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Day to Day Politics: A Saturday reflection

Saturday 30 January 2016

‘Reflection’ is a marvellous word. It means to contemplate or give serious consideration to something.

That’s the reason I’m not talking about politics specifically today. You see I have been reflecting, giving consideration to just why I do this, what’s the purpose of it. Where does my political philosophy stem from? The reassurance of what shaped it? That I am being true to it? Sometimes in the daily grind of it all one is apt to disremember the reason, the point, the why of what you do.

Why do I persist when confronted with the abuse the feral nutters (licenced by social media) dish out. The nonsense they spew forth in the absence of considered thought.

Is it all worthwhile? Other writers at The AIMN I feel sure would attest to the time it takes to pull an article together. Kaye Lee for example has an enormous output compounded by the extent of her research. John Kelly’s work on economics is the same.

Many questions arise for the author. Am I being objective or just biased? Is what I have written accurate and fair. Even when you just want to throw shit because you are offended.

So to pause now and then to question oneself is a good thing. I started writing for THE AIMN and Facebook over three years ago and have enjoyed, by my standards at least, great success. I don’t profess any ownership of great knowledge or any self-righteousness.

In fact what I know is only surpassed by what I don’t. I am certainly of the left but believe that in a democracy we should never be foolish enough to believe your opponents should never win.

Central to my life experience is that the left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is more concerned with those who can.

But central to the purpose of my lingering reflection is also to think about those who take the time, or to put it another way, make us worthy of their time by reading whatever it is our minds dictate to our keyboards.

My piece this week ‘’Only in America’’ even made it onto an American blog and many more thousands of people read it. I was apprehensive as to what Americans might think of my well-intended criticism. In short, the response was heartening. So much so that they became the catalyst for my Saturday reflection.

Another person (a homeless man in Sydney) messaged me to remind me of ‘’how important it was for me to post my work in text form’’ on Facebook because it’s the only way he could get it on his phone and he looked forward to it every day.

Another lady wrote of how much she enjoyed my daily thoughts. When she explained why I felt the reason, the why of what I do.

So in my tarrying I have given the reader of these words my best, my utmost respect in my reflective meditation. My short hesitation is just that. A blip I’ll see you tomorrow.

My thought for the day:

Life is a poem we write ourselves.


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  1. Rafe Falkiner

    your clock is a day fast John

  2. Ruth L

    Thanks John ,you give this old ,left leaning,lady much ‘food for thought’ about this rapidly changing world which seems to be less caring for those who are struggling.

  3. Pudden'head

    Good morning John. May I share my frustration with you

    All Smoke and Mirrors.

    Each of us is a gift to our time,
    Some will provide the world with smiles
    And some with sadness,
    some with love,
    some with fear,
    while others will have nothing at all to show.

    Then who could fail to tremble for the babe,
    the lonely child,
    taking note of every chance,
    at the gate of given years,
    logged on and marked to exit,
    left or right
    when the heavenly hands of the parking clock say,
    Buddy, its time to go.

    So is there some miraculous plan we’ve failed to see
    Who turns the wheel to open the cock and let the
    waters grow?

    While shivering at that golden gate,
    They’d heard the verdict on their times,
    that they would live in silken years
    in wealth and learned climes.
    They heard that shades of evil would perish in the light
    while democratic reason would conquer Evil’s night,
    leave a world in justice with a lover’s loving bight
    though they came to wonder, where that went
    and how the winds just blow.

    Someone said they’d see the light of progress
    on their hill,
    though what they met was eternity
    forever turning till,
    it lobbed again on a once used side,
    to pretend a new beginning,
    quite new to some on a time worn world,
    that hides its scars, hides sinning
    and beguiles us all with discoveries,
    when days warmth melts the snows
    Will you walk a little faster
    said the whiting to the snail,
    for the times are getting tougher
    and there lies danger for the frail,
    for those who seek to live in peace,
    must cross the parlous trail,
    spiked and barred with shibboleths
    chance failures keening wail.

    Will you walk a little faster?
    We will when we need to know.

    Each of us is a gift to our time.
    Some will provide the world with smiles
    and some with sadness,
    some with love,
    some with fear,
    while others will be collaborators,
    with anyone who leads,
    born followers,
    while others,
    the others,
    the audience,
    and the undecided
    act as unworldly flotsam and jetsam,
    washed here and there by ebb and flow.

