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I am a writer and commentator, with a background in Indigenous sector project management and tabloid newspaper publishing. As a retired older-age Australian I use my time, and my voice, to highlight the level of social injustice that exists in this country. I seek a better, more humane, more progressive Australia. I do not limit myself to any one topic, and my writing style gives whimsy and left-field thought at least as much power as logic, fact, and reason.

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My Mental Illness – A Survivor’s View

Trigger Warning: this article goes where my brain chooses to take it. I’m along for the ride just as much as you are ..(Image from Pixabay. No attribution required)

I’ve never felt particularly stigmatised by others because of my mental illness, largely because part of me has always known that my mental illness wasn’t caused organically. Not by lesion, not by a basic malfunctioning, and not because of a traumatic physical injury to my brain. My mental illness was introduced/imposed by others. I’ve certainly felt judged, but then, has not everyone?

The trouble for me, and possibly for some other Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse as well, is that there is nothing much wrong with my brain at all. It has done the job it was designed to do at a reasonably high level. It has ensured my survival well into my 70th year.

So good on you brain. I salute you and your capabilities and all that. What an amazingly resilient thing you are. There is not a breath of cynicism in that statement. I mean it.

But why am I choosing to write about mental illness right now? My own mental illness right now? Why not politics? Why not love? Why not some quirky matter that my writer’s muse is often attracted to pursue simply for the fun of it? Fact is I’m writing about mental illness in this moment simply because I want to.

Trauma. Abuse. The malicious withdrawal of love by designated care-givers. Mental illness. The possibility of self-harm or suicide. An inevitable connectivity runs through all those words.

Childhood and trauma. Young brain/minds. Opening up to the wonders of this world, large-eyed with curiosity. Dependent on adults for love and nurturing. Betrayed. Abused.

Childhood Traumas did not implode my brain at the time. Because of repeated unwanted experiences my brain was re-wired so successfully back then that it has been stuck in survival mode for the last six decades. My brain did not know it was stuck in survival mode, and since my brain is me, neither did I until fairly recently. I’m supposed to have a modicum of intelligence, thoughts of such stuckness never entered my mind.

This stuck in survival mode thing largely explains why I always try to live at elevation, on the top of hills. I love to have a bird’s high view of things. That’s not just about having great views, bonus that they are, but it is also about having a clear view of the paths predators might take. Yes, part of me knows full well that there are no wizened dirty old priests clambering up the slopes intent on their intentions, but with my brain stuck in survival mode such clarity rarely gets a look in. Probably explains why I don’t like curtains as well.

Might go a long way to explaining also why I never physically turn my back on people. Why corners feel so attractive. Why I could not trust the fact that most people meant me no harm. What annoys me about that one is that it robbed me of the ability to turn my back in scorn on a number of particular politicians I have met. I’ve seen a number of people do the scorn-turn thing and I imagine it must feel delightful to express oneself in such a succinct way.

Also, some people, diagnostic type people, posit that my inability to clearly read emotions and signals on the faces of other people (that one always seems to get me into generally forgiven trouble with the appreciated female friends in my life) is possibly one of my, in their view, born with autistic traits.

Maybe so. Maybe their observation of the working of my brain is clearer than my brain’s understanding of itself. However, even in survival mode, my brain thinks that this trait was imposed, something to do with the fact that the perpetrators who abused my child-self always started with smiles and god-rapture on their faces. Perhaps my brain learned, as part of the re-wiring, that it could not any longer trust what it saw, and therefore it chose the survival mechanism of no longer bothering to look.

My mental illness feels like riding a bucking horse bareback. Sitting on the horse of living without the stability of saddle or stirrup or rein to forge a coherent path. Getting triggered, spooked, jittered, blind-sided, and continually bucked back into ptsd, depression, poor me boo-hoo mode, and other sadnesses and addictions, and the overwhelming need to simply do what it takes to simply just survive. That’s what the brain does to a person when the brain is stuck in survival mode.

Over the last few years, and especially over the last year or so, some pretty good technicians (psychiatrists and psychologists) did their best to map out the existing wiring diagram of my brain, and therefore of me. They and I fully understood that my brain had finally made a conscious decision to fry all circuits and pull the plug on itself .. that’s called suicide in non-wiring terms.

So they tested various circuits and found, surprise surprise, that the survival circuit was stuck in hyper-vigilance mode and had been performing so uber fast for the last six decades that the over-heating had reached a point of .. well, a supernova comes to mind. Big explosion and then a quick balloon-fart down to nothing.

Amazing technicians that those people are, they dug around in their tool box and came up with and applied the remedial tool of Talk Psychotherapy. The experience of that year long psychotherapy was like having an OBD2 Scanner plugged into my brain (one of those electronic on-board diagnostic things that mechanics plug into your car’s computer to diagnose and hopefully re-code annoying faults).

Of course nothing is just purely singular and it took a lot of effort from a number of directions to get any sort of remedial re-wiring happening inside the circuits of my brain. I turned up once a week for a year despite the it is all too hard excuse that can be used to simply run away, and the psychiatrist turned up every week and the psychologist once every month despite possibly their own human reasons for occasionally needing to run away too from all the raw revelations.

In other words psychotherapy does not just magically happen. It is hard graft, hard work, uncomfortable, and it takes a long time, a very long time, and total commitment from all concerned. A couple of visits to a psychologist and all’s good doesn’t come remotely close.

My brain cannot tell the reader or another Survivor why the process of psychotherapy changed some of the wiring circuitry. All it can say is that a dab of solder here, and a bit of a bend in the Survival Wire over there, and a lot of internal sweat and toil and realisations and acceptances, did something. I’d say praise the lord for all that but it would sound silly coming from an atheist.

My brain well recognises that since the psychotherapy finished I have consciously, and for how long I do not know, stepped back from Survivor activism on my own behalf. Serenity has appeared in the paddock and I see no harm in taking that particular horse for a bit of an extended canter in whatever direction it chooses to take.

Regrets. Interesting word that one. Some regrets are well earned, much can be learned from having them. Some other regrets though are just so much maudlin mush, but they, always seen in retrospect, contain the far greater lessons.

By my rough reckoning it was six years ago that I found the oomph to stand up and find my voice as a Survivor. It set me on a path, a journey. I spoke about Survivor matters. I wrote about Survivor matters. I self-identified publicly as a Survivor and held aloft in shaky hands the banner of Survivorhood. I published a book called JAGGED. Ha .. it was all so bloody scary .. had no idea what I was doing, or why I was doing it, and I assuredly had no idea what the future would bring.

Sure, I sought acknowledgement from an abusive institution. I sought an apology, a suitable level of compensation, a public statement that I was a good fellow wronged, I wanted to be repaired. I also wanted to see a small measure of revenge realised .. why not, at the time I felt that such revenge was deserved. The beauty of life, the most wondrous thing about life, is that it sometimes seems to accidentally protect us from our greatest follies,

I thought that one of the biggest mistakes in my life was to enter into civil litigation against the Catholic Church. I realised none of my objectives to any great extent. The process broke my will over a number of years. It dragged me to the depths of, and exposed the breadth of, my mental illness. It is hard to claim ownership of an imposed mental illness. I ended up in mental health wards under suicide watch on a number of occasions. I curled up into fetal balls. I stared at walls. I didn’t become a caricature of the mentally unwell, I was the real deal. Gosh – doom gloom and darkness and hopelessness and self-pity reigned in my land.

And then my brain woke up …

One of the best things I have done in my life was to enter into civil litigation against the Catholic Church. That process broke down the old me to the extent that all I seemed to have left was my mental illness. All of the coping mechanisms, and maskings, and other desperate strategies to simply get through life were gone, totally shattered by the litigation process and the aftermath of that. It led me to observing my own mental illness. It led me to observing and owning my own mental illness. It led me to an understanding that, though imposed, my mental illness was mine to deal with. It also led me to asking those three most esoteric questions that self can ask self. Who is doing the observing? Who am I? What do I want?

