Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

Feb 2008 # 1

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Back to Editorials 2008

Anything is Possible

Here we are, the new year and all is well. Well, well for some and not so well for others. 2008 has got off to a flying start. I certainly can’t complain. I guess I can but my woes pale into insignificance when compared to others. Nonetheless, I can’t help feeling that this year will offer little change for those, who like me, attempt to eek out an income to support a lifestyle to which we would like to become accustomed. 

Politically it would seem nothing has changed. Sure we have a new crew at the helm of the good ship “Orstraylia” and there are moves afoot to change the guard at the palace of capitalism in Washington but the overriding question remains. Will there be room for the poor and dispossessed at the tables of excess? I think not. 

Hot on the heels of announcing that the Gunns’ pulp mill has the nod from Peter Garrett, we find that in my neck of the woods, Garrett and the state government are still fighting tooth and nail for the right of capital to prevail over the environment of Port Phillip Bay. No sooner has the news been announced that the desalination plant off the coast near my new home will go ahead, interest rates rise, Mitsubishi closes their South Australian plant, the Victorian government bungles another billion dollar attempt at “fixing” the public transport system and the Rudd supported US administration says torture of prisoners is OK – so long as its them that does the torturing. 

At the same time as all this is happening there are more calamities off shore. More deaths in the Middle East – most of which are directly influenced by decisions taken in Washington, Cairo, London and elsewhere; more environmental degradation in locations far removed from the centres of power that create the conditions in which local populations are forced from their lands and heritage and of course, the plans being drawn up in the corporate back rooms to further limit access to free and open media. 

And it’s only the start of February! At least someone has been busy and not lazing on a sun drenched beach somewhere. 

It seems to me that we exist simultaneously in parallel universes. In one, human rights and dignity, long term care for the environment, constantly striving for justice and peace and the rejection of the philosophy of capitalism are called “ideals” and those who struggle to uphold these practices are labelled “radicals”, “communists” and even “terrorists”. In the other universe are an elite group who keep telling us that their actions – which we see cause more harm and destruction than those they say they are ‘fighting’ against – are keeping us ‘safe’, protecting us from ‘terrorism’ and saving the planet from ‘destruction’ and ‘waste’. 

On a daily basis we watch, read or listen to the media outlets of these elites and collectively we swallow their message and incorporate it into our life practices. Collectively we live in and accept these parallel universes as though they can really share the same physical, psychic and psychological space. We reject any talk of contradictions and lies because to accept this truth would be to expose our own complicity in allowing the conditions for this situation to exist. 

But not all is doom and gloom.  

Somewhere, in a under-funded, under-resourced class room a small boy or girl is taking their first lessons in understanding. Perhaps not far from that classroom an older woman or man is imparting their wisdom to minds eagre to learn from the lessons of the past. 

Some of the young children in that class room will go on to do great things. Not many will do big things but most will do good things. Nearly all of their small and seemingly trivial acts of human kindness, warmth and generosity will go un-noticed beyond those immediately affected by them.  

Most of these children will, unfortunately, give up their questioning and inquiring minds and surrender themselves to accepting that the contradictions they encounter are normal and immutable. A couple or maybe even just one of these small children will grow up and continue to question. Perhaps even seek out others with whom she or he can join in the struggle against the prevailing forces. 

Maybe one of those older people whose life has been influenced by the struggle they’ve engaged in will sit in front of one of these children and with a few words inspire them to rise above the mediocrity and strive for those ideals to which many want to adhere but even more reject as being to difficult to obtain. 

So, here we are in 2008. Not much has changed really. Some different noises are coming out of the big house in Canberra but what we see in practice is that the same agendas are being followed and the same rejection of humanist ideals continues. Yet, as the elites continue to reject the basic fundamentals of human existence and rights, they sow the seeds of their own downfall. 

I for one barrack for the children whose minds are always inquiring and seeking out truth. Perhaps, as has been known for millennia, the future of the human race and the planet we inhabit does really belong to those who outlook is child-like. Not innocent and ignorant, but bold, unafraid of the unknown and willing to question those things that make them notice the contradictions they encounter. 

With an outlook like this anything seems possible. In fact anything is possible. It’s been said that the future belongs to our children but the future they will inherit will be built on the ruins of what we condone now. The question for us then is, do we, as adults, really believe that a better world is possible? If we do the next question is, are we willing to struggle to see it obtained?

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