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Age and Wisdom

One of the many frustrations we endure with our government leaders is their certainty that if they look after the economy, all will be well.

In that process they are rejecting change, which, along with death and taxes, is one of the certainties in life.

Greta Thunberg is an amazing person. As a high-functioning autistic individual, she is able to think and research her way through to the roots of our climate change problem and point the way to the action necessary to help to at least curb its worst effects.

We need not wait for age to give us wisdom – it is not exclusive to the elderly, but it does require an open mind!

Our opinionated leaders claim she is just mouthing the opinions of her elders and betters. If they took the trouble to watch the interview conducted at a UN forum with Greta and her father, that misconception would be firmly put in its place.



Her parents have changed their lifestyles at her persuasion! And they are not submissive people but well established in their own careers – and very caring people! I suggest you should also watch a longer interview, at your leisure, to get a better understanding of her very astute – and urgent – message.



She lives what she believes and she is an inspiration to all who do not have a mind closed to new ideas. ‘Conservatives’, by very definition, seek to hang on to traditional views and are slow to change their attitudes – “What was good enough for my father is good enough for me”.

I think we all need to look at life, and the future, through our lived experience. In theory, the longer we live, the more we learn, should be true, but the reality is that many people think education is the role of institutions, and fail to appreciate that learning is a lifelong continuum.

My daughter, now in her 50s, has given up her permanent job to study to become a counsellor. For an assignment, which required her to write a letter to thank someone who had helped her, I was both proud and humbled when she gave me a copy of her letter – addressed to me!

All parents doubt whether they have done the best for their children, so you can imagine how relieved I felt when, early in the letter, she stated:

In 1975 I had promised myself I would study law when I no longer needed to work – I won’t bore you with the reasons why I formed and kept that promise and – yes! – many (but not all) of those old jokes about lawyers often have some relevance!

For a variety of reasons, I had several breaks in my working career, so it was not until the end of 2004 that I decided I could start living on my superannuation and study law full-time, having already made a start on my studies in my last semester as a maths lecturer.

In February 2008, at 72 years old, I was admitted – and was amazed at how many of my friends said I was an inspiration. I had simply fulfilled my dream, knowing that you are never too old to learn. And also, being very stubborn by nature!

I am really not trying to big note myself, just trying to open other people’s eyes to the fact that they have a lifelong capacity to learn and – most importantly – accept that change is a continuum.

As a 4 times grandmother, and a 3 times great grandmother, I am seriously frightened that our elected government – and their electors – will fail to accept the need for urgent action to prevent the most extreme effects of climate change from denying my descendants – and all the young people in the world – a chance of a life on a viable planet.

And there is no Planet B!

We are just muddling along, because colonisation thrust on us an adversarial system of government, which IMHO is totally inappropriate for today’s real world.

I not only practised law for a while but I also took the chance to become an accredited mediator. It is one of the branches of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and it was so much more satisfying!

Few people come through litigation unscathed, and a legal action seldom gives real justice, while costing considerable amounts in most cases, particularly in the civil law area, because litigants are there because they (and their lawyers!) want to win.

In mediation, the initial groundwork alerts the parties to the fact that they are unlikely to get all they want, but the main aim is to facilitate their having a mutual conversation which will enable all involved parties to walk away with an agreement they can live with.

The mediator is not a judge who listens to the parties and then makes a decision. The parties themselves are in charge, and any decision they reach (which statistics tells us happens in a positive way in over 80% of cases) is one they can own.

As with the law, so with politics. No group of people will ever want exactly the same, but to agree to a civilised compromise is surely infinitely better than the bear garden we call a Parliament?

I am often called a ‘leftie’, because, for me it matters that other people have a chance to improve their life. Of the existing parties, I feel that those in or linked to the Coalition are too close to corporations – which might be legal entities but they lack emotional connections! So, the Conservatives stick to the trusted and familiar, ignore change and the need to adapt, and concentrate on the economy while ignoring the needs of the disadvantaged.

A clear example of this is the Coalition’s determination to beat Labor’s record by achieving a surplus. To do this, they cannot afford to increase Newstart, so people suffer severe privation while the government scores a hollow victory!

Labor lacks the courage to break away from the old ‘fight the bosses’ attitude. They might be far more likely than the Conservatives to seek equitable legislation that offers social justice – you only have to remember the benefits we have derived from Gough Whitlam’s policies – but they are still too ready to fight rather than try to work for a compromise.

The Greens policies have many good points in relation to protecting the environment but they lose their arguments because they take an all or nothing attitude. We could have had a fledgling climate policy under Labor which could have developed into something more substantial, but, once more, unwillingness to compromise killed the opportunity!

We are all the poorer for not having any politicians who truly believe in equality of opportunity and social justice.

We are all different. We do all have different views and needs. None of us has the right to dictate how others live their lives.

We need agreement to compromise when necessary, as well as to actively and meaningfully help those who cannot sufficiently help themselves.

If we cannot care for others then at least we should not actively disadvantage them. When wealthy individuals and corporations have their debts waived or ignored, yet the severely disadvantaged suffer from ill-advised programs like Robodebt (look out if you are on a pension – they are coming after you next, by all accounts!) and the unfeeling mess that is NDIS, let alone the catastrophe of offshore processing and the ever widening Gap, how does that really make us the Lucky Country that gives everyone a Fair Go?

And in the middle of all this, why do we need laws to give religious people more protection than they already have through the Constitution (something else well past its use by date)?

To judge from the revelations of the Royal Commissions – we need protection from religious zealots as well as unscrupulous bankers!

Sadly, we will not enjoy that under the current government.

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