I went for a run today, and I ended up running further than I had planned. I had set the time on my phone and I had a feeling when I was about halfway through, that I was going to end my run much further from home than I had expected. The trouble was that I knew that I’d be tired and I wouldn’t be able to run all the way home–which was quite a way. But there wasn’t a choice, of course. How else was I going to get home?! I’d run as far as I could, and then I’d walk.
So as you probably know, both David Bowie and Alan Rickman died last week, and the news hit me harder than I expected. Perhaps it’s because in both cases, the news came to everyone, except those very close to them, as a shock. Perhaps it’s because several friends’ parents or parents-in-law have died recently. All I know is that after I’d put our Offpsring to bed, on the evening after I’d heard about Bowie’s death, I was clearing up the plates and setting the dishwasher going, and I found myself holding back tears. And then I realised why.
My elders are dying, and I’m not ready.
Not that I was really invited to either, of course. Third Offspring received an invitation to a party on Saturday and another on Sunday, and I got to go along for the ride since she’s only four. In addition, I took First Offspring to a soccer game only to find out that it had been cancelled. That was inconvenient on two fronts. Firstly, because I had an 8pm deadline for a transcript I was working on, and could have done with not having to take an extra hour from my workday. And secondly, because First Offspring also insisted that it was our turn to bring oranges. Lucky there are a few of us and that we like oranges, I suppose!
Hope your week is full of oranges! Enjoy the links.
The Handsome Sidekick and I have been doing some painting and renovating this week. This involved removing our bath, repainting the bathroom and part of the dining area, and a whole lot of mess. It also meant that we’ve had to ask our Offspring to be patient. Sometimes they’ve had to wait an extra half-hour for lunch, or have wanted our attention when we were busy moving something. I’ve pleaded with them, praised them for waiting (not that) patiently, and tried to infuse them with enthusiasm for playing on their own outside–something they’re usually more than happy to do when I’m not rinsing out paint rollers, but which in this scenario becomes utterly inconceivable. When all else failed, I’d offer a reward: takeaway for tea, or being able to play a computer game, or chocolate or sweets.
Today I thought I’d offer a throwback to 2013, since the post in question is relevant, given recent events. It’s interesting that this debate has been going on for years, but is only now getting such huge press.
I also think, while it’s important to question what flags we want to represent us, and what flags we allow to be flown, that we still ask the deeper questions about what motivates people to want to fly such symbols. Simply taking down the flag does not remove the sentiments behind it. Removing the Confederate flag from state buildings is a small step. Just because we can no longer see that flag, doesn’t mean the issues of entrenched and institutionalised racism and prejudice, which have been associated with it, simply disappear. And we should be wary, as this post points out, of assuming that we are all guiltless of the same, when it comes to what our own flags represent.
‘Do you think the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate?’ the Handsome Sidekick asked me as I was slouched on the couch, reading.
I thought about that for a moment.
‘Well… it was the flag of the South, during the Civil War, right? So I guess there is that aspect, with the slavery. I can see how people would be upset about it being flown. But… flags, you know? I mean, who decides which flag should be flown?’
It turns out, as we did a bit of reading about the Confederate flag and the evolution of the present American flag, that there were a lot more flags and banners around, at the time, than we realised. It raised the question of which flags are considered acceptable, and what a powerful symbol they are.
I can’t imagine anyone flying a flag emblazoned with a swastika without wanting…
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The other week, I was asking Second Offspring about whether she remembered any children from her old school. She had only just turned five when we left, so I’m always interested to hear about what memories they have, and how they fade, what they hold onto.
“I remember Shannon,” she said. “Remember Shannon?”
“She wasn’t very nice,” Second Offspring added. “She was mean to me. She was kind of a bully.”
I’ll admit that I’ve only been half-following the riots in Baltimore this past week, in part because life has been busy, but also because it is very easy, as with shootings in the US, to sigh and wonder when things will ever change.
Of course, change does come, albeit slowly, and the fact that police officers have now been charged with Freddie Gray’s murder is a huge step in this direction. I suppose we will see what happens in court, and whether they will be held accountable for their actions. And I suppose, it’s only a matter of time before the entrenched attitudes begin to shift.
As I’ve written before we moved almost eighteen months ago from the largest city in our state to a very small one, further south. Really, it’s more of a town. There were a few reasons we moved – we liked the idea of living in a cooler climate, we liked the idea of living in a smaller city, and we thought it would be good for our Offspring to grow up in the country rather than in a bigger city.
For me, though, it was much more than all that. It was like coming home.
Like many countries which were originally colonies, Australia has been reluctant to admit past transgressions against the original inhabitants of our country. In 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generation – those Indigenous Australians who, as children, had been taken from their families to live in foster homes. Some of these children never saw their families again. In doing this, Rudd at least expressed some understanding of the hurt and damage such a policy caused, and admitted that it had been wrong.
Tony Abbott, current Prime Minister, has decided that his legacy to Indigenous Australia will be to include in Australian’s Constitution a recognition of the Aboriginal people as original inhabitants of Australia. It will also recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a deep connection with the land and waters.*
Earlier this week, 2014 Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, spoke to BBC’s Hardtalk programme*, and spent some time talking about the issue of racism in Australia. Goodes is an Australian Rules footballer who has played for several years and is undeniably an excellent player. However, perhaps the most famous incident of his career came at a football match where he was racially abused by a thirteen year old girl in the crowd.