Entitlement or Responsibility?

August 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Philosophy, Social Responsibility | 2 Comments
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The choice of TV stations and free-to-air programmes, as well as of pay TV, has certainly expanded considerably in the last couple of years. Then again, this is like many other aspects of our society. We have access to so much, and for such little cost, that it is almost, if not literally, obscene.

There are so many people in the world who struggle to keep body and soul together, or to have any kind of personal freedom. And yet most of us in western society have everything we need, and more, so easily and so cheaply. And it is usually based upon the exploitation of cheap, exploited, overseas labour in third-world countries.

We have also come to expect this as our right, and that is tragic for our greedy and selfish society.

We are not learning – or indeed, teaching our younger generation, that it is a good and positive thing to work for what you get. It should not be handed out on a damask-covered platter.

How will our young ones learn responsibility if they are given whatever they want? How will they even know the satisfaction and sense of achievement that comes with doing something for themselves?

How will they learn to exercise their imaginations if they are spoon-fed with computer games and movies and wii games, with instant communications and instant gratification, with advertising and political exploitation.

How can they stretch their creativity if they cannot make something from almost nothing, to fulfil their needs, or even for their entertainment?

I fear that there is coming a time when creativity will be stifled – if it has not already arrived. The exceptions will be those few who are given the opportunity to stretch themselves by caring and discerning parents, and those who have the strength of character to go their own way, against the pressures of conformity.

These are the ones who give us hope for a future that is not robotic or constrained by the bread and circuses of those who rule by giving the masses what they want.

We should hold back on giving our children what should be earned, and on allowing what they should produce from their own creativity.

 

© Linda Visman, August 2011

Predestination or Free Will?

November 25, 2010 at 5:14 am | Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment
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The Plinky prompt for yesterday was “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”

Many people believe that everything in life is pre-ordained, and that you cannot change your fate. I suppose that is why the term fatalism was coined. Such a belief does not sit well with those who belong to the Christian religions, in which the doctrine of free will is a basic tenet. How a person can hold two such conflicting beliefs at the same time beats me. They are incompatible – your fate is either pre-determined, or you have the free will to choose it.

 However, even given that conflict of beliefs, most fundamentalist Christians – and probably those of other faiths too – believe that they are predestined for heaven. So, when the question is asked, do you believe everything happens for a reason, the first thing they think of is their destiny. The reason for everything, they say, is that their god has arranged it all for them. He is the reason. They need to believe in something that will provide a purpose to their life.

The way I look at it, the question is: do actions produce results? It is obvious to me that everything happens because of something else. It may be because of a word spoken; an action taken or not taken; it could be because someone was in the right place at the right time, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps something happens accidentally, due to somebody’s lack of attention which, in turn, was caused by grief, anger, or other distracting emotion, that has resulted from a whole chain of circumstances seemingly unrelated to the final event.

 At each step in the chain, choices are made, or not made – which is itself a choice – by people. Any other choice could have led to a better or worse outcome but, at each stage, a variety of outcomes could have resulted. None of them was predetermined. They could be predicted, if the person making the choice was completely bound in some way that meant that it was not a choice at all. That does not, however, mean their choice is pre-destined. Many other factors can intervene.

 There are circumstances over which we, as individuals, have no control. Earthquakes; the weather –cold or hot, calm or stormy; the price of goods, including food; the existence or quality of services we can access; our opportunities to make money; and many more, all affect our lives in some way.

 Many things occur simply because two or more circumstances (all or some of which are the results of individual choices) happen to coincide. A drunk driver loses control of his vehicle just as someone steps out of a shop; a young man finds a diamond ring in the gutter; a baby is conceived because neither boy nor girl took precautions, and it just happened to be the girl’s fertile period. These instances are the result of events colliding in a way that produces an outcome, whether desirable, undesirable, or neutral. 

Yes, there is a reason for everything. Sometimes it is because of the decisions we all make; sometimes because of a conjunction of events. At times, what occurs is due simply to luck – whether good or bad. To a large extent, we can make our own destiny by acting on the events and circumstances around us. I do not believe that some being is manipulating us, our surroundings, nature, events, etc, in order to arrive at a particular outcome. Let’s take responsibility for our own lives.

© Linda Visman

On ANZAC Day

April 25, 2010 at 2:11 am | Posted in Society, War and Conflict | 2 Comments
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Today is ANZAC Day in Australia, where we remember the fallen of the wars in which we have been involved. Particularly, society remembers Anzac Cove in Turkey, where Aussie and Kiwi troops endured their first major, and bloody engagements.

The following poem, “At The Museum”, is dedicated to my Dad.

