Sacred Site.

Ahh!…yes..I can see that you are all a tad jaded and tuckered out with the political shenanigans. I tell you what..I’ll tell you a story. It is constructed from two events..one, when a friend told me of finding a very old woomera in the cleft of a very old tree on the edge of the Simpson Desert..as told in the story below..The other was told me by a Italian brickie mate of two brothers who actually did go through the described scenario below…only difference was; they drew straws.
I hope I never have to be given such a choice..but then..there are others who have done the same.
It goes like this..:

SACRED SITE:

Two men stood side by side at the rear of the four wheel drive truck. The setting sun was behind them. Their shadows stretched out in front like long thin pencil lines over the salt-bush and stubble.

“Come over here Bob, I’ll show you something.”

Antonio stepped away at right angles to the track and fence. The desert air was cooling, and the distant horizon purpling with the coming of evening, the darkness was tumbling towards them from the east. After a short distance the first man stopped suddenly and stood with his hands in his pockets but the thumbs outside. Bob strode up next to him and gazed at where Antonio was looking, he saw nothing but one lone, long dead tree amid an expanse of desert shrubbery.

“See there?”

“What?” Bob queried.

“There at the base in that small cleft.”

At first Bob didn’t see anything unusual, but then an object took shape, a man crafted object of symmetrical design. He moved a few steps closer so he was only yards from it, in the dusk he made out clearly the shape.

“Why … it’s a woomera” he said surprised “ an … an Aboriginal woomera … but it’s old … so old”.

He spoke in awe, and indeed it was old. At least a hundred years old because the wearing of the elements on it, it had been sun- baked and sand blasted, the resin and fibres holding the spur onto the body had deteriorated and the patterns cut into the body of the woomera were now obscure. Bob leant forward as if to touch it but Tony gripped his wrist fiercely.

“No, Bob … don’t touch it, let it lie there. I haven’t touched it ever in all the years I’ve known it’s here, you’re the first I’ve ever shown it to … it must remain as it is till time takes it back to the earth … as it will take us all … as it will take Francesco.”

Antonio released Bob’s arm and straightened up still gazing at the woomera.

“Come, we will camp nearby for the night it will soon be dark.” Both men turned and walked back to the truck.

A soft fire glowed in the centre of a ring of stones, but its light seemed too frail to penetrate deep into the darkness, unable to wash into the deeper crevasses of their eye sockets and the hollows of their cheeks, so the men’s faces quivered into grotesque shadowy masks.

“Who’s Francesco?” Bob asked.

Antonio squatted, one arm on his knee with the other hand prodding a stick into the coals.

“Pass me that piece of branch, Bob..ta…Francesco was my older brother … he died a long time ago … twenty years now … or rather tomorrow.”

Bob stretched one leg out in the cool sand and made himself more comfortable.

“You never told me you had a brother” Bob remarked quietly, in a tone that suggested he was a little bit piqued that this close friend would keep such a secret from him.

Antonio didn’t look away from the flames, his eyes didn’t blink as he stared into the syrupy yellow.

“It’s why I asked you along on this trip actually,” Antonio solemnly spoke.

“Oh?”

“You’re a priest I want you to help me bury him again..”

“Who?”

“Francesco … my brother!” “…

“…You alright Tony? .. I mean; where’s the body?”

Antonio leant back and felt inside his clothes bag and swung back with a small wooden urn.

“Here …” He said quietly “His ashes!”

Bob squinted at his friend with one eye closed.

“In there?”

“In here”.

There was a pause in the conversation and the fire crackled and hissed, the silence of the desert night crowded in all around them, listening.

“So what did they bury all those years ago?”

“Ashes … plain wood ashes!” Antonio smiled and leant back to place the urn into his duffle bag. Bob let out a slow, low whistle.

“You better enlighten me Tony.”

“I’ll get the billy boiled first.” Antonio dropped a palmful of tea into the boiling water. He slowly stirred the contents with a piece of stick.

“I’ll tell you Bob not as a confession, but still…maybe for Francesco’s soul!”

“How did he die?”

“He shot himself.”

“Suicide?” Bob raised his eyebrow Antonio leapt up angrily

“No! … No, … No, a thousand times no …” he strode two steps away then turned and strode back, the ball of his cupped left hand slapping onto his right fist, he shook his head empathically as he spoke. “Not suicide, … no! his was a sacrifice … yes, a sacrifice to the filthy God security!” Antonio stopped suddenly, hands frozen apart, his heavy breathing noticeable in the still desert night.

“Security,” he whispered. His shoulders slumped and he sat back down by the fire, reached over, took the billy and filled two mugs with the brew.

“Sugar, Bob?” his voice still tense.

“Please … and milk”.

“I take mine black.” Antonio leant back on his duffle bag and stretched one leg out comfortably, his boot pushed up a little mound of the red sand..

“Dammit Bob, it still upsets me after all these years.” He guffawed, “Suicide!” and he guffawed again. He took a sip of his tea and a deep breath.

“Francesco … was ten years older than me and we were partners in a building company before the recession. We started out as brickies you see, then it just grew from there “Collossus Constructions” we called ourselves and it did get colossal! Ended up flat out and just organising the other trades. We did a lot of estate housing projects in those days for those big real-estate companies. We were in it up to our necks when the recession hit and it all went bust! Oh God did it go bust! Overnight, two of our biggest contracts went into receivership and left us holding the bag. Subcontractors to be paid, contracts to finish etcetera, etcetera and it cleaned us out … or nearly …”

“Didn’t you see any signs of the impending collapse?”