    Monday, 8th of November,1999 an Australian Rugby team had won the William Webb-Ellis trophy. At Rugby we were world champions. Sadly the day before our glorious win we lost the ‘game’ that would have given us a republic. I think that had we had an impartial referee we would have won that game too. Well played J.Howard though you have proven to be an ear biter worse than any French forward.

  4. Terry2

    Normally at this time of the morning, as I sit at my desk, there is a 40 kg sprawling golden labrador curled at my feet ; a proximity that has suited us both over the years.

    This old fella was twelve – quite old for a labrador – and was losing his quality of life and dignity. He was blind, partially deaf and suffered from severe arthritis which was medicated to assist his mobility. On Australia Day after observing the difficulty he was having in managing bodily functions my wife and I decided that we had to make the decision that we had been dreading.

    The following morning we called the vet and made the appointment that we were so reluctant to keep but we followed through encouraged by an understanding, compassionate and experienced veterinary professional.

    The emotional bruising is still raw but we have the comfort of knowing that we were able to make the decision that relieved suffering and brought a noble life to a dignified end.

    Time for reflection, indeed John, and I have to wonder whether when my time comes there will be the opportunity to depart this mortal coil with dignity and in a manner of my choosing ; perhaps I need to speak with Kevin Andrews about that.

  5. John Lord

    Terry. ‘The knowledge that the one and only life we are living is but short should make it all the more precious’ I know, having been in your situation, the sadness of losing a canine pet.

    Pudden;head. I enjoyed your work.

  6. Steve Laing

    Love your work John. In a world of guarded left of centre journalism, and utter shit right wing bollocks, it’s nice to have someone willing to put something out there AND engage in the following debate.

  7. RosemaryJ36

    We think that we have two major parties but neither of them upholds social justice.

  8. diannaart

    Terry 2

    These short-lived people, who love us unconditionally, are missed for many lifetimes. We are all the better for it.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I’m sad for you and your wife’s loss and dread the same thing which will happen to my dear 15 year old Abe in the not too distant future.

  10. stuff me

    Thank you John Lord.

  11. corvus boreus

    My condolences on the passing of your friend.

  12. Kaye Lee


    I feel your pain. Yesterday I picked my son up from the airport after he had spent a couple of months touring Europe. His last instruction to me was to make sure I looked after his 15 year old dog. While he was away she had a couple of seizures but came good each time. The night before he got home was a bad night and I found her, in the morning, curled up in his bedroom. I picked him up and when we got home he carried her outside and sat with her on the nature strip. A couple of hours later she had another seizure and we had to make the decision to end her suffering. My 24 year old son came to me this morning with arms out and sobbed on my shoulder then told me how much he loved me. My daughter said he sent her similar messages. It is so hard when we are faced with mortality. I find it amazing that we all lose the ones we love the most and yet the world keeps spinning. Remember the good times, the love….we are all touched by our experiences and interactions so we never really lose those who have helped shape us.

  13. Terry2

    Thanks to one and all, it says something of the empathy that binds AIMN.

    A quote somebody sent me :

    “A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.”

  14. June Currie

    Enjoy and gain from your daily contributions.Loved today’s thought.

