Everybody hurts

Recently I was struck by my friend Kaye Winnell’s wise and courageous facebook post:

“I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I have done since the birth of my first baby. Some days, no matter how many pies I bake or kilometres I run, I still feel fat, ugly, lazy and stupid. No matter how many people tell me I otherwise, I still feel worthless, and as if one day the world will find me out, and will realise what a loser I am and that I have just done a really, really good job of hiding it. Some days I am so scared to step out of my car and walk into work I can’t breathe.

But I truly believe that this illness has made me who I am, made me a fighter, made me more compassionate, and helped me understand that what we see on the surface is not always the truth.

We are faulty and human. We are scared and we make mistakes. We screw up our lives sometimes.

If you have similar struggles, be brave and don’t be ashamed. “

It’s really easy, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, to feel as though you’re the only person who has ever felt like this. The whole post is profoundly moving, but the bit about being found out is really striking. In private, tentative conversations I’ve discovered that many of my friends share that feeling. Regardless of how much positive feedback you get, how many awards you win, and how much tangible success you achieve, you may be convinced that none of it is your doing. Sooner or later the world is going to find out that you are actually no good at what you do. You are an imposter. Parachuted into your position by a series of freak chances, in no way are you actually qualified or capable to do your job – whether a profession or parenting. This feeling can be utterly corrosive.

It leaves you intensely vulnerable to any kind of negative feedback, regardless of how constructively it is phrased, because you are always waiting for that moment when the world realizes you don’t belong here.  So anything from a friend canceling a visit, to your boss suggesting that you need to do something differently, can be that proof, and it can drive you to despair in a heartbeat. With a jolt of adrenalin you know that it’s here! You’ve been rumbled! It’s all over now.

If you’re lucky you have someone supportive nearby who can spot this moment and talk you down from the precipice. If you’re even luckier you have learnt some strategies over time for re-educating your hopelessly panicked self-esteem. And if you’re profoundly lucky, you have both. But there will always be days when your support person is absent or distracted and using your own self-rescuing techniques is beyond you, whether it’s because you are tired and run down, or you actually did make a mistake that you feel really bad about, or you’ve had a couple of run-ins with someone who really knows how to tear you into tiny pieces. Some days it would be so easy to give up.

When your day is long
and the night – the night is yours alone
when you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on
don’t let yourself go, ‘cos everybody cries
and everybody hurts
sometimes

REM, Everybody Hurts

Researchers often claim that women are disproportionate sufferers of imposter syndrome, but I wonder if that’s because men are less likely to admit it and seek help for it. We still send very strong messages in our society that it’s ok for women to seek help, but men have to be strong and independent. Either way, no-one, whether male or female, talks about this much. It’s an intensely vulnerable feeling, and exposing it publicly feels like a huge risk.

So I was really impressed to see Kaye write about this and post it publicly. The more we can be open and honest about our struggles, the easier we make it for everyone struggling around us. You look at the strong, confident leader who sits near you at work, and you don’t hear his brain whispering to him “You’re no good at this. You’ll be found out, and it will be humiliating. And you’ll deserve it.”

You look at the successful, articulate, and assertive manager in the office next door, and you don’t know about those times when she closes her door and lays her head down on her desk, overwhelmed by the feeling that she is out of her depth.

And they don’t see it when you do, either. We’re all so busy being strong and independent, that we make it harder for ourselves, and for everyone around us, when we actually do need help, because we are pretending that we are always strong, always confident, and perpetually in control.

So I’m putting it out there. I suffer from imposter syndrome. I get huge amounts of positive feedback. My children are healthy and happy. My students get amazing results. But sometimes I firmly believe that it’s despite me, not because of me. Sometimes I feel like a giant spanner in the works of life. Logically I know I’m not. Rationally I know I am a good and loving parent, a supportive and encouraging teacher, and someone who gives everything I do everything I’ve got. I’m proud of that. But some days I don’t believe it. Some days I can’t understand why anyone would hire me, or even be friends with me.

But I know this: those days will pass, and they do not define me. Everybody hurts sometimes.