“Nahl they were still signing contracts up till the day before … so someone was pulling a shonky!”

“It’s always the way” Bob chipped in.

“Anyway we were running around like scalded cats all week, cajoling this one, pacifying the other, putting someone else off till finally on the Friday night Francesco comes ’round in his ute and says to throw in a sleeping bag and the billy and let’s go bush for the weekend. I couldn’t have agreed more. Hey, isn’t it good out here in the desert? serene, peaceful. It was at this very spot that we camped … right here, the same place I come to every year since then … but this will be my last … this will be my last.”

“You look good for a few years yet Tony.”

“But I feel tired Bob, so bloody tired.”

“You been carrying some of the weight?”

“In a way … it could’ve been me … it could have been me that died.” Antonio sighed. “He found that woomera, not me, he wandered over there to go to the toilet, after a while he called out to me: ”

‘Tony … come here, have a look at this!”

“No thanks!’ I called in disgust.

“‘Nah … not that … it’s interesting.” He had found something.

When I got there he was squatted in front of the woomera staring at it.

“Hey!” I said, “that’d look great above my mantelpiece” and I reached out for it but he rapped my knuckles with a piece of branch.

“Don’t touch!” he barked. “Have respect for the dead.”

“What dead? It’s only a woomera.” I said.

“Oh he’s dead alright, after all those years, and its still his..it was probably left here by mistake.”

“Finders keepers…” I began, but Francesco wasn’t listening to anything I said, he just stared at that thing.

“He was a hunter … and he rested here … for a camp maybe … maybe he speared a ‘roo, he leant his woomera against the tree … it would have been a sapling then surely …” and Francesco went on in this quiet monotone, building up a picture of this lone Aboriginal hunter and the desert and the need for food that sent him on long journeys …I just stood there listening to him talk and it was enthralling in it’s depth of feeling. I’d never known Frank to think of these things before.” Antonio stopped and stared into the fire, it’s flickering glow so enticingly rich and comforting under the stars. When he finished, Francesco stood up, turned to me and said: “We’re still all hunters, you know,” then turned and walked back to the camp.”

“It seemed to have touched a spot in him” Bob remarked.

“I’ll say,” Tony agreed. “He went back to look at that woomera again and again over the weekend. But he said no more about it. Then on the Sunday afternoon as we were packing up he said to me:

“‘Tony … we’re done for, you know that don’t you?”

“How do you mean … financially?”

“Yes financially stuffed..but I’ve thought out a way to beat the bastards!”

“Like how?” I asked.

“You remember those insurance policies we took out on each other two years ago?”

“Yeah, in case one of us kicked off, but they’re not worth a quid yet … unless one of us dies … say! you’re not thinking of faking a death, then disappearing or something?”

“Not faking … but a death, yes.”

“What are you talking about, – you lost your marbles or something … what are you talking about …” I was shocked I can tell you. Francesco got angry.

“Grow up Tony” He yelled “Grow up, we’re finished. In less than a month they’ll have our business, our houses, our cars, … our balls … everything .”

“But Frank”

“Don’t Frank me … you know what it’s like to live in poverty? Do you? and your wife and your kids … what’re you gonna tell them … “sorry kids, sorry honey but we gotta go live in a shack and eat porridge and potatoes!” hey? you tell them that … listen, you’re too young to remember back home, but I can tell you; I remember and I don’t intend to have my family go through those times,” and he slammed his hand against the side of the ute.

“What … what do you intend to do”

“Better you don’t know.” But I knew.

“Frank … no … be reasonable … Stefania … the kids …”

“It’s them I’m thinking of “ he said softly, then; “Listen Tony, I’m fifty eight, been working in building since I was a kid in shorts..what’ve I got; ten, fifteen years left, what of it? Fifteen years of nothing for me and my family, or else … I’ll never have more than I got now, never, I’ve reached my peak and I don’t want to go down into the depths, it’d kill me anyway.”

“We argued back and forth and I followed him around the ute talking to his back, but he was stubborn.

“Listen,’ he said “You wanna go live in a ditch you go live in a ditch. What do you think the old people suffered in their lives for? So you could have it easy and to hell with your kids? Every comfort has its price, Antonio, what do you want your kids to be? tramps? bums? No, … I don’t want my kids to battle out of a poverty trap like the old people had to. If there’s a price in it I’m prepared to pay everyone pays sometime … it seems my time is now.”

“But me, Frank, what would you have me do, sit by and see you knock yourself off and then reap the reward .. what sort of man do you consider me?! No, we’re both of us in this together, I won’t let you take it on your own …”

“It’s the only way Tony, you’re ten years younger, you’re family’s younger.”

“Give me a risk on it … toss a coin Frank, you always like to toss a coin for a decision, toss a coin now and we’ll take equal risk!” …

“Alright” He relented. “We’ll toss … and the winner loses!” He grimaced at his own joke.

He pulled a few coins from his pocket and picked out a twenty cent piece.

“I’ll call, since it was my idea” he said and he flipped the coin.

“Heads!” he cried.

Bob..Bob, have you ever been so scared that your stomach was just one big knot wrenching your innards together so they just ached? Well, that’s how mine were. Don’t ask me why I agreed to that madness but I knew the loser wouldn’t back out. The more I think of it, the more I refute it, but strangely, strangely the quick fix of the idea attracted me then and I loved my family enough to kill anyone that would hurt them, so why not kill myself to save them from hurt?! … all those kind of thoughts went through my mind in the split seconds of that toss as that coin flickered in the light. Of course it came down heads and Frank bent down and picked up the coin. He slapped his hand on my shoulder and said.