Navel-gazing and narcissism are luxuries that have no place when one seeks to find what remains of self. Either stay splattered on the floor or get up and do something about it. Either stay wallowing in the imposed crap or find a way to cut through. Do something, drop pride, ask for professional help. I’m talking about real shit here.

As it turned out, I did not have to ask for professional help, it was offered to me before I could ask. Psychotherapy, and much more, was offered to me. Ha .. I now know with surety what people mean when they say that person is a basket case .. I was a big cane one, leaky as a sieve, had no idea what my purpose as a basket was supposed to be .. never let it be said that the mentally ill are bereft of humour!

I’ve already spoken about the benefits of the psychotherapy, and the resultant re-re-wiring. All that came about because I fell apart and someone offered real help. On the surface it appeared to be a simple thing – throw a psychiatrist and a basket case into a room for a year, throw in a psychologist once a month as well, stir vigorously, ha .. stand well back and hope for the best!

In my opinion the best was achieved, the best that could possibly be achieved was achieved. I learned much about self, and much about, and from, those who were helping me.

The last six years have been quite a journey. They have taken me to deeper depths and greater heights than I ever thought I was capable of experiencing.

I cannot provide advice to any other Survivor. The decision to litigate or not, to seek redress or not, or to choose to do nothing at all, is a decision that only you can take responsibility for. With love I say to you that we all create our own future journeys.

So, do I consider myself to still carry an imposed mental illness? Do I consider myself to be fully healed? Good questions.

I can give those questions only one answer.

To my brain a mental illness imposed in childhood has at least one similarity with the type of grief that is imposed when a loved one dies. Both concern the loss of love. Both create a hole in the heart/spirit. Over time the hole can manage to partly self-heal, or can allow itself to be helped to partly self-heal, and life can move forward and be lived. But any hole within birthed by either the unexpected loss of love, or the malicious and deliberate withdrawal of love, never fully heals or goes away and remains part of the overall fabric of who we are. None of that means that we cannot go on to experience happiness and love, because we can.

 

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The vote of Citizen K

There will be many uncast votes on 21 May. There will be many voices silenced because those aged 70 or over represent 83% of the growing Covid deaths in Australia. Lest we forget.

I am in my 70th year. An achievement in some ways. My vote, and that of my companions, will not decide this election. This election will be decided not by the Some, the old and the poor and the unemployed and the disadvantaged, it will be decided by the Many, those who through their vote decide the future of this Nation, and who also decide the legislated future of all of us who comprise the invisible Some.

No political party is perfect, none of them have perfect answers. They are all a mix of visionary, and atrocious, ideas. They are all ego-driven, survival-minded, and once every three years they connive to bribe or buy our votes. $250 did not buy mine.

In my own electorate, Fairfax, I am presented with a range of choices – the usual duopoly of the Coalition and the ALP, the Greens, lunatic fringe parties like One Nation and Palmer’s latest iteration of the UAP, the Great Australia Party, Animal Justice, and some Independents who may be Teal or who may merely be stooges for the duopoly.

I will not vote for the Coalition. After they politically assassinated some of their best and brightest, like Malcolm Turnbull, and after the rest of their best and brightest jumped ship out of sheer frustration, like Julie Bishop, we were left over the last three years with sub-par LNP politicians who have presided over the most politically corrupt period in recent Australian history.

It is not hyperbolic to state that the Coalition has happy-clapped the Australian people to the depths of division and discord. The current Australian Prime Minister is not a good man for our times, and the party he leads is morally bankrupt, and has become the greatest threat to the future prosperity and security of the nation we call Australia. Their defense options have blown billions of dollars and their continual outsourcing of integral government services to ‘mates’, and their incessant monetary pandering to their base in marginal electorates, combined with the opaqueness of their no-tender granting of government contracts and projects shows them up for what they really are – criminally corrupt. It is no accident that they oppose the establishment of a full-bore Federal ICAC.

So much for the publicly evident Coalition of the Liberals and Nationals. But there is another Coalition in play, that of the ALP and the Greens. It is not a publicly stated coalition and both parties seem hell-bent on sledging their opposite number to electoral oblivion, and that is such a childish waste of time. According to Antony Green the ALP was languishing in second place on primary votes in 10 seats at the 2019 election, and only skidded over the line due to Green preferences. In your average election gaining 10 extra seats could well secure Government. To my mind the Greens are not traitors to the ALP cause and the ALP are not the be all and end all of everything good. Wouldn’t hurt the ALP to thank the Greens.

To my mind also, after many years of the ALP dodging and weaving on the issue of the raising of Newstart, their absolute refusal to consider any sort of raise of Newstart is a public betrayal of the disadvantaged and a public betrayal of their own founding social justice principles. Coupling that with their timid acquiescence, their very mirroring, of the Coalition’s draconian punishment of innocent refugees leaves me flailing slightly adrift from the great Party of Curtin, Hawke, and Keating.

Thoughts of coalitions, whether they be publicly stated or not, leads to an issue that makes our democracy undemocratic in my eyes. The National Party secured 4.89% of the national primary vote in 2019 and secured Ministerial positions in the Government, the Greens secured 10.04% of the national primary vote (and in doing so greatly aided the ALP) and did not receive one Shadow Ministerial Position in the Opposition. Where the unstated coalition is concerned it reeks of unfairness and ingratitude. Other minor parties who secured at least a reasonable percentage of the primary vote may well have their own opinion on this issue. And it does bring up the vexed notion of the appointment to Ministerial or Shadow Ministerial Positions of gifted but unelected to a seat candidates in any given election (with the Greens in mind) – but that is a vexed notion that I have no cogent answer to.

According to Sky News and the Murdoch Press I’ll either be voting for Scott Morrison or Anthony Albanese on election day. Well, I’ll not be voting for either of them. Neither of them are Candidates in my seat of Fairfax in Queensland. Neither of them are on my ballot paper. I’ll be voting for someone who is standing in my seat. I’ll be hoping that they mean what they say, what they promise, and that once they are elected I’ll be hoping that they don’t suddenly revert to becoming a brainless parrot echoing the Party Line.

But is this election just about the candidates we elect? Is it as simple as that or will it be a judgement day as well of the mindset and wants of a collective that is far larger than that represented by the politically aspirant pool of potential electees?

On the 21st of May the collective will of the Australian people will be on display. Who we truly are as a Nation, our ethics and principles, our intent for the future, our hopes, dreams, fears, hatreds, and what really resides in our hearts will be on display.

As a collective, even allowing for many dissenting voices, we damned ourselves at the 2019 election. Australia became less safe, the venality of our wallets reigned supreme, political lies were paramount, the old were discarded to death as collateral damage on the road to economic resurgence, the young were further removed from the ownership of shelter, corruption publicly flourished, and the Uluru Statement From The Heart did not become what it should have become – the Foundation Document of a fairer, more just, and more inclusive Australia.

On the 21st May I am weighing everything up, and I am accepting of the fact that every political entity, even those I am going to vote for, are not perfect and have many failings. I will only get one chance at this and I have looked within and questioned my principles and my hopes for the future of this Nation.

I don’t want the promise of change. I don’t want just words. I want real change.

I am voting ALP in the House of Representatives and GREENS in the Senate.

 

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My friend LISA

Who truly gives a bugger about how women who do not attract national attention are treated?

Sure, we have academic female feminists who sprout erudite thoughts on how things could improve. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with their thoughts. Their thoughts are good. Thoughts and wonderful peer-reviewed papers are all well and good. Abusive men don’t read them.

Supportive men, and there are many, say all the right things. But when the DV shit hits the fan … whoops … where are the men when you really need them?

My friend Lisa needed those feminists and those supportive men. To say the least, both cohorts were totally thin on the ground when she was abused and discarded and raped and abused.

Lisa is a wonderful woman who has had to live a life blighted by the stroke she experienced in her mid thirties. Since then she has been used and abused by her partners and her tenants. She has had her arm broken. She has had her face punched and mutilated. She has been raped and physically traumatised. She appealed to the police. Her appeals fell on deaf ears.

