To Engage or Not to Engage …

The last six months have been, not to put a fine point to it, extremely strange. And things are still not looking to get too much better. Each morning as my online news notifications arrive and I click on the various items, (yet, I no longer read printed news … sadly), I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just bury my head in the sand. Although the latter is very tempting.

We will pass right by the bushfires, although they are still heavily impacting our local area, and the luck Australia has had with the Covid-19 pandemic, and go to two things that are currently causing much debate; Black Lives Matter and Economic recovery.

When the posts began after the death of George Floyd, I remember my first FB comment was to suggest we should also look at Australia because we had a terrible record with deaths in custody. Four days later that issue flared up here as a result of the US demonstrations. And rightly so. It’s time we forgot about the colour of skin, whether people move about with the same agility or need assistance, their age or religion, or whether they have the same inherent skills or not either mentally or physically … They Are People and they deserve an equal share of everything; respect, access to education, health and a fair go by those in power like police and, dare I say it, politicians and governments.

I believe myself to be unbiased. I have very close friends and family who could be put in the categories above but I simply don’t see it that way. They are friends and family, people I care about and I hate it when they tell me they are being bullied, or held back or not listened to because of some perceived negative characteristic. I read the stories of FB about ordinary Americans suddenly thinking to ask a person of colour what it is like for them and finding they are horrified at what they hear. It is good this is happening yet it is 2020 – I remember the Black Panthers and hearing Martin Luther King and the LA riots in the 70’s and 80’s and here we are again after nearly half a century. Are we able to do something about it now? And here, in Australia with our First Nation people? Death in Custody Royal Commission is more than 30 years ago too. It Is TIME!

And then the next thing I’m reading in the news here in Australia is that the Federal and State governments are working to get the economy going again. But the Federal government is giving money to those who already have it. WTF!!! Instead of building public housing for the underprivilaged, insuring they get access to education and child care so they CAN find jobs and keep them and thus pay tax to the government – no they give money to those who are already extending and who are earning over $70,000 per annum. Really??? What about public building project that enhance the nation, getting the TAFE systems going again properly, working to get this country going on renewables which, it is estimated, will create nearly 300,000 jobs – Nah! we will give money to the gas and coal industries and kill the planet some more.

I’m sure you are getting a sense of my frustration. And if you are reading this, I don’t think I’m Robinson Crusoe either.

I have written emails to Members of both State and Federal Parliaments to see if they will listen to reason, and as soon as possible, I will be back standing on street corners with a placard asking for Climate Action.

Here we have, due to the pandemic, a once is a livetime opportunity to change things and do it right, and the duds in charge are going back to their old ways.

I’m still waiting for the revolution and a leader. And I have a deep suspicion, one, or maybe both, are on the way. I can only hope (as I don’t pray).

So, to answer my question in the heading to this tirade – I will engage. Not to do so, despite the overload of frustration and anger, would be against all my principles. I will not stick my head in the sand and delete the daily news emails. I will do what I can because otherwise how could I call myself a caring human.

Reflections on Hope

Here it is, Sunday 31 May 2020. The last six months have been testing for everyone, worldwide. Most years in this lucky country of Australia where most of us are free from war and famine, I have friends or acquaintances noting around the start of a new year what short of year it has been – good or bad. Last New Year several of my friends said that 2019 was their “annis horribilis.” Looking back on the last six months I feel safe to say 2020 is going to be that way for most of us and to varying degrees. Too many friends and acquaintances have lost homes and livelihoods.

Emotionally, I suspect most of us have been on a bit of a roller coaster – some on steeper curves and swirls than others. I, like many, have had to get on top of Zoom and then help out friends after a writer friend of mine gave me a start (thanks Laura!). Also, again I’m lucky because, being retired, being home everyday was not unusual. What I missed most were my grand-kids, hugs and face to face time with friends.

Technology certainly made this lockdown easier. Facetime and Zoom were useful and the mobile phone calls were much more than usual. But there is nothing like seeing people you care about in the flesh, shaking their hand, hugging. That physical presence and touching was something I missed more than anything.

Personally, between the events in the USA where racism is being stoked by it’s leader and people dying of Covid-19 because of political indifference, Europe where things started out a bit late, now in the less well-off countries where there is little people can do to avoid the epidemic, I’ve had to stop reading each news item. Even here in Australia, where we have an opportunity to make a real change and lead the way in world events on climate and economic change that is desperately required, we have a government that is still in the grip of the coal and big business lobby. Yet they managed the Covid-19 with quick response and some success. They are able, just not willing if it is not in their interest.

I watched a move with Ethan Hawk called “First Reformed,” in which he plays a pastor who is confronted by the precarious state of the Earth when ministering to a parishioner. His reactions to that and to facing his own mortality, made me think. The concerns outlined in the script are those that are increasingly with us today – pollution of the seas, death and extinction of many species and deadly weather events. And this was made in 2017. Now we add pandemic to the list.

It is true to say that I have been on the verge of depression. The feeling that there are these huge issues that MUST be addressed and yet here I am, along with many, many others, knowing this needs to be done and seeing those who CAN do something, so focused on their own wealth and well-being instead.