“Now, it’s decided. let’s not talk about it on the way home. Who knows, maybe I won’t have to go through with it after all,” and we packed up and left.

“On the Monday afternoon I was in the office when I got a call from the insurance agent.”

“Mr Gustoni?’ the agent asked.

“Yes” I replied, thinking it was me he was after.

“Yes..I was right, I inquired into the policy agreement and yes, your accident indemnity does cover accidental death outside the working site and hours.”

I went weak at the knees … and almost speechless. I could just mutter into the receiver

” Oh..right..thanks..thanks” and I hung up and raced out of the office and drove to Frank’s place.

“Oh mother of God! mother of God!” I prayed as I drove through that endless traffic. I didn’t think it would be now not straight away! Give it a bit more time please! Please!

Stefania, his wife, was there.

“He’s gone out Tony he said to give you this contract to look at …’”she handed me a fat manilla envelope, then I knew it was too late.

“Is there anything wrong?” women they’re so sharp.

“No more than usual,” I remarked and quickly left in case I betrayed my feelings.

“He didn’t give me a chance to say goodbye, Bob, not a chance, not a chance. “Why?” I asked myself…He made it look like an accident..like the gun went off as he was climbing through the fence…”

“In the envelope there was a goodbye note and a few items he wanted buried with him and – also this …!” Tony tossed a coin to Bob’s feet. Bob picked it up examined it and turned it over.

“Why … it’s a double headed twenty cent piece, it’s been cut and another face glued on to make one coin! …”

“The cunning bastard … I always wondered how he won all those tosses, and you see that nick on the edge, that’s how he picked it out amongst others with his fingers.” Bob snorted and tossed it back.

“Well he did go through with it and in the note he asked that I somehow get his ashes and bury them with the few other personal items next to that woomera up here.”

“And did you tell Stefania of it all?” Bob asked.

“What do you tell the women? : Frank knocked himself off so we can pay our bills? What did that hunter tell his people if he came home without any tucker ‘I lost my woomera’? ..’left it somewhere’ ? No Bob, Frank was right, we’re all hunters and each must guard his secrets. No, I didn’t tell them, but she’d guess, women have their damned intuition.”

“Why didn’t you bury him, then?”

“I couldn’t bring myself to put an end to it all, I didn’t understand the connection between that hunter’s primitive woomera and our own highly complicated lives, that is till now. Now I know what Frank realised that weekend twenty years ago. That woomera over there is a totem of men’s responsibilities, the women bear the children, the men provide, that is the base line of our cultural life. Some women die in chldbirth some men die in the seeking of provisions. I’ve been on building sites myself where workmen have been either killed or badly injured. They’re taken away and another fills his place. No-one can shirk his responsibilities, we all take our risks. So the hunter’s woomera left here by accident must have wrought danger to that whole family’s existence so was that recession the calamity that befell our family’s existence … The insurance policy was just another means to provide … at a price, everything changes, but nothing is changed. The immortality of all things mortal … ashes to ashes, dust to dust. He lost his fear of death.”

Antonio sighed.

”And this is where you come in, Bob … would you mind … a simple ceremony …?”

The dawn laid silver sheets across the sky as the two men stood before the tree that held the woomera in its cleft. Tony gave the wooden urn to Bob who lay it in a shallow hole near the woomera. Then he gave Bob a flick-knife with a carved ivory handle.
“He bought that in Italy years before, and you see that carving … here, give it to me for a sec … this carving of a woman, he’d sometimes take the knife out amongst a group of us men and he’d rub the ball of his thumb over the tiny breast there and he’d sigh and say, ‘Ah, my Stefania, she once had breasts like this,’ and then he’d press this button here, like so: “

Swish! the silvered blade of the flick-knife shot out of the handle so it made Bob jump.

“And Francesco would sigh sadly again and nodding his head say: ‘And me, my cock once sprung up like that!’..he’d always get a laugh.” Tony smiled and folded the blade away and gave the knife to Bob.

“And last of all this” sneered Antonio as he flung the double headed coin into the hole.

Bob pushed the sand over the urn and knife and coin. He stood up and spoke in a clear concise voice:

“Let this site remain sacred to the memory of Francesco Gustoni …”

“Could you say the prayer in Latin Bob, he preferred Latin.” Bob nodded and began:

“In nome il Padre e Filio e Spirito Santo …”

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A State of Failure.

When John Howard made the statement :

” Most famously, in 1996 Howard wanted Australians to be comfortable in their own skins. When pressed aggressively by Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson about his ambitions for Australia in the year 2000, Howard simply said he wanted Australians to be “comfortable and relaxed” about their past, present and future. As for himself, Howard said he was proud to be seen as “an average Australian bloke”. “( The Drum ; Terry Barnes).

Howard transferred the responsibility of The State to show civil respect and leadership onto the rag-tag shoulders of every bigot and racist hooligan with an axe to grind and a vulnerable victim to grind it upon. He had , in effect handed that section of the constitution that pledges protection and the shielding hand of civil respect to the mob. Not the act of a Statesman, but rather that of the despot. For if The State is willing to relinquish the responsibility for civil obedience onto what was even then a racist minority, then it is not a State of civil union, but rather ; a failed State.