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My not so secret shame

Many of us default to whingeing about our personal lives on facebook or twitter:

  • “ugh! crawling through peak hour traffic, why do I do this to myself?”
  • “sideswiped by 2 drivers on my ride today”
  • “bills, bills, and more bills”
  • “loud music blasting from next door at 3am, and now I have to get up and go to work”
  • “so tired today I can barely see straight”

… and on and on… Posting these complaints is easy, yet somehow appreciating the good stuff seems mawkish and faintly embarrassing.

Some time ago we introduced the Thankful Thing at our dinner table, to remind us of all the things we have to be thankful for – even on the bad days. It was a kind of antidote to all those first world problems that can seem overwhelming at times. And all the real problems that are nonetheless not the whole story of our lives. These days we have the thankful book, rather than scraps of paper, and we date the pages so that we can look back to a particular time, or just flick through and see what we appreciated on a random day.

It’s lovely to do, and always raises our spirits. It’s wonderful to look back on and remember those happy moments, but I do wish we did it more often. When you’re tired and grumpy, it can be hard to summon the energy to prioritise the Thankful Thing.

Sometimes I am thankful on facebook. It’s too easy to whine and grump about things that annoy or frustrate me, but I don’t want that to be the face I always turn to the world. I also don’t want them to be the things I focus on. I am exceptionally fortunate. I have amazing friends, a wonderful home life, and a job that is both thrilling and satisfying. Yet it’s still all too easy to slump in my chair and whine about all the things that aren’t perfect.

So I sometimes post something like this: “Today I am thankful for my students, past and present, who make my working life such a joy, and who have become part of my life in ways I could never have anticipated. I am thankful for my 11 year old, who has reached an age where we can talk and share on a level that is intensely satisfying. (Which is not to say we don’t scream and throw things at other times!) I am thankful for my bright, chirpy, intensely empathic miss 7. And I am deeply thankful for the night away I had with my beloved on Friday night, and to his parents for making it possible.”

These statuses tend to get lots of likes, yet I feel faintly uneasy posting them. It’s as though I am boasting, or being overly sentimental. And although my friends are quick to hit like, I don’t see it catching on. There isn’t a rash of thankful things spreading through my news feed, but sometimes it seems as though there’s an awful lot of complaints. And I get that – it’s great to get sympathy by posting about whatever is currently bugging you. I often find myself composing those updates in my head when something – or someone – gets on my nerves.

But I fear that this kind of social media usage is leading us to stress the negative, and focus on our irritations. Being publicly thankful is hard. It makes me feel a bit soppy, and a bit exposed and vulnerable. But I think it also helps me focus on the positives, rather than reinforcing the irritation of my gripe about politics, or environmental damage, or work frustrations.

Facebook recently got a lot of publicity when they announced that they had tampered with people’s news feeds, showing more positive or more negative statuses to see if it changed people’s posting habits. Lo and behold they found that both positive and negative statuses were contagious. The more negative updates you see, the more negative your own will be. And the same for positive.

Every time someone responds to a status I click to see which one it was, and every time I do that I get a small surge of the feelings associated with that status. So maybe it’s time we started tampering with our own status updates. Maybe we can emotionally manipulate ourselves byletting those frustrations drift away, rather than pinning them to our news feeds.

Goodness knows there’s enough to be frustrated and grumpy about in our daily lives. But there’s a lot to appreciate, too, and that’s really something to be grateful for.

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I’ve got the power

We are truly a funny old species. The existence of climate controlled cars and a million labour saving devices has persuaded us that we can’t get wet, mustn’t get cold, and that most activities are beyond the reach of our puny muscles.

Yet it is possible to ride a bicycle to work even when it’s cold, wet, and windy.

It is possible to mow your lawn, cut branches off trees, and cut up firewood all without the aid of power tools.

It is possible to calculate without the aid of a calculating machine – or so I am told – the calculating portion of my brain seems to have atrophied.

And that’s just the point, isn’t it? Power is a “use it or lose it” phenomenon.

Yesterday morning, amid dire forecasts for wind, rain, hail, and general unpleasantness in the Melbourne weather forecast, I elected not to ride to work the way I usually would, and instead texted a local friend asking for a lift. I waited, and I waited, but I got no response. I texted again. Then I called. All to no avail, because his phone was on silent and he wasn’t looking at it. By then it was time to leave or be late, and so I had to bite the cold, windy, wet bullet and ride. I donned my voluminous rain cape, my waterproof trousers, and my knee high boots, and rode off into the rain.