The ongoing treatment of women in Australia is appalling. The treatment of my friend has been appalling. OK … I am a tall 70-ish streak of an old man … but no matter what … I will support my friend Lisa.

My question to you is this … whether you be male or female … are you prepared to dive into the hard shit and be supportive of your female friend? Are you prepared to put your own physical safety on the line to protect your friend … I have done so and sometimes I had to close my eyes and hope for the best. I hope your answer is yes. Your stance may be the beginning of real change.

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Appeasement: The West and Russia

What possible connection could there be between Georgia and Austria, the Donbass Region and the Ruhr, the Crimea and Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine and Poland?

When that harried British politician waved that piece of paper aloft and declared Peace In Our Time he contributed to the biggest propaganda fail of the last century, Appeasement, and what followed gifted the world the death of millions upon millions of innocent people.

Here in The West we cherish and enjoy our freedom. We, however, never had to fight in a World War for that freedom. People of our grandparents’ generation fought and died for a collection of values that they believed in, and as a result most of us, and our children and grandchildren, have largely enjoyed relative peace in our time and the enjoyment of a notable level of freedom.

In the next short period we will learn of the possible fate of Ukraine, and we hope for the best. The response of The West to this Russian provocation, which the Russians say is their response to the provocative expansion of NATO, is quite informative.

On the quiet level we have been shipping ammunition and missiles to not only the NATO countries that border Ukraine, but also to Ukraine itself. We are also stationing a couple of thousand US soldiers in the near region as an underwhelming show of supportive strength … underwhelming from the Ukrainian point of view that is. All of that implies that Ukraine will be left standing alone, and should the unthinkable happen, Ukraine will be left to defend itself.

On the overt level, the level where we truly show our determination and intent to defend the freedoms that we so cherish, The West has threatened to target Russia with sanctions. Well, North Korea, Iran, and Russia itself, still happily exist despite the soft weapon of sanctions that The West has rather hopefully lobbed their way.

It is irrelevant whether this moment in time is a piece of grand geo-political theatre on Putin’s part. If he can gain what he wants through diplomacy or threat or ominous theatre then we would be silly to think that he would then quieten down and not want more.

If he ultimately decides to invade Ukraine then the precedents of Georgia, the Crimea, the Donbass Region, the ever tightening control of Belarus, and the growing fear in Latvia and Estonia of over-spill consequences should Ukraine be invaded, would simply inform Putin that Russia might well get away with it if he unleashes the tanks.

Have we in The West lost the ability to think the unthinkable? Have we fallen into the trap of thinking that our freedoms, our values, our lifestyles, our societal processes and institutions, and our various forms of Democracy, will forever go on seriously unchallenged?

Last century two powers, one European and one Asian, plunged our planet into World War. Initially we appeased them. It did not work.

It was only a few days ago, in our century and in our time, that a power on the European landmass and a power from Asia stood together and stared down The West. Over the last decade we have chosen to appease them both.

War is our last resort, it always has been for most of us the last resort, we do not want it. Appeasement, however, almost guarantees that we will ultimately get what we definitely do not want.

The West is right to want to avoid all out war, that is our peaceful aim, but we are wrong to think that we will manage to retain our values and freedoms with only words and soft diplomacy and economic sanctions.

The West needs to quickly find a firmer form of solidarity, we need to plan for the unthinkable and therefore hopefully, eventually avoid it. Standing back and simply hoping for the best will not ensure that the freedoms we enjoy will be passed on to our children and grandchildren.

 

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The Omicron Murders?

So who will speak on behalf of the dead?

Will they ever lie as forgotten sacrifices in the putrid side gutters of the golden path to profit and mindless economic growth?

Who decided to let a sickness reign unfettered across our land? Was it a collective decision? Did the People agree? Or did one person grab the power and decide to unleash the tide?

Who decided that profit is more precious than life?

Death by accident is accidental death not planned. Death by murder is a crime. But death by Government Policy?

Political fingers at a deniable remove. It wasn’t us. No overt signs of blood on their grabbing strangling hands.

It wasn’t Corporate us. Without growing profit, nothing will trickle down to where nothing ever has or will. We deserve our rewards.

It wasn’t little old Investor us. Who cares if that’s another grandmother, or grandfather, or mother, or father, or child, or stranger, gone. We’ve six houses and we want more. Open things up. Give us our freedoms.

We voted for them. But it wasn’t us. They cater to us because we vote for them. Give us money, more tax breaks, feed our avaricious aspirations. But it wasn’t us, we are just voters. Not killers at all.

Culpability. Hard to define. Hard to pin in place.

The Old and Sick are quietly expendable. More deaths today. More tomorrow.

Government Policy. Who decides it? Who supports it? Who profits by it? Who are these proxies?

Because murder by proxy is still murder indeed.

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The Highway of Hope

I’ve been on a journey. I’ve wandered many trails. I’ve lost my way, then found my way, and then lost and found my way again. My feet have felt the red earth and my eyes have gazed at the stars, and the road trip to Self has sent me down many dead ends, many circular exits from unmarked paths, and many halting steps forward into uncomfortable unknowns. Such are the conditions when one consciously chooses to cast one’s being on the entry ramp to the Highway of Hope.

Some time ago I wrote a book called JAGGED. It was written by an untreated man. It was written by a man who was desperate to escape depression, addiction, and strong feelings of inner inadequacy and hopelessness. It was written by a man buffeted by a maelstrom of storms within. It was written by a man who was unknowingly preparing himself to embrace the ending of all things for all time.

The book contained a hellish description of the damage, the legacies, and the pain contained within the mind of one Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I do not regret writing the book and I never will. Prior to writing it I had thought that my journey to that date had been far too much for any human being to have to bear, but looking back I now see the book as the necessary catalyst that was needed to throw me far deeper into the abyss than I had thought possible. There are depths beyond depths below the bottom of the abyss, and on one of those levels I glimpsed in my plummeting a tiny little signpost pointing vaguely in the general direction of the Highway of Hope. I could have so easily missed that little sign.

In August 2020 I ended up in a mental health ward for a period and I had no idea how I had arrived there, I had totally lost any sense of self. Because of the nihilistic state of my mind, and perhaps because the mental health professionals there recognised that I had carried my maladies and legacies and PTSD for sixty two untreated years they took a bit of a gamble, and they offered me a year’s worth of weekly psychotherapy sessions with a Psychiatric Registrar. I say that it was a gamble on their part because my mindscape was so fractured that there was no assurance that I would even turn up.

It doesn’t hurt to occasionally have a laugh at one’s own hubris. When I was discharged from the mental health unit I though that I was well on the path to recovery and that my life was finally on some sort of healthy track. What actually happened is that I fell further apart at an ever accelerating rate. Hubris always comes back to bite you on the arse.

It took four long months for the psychotherapy to be organised. It took that long because the right kind of Psychiatric Registrar had to be found, one who could deal with an untreated Survivor of multiple instances of extreme abuse and rape. During the search for the right person I lost my love for writing, I felt that I had nothing to say and nothing to comment on, and I had lost touch with the person who used to write about so many whimsical and quirky things. The feel for writing, as of January 2022 is slowly coming back, but it has been preceded by quite a roller-coaster of ups and downs.

And so to the psychotherapy … I have about three weekly sessions to go, the year of treatment is almost up.

Psychotherapy is hard work, very hard work, there are no magic bullets or miracles or easy gains. Even the smallest of changes have to be fought for, and re-fought for. Setbacks are legion, and the exposure of past events and emotions and the dissection of legacies is very difficult. It was one thing to write JAGGED in the safety of my own room, it is altogether another thing to unpeel such content face to face with another person.

At first I could not open up, I could not trust the Psychiatric Registrar. It took months to establish real trust. It took so long because I had to learn to trust, I had to learn that in a general sense there really wasn’t a predator creeping up silently behind me with horrible things in mind.

