved occupation was to be accepted as aircrew.
In 1940, the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain led to a shortage of pilots, and that gave Ernest his chance. He applied yet again. This time, he was accepted into the RAF. He was mobilised in September 1941 and undertook basic training in England. Ernest was then sent to Canada to train as a pilot in the newly set up Empire Training Scheme.
He returned to England as a fighter pilot with non-commissioned officer rank and was posted to 289 Army Co-operation Squadron, based mainly in Scotland. Ernie spent the next 3½ years flying a wide variety of single and twin-engine planes. Because of his flying skill, quick reflexes and ability to spot enemy fighters, and in spite of not being an officer, every C.O. he served under made him his Number 2 wingman.
Among other planes, he flew Hawker Hurricanes, Typhoons and Tempests and the Vultee Vengeance. His missions included bomber intercepts and marine patrols. He searched out and attacked German submarines in the Irish Sea, and strafed German convoys and escort vessels along the north-western coast of Europe. As a member of 289 Squadron, he also flew various target-towing aircraft for the anti-aircraft gunners to practice their shooting.
In 1944, in the weeks before D-Day, Ernest flew Lysanders into German-occupied France to drop Allied spies. He flew at night, hedge-hopping to avoid detection by the Germans. He made six such trips, landing in isolated fields in the French countryside.
In July 1945 after V.E. Day, Ernest was granted a six-month compassionate discharge to look after his wife, who had been paralysed at the birth of their first child. During this period, he was not paid by the RAF, and had to work as a labourer for the local Council. He returned to the RAF in early February 1946 and served out his time in the south of England, piloting Vultee Vengeance aircraft towing targets for anti-aircraft gunners.
Throughout his service, Ernest rose through the ranks. Although often recommended for officer training, he always declined, as he hated the class distinction that went with it. At his discharge in June 1946, Ernest had attained the rank of Warrant Officer First Class, the highest non-commissioned rank in the RAF.
Mum & Dad with their first born, 1945.
Do you have family who fought in WWII? Have you researched their story?
© Linda Visman 06.04.14 (549 words)
Tags: Earth Hour, environment, resources
Tonight is Earth Hour, the time to reflect on the damage that we are causing to our planet.
I wrote this in my journal in fifteen minutes. I enjoyed a glass of wine and some chocolate, and wondered as I did so, how much longer an ordinary person like myself would be able to enjoy something like that.
I am writing this in pen in my journal in the almost-dark, lights off.
It is quiet tonight – unusual for Saturday;
just an occasional car in the distance.
Dogs bark as something disturbs them,
street lights shine on
tall, slender spotted gums
whose high-set branches
are silhouetted against silver-grey clouds
lit by reflected street lights.
The only noise apart from distant traffic
and barking dogs is the buzzing I hear –
either crickets, or the tinnitus in my head.
I think of the reason for the lights out –
Earth Hour – a symbol and a reminder
of what we face if we do nothing,
if we do not change our ways –
for Climate Change has begun,
and it is quicker than we are.
I think of those who are steadfast
in their refusal to acknowledge any problem
or that we are an integral part of it.
I wonder if millions of minds
meditating on one thought, one desire –
to save our world –
can influence and change those other minds.
But I know that we cannot change minds
that are shuttered and barred,
locked tight against anything
that threatens their grasping hands
or their wilful disregard of what they do.
I think of our Earth, ravaged
by Nature so often in the past,
but even more threatened now
by the greed and lust for power
of a disbelieving and dishonest humanity.
I grieve for the damage we have already done
and I grieve for that which is to come.
I can do nothing in the Big Picture,
but I can do something
in my own little part of the world.
I will continue to do what I can,
hoping that my small efforts,
joined with those of others with like minds
can be enough to halt the rape
of the only planet we have.
(c) Linda Visman
Tags: art, graffiti, street art, tags, vandalism
There is a person in our area whose tag is scrawled on almost every sign, including safety and speed limit signs, between us and the town 10km away. It appears on the roadside reflector posts, on people’s fences, and on the walls of local businesses. Is it street art?
Every time it appears, it has to be cleaned off, costing Council, businesses and individuals a lot of money – not to mention angst. This sort of antisocial, self-aggrandising, destructive, uncaring behaviour makes my blood boil. This is not street art; it is vandalism.
I have also seen some stunning pictures painted on walls and fences. They are original, colourful, and present a message. They are street art. But are they legitimate art?
The term ‘street art’ is used to encompass all the written, painted and drawn expressions that appear in public places. This does not include advertising signs (though many of those are visually polluting). It covers the range from Yawk’s crude tag to brilliant art works.
But is any of this legitimate art? Here are some meanings for the word that are appropriate in this context.
Legitimate: 1. according to the law, lawful; 2. in accordance with established rules, principles or standards; 3. of the normal or regular type; 4. genuine, not spurious.
According to meaning 1, anything painted, drawn or written on a surface where permission of the owner has not been obtained is not lawful, therefore not legitimate. If permission has been granted, it is lawful (as long as it doesn’t break some other law – e.g. obscenity).
Meanings 2 and 3 deal with a commonality of what ‘art’ itself means, and therefore involves acceptance by the community, or artists, or individuals in determining if it is legitimate art for art’s sake.
The last (4) involves the attitude and purpose of the person creating the street art. This person must be doing it for a purpose. What that purpose may be, some art critics would argue, is irrelevant. It is this argument to which I have a strong objection, as it does not take into consideration the respect one should have for others’ property. Doing it just to put one’s tag out there does not constitute a valid purpose. To do it for justifiable political reasons may. However, there is more to it than sending a message.
In this blog entry, apart from looking up the dictionary meaning of ‘legitimate’, I have done no objective research. I am writing this from my point of view, but expressing also what I believe are views widely-held by ordinary, thinking members of the public, and I am using the commonly accepted meaning of words.
I am not an artist who creates work onto the surfaces that other people own and/or maintain. I am not one to scrawl messages on public buildings. I respect the property of others and, in an orderly society, I see it as at least morally wrong, if not criminal, to deface the property of others, regardless of the quality of the art.
To me therefore, street art is legitimate when it expresses some sort of idea in a creative way, and in places where the custodians have granted permission for it to be there.
If that permission has not been granted, then the street art, regardless its quality, is not legitimate. It is simply graffiti – and that means it is also vandalism.
What is your view of ‘street art’?
Do you see it as legitimate art no matter where it is posted?
© Linda Visman
Tags: fear, hatred, human-rights, julia gillard, manipulation, politics, racism, xenophobia
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.
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”.
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.
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
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