I have not always been an optimist, but serendipity has intervened so often in my life, that I now see helpful outcomes as more likely than less favourable ones – at least, most of the time!
I try to avoid pessimistic thoughts because that way lies depression and damage to mental health – which is currently far too common for many who have not experienced good fortune at any stage in their lives.
Politically, I guess I am a progressive who sees social justice, and active efforts to reduce inequality, as essential goals, ones which do not appear to be embraced with any conviction by our major political parties!
But I see ideology as a serious enemy to progress – and progress is not necessarily achieved through continuous growth.
Human beings are the only animals where perpetual population growth is an expected outcome – with no thought for what that means in the context of limited resources.
If we were to stabilise population growth, which could now be done humanely, without wars and pandemics, we would reduce the pressure for continual growth.
‘Growing the economy’ has been the political mantra for too long, and we are achieving that growth through creating more and more waste and pollution, exploiting less developed countries to provide what verges on slave labour, and generally guaranteeing that future generations will be less and less likely to have a life worth living!
When I graduated with a maths degree in the UK in 1957, there was a high demand for maths and science graduates to go into secondary teaching, to raise the standards – this being the time of the space race.
Nothing has changed. Skills in STEM subjects are still in short supply, and those who have those skills are not attracted into a profession which undervalues teachers – just like it undervalues all caring professions.
It has been an eye opener to see a Coalition government actively rely on specialist advice from the medical sciences in planning a path through COVID-19. Doubly surprising, because the almost total lack of understanding of any branch of science (politics and economics are not sciences!) among our politicians, has resulted in their dismissive response to any suggestion that they listen to scientific advice.
OK – almost all of us come from a background where doctors have been held in high regard because of their power of controlling life or death situations.
But our climate scientists are in exactly the same situation, knowing that we are on the path to self-destruction, just as much as any drug addict or diabetic who refuses to follow medical advice.
I am not a psychologist, so cannot begin to even hazard a guess as to why our ideological Coalition government is so addicted to promoting fossil fuels as the continuing preferred source of energy.
The growing consensus is that we are fast running out of time to make serious steps to cease using fossil fuels beyond the essential – as in making steel – and advances in the development and use of renewable energy make this a realistic goal.
Pessimism starts creeping in when I am forced to realise that this is most unlikely to happen under the current Coalition government and we are stuck with them for the best – or worst – part of another two years.
If you, or close relatives, have children, grandchildren, great grandchildren – surely you want them to have the best lives possible?
The pandemic has disastrously affected our economy, and there will be slow progress in recovering, with so many now unemployed and so many jobs no longer available.
But this is where we cannot afford to look back and seek to return to ‘normal’, because the old ‘normal’, with a sluggish economy and increasing inequality, was dooming our kids’ futures, anyway.
I am pessimistic that Coalition policies will lead us in this direction – so we have got to make it possible – through civil disobedience, if necessary (let’s not go as far as the French Revolution).
Black Lives Matter is an issue we should support, if we have a moral bone in our bodies. That ties in with working our butts off to reduce inequality, whether in wealth or related to ethnicity.
We do not deserve to seek a comfortable life if we can only do do at a cost to the lives of others.
Morality is not a religious issue. It is the foundation stone of a viable society. In fact the apparent absence of morality in many who claim to follow some religion or cult is seriously high.
We elect governments to develop policies to support our lives – for all of us, not a select few.
If they cannot do this effectively, it is up to us to make them!
That is realism!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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