He was a fighter pilot in the Defence of Britain during the Second World War, and the poem is based on actual occurrences from that time. My husband and I took Dad to the Air Museum at Narellan in May 2005 so that he could be with planes again. Though he is almost completely blind, he could see those planes in his mind’s eye – as they were when he flew them – and he marvelled at what he had done then. It was a coincidence that examples of the first and the last planes that he had flown were actually standing side by side on the floor. That is what gave me the inspiration to write the poem, and the opening lines.

When Dad “read” the poem, he said that I had taken a lot of poetic licence, and that he was nothing special. Maybe he is right – in the context of those days. There were a great many heroes then who would have scorned that title we give them today. Many fought and died. Many were wounded in body and or spirit. All were affected in some way, though in their own eyes they were just men doing their duty.

I think of them as heroes. And my Dad was one of them.

At the Museum

Vultee Vengeance and Tiger Moth

Stand side by side on the floor.

He looks at them now with a different view,

To how he had viewed them before.

He’d wanted to fly since he’d been a boy,

And with the misfortune of war got his chance.

In the machines that he flew, as his confidence grew,

He learned how to make those planes dance.

Many planes Britain used in defence and attack,

And many of these he was able to fly in.

Tiger Moth to Oxford; then Tempest and Typhoon –

But the Hurricane was the best plane to fight in.

He looks up at the Vengeance and wonders aloud

How he’d climbed up there as if on a bike;

To fly that machine with great skill and élan,

Firing machine guns and cannon alike.

He was a daredevil, and he wouldn’t deny it,

But he learned to control his high spirits.

He’d seen too many mates die when they’d lived too high,

And he’d vowed to himself he’d come through it.

The pride of the squadron he’d quickly become

Because of his skill and his daring.

He could make a plane do just what he wanted it to,

But it was because of his great love of flying.

He remembered one flight where he’d encountered a storm

And the visibility was down to near nothing.

He’d found the runway through the shining “chance” light,

And his landing, though rough, was quite stunning.

At least twice he’d flown on when he should have turned back,

With a plane whose condition was dicey.

He’d kept to the flight so he’d not miss the dance,

And his sheer skill had got it through safely.

He looked now at those planes standing next to each other,

The small Moth and the big fighter bomber,

And he marvelled again at what he used to do then

With these, the first and the last planes that he’d flown.

(c)  Linda Visman.  Originally written 21st July 2005

25th April 2010

Rubbish!

February 23, 2010 at 5:03 am | Posted in Social Responsibility | 1 Comment
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I am disgusted by the amount of rubbish that’s thrown from passing cars in almost every part of Australia that I’ve lived in or visited. It doesn’t matter whether in town or country, city or outback, there are very few places that are rubbish free. Some places are much worse than others, and some people are much worse than others too.

Have you noticed all the fast food rubbish everywhere? The paper bags and wrappers, cardboard, plastic and foam cartons and drink cups that are strewn along the sides of the streets and roads? An inordinate number of them seem to originate from a popular take-away place that has well-known golden arches. Is there a message there somewhere? You even find trash strewn under cars, or placed beside where they were parked – left there when the diners drove off. Almost always, there are adequate bins a few feet away.

The glass and plastic bottles that gleam in the grass along the verges and in the brush are almost always from drinks based on either alcohol or caffeine. You can almost guarantee it. The same glass bottles are the ones you find smashed along public footpaths and parks, shopping centres and hotels. Someone has to clean them up. The cost adds to our taxes. Is there another message here? Is it only the taxpayers who care?

Calling on a sense of social responsibility doesn’t seem to work with many people. They seem to be proud tossers. So the rubbish collects, until crews in and around some towns and council areas pick it up and dispose of it. The rest of the country remains a tip.

I think a great source of labour for the clean-up gangs could be reasonably fit people on the dole. Work to clean up the place and they might not be such tossers. They might even feel they’ve earned something rather than having it handed to them.

There is also a scheme that has been proven to reduce the amount of rubbish tossed out. A five-cent refund on drink cans and bottles, extended a few years ago to cardboard cartons, has operated for over 20 years in South Australia. The initial cost of a drink is five cents more, but it hasn’t harmed sales. People buy as many drinks per capita as they do in other states. When I lived there for a number of years, the refund I received added up to a reasonable amount of pocket money, the saving an added bonus.

The roadsides in S.A. testify to the scheme’s success. In all areas, except very close to the borders with other states, they are relatively free of discarded drink containers. The habit of saving refundable containers to take to a recycler to reclaim the refund, instead of tossing them out any old where, seems to have extended to other areas too. You don’t see very much fast food or general rubbish lying about. Certainly nowhere near the amount you see in New South Wales and other parts of the country.

I cannot understand why other states won’t even trial this great refund scheme. Peter Garrett, Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, doesn’t want to introduce such a scheme nationally, either, saying it will disadvantage recyclers. What? Go to S.A., Mr Garrett.  Be open-minded, and see the difference the scheme makes.

© Linda Visman February 2010

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