Mark well the warnings of Titus Livius..:

“… Here it is to be noted that many times actions that appear merciful, and which cannot be reasonably condemned, may become cruel, and very dangerous to a Republic if not corrected at the proper time. And to discuss this matter in more detail, I say that a Republic cannot exist without citizens of repute, nor govern itself well in any way. On the other hand, the reputation of such citizens is the cause of tyranny in Republics. And in order to regulate this thing, it [the Republic] needs to be so organized, that the reputation of citizens be based on the benefits it gives to the nation and not on any harm to it and its liberty. And, therefore, the methods with which they assume reputation ought to be examined, and these, in effect, are two, either public or private. The public methods are when one acquires reputation by counselling well and acting well for the common benefit. The way to such honours ought to be opened to every citizen, and rewards proposed for their good counsels and good works, so that they may obtain honours and be satisfied: and when such reputation is obtained through these pure and simple ways, it will never be dangerous: but when it is obtained through a private way (which is the other method mentioned) it is most dangerous and wholly harmful…” (Machiavelli ; Discourses)

The current trend toward violent and vicious attacks upon vulnerable groups and individuals is, I accuse, precisely because of Howard’s and the current LNP administration giving too much voice and freedom of action to the far-right and fascist movements in Australia. Howard cunningly let slip those dogs of war to divide the community..The Murdoch press responded and upped the ante with its unrelenting howl of confected outrage against every single person that challenged their stereotype they could vilify or make victim or claim as an act of aggression against a blameless “Alt-right” movement.

The speechless mass-shootings we see on a regular basis in the USA reflect an act of insane desperation by some of those very people in that State given too much freedom to be “comfortable in their own skin”..We all know or at least realise by the time we reach adult-hood that one is compelled or expected to act in a civil manner to one’s fellow citizens or place at risk the social contract of our own respect. We learn these things in the playground of primary school, where we make a group of friends or when we play in a sport team in our teenage years..We learn to yield to the folly of deliberately hurting others while we frequent the taverns and clubs of our twenties, so that by the time we reach maturity, like the age when John Howard made the above comment, we ought to be more astute as to how freely we counsel our own children..Yes..truly , we ought to advise them that they ought to feel comfortable in their own skin..BUT!..and this is the part that the devious fool; Howard left out..: but we must respect those others of our society who, while their “skin colour” is of a different complexion and their “skin culture” is of a different, more complex matrix, it is the duty of any citizen of the nation to allow space for ALL OTHERS to “feel comfortable” next to each other’s “skin”.

But Howard didn’t want this to happen..HIS intent was not to unite the nation under one social contract. There was instead intent and then deed to divide and rule with vicious impunity by the one ”skin” the one creed, the one political ideology..an ideology of ; Rule by fear. Rule by force. Rule by fascist intent! By his own words, we can see it is obviously NOT directed to those indigenous or ethnic groups whose past was vandalised, whose present is tenuous and whose future is a thing of doubtful hope..No!..those he was wishing such comfort upon were those of his own matrix.. his own prejudices. HIS words were not merciful, NOT reasonable, NOT all-encompassing..those were the words of an ache for white supremacy, Anglo-centric, Christian-centric conservative governance with no place for radical dissent.

He, personally failed, being found out to be a devious, lying little rodent, but his creatures follow on, chivvied and guided by the Murdoch Media and its imitators. There will have to be a Parliamentary Inquiry and perhaps a rolling tribunal to bring those media players before a panel to be judged for their actions against their fellow citizens. Let it be known as :”The Citizens Tribunal”…and THERE they will make their case and woe betide those who come up wanting!

For the Adoration of Atheism.

Or: I was an Altar boy once.

“I was an altar boy once!”..I have a habit of dropping that statement into any conversation about religious beliefs that I am involved with. Of course, it is just a distraction, a sort of “blind-alley” comment that steers the talk down a different path, a (as that “smear of excrement” that was once our LNP, Prime Minister a few years ago called ) ;”… bbq. stopper”.

And I have done it again here, stealing the conversation away from “belief” to religion!

Of course, belief and believing has nothing at all to do with religion. I sometimes would follow up on my above comment with ;”The Catholic Church is not a ‘religion’ , but an institution!”….one does not need books, tracts and pamphlets to believe, one only needs to wake and feel the weather on one’s skin. One does not need images and icons. One only needs imagination. Does a child need to be taught fantasy, imagery, imagination?..no, but there are those who strongly, fiercely believe a child needs to be taught to believe in the unbelievable!

And I will state my opinion categorically, here and now, backed by every notion of accepted measure of sanity that ALL religion is a human construct..ALL a human invention..there is no supreme being, no omnipotent God…those descriptions alone betray a need, a hunger for an authority to command. “Human, all too human”. And I and any rational human being who has above capacity and dexterity to peel a boiled egg knows it and believes it…even if they do not practice it. If there is one bit of “wisdom” learned early, used universally and passed down with signalled dexterity through the eons of time, it is that the general MOB of humanity is best controlled and corralled with the dispersion and corruption of religo-politico adoration.

But hey…seriously..you’d have to be a mug…

I recall when my own children came to the age of schooling and we were shopping around for what we considered the “best” school system for them. One such system, The Steiner System, seemed to offer a new approach, a gentler curriculum. I never liked the idea of forcing a child to “grow up” before they are ready. I was not ready for primary school at exactly the age of five years. So we attended a talk on the subject. The lady who gave the talk was very sensitive, very convincing with references to the gentle awakening of the child’s sensibilities and the action of guiding them through and down paths of least disturbance of their childhood years…opening one door and closing another as they made their way through the labyrinth of awakening to the world.…very gently explained, as if in a sort of trance…that and the fact that she grew up just down the road from where I grew up gave substance to the yarn(her brother was forever stealing our grapes!).