Trying to unpack multiple instances of childhood trauma is no easy task. When I was a child I could not process the first instance of abuse, let alone process the multiple instances of abuse that followed. So it was difficult to define a clear starting point for the therapy. My past, the events and the emotions of my past existed in my present. My thoughts erratically jumped between events as though they were being experienced in real time – and so it had always been.

The only answer to all of that was to disconnect myself from my past to an extent. Not easy to do. Instead of nurturing the Child Within (which seems to work for many people) I had to choose a different path. I killed off the child within, which took some time – he was irretrievably damaged and his presence mired me continually in the morass. I am glad he has his freedom from me, and I am glad that I have my freedom from him. My past experiences are no longer like a film running on re-loop in my mind, they are more like a photo that I can pick up if I so choose, and then put down and away if I so choose. There’s a sense of freedom in finally having a choice.

During the psychotherapy I didn’t much concern myself with the Catholic Church. Apart from sending a well deserved rocket up the arses of two Brisbane Bishops I was happy to let my attentions focus on the psychotherapy.

September 2021 was a landmark month. The psychotherapy had been progressing slowly but well. Out of the blue I mentally collapsed and ended up in the mental health ward for another two weeks. It ended up being a seminal moment in the life of this black duck because Change, Real Change, stood up and asked how about you give me a solid go for a change?

It all came about in an unexpected way. While I was in the ward they conducted all sorts of health checks and it was discovered that I had a lesion on my, shock horror, very swollen prostate – ah well, old man stuff and all that. After a few ultra-sound sessions and an interesting trip into the bowels of an MRI I was placed on the Cat 1 Waiting List for urgent surgery within 30 days. As an aside it is interesting to note that Health Department spin merchants crow about how Cat 1 Waiting Lists are largely up to date … mmm … I’m about to hit 90 days. However in this matter things are looking up. Tomorrow I’m going in for the pre-anaesthetic appointment, and on the 11th I’m scheduled for the surgery … a biopsy of the lesion and a re-bore of the prostate … makes me feel like an old car whose engine is about to get a makeover.

However, the seminal moment I was talking about has to do with a different matter, and all of you who have a prostate are probably going to wince a bit while reading this paragraph. Having a swollen prostate means that peeing is not the absolute joy that it used to be, and that means, you guessed it, the entrance so to speak of the dreaded Catheter. Now the insertion of a Catheter is a pretty straight forward procedure in the vast majority of cases. In my case there were, um, blockages, and the prostate was so swollen the poor tube didn’t stand a chance. The nurses had a few goes, a urology doctor had many many goes, the head of the urology department, finally after 3.5 hours got the pesky thing in. The pain was unrelenting and atrocious and somewhere amongst all that arrived the seminal moment …

It is pretty well known that some Survivors of extreme or multiple instances of trauma have trouble re-integrating mind and body. The pain was such that I had no choice but to be in the present. Thinking about the past simply flew out the window as my body and mind shook hands and agreed to work together – bear the pain, don’t move, focus solidly on one thing for 3.5 hours (not that I knew it would take that long). When I eventually collapsed back on the bed the film in my head had stopped running. There was no Flicker, Flicker of the film frames. I’ll leave you to muse on how such a thing could come to be. Was it a forced re-integration of mind and body, was it the eight months of psychotherapy prior to the catheterisation, was it simply going to happen anyway? Who knows? I don’t, but I’m sure happy with the change.

So what are the words that are about to come out of a man who has been solidly helped by a year’s worth of psychotherapy.

My therapist (the Psychiatric Registrar) and I met and entered into an agreement together. She and I both committed to a year long process no matter what lay ahead of us – the pain, the re-living, the gains the failures, the fear and the joy, the excruciatingly uncomfortable moments, the shredding of comfort zones, the separation of current fact from emotional memory, the facing of fear, the embrace of change, and the many lettings go.

Psychotherapy is a long process, and both participants are deeply changed by the experience. Thank you Dr. H – a heartfelt thank you. I suppose I should also thank JAGGED, it belongs back then but it did help to lead to now.

I can only speak for myself. There are things about me that will never change. I carry some legacies that will always be with me and I embrace that fact.

I now know that there is nothing wrong with my brain. It reacted in a very normal manner to the trauma that it saw and experienced. It sought to protect me and it succeeded in that role for a very long time – but it had to unlearn many things and had to realise that the circumstances that led to the need for protection ceased to exist well over 62 years ago.

So what do I want? Acceptance of myself as I am now. I want a simple and happy life. I don’t care how tentative my footsteps are along the Highway of Hope, I’m simply glad that I’ve learned enough to take them.

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The Bishops of Brisbane …

This could have been a poem. But it is not.

I want to live down in the fucking dirt of truth and reality.

I want the truth of childhood sexual abuse exposed and explored and damned.

I want the red dirt of this land sifting between my toes. I want to start to feel again.

Fuck your Catholic abuse. Fuck you for squeezing down my life.

Fuck you for your nice public Catholic words and fuck you for the damage you do when you think that the public is not seeing what you really do behind the scenes to people like me.

I will not genuflect. I will not forelock tug. I will not bow to the likes of Coleridge and his ilk.

Fuck you for the sickness you still hold within your hearts.

It was a close run thing. I’m still here. I’m still alive. I survived. I can now say that I truly am a Survivor.

I’m still breathing. I feel. I see light ahead. I sense the meaning of the word freedom.

This could have been a poem. But it is not.

This is a fucking indictment of the lifelong effects felt by children when they are abused.

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In The Third Person

THE WRITER sits down in front of his keyboard and muses over what subject to weave words around. He temporarily comes up blank. He stands up, goes to the kitchen, and makes a coffee. Sipping it he stares out the window and looks down the valley to the ocean in the far distance. He imagines diving into the cold surf. In the background the presenters on ABC News Breakfast explore the poorly handled vaccination rollout. The phone rings.

Thirty kilometres away, within earshot of the surf, Denise holds the phone to her ear with one hand and kneads a sourdough loaf with the other. She wonders if Keith is home and whether he is in hermit or open-to-chat mode. She wonders how his psychotherapy is progressing.

The writer accepts the call on his smartphone.

As old friends do they chat happily for twenty minutes. They disconnect from the call.

The writer rolls a cigarette. He lights it and puffs contentedly away and thinks how stupid it is to fill his lungs with cancerous tar. He reminds himself to buy another packet of tobacco next time he goes shopping. He thinks how nice it was to be called.

Upstairs the landlady fires up her new toy, a Dyson Vacuum that emits a banshee howl. The writer wonders if the Virgin Hyperloop would make a similar sound as it scoots up the tube.

Meanwhile, Scott Morrison pops up on the television. He says nothing new which is nothing new. The writer blocks out the PM’s droning.

Unknown to the writer, at that exact moment the early-morning Mapleton Bus starts to descend the very steep range road to the coast. Two aged men on the bus joke warmly with each other about how dementia is starting to noticeably affect their memories. They laugh at the fact that they both regularly forget what it is that they are meant to be doing. One of the men relates a little story about when he was meant to go to the kitchen and get a band aid for his wife who had cut her toe. He happily went to the kitchen, forgot why he was there, so made himself a vegemite sandwich and sat on the back stairs in the sun. The other man said that he was equally forgetful. The passengers on the bus smiled at the way the men gently supported each other, they looked out of the window at the steep drop-off on the left side of the road, and also wished that one of the men, the bus driver, did not forget that he was meant to put his foot on the brake now and then.

The writer had a coffee with a friend two days later. The friend was on the early-morning bus. They all got safely to their destinations. As he stands staring out of the window, second coffee in hand and third fag in gob, the writer is not thinking about the story. He hasn’t heard it yet.

What he does think about is ‘Muse, Muse, where art thou, Muse?’

