Sunday, 17 July 2016

Election wash-up - reflecting, musing, trying not to brood ...

Classified as: reflections - musings, feelings

I'm going to try to blog more frequently for the rest of this year/until I finish the PhD - whichever comes first. After that the blog may take different directions, or I may stop doing it, I don't know. It concerns me somewhat that I feel as if I can't say entirely what I think because this blog is linked to my research (of course!) but also to Monash. The university does have some control over what I say - in the obvious sense that is right, in that the things I say shouldn't be abusive or offensive. Yet at the same time it seems as if it is limiting my ability to be truthful, which I guess is what some people talk about when they talk about 'political correctness'.

Normally I take comments about 'political correctness' to be code for 'I want to make negative comments or judgements about women and minority groups, but I might get into trouble for it' and I don't have much sympathy for them. However I feel a sense that I am limited in two ways: one, not being able to express emotion, and two, having to appear politically 'impartial'. The first I think has a basis in that being emotional can turn into swearing and being abusive (my mother used to say 'swearing indicates a poor vocabulary' meaning you should be able to find other ways to express your feelings, but I don't know - it's pretty ubiquitous!). I think part of having an egalitarian society is definitely treating others with respect, but at the same time I think we should be able to express how we feel. The political impartiality thing I think is a mistake - researchers and teachers at university level should be able to express who they would vote for and why. It's a fine line - they shouldn't use their position to campaign for a party, because they do have a personal-emotional influence on students, as well as an intellectual one, but they should be able to say why they think particular policies are better for Austrslia, I suggest.

Which is all a long winded way of saying that I am angry and disappointed about what has happened in the federal election. I am angry at Mr Turnbull for being dishonest about climate change (see previous post) and disappointed and a bit angry that just over half of Australian voters supported his government nonetheless. I am disappointed that even though most Australians apparently think our society should be more equal, they won't vote for that (presumably because they are worried about 'the economy', that identifiable 'thing' we are all supposed to fear and venerate).

Let me be clear - I am not saying people shouldn't worry about losing their jobs and not having enough money - of course they do. But 'the economy' is simply the sum total of our work, trade and exchange, and how we look after our environment and each other. If we want to have a society that is fairer and more sustainable, we should be able to do, but people seem scared to try. I think the fear is essentially, that one, we (ordinary people) don't have the capacity to do so, we will stuff it up somehow, and two, rich and powerful people will punish us if we try (of which two is probably more realistic).

As I am getting towards the end of this thesis, I am strongly convinced that we need major social change to create societies that are fairer and more sustainable, but I am becoming depressed about the possibility, not just because of what's happened in our election, but because of what's happening in the world (like what's happening now in Turkey or the massacre in France, to name just two recent events). I'm depressed, to be frank, not seriously depressed I suppose, but just flat - finding it hard to get motivated in any way. I still get delight in my family and my grandkids and the natural world, but so much else seems misguided. There are so many people, mainly women, but also some men, particularly those who aren't in the full time paid workforce, in this project who are working quietly at community level for fairer and more sustainable communities - yet when I look at the national or international political level, it's just not reaching there.

I'm writing this on my mobile, so it's a bit difficult, and I think I'll stop there. It's probably not entirely clear what I mean either, but perhaps I can expand or explain in later posts. I'm not giving up, and I hope others aren't either, but it is a weary path at present. There are therapeutic group sessions being offered in Melbourne for climate activists at present, I think I might try to get to one. Anyone else who is interested, please contact me for details through my Monash email address (see side panel of blog).

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