Australia is on fire.

I don’t mean in the Alicia Keys sense. We are literally burning here, with massive fires, such as one only hours from where we live, which killed 4 people, and others in South Australia where people have also died. To put that into context, we have a good warning system, and people in fire-prone areas are used to preparing for and defending their properties against fire. For people to die… it’s unusual. It’s terrifying and tragic. And it’s only the beginning of summer–the start of the bushfire season. Our summer is predicted to be horrendously hot, coming off the rest of 2015, the hottest year on record.

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The Regular Ramble.

What beautiful weather it’s been so far this weekend. Due to the ANZAC commemorations, the Offspring had Friday off school, so I’m completely unprepared for them to be at home today. It feels like a Monday.

And yet, it is not a Monday! It is a Sunday, and so I’m off outside to plant some pumpkin seeds. Enjoy this week’s links!

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Necessity and Invention.

Recently, a blogger I follow posted something which was hard to read.  His goddaughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour some months ago, and the latest news is that her condition is terminal.  She’s just a little girl, and her parents and family and friends now have to come to grips with the thought of losing her.  The blogger pointed to a website where people could donate, to try and find a cure for these cancers.

And this made me think of the number of times every year, when money is being raised for this hospital or that illness.  Friends ask me for donations to cure diabetes or leukemia or mental illness, or assist people living with disabilities.  I’m often asked to sponsor others going on walks or runs or bike rides, so they can raise awareness and money to support more research.

I have to say, I’m kind of over it.

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I resisted Twitter for years before succumbing to it.  And now I’m there, I really like it, mostly because I follow some interesting sites which constantly tweet links to articles I might enjoy (and I generally do enjoy them).  The trouble lies when I start to read the comments.  I mean, this is the internet, so why am I surprised that comments can be like diving in a cesspool?  Generally, I avoid them, but sometimes… I guess I’m my own worst enemy.

The other day, I read an article about overpopulation where I became mired in the comments.  I didn’t respond, so at least I have some semblance of sense, but there were people who did annoy me.  Mostly, because they remind me of myself, and because I’m now on the defensive.

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Saying Nice Things, or Saying Nothing At All.

I wasn’t going to write about Cory Bernadi today.  I had something else on which I was working, and there were other reasons, as well.  I haven’t read his book, so I’m basing my thoughts on this morning’s article, plus others.  I also figured that there is going to be a chorus of indignant voices raised in response to this article, so why add mine to the mix?

Well, that’s never stopped me before!  And the article this morning really ticked me off. If I write about it, I’ll get it out of my system, and then perhaps I can focus on other topics, which I feel are more worthy of my time.

I know that the ABC has likely cherry-picked quotes to ensure the article is read and shared by the greatest number of people.  On the other hand, the quotes are certainly not out of character for this politician.  Formerly the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, he resigned and headed to the back bench after claiming that allowing same sex marriages could encourage bestiality.

Now he has written a book in which he has managed to offend a whole new group of people.  Or perhaps that should be ‘groups’.  Or perhaps that should be ‘huge great swathes of the population’.

Bernadi argues that the abortions in Australia are a ‘death industry’, and that ‘traditional families’ are superior to other kinds, such as stepfamilies (and basically any other in which the parent/s are not married, or heterosexual, or whose children are not conceived ‘naturally’, or are not biologically theirs).  He also claims that one of the threats against Christianity and traditional values is the ‘green agenda’,  placing the value of animal and plant life over that of humans.

I was trying to identify what exactly it was that I found so annoying about Bernadi’s arguments, or at least those quoted by the ABC website. I mean, he’s gone to so much trouble to list his issues with what has gone wrong with our country, it seems a shame to choose just one to refute, doesn’t it? But in fact, all his arguments boil down to one assumption.

Bernadi is like every other right wing idealist, in that he seems to believe that all the problems of our modern society would go away if only we were to return to some golden era, where men were men and women were women and they married (and never divorced) and had children and all was right with the world. A time when there were none of those pesky homosexuals, when abortions didn’t exist, when everyone went to church, when humans were confident of their rightful place in nature (at the top of the food chain, and not part of it).

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to that time? Wouldn’t it just make things so much simpler? Oh, if only! And we could be rid of this confusing mess in which we find ourselves, which is destroying us from within!

But there was never such a time. There might have been, for some members of society, but only because they chose to ignore that there have always been unhappy marriages, or infertility, or unwanted pregnancies, or unhappy people unable to have the relationships they really wanted. The problems with our society are not because of some failure to attend church, and not because people are divorcing–or not marrying–or having children via IVF. The problems we face are because we’re humans, and we bicker with each other, and are greedy, and take a long time to learn from our mistakes. But we do evolve. Ever so slowly, but it happens. And in our evolution, we begin to ask questions about equality, and our place in the world, and how we treat others, and how we want our future to look.

Cory Bernadi wants to court a small part of the population and argue that their worldview is under attack, when all that is really happening is that this worldview is having to share the stage with others. Perhaps the saddest part of this is how he throws his religion into the mix. In a country like Australia, where church-going is hardly the Sunday past-time of choice, (whether or not they believe in a Christian god), most people are not going to be swayed when he claims that our country is suffering because we have strayed from the path of Christianity. And I can’t help feeling a little dismissive of his views, when he says that faith and Christianity are under threat by environmentalists and Islam. Under threat? Just how fragile is his faith, if it cannot withstand challenges such as other religions or a different political perspective? The last time I looked, people from different faiths and political persuasions challenge each other all the time. Sometimes–wait for it–they can even respect each other, and get along.

Other times, they fight wars.

What does Cory Bernadi want to do? Get along, or fight a war? Considering the way in which he has clashed even with members within his own party, considering he has already lost one job and is willing to jeopardise his place in his political party, I guess he is willing to fight. I think he wants to foster a strong conservative future for Australia; I believe he is fired up and ready to step up to defend his faith and his right wing values from the rest of us, who obviously have lost our way, because we simply want people to be able to live their lives and be content. Cory Bernadi is ready to stand up for that in which he believes, and do whatever it takes to battle this out.

Call it typical Australian apathy, but I’m not sure many of us can really be bothered taking him seriously enough to fight back. Lucky for us, we’re in the majority.

Now let’s see what we can do about that green agenda, and same sex marriage, shall we?

The Rich Were Right! Poor People Really ARE Stupid!

I have another post to come soon, but I wanted to just jump in quickly with this.  Recently I was ruminating on the concept of poverty and shame–how not being able to afford something had been cause for embarrassment for me, even though I’m generally quite good at budgeting.  In both the post and the comments, the idea of blaming poor people for their predicament came up, so imagine my interest when I read about a study which found that being poor really seems to adversely affect one’s capacity to make good choices, or to think clearly.  The study wanted to establish whether it were the situation which caused the person to make poor decisions, or whether people find themselves in poverty because they make poor decisions.

The result?  Apparently, poor people are just like everyone else.  It seems that those who are in financial dire straights are so overwhelmed by worry about how they are going to survive, that they find it difficult to make sensible, rational decisions.  That is: being poor is hard.  WHO KNEW?

Hopefully, publicising this kind of information can only help in ensuring that those in poverty are afforded the same respect as everyone else.  And perhaps we can also affect change by really addressing the issues surrounding poverty–like corruption, mental and physical health, environmental factors–instead of demonising the poor.