We took it…it worked out well for the primary years. Good result…”I believe”.
But!…Now, when I reflect on that talk, our perceptions, the lady’s demeanour, OUR DEMEANOUR…our ambition , the lady’s ambition…I wonder; was it really about the children, or about ourselves as adults?…..As I said above, a child doesn’t NEED belief, it has it in spades..but we adults presume the child REQUIRES indoctrination TOWARD a belief!……and that’s where the quip;”I was an altar boy once” comes in…after all, who, with a rational mind, would freely volunteer for such a position!?

The sad thing is that “belief and believing” is an adult concept that masks a deep insecurity within the human condition. So we strengthen ourselves with delusions of many and varied forms…call them “Beliefs”, call them “Religion”..after all, is it not the most craven individuals that arm themselves most aggressively? So we have institutions even in this day and age utilising schools to “groom” the children with their variation of “spiritual corruption”.

But I would promote the idea of a “worship” of atheism. Not substituting Godhead or Gaia or even rough “Mother Nature”, let them alone..they will float along without our assistance. I would emphasise the belief in casual observance of the world around oneself. Step out of a morning and feel the wash of sunrise pour its ambrosia over the body like a soothing balm..or stand transfixed at the noon of the day and hark to the frenzied activity of life at full throttle..then again sit or lay comfortably in the velvet cloak of evening and let slip from your grip those worries and concerns accumulated throughout the working day, let them fall into the miasma of shadows of the coming night..for night is the metaphor of life’s ending..and finally let morphia’d sleep cleanse the mind and wash with dreams away this impertinence of temporal existence.

Atheism is neither a “belief” , nor a “way of life”..I see it more as a shedding of clumsy armour, the relaxing of futile defence against a non-existing fear. For if there has ever been a power more condemning, more controlling and exacting of behaviour so that even natural human activity can draw cruel conviction, it is religious / canon law. There are ample and sensible civil laws legislated by sanity, put in place by unanimous consent and obeyed by the majority that do not require ecclesiastical condescension. So if we have laws to guide us, common sense to inform us and a wide world of wonder to both awe and amuse us, why waste time and temper on another useless chore like bowing and scraping to false Gods?

You know, whenever I see those photographs of the Earth taken from outer-space and they show this cool, beautiful, green/ blue/ sometimes cloudy orb suspended serenely in the silence of space..it revitalises a belief within me that we are duty-bound and committed to extend ourselves to maintain and revitalise this luscious but lonely garden of delight! We can do no worse thing with indoctrinated discourse, than to deliberately lead the child (and the “child” within ourselves) from a world of innocent wonder, a world of curious discovery to a mendaciously manufactured shadow world of adult doubt and insecurity…. through a prism distorted…through a glass, darkly….

I have a home..have you?

I remember on my first tramp around Europe,back around 1980, standing on the foreshore at Brindisi, waiting for the ferry to take me across the Adriatic sea to Greece. I was getting somewhat jaded by this time of the sights and unfamiliar languages of Europe and starting to hunger for those familiar places and voices that anchor one to a time and place with neither thought of threat nor alienation. ..I was getting homesick.

I remember feeling this way whilst standing near a bobbing boat with the smell of the sea in my nostrils and looking along the shoreline to another figure a fair way away standing, much like myself, looking like how I suppose I looked in that oh-so-familiar back-packers garb ( though this was before the age of the backpacker..more like an amateur tourist) and he was turned, in kind, staring at me. And in that momentary hiatus of mute connection, I felt a melancholic wave of sadness sweep over me..a hunger for home..and I can’t help but think that the other fellow there on the Brindisi shore was experiencing exactly the same feeling as myself.

To so many of us, the comforting security of home is taken for granted. Even My mother, born and raised in the deepest, most poverty enriched days of the great depression, in makeshift tent after makeshift camp on the banks of the River Murray…up and down and into the mallee and out, from ruin to hut, many times sans shoes, sans education, sans town-friendships..through it all, she said she never felt like she had no feeling of a homeland or what we consider a home. She always felt she “belonged” with the other itinerants and the district of the Riverland.

Proverb : “What the eye doesn’t see,
The heart doesn’t grieve.”

Parable : ” I laugh now when I think of it”. The old lady chuckled, “But I was young then, about fourteen..or sixteen..but I was a ‘young’ sixteen….you know?..and I had gone to the millinery store in the town and bought a dress for the fair. The dress was pink floral with a blouse all in one and it had two pieces of material, like braces, with big buttons on the waistline and those two braces went over the shoulders down the back.”

“Ahh..I was young then….anyway at the fair there was the excitement of a merry-go-round and bucking horses and shearing contests and….and tug-of-war..an…an..horse races..you know, that sort of thing and everybody from the district and from beyond the bend of the river..and they’re dressed up to the nines, oh dear,ha!…the big day of the year for us then, ha!”

“Well, there was this aboriginal girl there about the same age as me and she had on EXACTLY the same dress that I had..exactly!…and we ran up to each other and laughed and became great friends that day…she worked, like me, at another station on the Murray….cooking, cleaning, looking after the children that sort of thing…..anyway, we were great friends that day an’ we walked all around that fair together arm in arm, laughing and having great fun and we’d tell everyone we met that we were twins!..ha! ha!…TWINS!….you’d laugh now, but we didn’t even think of her being black and me white then..some people smiled or rolled their eyes and others threw their heads back and laughed and we just thought they were as happy as we were, ha!”