  15. Kyran

    For some reason, your reflections had me reminiscing about the saga of ‘The Little Red School Book’ most of yesterday. It was a book written by two teachers in the late 60’s.
    “The book encourages young people to question societal norms and instructs them in how to do this.”
    As a student in a suburban high school in Melbourne in the early 70’s, I recall the book getting much attention as it dealt with subjects that had previously been considered as taboo. Drugs, sex, authority, etc.
    What was considered most heinous was that it was written for the youth. As it was ‘pre internet’, copied pages would be secretively shared behind the shelter sheds.
    Whilst much of the ‘authoritarian outrage’ was righteously indignant, the greater conversation was whether the youth – to which it was directed – had the capacity to intelligently digest and address the issues. I don’t recall its factual content ever being challenged. The books premise was that the purpose of education was to teach students how to think, challenging the recital nature of education to that point, ie teach them what to think.
    To explain the cultural context, society was transitioning from conservative to liberal, with many social ‘freedoms’ being made possible by scientific advances, such as contraception, and becoming available to ‘the masses’. Much of this transition is mirrored in the music of the times.
    The books release coincided with authority being challenged on an increasing basis. The Vietnam War and the Dismissal were reflective of this social turbulence, and the newly found societal self confidence encouraged many like me to participate in demonstrations, the likes of which are unlikely to be replicated, in my opinion, any time soon.
    This may be merely ‘selective memory’ on my part, reflecting on a distant past through rose coloured glasses. But I fondly recall many ‘robust discussions’, that would start with a premise and be developed, honed and refined, enhanced or nuanced by most contributions. I don’t recall there being any ‘losers’ in an argument (but I can recall some appalling arguments!). The merits of an argument, or any contribution to it, would be assessed without regard for the merits of the proponent.
    As you mention in your musings, many articles appear on this site that are well researched and argued. Yet, for all of the ‘cultural’ advances made since the 60’s and 70’s, we seem to want to ignore that which is plain to see, the quality of an argument and the merit of developing it further, and pay attention to ‘feral nutters’, whose only ambition is to attack the author and ignore the content of their submission.
    So many of the enormous social gains of that era became part of our expectation of subsequent governments; universal healthcare and education; working conditions; women’s right to choice; etc. We have advanced so much, that all of these hard won gains are ‘back on the table’ because of vacuous politicians acting at the behest of vested interests.
    Curiously, your writing today includes an observation;
    ‘Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.’
    Possibly the saddest observation I can recall you making. It seems to me to be reflective of ‘modern reality’, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. A maxim frequently challenged on this site. Thankfully.
    Thank you Mr Lord. Take care

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Beautifully said, Kyran.

    I especially like how you reminisce that ‘The Little Red School Book’ encouraged us how to think not what to think.

    Such a memory makes me even sadder how literacy and numeracy are the only educational measures given any credibility now with NAPLAN, which is a way to dumb down the masses and a tool for discriminating between the have and have-not schools.

  17. Kyran

    Thank you, Ms Meyer-Smith. I share your sadness at the new found celebration of mediocrity, which seems now to be the ‘high point’ of aspiration. As an example of serendipity, whilst I was typing the verbose and, likely, off track eulogy to intelligent discussion, an e-mail came in from

    Having become a great admirer of Malala Yousafzai, the ambition and aspiration of the petition didn’t surprise me. What heightened my melancholy was that these children so treasure the notion of an education, they literally risk their lives merely for the opportunity.
    As a society, a community, we have become so complacent about that which we have taken for granted for decades, we are likely to lose it, without much more than a whimper.
    Seems to me, we spend our time discussing such issues as if they were political matters. A notion which I find idiotic, in the extreme. Take care

  18. caroline

    I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the authors of The AIMN for all.of their hard work. This old duck appreciates intelligent writing and it sooths my soul that there are still “others” out there. Thank you from the bottom.of my heart.

  19. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, Caroline. That was a wonderful thing to say and I am so pleased that this site means so much to you. I hope all the authors get a chance to see your comment.

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I received that petition also and signed it thinking what it must be like to have young women like these two in your class, who cherish their educational opportunities.

  21. paul walter

    That was my era, too. Remembering Richard Neville, Greer and the rest with Private Eye…They actually jailed Neville and others for publicising the London Oz “take” on Little Red Schoolbook, whch was nothing new to Neville who also got canned in the early sixties for the local OZ when it was starting up. Where has it gone, the audacity.

  22. Kyran

    Spot on, Ms Meyer-Smith. The query is whether our formulaic Naplan system would conceal their qualities, or embolden them.

    Mr Walter, you have reminded me of the work done by Geoffrey Robertson in his early career, who was (on my recollection) one of the lead counsel in many of those trials. Robertson went on to a career based on his belief’s. His process of developing scenario’s that presented problems that required resolution is best demonstrated in the ‘Hypothetical’ series.

    As a matter of irony, Turnbull acted in the ‘Spycatcher’ case, using similar arguments to Robertson’s in the Oz case. Unlike Robertson, he went on to various careers prostituting his belief’s.

    “The fact of the matter is that nothing is achieved in this world, particularly politically, other than with persistence, and persistence involves repetition and it involves argument and re-argument… The public interest in free speech is not just in truthful speech, in correct speech, in fair speech… The interest is in the debate. You see, every person who has ultimately changed the course of history has started off being unpopular.”
    Turnbull’s closing submissions, 18 December 1986.

    I ‘borrowed’ that from his Wiki listing, referencing the Spycatcher case. Seems odd that the last sentence could be interpreted as heralding the return of rabid.
    Thank you both (and AIMN for the forum). Take care

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