I can understand when people opt out. It’s too hard. I’m only one person and I don’t make an iota of difference. Then you see the African Americans rioting for rights they should have had all along, which were given and are now being ignored and taken away. They’ve lived as second class citizens in their own country for hundreds of years. It’s too much to have the white President egging on hate. No wonder they are taking to the streets. They have been left no choice if they are to survive.

So maybe we, the silent majority in Australia, should take to the streets – join in peaceful protest now that we can congregate even in small numbers. But who will organise this? Do I have the energy left to do it? Probably not, to my eternal disappointment. I endlessly hope that is someone out there with the energy, like Greta Thunberg, will get up and start a movement here in Oz. I will go out and stand on street corners, in front of council or parliament buildings with signs and protest. I will subscribe to civil disobedience and take the consequences. But I have no idea of how to begin setting this up nor do I have the personality and drive to make it a success. I know my limitations unfortunately.

I remember the Vietnam protests in the 70’s and how successful the moratorium was. It was spearheaded by Jim Cairns, a charismatic politician of the left, as well as high profile journalists and musicians across Australia. We need another to rally behind so we can again lead the way in climate action, environmental protection and human rights.

I believe the “silent majority” in Australia are waiting for a real leader. But there is no-one brave enough or committed enough to put their head above the parapet, to take a stand that the average Australian can rally behind.

After six months of disasters with more in our future, with extinction of species in Australia reaching beyond crisis point, with the Great Barrier Reef dying, with a severe economic downturn and depression in our very near future, our current processes and so-called leaders are incapable of doing the right thing. They make photo ops to make themselves look good then pander the the coal and gas lobby.

I hope beyond hope, that there is someone out there who is willing, and more importantly, able, to stand up and be seen: to lead in the Earth’s time of need here in Australia. The Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Bushfire Response are working hard to achieve a positive result. There are people out there. But we don’t have a focal point … yet.

When Writers Get Together

Like many writers/authors, I am a member of a writing group – the Eurobodalla Fellowship of Australian Writers. There are two groups; one meets during the day and the other at night. The two groups have similar ideals but work toward them in different ways.

Our evening group is made up of a different demographic due to the fact that people who work are able to come. We have teachers, a doctor, a psychologist, a psychiatric nurse, a retired IT manager and trance medium/health advocate and property owners. It makes for very interesting discussions.

Our meeting last night started out as any other, with critiques of short stories or chapters of books that were sent to participants a fortnight before the meeting. But instead of the agenda topics that were to be discussed after, and, as many local groups have found, the bushfires became a topic because one story focussed on survival when faced with difficult health issues.

Over the course of the hour and a half that followed, we heard stories from parents with children watching as the fires decended while they stood helpless on a beach, listened to those with damage to property and those with asthma who spent weeks simply trying to breath. Others who found that not having any way out was scary, tales from those with family and close friends working on the firefront and the feelings of survivors guilt.

Yet as the evening wore on, funny stories began to emerge and we let go of the sadness and giggled and laughed. It was very healthy really.

As a result the group decided to put together a novella with bushfire tales – ones with optimistic outlooks despite the fear and destruction. Bushfires and Vegemite Sandwiches will come together over the next few months under the Secret Society of Words Publishing banner. It is intended to be both cathartic and a record of experiences during the “lost summer.”

Today it is raining – good solid rain. As the picture above shows, two moths after the devastation, at least the bush is beginning to come back. Birds are squablling over territory and some bugs are around. But it will take a long time for the wildlife to reestablish. The rain and regrowth will help.

Bushfire Grief

This morning I’m going to join members of Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Choir at Rosedale for a Grief Ceremony. This is where so many homes were lost. We will sing and respectfully work together to accept our grief and the sadness caused by these horrible fires.

Personally, there is a deep anger at governments in our country who ignored warnings that began as early as the 1970’s and were strongly repeated in the 1990’s and again early this century. They are still sticking their heads in the proverbial sand.

But one can’t live with anger without it destroying. So I am going to this Grief Ceremony. And I will continue to agitate locally and, where possible in capital centres, for action.

I began working for the environment in the early 1990’s when I became aware of the problem. It has been an up and down journey with some political parties making a good go at trying to achieve carbon reduction but mostly, with conservative governments backing big business and ignoring it.

So I must let the anger go. I must focus on what I can do. I have grandchildren who will look back and blame us for sitting on our hands and letting this happen. I don’t want to be part of the problem but part of the solution.


Welcome to my website and blog. Although I’m not a daily blogger I have a lot of interests beside my writing. For example, I’m very interested in getting governments at all levels to declare a climate emergency.

The past three months have been an expected wake up call for what is happening with our climate. Personally affected by the bushfires, with acquaintances who have lost everything, and despite the fact that I’ve been trying to fight for the environment since the early 1990’s, we find we have to fight to get anything done.

While this is very important on a national and global scale, for me personally it is getting back to normal so I can focus on my writing again. As such, with the insurance companies having come to the party, thank goodness, I have edited my manuscript and am looking for an agent. I understand that this is going to be difficult but, like all writers, I live in hope and learn from rejection.

I hope that you will come and join me here, make comments and just hang out.

Update: April 2020. I wrote this prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Normal is still not happening and won’t for a while. It seems the enviroment, our world, is having a say about the way we are treating it – we need to listen. There are many possibilities coming from the state of this world at the moment – both in health, politically and environmentally. Let’s all hope we, individuals and governments, can learn the lesson.