“Oh, a jolly good time we had that day…..I can’t even remember her name now….ha!….Ah well….twins..twins!”

Minister Dutton’s slighting of the status of those refugees as they were taken away to America, was a low act, a mongrel comment unworthy of an Australian citizen.. a despicable slander from one so comfortably well off (thank you ; people of Australia for endowing him with much wealth and the comfort of a home). But it is an all too familiar carp from many of the right-wing already basking in a wealth of contentment and a degree of luxury neither hard-earned, nor deserving..but at the same time casting aspersion and slander upon those less fortunate or driven by desperation to flee their own homes and try their fate to a cruel sea and unforgiving foreign countries.

What sort of people can gaze with cruel intent on those wracked and wrecked by responsibility for family while smashed on the rocks of a foreign land..How many of us as parents cringe in horror at sight or thought of our loved ones maimed or destroyed by events we cannot, through powerlessness or circumstance control? How many times have we turned our gaze from the television screen at news pictures of drowning refugees or that one little child washed up upon the beach in Turkey..I still shudder at the thought of the moment imagined of that child struggling alone in a tossing sea as he slowly lost hold on life….Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

But still..I am home..I am settled..I have carved out my “temple of seven pillars of comfort”. I have no threats upon my doorstep, no wild beasts howling at my fence-line, no marauding militants armed and dangerous seeking for opportunity to attack. No..I am safe (as can be expected), secure (as can be financially managed) and sound (as aged health will allow). I am one of the lucky people living in a fortunate land. But never, never am I so smugly insular and self-satisfied that I cannot feel the deepest sympathy for those who seek such a home…for those men, women and children in loose assembly drifting in a tide of callous disregard from this cruel and heartless right-wing demonic government.

Here is a piece by Richard Church, from the third volume of his biography…:

“ CHAPTER ONE
BY WAY OF A PROLOGUE.

SOONER or later we all turn homeward. A man who dies on foreign soil is judged to have had a sad end. To escape the possibility of such a fate, every human being is possessed by an instinctive urge to hurry home. I noticed this when I was a boy, working in the laboratory in the Custom House, beside Billingsgate Market. I walked over London Bridge twice a day, morning and evening, wedged in the solid phalanx of humanity moving into London City, and out of it again.

I noticed how that tide of trousered or skirted legs was sluggish in the morning, as it trickled towards offices and ware-houses; how it rushed like the Severn Bore into London Bridge Station after the day’s work, blown by a gale of furious purpose, the desire to get home.

I felt the impulse in my own blood. What was this urge, this primitive anxiety ? Are men and women infected by some racial fear of the jungle, that drives them to seek the safety of the cave, even after several thousand years of the assurances of civilization ? I remember now, half a century since the routine of those years in the laboratory, more vividly than I remember all other moods and events, this eagerness to get home to my rooms on Denmark Hill. The urge often made me break into a jog-trot over London Bridge, risking my life by edging out of the crush from the pavement to the gutter. Sometimes, I even had the illusion of rising above the heads of the crowd, and gliding like a seagull, levitated by my own frenzy.

It was as though I were expecting a visitor, some fabulous person, a dream-spirit, or a lover…”

Home..indeed is where the heart is..Peace is also where a secure home is..and I would request us all and most particularly those in power of the desperate refugee, to acknowledge that the hunger of the heart for that elusive, secure “home” is a fire that burns fierce and undiminished in every human’s breast.

Towards Zero.

Toward the Bridge of San Luis Rey.

One can feel an ill-wind blowing these three Anglo-centric democracies toward some terrible climax. Like those unfortunate folk in the story of the “Bridge of San Luis Rey” by Thornton Wilder.. where individual circumstances bring these five people to meet their fate upon the collapsing bridge in Peru.
“This story centres on a (fictional) event that happened in Peru on the road between Lima and Cusco, at noon on Friday, July 20, 1714. A bridge woven by the Incas a century earlier collapsed at that particular moment, while five people were crossing it.”

It is an exploration of the interconnectedness of apparent strangers. A kind of; “six degrees of separation”. It could be used as a metaphor for the connected cultural links of our three Anglo-centric democracies – Britain – USA – Australia, where it is becoming quite weirdly apparent that even though we are unconnected specifically, there are similarities of behaviour, politics, bigotry and racism being acted out socially and politically at the same time, and with the same intensity by the same political players.

One can feel us being brought to the edge of a kind of precipice, squabbling and wrestling dangerously close to social disaster with whispers of civil war and military solutions in the air, or at least some threats of vicious reprisals.
One has to wonder on the reason these three Anglo democracies are experiencing similar tribulations at the same time. Could it be because all are in the grip of conservative / right-wing governments, while much of the more stable democracies have centralist governments?

If we look to Europe, while there is still a healthy degree of dissent, the governments , being centralist / centre-left do have stability, even dear old Italy, notorious for a habit of changing governments, has, for all its reputation, stable governance. The major superpowers of Asia have stable government..we may not approve of their choice, but they are stable…many Asian nations have domineering/ authoritarian but for the most, stable administrations..sure , there are a percentage of crazies in the mix, and we won’t even THINK about the middle-east!! but not really more than usual. So why are our three Anglo-centric democracies going off the rails?

