Humble Pie

1984. Tasmania. Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom had hit the music charts, and was likely blasting on the radio of the ‘Big Bus’ – the first of a three-bus-long journey to school.

At the age of seven, I wouldn’t have known what ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ meant. But I understood the principles of terror.

Early in the morning, we’d be trudging through a kilometre of frost to encounter the two frosty sisters from the dairy farm next door.

Possibly they were going to slice the fingers from my fingerless gloves, or drown me in the lake with the kittens. I don’t remember the specific threat, just that I was afraid. Very afraid.

And that was before Mr Sim’s coach thundered up, and I had to face the Big Kids at the back of the bus.

Bus old

“Whadda you lookin’ at?” they’d sneer, and tell me to piss off down the front, or else…

I could tell my two older siblings were also scared, or at least, they were too busy trying to fit in to come to my defence.

Until then, I’d always thought the big kids were supposed to protect the little ones.

It was a wide awakening…me, at night, trying to think of a solution to my woe.

Finally, I consulted Mum for advice. She, in turn, consulted the repository of all wisdom – Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories.

The next day I was sent to the bus stop with a brown paper bag full of blackberry pies.

As the sneering sisters turned on me, I held up my white flag.

“It’s for you…(Mum made them),” I mumbled, not daring to meet their gaze. I could feel my siblings’ mortified stupor cowering somewhere behind me.

The sisters took the offering, and inspected it for poison.

The moment their eyes grew wide, I knew it was a winner.

“But, why?” they breathed. I shrugged. “Thank you. That’s so nice…”

Pie

In my mind, they got on the bus and bragged to their friends about the pie they scored. But I’m not sure that really happened.

What I do know is we all knew that they knew they didn’t deserve it. And from that moment on, peace reigned at the bus stop.

When I think back on that memory now, it seems kind of quaint and embarrassingly naïve.  If that same thing happened today, would the bullies back down. Or would they kick you in the guts for trying to placate them?

I’m scared of the world we live in.

A world where leaders pay lip service to the greatness of a man who understood human rights as more than just a dusty document.

A world where leaders think that inventing the term ‘illegal refugee’ justifies the persecution of people fleeing from tyranny.

A world where freedom and democracy are rights of the first world to deny.

We preach the principles of ‘turn the other cheek’ – as long as it’s not ours.

But Mandela knew better. He didn’t turn the other cheek. He stood his ground. Held his enemies in a firm embrace.

Shamed them, with pure decency, and took a nation with him while he did.

Rugby Old

It takes a giant to do that.

My actions in 1984 were not noble, loving or even forgiving. It was self-preservation. Had they actually caused me harm, I’d have been blubbering behind a tree or quietly plotting their revenge. Not giving pie.

But the principle is the same. In both cases, peace was won because the people in the wrong had the graciousness to know when to back down.

Bob Geldof, in his tribute to Mandela, writes:

“…who could have imagined the humility, the dignity and forgiveness that Mandela displayed to his oppressors upon his final total success?

In private he pitied them. He knew precisely what he was doing. One visitor said: ‘Mr President you have given great dignity to the black people.’ Madiba replied instantly (and you can hear the inimitable cadence in his reply): ‘No, young man, you are wrong. I have given dignity to the white man. There is no dignity in the oppressor.'”

As a globe, do we have what it takes to honour his memory? Can we empathise with ‘the other’ enough to open our arms to their pain? Are we brave enough to eat the humble pie?

Fast Forward to the Fifties

So it’s official. Australia is returning to the 1950’s freakin’ dark ages.

Remember this guy from my post a few weeks back?

Ditch WitchThe guy who happily stood in front of the “Ditch the Witch…Bob Brown’s Bitch” banner, and then said Julia Gillard was being “too precious”?

Yep. It obviously struck a chord with my fellow country-folk, because he’s our new Prime Minister as of last weekend!

With Tony Abbott at the helm, this is what we have to look forward to:

Foreign AidNo more charity (but better roads)

Courtesy of our mining boom, we weathered the global financial crisis better than any country on the globe. Now we’re apparently too rich to help out anyone in need.

Stop Boats

No more refugees

We’re so rich we can now afford to buy up all of Indonesia’s leaky boats before the people smugglers get to them. Innovative new plan to →

No more climate change

Climate Tax

Since Abbot believes climate change is just a load of “crap”, there’s no more need for any kind of forward environmental planning.

More ironing for housewives

In the world according to Abbot, women have less physiological aptitude for leadership, and abortion is just ‘the easy way out’. So we can soon expect a return to this…

Laundry

Yay……………………………………….

Help.

Anyone?

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to get back to the…

Future

1.  Volunteer for Mars.

If my head hadn’t been buried in the video project that will never end, maybe I would have heard about it before the applications closed.

2.  Become a refugee.

The other day my hairdresser told me about a backpacker who overstayed her Visa.  She escaped on an Indonesian boat and is now happily posting Facebook updates from Nepal! I’m all up with the squatting toilet now, so this is sounding good. One small problem: They’re stopping all the boats!

3.  Become a hippie.

The same hairdresser asked me if I want to join her setting up a commune. All I need is $100,000. Sigh. Apparently it costs money to drop out of society, these days.

4.  Wash it all down with Martini and write this blog.

The 50’s were good for something, at least.

Martini

”Cause we’re all doomed, even if we’re livin’ on the moon…’

~ Brett Amaker  & the Rodeo

If someone offered you a ticket, would you move to Mars?

Switching Up the Roles

Women in Australia have just been royally screwed.

Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister, kicked out of leadership two months before the next election, in preference for her predecessor, Kevin Rudd.

Okay. It is true. She did kinda oust Kevin in his first term of government. But what everyone seems to forget is that her party put her up to it – with a VOTE!!

Her reward for being a team player was negotiating a hostile hung parliament through three years of extraordinary reforms. Being the target of a vicious media campaign. And then being dumped as unceremoniously as she started out.

Here are some of the headlines we got to enjoy while she was PM:

Julia Gillard

Ju-LIAR – Bob Brown’s Bitch

Her fatherdied of shame

Ditch the Witch

She should be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea

She’s been served up on an Liberal (Opposition) Party function menu as “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – small breast, big thighs and a big red box”.

And recently, asked if her male hairdresser partner is gay.

There are some in the media who would have us believe that “women are destroying the joint” and others who feel quite comfortable telling journalists “women should shut up in public”.

To top it all off, any sign of disapproval is met with the accusation we’re just “too precious” and “playing the gender card”!

Thank god for GetUp, who established a Gender Card campaign to address the “deep, rank, sexist bullshit” in this country.

I mean, seriously. What the hell century are we living in again?

On the up side, representation of women in Australian media and politics is apparently reaching a 30% critical threshold. So maybe that’s why the old fellas are getting all hysterical…

What you mad? Can’t handle that?

By the way, Happy Independence Day, America!

If you could switch roles, what’s the first thing you would do?