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.

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.