He considers writing about Coal Workers. About how long will it take before those workers turn with a vengeance on Conservative Governments who continue to sell them the lie of a rosy future for their industry for endless decades to come simply to secure their vote? Will it take another decade before the Coal Workers realise that all the transition jobs into renewables, which should have been rightfully theirs, were snapped up a decade earlier by other workers who did not swallow the grand lie? He wonders why the Government is not scheduling the construction of vast solar farms right now in coal mining areas. But he lets that idea slip away … he needs to do more research on that subject matter.

The thought of the Hyperloop sound upstairs comes back to him. He thinks about how if the Hyperloop does become an eventual reality it will kill off any desire for Very Fast Trains, and withdraw from Australian politicians at least one promise that they have never had any intention of delivering on, and how the Hyperloop may well lead to the demise of domestic air travel (if you could get from Brisbane to Townsville in one hour then why on earth would you bother to fly?) and how, multiple technical difficulties aside, how the Hyperloop could possibly lead to the eventual creation of a workable Space Elevator. He pushes that idea aside too … do that one next week perhaps?

He thinks about how the Conservatives treat the unemployed. About how they demean and demonise the unemployed. He considers the old 80/20 unemployment rule which says that 80% of the unemployed desperately want a job and 20% are a bit diffident about it all so why are we wasting billions of dollars annually on profit-taking JobNetwork orgs who gleefully graze on the federal dollar (our dollars) and dismally fail to place people in meaningful and lasting jobs? He thinks about the Private Training Orgs who shower useless Cert 111’s on all comers while our world class TAFEs and Universities are continually dud-funded by our Governments. Nah … I’ve written about that before he thinks.

The thought of psychotherapy enters his head. There’s much going on there. Bob Dylan comes to mind. That crusty old sage once remarked that the point of life is not to find oneself, the point of life is to create oneself. The writer thinks about sitting on a mountain top deep in meditative contemplation of self … he realises that the best that can come out of that sort of navel gazing in his own case is a pointless understanding of the amount of lint that has gathered in his belly button. Psychotherapy is a good thing he thinks … it is teaching him to trust other human beings. Maybe he will write about the experience of psychotherapy one day he thinks … but not today.

He thinks about Denise’s sourdough bread and how good it is.

The writer puffs away. The Muse does not alight. No writing today. He decides to catch the late-morning bus down to the coast, visit Denise, and go for a swim in the surf. On the bus he enjoys all of the precipitous scenery. There’s only one old bloke on the bus this trip. No gentle stories are told about dementia. Nobody has a reason to create a gentle smile, nobody has a reason to shat their pants either, the writer will not know about such things for two days yet.

Even though he wrote nothing at all this day the writer ended up having a wonderful time. The surf was cold and bracing … it cleared his head … he thought about a couple of things to possibly write about!

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A grand love affair …

I’m not a royal commentator or biographer. I’m a Republican. I have next to nix interest in the British Royal Family. The passing of a Duke resonates on a very low level with me … however … the passing of a man who loved and appreciated his partner over the course of his long lifetime does resonate at a very high level.

Over the next day or so the mainstream media is going to gush and gush everything royal. Commentators are going to wax lyrical about the Royals and how the passing of a Duke is not only the end of an era but also a good enough reason for all of us to drop our flags to half mast and abjectly fall into a period of national mourning and flower laying.

The death of any human being (with the exception of the Hitlers of this world) is a sad thing. The death of Philip is a sad thing.

But what a legacy he leaves behind!

As far as I am concerned Elizabeth and Philip were/are two ordinary human beings who met and fell in love, and that love endured over the course of their very long lifetimes. Their story greatly transcends the fact that they were protected elites sitting atop the baubles of an irrelevant crown-based power. The power of their story would be as strong had they been a couple who lived their lives unseen in the outer reaches of Dagsville.

In one way Elizabeth and Philip remind me of every other old couple we occasionally spot wobbling their way through a park hand in hand. Their story reminds me that, in this era when relationships have temporary tenure, and when too many men treat far too many women atrociously, there still does exist a thing called enduring unconditional love.

I’m not going to falsely eulogise Elizabeth and Philip, it is a given that they would have had their ups and downs together. However, they stuck with and supported each other until they reached very old age, and it only ended because one of them died.

So I salute Philip and Elizabeth. Two ordinary human beings. I salute the long life they shared. As a Republican who salutes no royal standard, I do salute the fact that they did show that the only enduring thing of value in this life is friendship and love.

I pay tribute to the power of love.

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RAPE – the view of a quiet ‘voice’

Much lucid commentary on the treatment of women has appeared in the media over the last month and a half, and rightfully so. Largely I have stayed out of saying anything on the issue because all the stories that are being aired, all the stories about rape, sexual assault, inappropriate behaviour, careers diminished, objectification and powerlessness, and all the expressed opinions on such matters, can have such a powerful triggering affect on an older person like me, and on so many other older women and men who are like me.

The last few months has not been the time to try to fully re-raise our older voices, the voices of aged childhood sexual abuse survivors, but I do believe that the time will soon come when our voices, and the many things they have to say, will begin to be fully heard and truly listened to by society, or at least that is my hope.

Human beings like Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins and others like them, to me, represent a young vanguard of fearless articulate women who are not just politely requesting change of real substance, they are out there putting their lives and reputations on the line as they confront the protected bastions of male power. I note that their focus is not just entirely upon themselves and their own terrible experiences, I note that they are standing on the shoulders of their own experiences and calling for societal-wide change.

I think that many aged survivors have simply kept quiet, and tried to deal with their own maelstrom of triggered feelings, while the legitimate rage of women has found a powerful collective voice, a collective voice that I believe will enable real change not only in the way that Parliament treats women, but also in the way that society treats women.

I have a very deeply held belief, a belief that is not necessarily shared by all. I believe that the most pervasive form of violence in our society is the level of violence directed at, and experienced by, women. I believe that unless society truly addresses the level of violence directed at women first, then we as a society have very little chance of starting to address all the other forms of sexual violence and misuse of power that exists out there in our suburbs, and in our care institutions.

Some older survivors of childhood sexual abuse are right now treading a delicate path where the issue of ‘voice’ is concerned. I certainly am. Right now is not the safest of times for our feelings and for our hopes. Social media is a brutal swipe-fest and any older survivor trying to raise legitimate concerns in the current climate are likely to be attacked as diversionists or deflectors or whataboutists, so little wonder that so many of us have stayed quiet because we not only do not deserve the rage, we have no wish to attract it.

Violence in our society is disproportionately genderised and women are the main recipients, and my own experiences as a male recipient of childhood rape and violence does not diminish that unassailable fact.

I know what being the recipient of rape feels like. I know what powerlessness feels like. I know what being punched and controlled feels like. I know the legacies that such events can impose on the life of human beings. I know that now is the time for men to stand against other men and stand with women.

Empathy cannot be taught. If it does not exist within it does not exist at all. The current politician who has been sent for empathy training is nothing less than a smokescreen to protect a parliamentary majority that is whittling itself away day by day.

Our Parliament is a cesspit of male misogyny, as is our society, it is beyond time for real change.

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The beauty of AIMN

Hi to all the writers and readers who associate with AIMN. I have been involved with AIMN as a writer and supporter for roughly seven years now. What a personal blessing for me that has turned out to be.

Michael and Carol Taylor have set up this wonderful platform. It hosts the pithy (and she even swears now and then) political commentary of Kaye Lee. It runs the Rossleigh discourse on everything that is crazy in this world. It gives many other intelligent people and bloggers the space to express their opinion and analysis of events that are currently happening in our society.

Just because I carry traumatic legacies and rarely comment on things … that does not mean that I am not paying attention to the writings that appear on AIMN. I am paying attention. The rare thing about AIMN is that, while it might carry strong critical analysis of political happenings etc … the Articles that appear on AIMN are not hate-driven or mindlessly ideological in content. Now what a refreshing change that makes from the fodder that is presented from the Mainstream Press.

I am proud to be associated with this platform. I am mortified that nobody liked my ‘Eating Tomatoes in Portugal‘ article, but I easily toss that one aside and say … this platform, which gives a voice to so many people, is beyond value.