In all three we have seen a pattern of domineering MSM. Control, with the ruling conservative parties feted by at least ONE major media player. That same media player has become notorious for outright bias toward the Right-wing…either through scurrilous scandal mongering, outright lying or bullying the Public Broadcasters through political interference. THAT is the one distinctive pattern at play. There are other connections. The lobbying of vested interest groups to swing government policy to speculative profiteering by certain donor companies. There is the corporate affiliations to many members of the conservative parties in The House, where corporate profit is directly beneficial to actual politicians framing policy for the pertinent corporations.

There is, of course that age old influence of white supremacy, played out with the racial / religious profiling of political decisions. This can be through preferred refugee selection and treatment, indigenous patronising or exploitation through faux concern for welfare direction..and , of course the divide and rule policy toward religious / atheist ideologue.

If we look to the Anglo / Euro influence, we can hear the faint echoes of an Enoch Powel speech, or the thundering rhetoric of Mussolini or Hitler , sure, tempered with a soft guilt, yet still displayed with a “I told youse so” vitriol. Especially in Aust’ or the USA. Both a long way from the up-close and in your face visuals of the 2nd WW. Where the public horror was less emphatic through photography and memory. At such a distance from the battlefront, the sense of smell is neither affronted nor lingering and connected to the memory to be brought suddenly and shockingly to the front by a flash-back moment.

But what can we expect, when conservative leadership along with a compliant MSM has been more concerned with using the tools of hatred, divide and rule and even the most blunt weapon of straight treason to create dissent, disorder and resentment within certain demographics of the community. It is not as if they have no example, we can see their instructors on any given media platform reproducing moments from the fascist states of the second world war. Sometimes almost word for word, if not deed for deed imitation. The shame, dishonour and disgrace of such actions seems to fall from their psyche like Autumn leaves to the ground, leaving these mummers of a theatre of horrors untouched nor unfazed by guilty conscience or accusation of social pariah.

Trump, May and the Turnbull/Abbott cabal in power in the three Anglo-centric democracies of the west, have a lot to answer for . The first is their use and encouragement of the Murdoch media in all three nations to heap slander upon lie and outrage to fan the flames of discontent and hatred less toward an outside threat, than from the citizens and guests resident within their own borders. The ultimate objective being to encourage a new kind of militant citizen group that could commit violent acts toward those most vulnerable or most susceptible to profitable propaganda.
Yes, there is a feeling of being drawn toward a moment of destiny, an approaching storm of vile confrontation with our troubling inner hatreds and seething resentments. We will have to address these resentments within the next one or two terms of governance. If Labor gain office the next election, they will have little choice but to put in place a rolling tribunal to look very closely at the interconnections between big corporations, big Media, white-supremacist groups and conservative politics.

There will HAVE to be an investigation into these things , because it is easy to see we are slowly and inexorably being tugged, as with a rope around our necks, tugged and pulled toward a very dangerous place…pulled unwillingly if not unwittingly toward zero.

Ode to Machiavelli’s Discourses.

Ode to Machiavelli’s Discourses of Titus Livy.

Y’know..I can sympathise with ol’ Machiavelli,
Seeing how things at this moment are not very
Agreeable..somewhat friable..if’n you’ll allow…
And HE did avow to explain with a lengthy refrain
The deeper meanings of one : Titus Livius..THE man.

I have picked over his “Discourses” as one does pick,
Thread-bits from a new coat..or the currants, thick
From granny’s fruit loaf..very nice..’til she thanks
You with a rap of the wooden spoon, you’ll soon
Learn to pay close attention to such indelible rune..

And wonder, like he, whether such honour indeed,
Bestowed upon those ancients, and their seed be
But an impersonation of admired esteem,
Less one’s smarts be seen as hollow sincerity, given as trope
To impertination so vain as to promenade that path again and again…and again?

Wisdom admired..but never imitated, even diluted, you may plea,
So that WE, who have gained this Earth and now lost our soul,
Given, on the whole, as fuel to the false god of intellectual flattery.
Assault and battery on lost integrity exchanged impressionably
For mutual back-slapping and the odd “gold echidna”.

I wouldn’t be kidding yer if I was to say, with an underbreath ; “Ole’”
That the measure of intellect today is, sadly, awry, Y,
‘Tis enough to make one cry..given what history has bequeathed
So each generation in turn could turn over a new leaf.
With so much, so ample that we have more than sample..it’s that simple.

“For our civil laws are but decisions by ancient Jurisconsults,
That teacheth our present Jurisconsults systems by which to judge…”
A drudge with nought to follow but example and re-assemble
Forebears preamble on things “socially medicinal”, as an endocrine?
Should work out fine ..if we but listen, not descend to vicious hissing.

The biggest mistake being; not understanding history,
But make mystery of what we WILL NOT see..Is it just me?
Or is it thee who takes more pleasure from the infinite variety
Of incidents in this or that society and such scandalous pleasure
As your measure of understanding, rather than demanding

We take heed to the answers to those deeds, as if these
Times have changed the behaviour of men and then of women too
It’s a shoo-in to see ; the Sun the Moon, the sea and thee
Have not changed their motions and power, hour on hour
From ancient times, I’d avower and from such error; allora!

I’d therefore call thee to hark to the wisdom of Titus Livy
And give time to study the erstwhile text of Machiavelli
Written in testament for us to understand such history
For ; Zanobi Buondelmonti and Cosimo Rucellai..
Which for this pleasure I now bequeath to thee…from me.