Regards Keith

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If Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Brisbane Archdiocese drove me to the point of suicide in 2020 – did he and others conspire to commit a crime?

As a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a Catholic orphanage, I am the only person who can give myself agency. I am the only person who can stand up for myself and say that I have had enough of the treatment I have received from the Catholic Church. I make no allegation here, I make a direct accusation against Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and against the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland.

In August 2020 I sought to end my own life.

In 1957 I was five years old. As my feet traversed the entrance to St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage near Brisbane I did not know that multiple rapes and years of mental cruelty lay in my future.

In 2017 I was sixty-four years old. As I lodged my Claim for redress against the Catholic Church I did not know that four years of re-traumatisation, re-abuse, and the very denial of my existence was ultimately going to send me to the acute mental health ward of Nambour General Hospital where I was placed on suicide watch.

The childhood rapes and cruelty I experienced are rightfully deemed to be a heinous series of crimes. Yet, the denial of agency and re-abuse I experienced from the Catholic Church when I lodged my Claim, events that combined together to lead me into the choice of wanting to end my own life, are not deemed to be crimes of equal magnitude. Well, I see no difference. Trauma is trauma. Abuse is abuse. Without the very good help of the professionals in the acute mental health ward I would not be here today writing this.

Imagine how appalling a feeling it was to find that in August 2020 I lost control of my own mind and came to awareness in the A & E ward of Nambour Hospital with a nurse checking my clothes and body for any implements I could use to kill myself.

I have a pretty obvious question to put to both the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, and to the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy here in Queensland.

“When does omission of care by the Catholic Church cross the line between a casual indifference to the responsibility of duty of care, and morph into a deliberate criminal intent to deny care and cause harm?”

Committing myself has a bloody awful back-story. It is not a unique back-story. Too many of my Survivor Brothers and Sisters know the story all too well.

In early 2017, after almost a full lifetime of not having the courage to do it, I initiated legal proceedings against the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. Well little did I know. I expected justice, acknowledgement, apology, recognition of lifelong harm done, and heartfelt involvement in truth telling. I did not expect to be purposefully psychologically demolished, I did not expect to be treated as though I were lower than scum, I did not expect absolute silence once I had spoken, I did not expect the extent to which the Catholic Church was prepared to go to to diminish, unacknowledge, and water down my claim against them to almost nothing, I did not expect to be totally cut out of any important mediation session between the Church and my legal representatives, I did not expect to be treated as though I do not exist.

You may laugh at my naivety here, but I truly did believe the PR material contained on the Catholic websites where they state how much they care for the welfare of Survivors who lodge genuine claims for acknowledgement and redress. Naive no more. Their only concern was to protect their reputation, demolish me psychologically to the point where I fell apart and could not competently pursue my claim. In their aims they were totally successful – I openly admit I was a broken re-traumatised and re-abused man who was prepared to, and subsequently did so, sign any sort of release document just to get away from them and their abusive behaviour.

The Catholic Church did not care for my welfare as a litigant Survivor. Their only concern was damage limitation, a strict adherence to their internal risk management processes, and a go to any length approach to protect their public reputation.

So, to reiterate, how appalling a measure and indictment of the destructive power on the human spirit of childhood sexual abuse is it when one finds, in the latter stages of your life, finding yourself on suicide watch in a secure facility with your capability to control your mind in any sort of positive way totally lost to yourself. How appalling is it that when you approach the Catholic Church for justice and fairness their response is to re-abuse, re-traumatise, and drive you to the wish for suicide.

The last four years, induced and reinforced by the terrible way I was treated by the Sisters of Mercy and Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane, has been an awful experience to go through.

So I make no allegation, I make a direct accusation. The Archbishop had nothing to do with my childhood rape experiences, but since he the head of the Archdiocese and can be seen as ultimately responsible for everything done in its name – I directly accuse him of gross failure in his duty of care towards me. I directly accuse him of responsibility for the four years of re-abuse and re-traumatisation that I have just experienced. I directly accuse him of placing me in an unsafe situation where I saw suicide as the only way out of the trauma. I directly hold the hierarchy of the Corporation of the Sisters of Mercy in Queensland of holding equal culpability in this matter.

In my opinion they have committed a crime.

I am writing to the Queensland Police Service to see if they will accept and investigate my Formal Complaint against Archbishop Coleridge.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

 

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The Last Humans on Mars …

(Author: I’m currently working on a Space Elevator article, however, since Mars is all go at the moment I’ve dug up an old article of mine from the AIMN Archives just for the heck of it. The re-named article provides a partial answer (quite accidental on my part) to the riddle of the Fermi Paradox, and it does wonder about what ‘story’ will humanity leave behind on Mars.)

When carried on the wind, and when afforded the passage of uncounted millennia of time, even the soft red dust of the planet had sufficient ablative power to erode down even the strongest of the Alien’s structures. Had we arrived a million years later, which is nothing in the cosmic scheme of things, in all likelihood, there would have been nothing left to study, or learn from.

Had we arrived two million years earlier we would have met them.

Bittersweet. That is the only way to describe our feelings when we first discovered the remnants of this space-faring civilisation. In our journeys throughout this galaxy, we had never, ever, seen any evidence that any other species had become post-atomic, or had clawed their way up the gravity well in a lasting sense. Yet here we were, on this small dusty red planet, looking at the evidence such as it was, and we had missed a face to face meeting with them by the smallest mere speck of time. Bittersweet.

But enough of such musings. As a Space Archaeologist, I have a job to do, and a report to write. If death and taxes were once perennial in our embodied era, the need to publish as First Author, and gain and retain resources, is still a must in the current one.

Report to the Senate Select Committee on Civilisation Number 3,113: Another example of Cosmic Folly in the Race to Space.
Principal Author: Identity 756
Co-Authors: Identity 832. Identity 184.

Source of information: Crystalline Data Cubes x 6. Located in a lined and once inhabited lava tube below Alien Base A. Called A simply because it was found first. AI Identity 184 managed the de-coding of the Alien’s digital records and a translation of same into our language.

Data from the Cubes is comprehensive. It details evolutionary history of the species, the rise of their civilisation from one-cell through to the level of multi-cell, the attainment and management of technological sophistication, and it also provides the timeline of their development of rocketry and their ultimate achievement of the prize of inter-planetary travel.

Their species was homogeneous, of one single type only, though they did adopt the artificial construct of ‘differing out’ on such matters as melanin content, and on a matter that they called Political Ideology. Prior to their demise, the Aliens had not achieved disembodiment, or transition through to absolute sentience as AI.

Prior to delivering the full body of the Report, I would like to present the following as an Executive Summary. It speaks for itself and is a direct translation from a digital video segment on sub-level 32 on Data Cube 4.

Mars Base Plymouth, Olympus Mons. 19th September 2045. Daily log. Security Classification Level: “Seriously? Who is left to care?”

“My name is Harald Jacobsen. I am a Human Being. I am the last surviving member of the Mars Joint Mission Number 15. I will run out of oxygen in two days time. I am well aware that no other human beings will hear my words. There are, no longer, any other human beings. My words are for those who may follow, who may one day come into and explore this Solar System.

I am not a technical expert, I am not a scientist, I am a plumber. And whoever you are who follows on from us, I am all you’ve got. All you’ll get is my view of things. But where to start?

Living and working in Space had always been my dream, and gaining a position on the multi-national Mars Base Plymouth maintenance team was that dream realised. The commercialisation of Space had largely been achieved in a cooperative manner. The Chinese, Americans, Europeans, Russians, and Indians largely stuck to a collegiate approach. The minor fracas over equitable access to the frozen water at the base of some of the Moon’s craters was settled satisfactorily by arbitration.

The scientific community, largely funded by governments, sought to explore and understand Space. The industrial community driven by private entrepreneurs sought to exploit it, especially the mineral resources in the asteroid belt. But tensions between the two were held to a manageable level. Bases were set up on the Moon and Mars, and exploratory missions were planned to explore the planets and moons further out in the solar system.

In many ways, we had it all. As a civilisation, we had managed to escape our planetary cradle, the birthplace of our species. We now had one egg in three baskets. If such a thing is possible we had ensured the survival of our species. Let’s face it, it was highly unlikely that one massive rogue asteroid could wipe out Earth, the Moon, or Mars, all in one go.

The Arms Race in Space was a bit of a worry though. So much happened in that area so quickly, and all of the space-faring nations dived in and played their part in ringing the planet with nuclear mega-tonnage. So it is a little hard to just point the finger at any one country, they all contributed to the craziness.

Somewhere in the Data Cubes no doubt you’ll find many Technical Papers that describe the reaching of the climatic tipping point on our home planet, Earth. We didn’t stop crapping in our own nest soon enough is this layman’s view of it all.

Despite the many warnings, we kept shooting foul gases up into our own atmosphere. We thought we had decades, a century even, to clean up the mess. We were wrong. The times of crisis, the point of critical mass, arrived in a rush. It felt as though Earth herself was saying that ‘I’ve simply had enough’. She bumped up the temperature by more than a notch.

But it was survivable for us as a species. We evacuated our coastal regions to avoid the rush-in of the mega-hurricanes, and the sea level rise caused by the total meltdown of the planet’s glaciers and ice sheets. We migrated to the sweet spot latitudes to escape the encroachment of the inland drought-induced deserts, and we emigrated to the continent of Antarctica.

But the common folk were not part of the ‘we’ who did those things. It was the powerful and the rich, and their attached national military forces, who grabbed and defended for themselves those safe havens.

Water refugees, sea level rise refugees, heat refugees, food refugees, were all turned back to their terminal fate.

Here on Mars, and on the Moon, we watched it all unfold. We had our own concerns, because we were still at least a decade away from achieving full self-sufficiency. We still relied heavily on re-supply missions from Earth.

And then the wave of Nuclear Suitcase Bombs happened in the safe havens. And then, in retaliation, big red buttons were pressed. And pressed again. And pressed again. And so it unfolded, and so it all ended.

The madness did not migrate to the Moon or Mars. Perhaps the button-pressers simply ran out of missiles. We managed to eke out our dwindling supplies for a bit but they were finite, and they have now run out. My last fellow human being died yesterday. There are three bottles of oxygen left.

When you folk from a future time study our species you’ll probably wonder about a few things.

Like: how can a species ignore such high-level evidence pointing to human-induced degradation of climate and atmosphere? How could a species so successfully stick their heads into the sands of deniability as the evidence mounted, and mounted, and mounted?

And: you’ll probably wonder at the level of self-species hatred that we carried. At first, we threw rocks at each other. Then we threw spears. Then we hacked with swords and shot with bullets. Then we used cannons and bombs. Then nuclear-tipped missiles. The voices of destruction defeated the voices of peace. We wiped ourselves off the face of planet Earth. No doubt you’ll wonder how any sentient species could have done that to itself.

Was it truly all like that? Well, I’m the last voice left, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Mine are the last set of human eyes that will ever observe the heavens, and I’m pretty pissed off because being the last Human was never supposed to be part of my job description.

Do I have any famous last words to share? No, I do not. Unlike the main character in Andy Weir’s 2011 book The Martian, there will be no happy ending for me. There are no potatoes.

I’m Human. I’m alone. I’m scared.”

Comment from Principal Author AI Identity 756

I will use Human Alien nomenclature in this summary. The full report follows on from this.

Humanity was a low-level civilisation, and just like the 3,112 other failed civilisations we have studied thus far in the galaxy known by the Aliens as the Milky Way .. they were hardly unique. They succumbed to the same self-destructive drive as the others. They never managed to become post-nuclear, or post-war, and they killed off their own habitat, and ultimately their own species.

Humanity called our home galaxy Andromeda, or NGC 224. The latter name has a nice ring to our ears. From there we have sent out many exploratory missions into neighbouring galaxies. The result has always been the same. Unfortunately, I cannot yet supply an answer to the Senate on the question that we have asked ourselves over and over again …

Does lasting intelligence exist anywhere, or are we, as we fear, truly alone in the Universe?

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Un-Friending Facebook?

My finger is itchily hovering over the button that will sever my connection with Facebook. But before my digit descends I’ll pop out to the Mapleton Village shops and pick up a coffee, and sit in the park, and think about things.

Right. Coffee done. I’m back.

It would be so easy to press the button but the truth is I’m feeling very conflicted. I’d like you to read the following PR notice that FB has trotted out there for years … “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.”

Maybe, in a time that ended long ago, that statement had a ring of truth to it. But then the founders of FB moved on from being jolly College IT Nerds and discovered the feel of staggeringly huge amounts of money in their mitts, and then re-designed the platform to put even larger amounts of same in that same sweaty place. We, the users, were moved on from feeling part of a community of like-minded souls and friends and became nothing more than sources of usable data. We were turned (on the Platform I’m saying) into exploitable objects.

Yet, many of us, even with that clear knowledge in our minds, stayed with FB and endured that excruciating period when FB used a creeping method to algorithm us away from clear and concise contacts with our friends, and bastardised our Newsfeeds with so much unwanted crap.

And now … here we are at The Australian Independent Media Network (The AIMN) … faced with a direct attack on our abilities at the community level to cross-platform share our joys and fears on issues that are important to us. Did FB even take a nanosecond to think about the fact that The AIMN is not a Hard News site? The AIMN is a collective of writers and readers (often quite interchangeable between both of those roles) who share opinion pieces on politics or environment etc, and who share their stories and insights with other like-minded souls. We are a community and we have a community presence on FB. I feel quite angry at how FB is treating the founders and owners of The AIMN and how, from the FB point of view, not a shit is given to the years of effort that went into the building of this community. I know The AIMN will survive, but kicks in the guts are kicks in the guts.

Talking of which … I am part of a small FB Group called Survivors and Friends … I’ve only just recently joined but they used FB to archive all their previous articles and Survivor stories … their archive disappeared this morning. Which makes me doubly angry.

Why is this all happening?

Our gutless Government is owned lock stock and barrel by conservative media. Our monopoly mainstream media is jousting with the monopoly social media platforms to gouge whatever they can out of each others’ revenue streams. Without the backing of monopoly level conservative media our current Government would have been chucked out long ago. So no surprise that the Coalition is sucking up to Murdoch.

Bit trite for our Government to argue on behalf of Murdoch et al about how their revenue streams are being ripped off by the larger social media platforms, when that same Government is flaying the revenue streams of the ABC.

Meanwhile … The AIMN, Survivors and Friends, and all of the other community level organisations who utilise FB to share their information were today told in no uncertain terms by FB to go and get stuffed. They were also shown that the only thing that trickles down to them from the 1% looks like, smells like, and is, shit.

 

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Invitation To Country

[Extract: By the 22nd Century, perhaps earlier, it is my belief that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will be recognised as a watershed moment rising up and out from the endless Dreamings of Indigenous time. It will become the primary Foundation Document that enabled the future creation of a strongly independent and more culturally harmonious post-invasion Australia. Keith Davis 2021)]

I would like to attend an Indigenous ceremony that welcomes me to Country. Why would I like to do that? Well, over the course of my lifetime I have gathered my reasons.

The thought of Welcome to Country digs deep into the question of what it means to be an Australian in the modern era, and it asks what commonality of Identity do we all share as Australians given the wealth of different cultural backgrounds we all come from.

The Australian Identity problem, to me, appears to be that the dominant mainstream culture in Australia controls the narrative around what an Australian Identity really is. New Citizens to the country are welcomed in a largely anglo/celtic ceremonial way. Cannons boom, flags wave, Politicians drone their speeches, swearing on rather than at Bibles gets a look in, and the New Citizens get a spiffy Certificate devoid of any sort of heartfelt apology for all the hurtful hoops they had to jump through to be finally accepted here in the first place.