A Dystopian Reality.

Are you , like me when awaiting an authoritative decision to be handed down?..Like this very recent decision by the High Court on the Same-Sex marriage postal survey? I know I awaited the decision with mixed anticipation..One part of me was hoping for a positive outcome (for the High Court to block the Govt’) , while another instinct kept whispering in my ear that there was little chance that an authority with a vested interest in the same status and class as the very people and govt’ that desired a different outcome would disappoint their fellow travelers.

Of course, I had no reason to believe there would be any kind of collusion between the judiciary and the members of the Govt’..except a faint..nasty..nagging, instinctive premonition that we have been down this path so many times and the result seems..I say : “seems” to always end up favouring the conservative side of the ledger..and I just can’t shake that niggling feeling that there is a kind of ,if not actual collusion and back-slapping ;”We’ve got you covered on this one mate”, than a almost imperceptible nod and a wink of camaraderie to each other.

Like the recent several decisions on refugees..: A Google header..: Government can detain asylum seekers brought to Australia for … – ABC
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-03/government-detention…high-court/8492788
May 2, 2017 – Photo: The High Court ruled the detention of the mother and daughter was lawful. … Related Story: Pregnant asylum seeker on Nauru flown to Australia · Related Story: Manus Island refugee dies in Brisbane hospital … medical treatment, a decision by the Commonwealth Government to send them back to …

There would appear to be an in-step cabal to back each other on matters conservative and controversial. Like the recent ruling on the Same-sex Marriage survey, a lay-person who has followed the preceding events leading up to the High Court challenge could be excused for thinking that there has been a miscarriage of justice..after all, those barristers who advised for the challenge would have some degree (one would presume) of insight as to the probability of success BEFORE bringing the challenge to such an expensive advocacy.

Of course, the working-class radical in me immediately jumps to the accusation of “Class-privilege / Class collusion”. But then one has to be judicious on such an accusation less it start to sound more as a shrill whinge rather than accurate assessment. And it’s not to say that all judiciary emanated from the same class background, indeed some have quite humble heritage..But one has to concede both through example and personal experience, where one comes from is not always a certainty of how one will act when reaching a higher affluence lifestyle..

Consider Thorsten Veblen :

“As has already been indicated, the distinction between exploit and drudgery is an invidious distinction between employments. Those employments which are to be classed as exploit are worthy, honourable, noble; other employments, which do not contain this element of exploit, and especially those which imply subservience or submission, are unworthy, debasing, ignoble. The concept of dignity, worth, or honour, as applied either to persons or conduct, is of first-rate consequence in the development of classes and of class distinctions, and it is therefore necessary to say something of its derivation and meaning. Its psychological ground may be indicated in outline as follows.
As a matter of selective necessity, man is an agent. He is, in his own apprehension, a centre of unfolding impulsive activity—”teleological” activity (Teleology is a reason or explanation for something in function of its end, purpose or goal..; ME.) . He is an agent seeking in every act the accomplishment of some concrete, objective, impersonal end. By force of his being such an agent he is possessed of a taste for effective work, and a distaste for futile effort. He has a sense of the merit of serviceability or efficiency and of the demerit of futility, waste, or incapacity. This aptitude or propensity may be called the instinct of workmanship. Wherever the circumstances or traditions of life lead to an habitual comparison of one person with another in point of efficiency, the instinct of workmanship works out in an emulative or invidious comparison of persons. The extent to which this result follows depends in some considerable degree on the temperament of the population. In any community where such an invidious comparison of persons is habitually made, visible success becomes an end sought for its own utility as a basis of esteem. Esteem is gained and dispraise is avoided by putting one’s efficiency in evidence. “ (Thorsten Veblen ; “Theory of the Leisure Class).

Armed with a certain prejudice against that class that appears to hold all the best cards of law and authority, one can be excused for harbouring a feeling of being “hard done by” in the realm of justice and equality, after all, it just appears logical that those who possess all that a society values in regard to position, wealth and power, would do their damn best to cultivate a favourable advantage to keep them…AND form a network of like-minded fellows in the various departments of social control to maintain that advantage.

The dystopian connection here is the feeling of disconnectedness between our nurtured sense of what constitutes social “fair play” and the “impartial rule of law”, where the latter seems to too frequently fall solidly over the other side of the fence of upper-middle class solidarity.

Perhaps it is just me, and I have spent more than a little time analysing my prejudices..but then I also have this instinctive faith, brought about by many years’ experience, in trusting my intuition on matters subjective..and , as you can read above, by falling back on past authors so much more wise and informed on such subjects than myself.

And on such a note, I will give another author well versed in the mechanics of class politics to have the last word on an “independent judiciary”…

“…From this incident there is to be noted that which was mentioned above, that it is useful and necessary for a Republic with its laws to provide a means of venting that ire which is generally conceived against a citizen, for if these ordinary means do not exist, they will have recourse to extraordinary ones, and without doubt these produce much worse effects that do the others. For ordinarily when a citizen is oppressed, even if he has received an injustice, little or no disorder ensues in the Republic, because its execution is done by neither private nor foreign forces which are those that ruin public liberty, but is done by public force and arrangement which have their own particular limits, and do not transcend to things that ruin the Republic…for the accusing of a powerful one before eight judges in a Republic is not enough; it is necessary that the judges be many because the few always judge in favour of the few.” (Niccolo Machiavelli : “The Discourses of Titus Livius”)

So you can ”judge” for yourselves.