I don’t have a problem with the fact that I come from an anglo/celtic background, I’m proud of it, and I even have a tattoo of the Celtic Tree of Life on my left arm. So I don’t have a problem in that area – but where I do feel an unease is over the fact that New Citizens to this country are welcomed here by the usurpers of a never ceded Indigenous Sovereignty. Those usurpers, as the dominant culture, claim the right to conduct the Welcome to Country at the national level. Doesn’t seem right does it?

As the truth-telling of the bloody and brutally violent history of the recent takeover/theft of this land by Europeans takes traction in the consciousness of mainstream Australia, it appears to me that the time is right not only to reset not only how we see ourselves, but also to re-craft an Australian Identity that is inclusive of us all.

Nobody has to agree with my line of thought on these matters, it is my line of thought, and I am well aware that there are many different lines of thought on this subject matter out there. But in for a penny as well as a pound as the old saying goes …

As a blue-blood anglo/celtic Australian, blue-blood in the sense that my ancestors on both sides were convicts who were banished to the other side of the world for pilfering a bolt of cloth or something, I could easily sit back and feel smug about where I sit on the Australian Identity Continuum. I don’t however, sit back in such smugness.

On one level, undeniably, I’m Australian. I’m a citizen of this Commonwealth. I even drive a Holden which thankfully is not a Ute and it does not have ‘patriotic’ flags waving nationalistically out of every window.

On another level I feel distinctly unsettled about the type of Australian Identity that has been crafted for me over the last two Centuries or so by the dominant culture that currently holds sway in this land.

There are some undeniable facts that cannot be massaged or fiddled away because of the faux outraged pettiness of dominant cultures.

The oldest contiguous culture on this planet escaped total decimation/genocide after 1788 by the skin of its teeth. As Indigenous Culture resurges with ‘We have always been here, still are, and you will see us and hear us’ it gives all of us a chance to consider an identity reset.

It all makes me want to ask a question that I at least have never heard asked before.

Because I was born on this land in 1952, because I am of this land, because gum scent is in my nostrils and because red dirt layers the soles of my feet, am I part of the oldest contiguous culture on this planet, or am I just an add-on?

I have certain feelings on this matter but only an Indigenous person could probably give me a clear answer to that one – an Indigenous person whose ancestors and self never ceded their sovereignty to my ancestors, or to my self, or to anybody else.

As young Indigenous Activists, and older ones as well, prod us to acknowledge the truth of our own history, and encourage us to learn and grow and walk equally side by side with them, it raises so many questions about the underlying Spirit of contemporary Australia.

I take as a given my right to have a Representative Voice in our Parliament. That Parliament and the system of governance it represents derives from the background culture of the anglo/celts (not discounting the earlier input to that system of the Britons, Danes, Vikings, Normans etc etc) and the invading English dumped their system of values and laws on this shore, and those values and laws eventually morphed into our system of Parliamentary Governance, and that system rode roughshod over the Indigenous Sovereign Laws and Lore that had existed here for untold thousands of years.

So … here we have a Parliament. I have a Voice in that Parliament. But the original and still owners of this land are continually denied their Voice in Parliament and a seat around the grand parliamentary table by our politicians and by our mainstream culture. Demolishes the myth of Australian egalitarianism don’t you think?

The Uluru Statement From the Heart was a combined First Nation’ effort to reach out to us and offer up a shared way forward. Our Parliament, the Parliament that speaks in our name, viciously riposted to the Statement by dumping it and the attendant hopes in the rubbish bin. There was no effort to meet halfway, there was no meeting of Spirit. The utter rejection of the Statement blights us all.

I don’t believe that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will continue to lie quietly in the background, nor will it allow itself to be ignored. By the 22nd Century, perhaps earlier, it is my belief that the Uluru Statement From the Heart will be recognised as a watershed moment rising up and out from the endless Indigenous Dreamings of time. It will become the primary Foundation Document that enabled the future creation of a strongly independent and more culturally harmonious post-invasion Australia.

Big words those might be. Fact is we have to look back and acknowledge truth, then seek a way to move forward together. The Uluru Statement offers us that way forward.

Sometimes in life little moments happen in our interactions with other people and those moments stick around in the back of our skull boxes for some reason .. here’s an example of that.

Almost two years ago I did an epic road trip out into the Australian Deserts, not a bad effort for an avowed stay at home hermit. On the road between Lake Eyre and Uluru I stopped to assist some Aboriginal men whose car had broken down – long story short it created the need for another epic trip of sorts to the nearest but far away Aboriginal Settlement in order to pick up a hose to syphon petrol from my car to theirs. It made time for an interesting conversation …

The other blokes stayed with their car and their leader came with me and directed me on the quest to find that elusive hose. I’m paraphrasing from memory here a bit, and we had quite a few laughs along the way at our mutual ineptitude at trying to find something as simple as a bit of garden hose out in the Desert of all places, but here’s the gist of the conversation …

“For a White Fella you seem to at least have half a brain so I want to be truthed up. I know you sensed that things could have gone bad today. Well nothing went bad because we all said to each other he’s the only White Fella who stopped.”

As one does I thought of a couple of things … since they were six fine examples of Aboriginal manhood I reckon I’d have lasted a magnificent three seconds into the first Round , and then I asked him why would I be hated or be a target?

“You are not hated Brother. We don’t hate White Fellas. You are not hated because you were not scared like the others who flashed past and you stopped out here with us. What we hate is what your Mob did to us. We hate that.” Serious stuff, and laughs, it was quite a conversation. How could it not make me think about the need for real change in Australia?

Another short moment to relate … at the underground bar in Coober Pedy I had a conversation without words with an old Aboriginal man … we both sat there in an alcove amongst all that resplendent touristic finery with a bottle of Italian beer in our hands and our eyes met … without words we smiled at each other and clinked our bottles … again, it was quite a conversation … an old white hermit and an old black member of the oldest contiguous culture on this planet … both sitting there feeling out of time and place yet recognising each other and wishing each other the best of good cheer. You see, it really is possible, with the Spirit of meet, hands really can extend towards each other.

My wish to be Welcomed to Country by a representative of First Nations’ People might just seem like a hollow goody-two-shoes symbolic act by some, and others may tag me a leftist bleeding-heart wishing for the seemingly impossible. I don’t care because I am neither of those things. All of us as human beings have to work out for ourselves the values that we carry around in our own hearts. I do not buy into the Australian myth of who I am supposed to be, and nor will I allow any Identity to be imposed upon me.

Only an Indigenous person can tell me whether or not my wish to be truly Welcomed to Country is culturally appropriate from their point of view. If they say no I’ll say fair enough. However, if they say yes and “quit yapping on about it you old bozo and get your skinny skin over here so we can get the thing done”, well, I’ll scoot over there with bells on.

All of us think, and I’m sure that most of you realise that, given the bloody nature of the earlier history of Australia, for any one of us to be truly Welcomed to Country by an Indigenous person is not a light flick-away feel-good thing. It is not like the Welcome to Country that we get when we attend the first day of a Cricket Test.

To be truly Welcomed to Country requires both parties to stand together, and look back together, and for one party to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused and the generational disadvantage imposed and the benefits accrued to that party by being a modern day beneficiary of all the terrible things that went on before, and for the other party to speak and be heard and to not hold back on the depth of the wounding and pain and that deepest deepest sense of loss. So there is nothing ephemeral about such a real Welcome to Country. That is my view.

Such a meeting of true Spirit could have the power to resonate strongly and cut through the apathy and judgemental indifference and the spurning that our, our, mainstream culture directs towards the First Nations’ People of this land. Like anything else in Australia real change on serious issues comes from the ground up, it comes from individual people who see the need for change coming together to create that change.

Before I die I want to be Welcomed to Country, my country, by the only People who can do such a thing. I don’t want pomp and ceremony, booming cannons, political double-speak, hands on supposedly holy books, or any other of that made up guff. I want to be drawn into, and invited to feel a welcomed part of, the timeless Spirit of this Land.

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