And you know what?

I enjoyed it. True, there were times when I thought I was in a scene from Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” But by the time I got to work I was radiating the dedicated commuting cyclist’s extreme smug field. I was warm from the exercise. I had made it to work under my own steam in unpleasant conditions. I had power. I had self esteem. I was surprisingly dry. And my colleagues universally thought me insane – no change there.

Throughout the day the weather worsened and I swore I would beg, borrow, or if necessary steal a lift home, even if it meant coming in on my day off to pick up my bike. But by the time I was ready to leave everyone else had gone, the rain had stopped, and the wind had eased. So I rode home again, and this time didn’t even need the wet weather gear.

Here’s the thing: skin is mostly waterproof, and getting rained on is rarely fatal. Admittedly the weather in Melbourne yesterday was a touch extreme, and I would not have ridden in the 100kph winds we endured in the middle of the day. But even though the wind had settled, people were still aghast that I had done something so extreme as ride in the rain.

With decent wet weather gear, riding in the rain is no big deal, but we persuade ourselves that we need our climate control, our heating, our air con, and our isolation from the world. I persuaded myself that I needed a lift to work this morning, but when my lift failed to materialize, I rode to work just fine.

I had also persuaded myself that I couldn’t do anything about our treatment of asylum seekers. I’m just one person. Just one voice. One keyboard – albeit fairly strident. But I watched a friend become increasingly active, and it began to make my muscles twitch, until almost without thinking I stepped over the line and did something concrete for a family of refugees. Burning with their story, I came home and wrote about it, and in just over a week more than 700 people have read my piece about actually stepping up and helping.

I have power. One voice can reach many ears, if it’s willing to try.

Today I went to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Dandenong and signed up to teach computer skills there once a fortnight next term. Another thing I can do. And each person I teach can teach others in turn. I’m starting small, but who knows what impact this will have on the lives of the people our government wants us to abandon?

I’ve already noticed the impact on my cycling route of stopping to pick up the occasional piece of rubbish. I have power here, too.

We can walk or ride in the rain, much further than we think we can. We can pick up a little rubbish every day and leave the world a cleaner place. We can offer a little support to those most in need. And the magic of muscles is that the more we do, the more we can do. Which also means that the less we do, the less we can do.

So maybe it’s time to ask ourselves what we can really do.

What can you do?

 

 

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Land of confusion

I did a good deed today. My 11 year old was proud of me. She was so pleased that I had stepped up to help.  She said I would come back feeling really good. I thought I would, too. I was feeling a little smug. A little pleased to have got out of my own head, been lifted out of my own worries, and to be able to help some strangers. I thought I would come back all aglow with their gratitude, and a sense of self-worth.

But I have come home gutted. Devastated. Deeply ashamed.

Not because the strangers weren’t grateful – far from it. The children adopted me instantly. Hugged me, proudly told me the words they could spell, and wanted to know all about my own kids. The parents offered me tea, and told me many times how grateful they were, and how they had been told someone would come. When they heard how far I had driven they were overwhelmed. They were lovely. We live about an hour apart, but I think we could be friends. I’ll take my kids to visit them in the holidays.

But… my god. The horror of what they have been through. The horror of what we, as a nation, are still putting them through. I knew it was appalling, but until I met these people, until trauma was given faces, names, and lives, I did not look it full in the face.

These people, these beautiful new friends, who welcomed me with open arms, who want nothing more than lives, jobs, and freedom – those trivial details that we take for granted every day – they are refugees. Fleeing from a homeland that promised them death and destruction, they have been in detention overseas for DECADES.

You read that right. FOR DECADES.

There’s too many men, too many people
making too many problems
and there’s not enough love to go round.
Tell me why this is the land of confusion?
 

So they risked everything to cross the sea to come here. They risked EVERYTHING. They took their lives, and those of their families, in their hands. They piled 40 families on a fragile, largely unseaworthy boat, and they came here. Looking for life. Looking for compassion. Looking, above all, for safety. And we locked them up.

We. Locked. Them. Up.

For years.

This is the world we live in
and these are the hands we’re given
use them and let’s start trying
to make it a place worth living in
Land of Confusion – Genesis
 

Children. Families. People.

It costs money to lock people up. To prevent them from working. To ensure they put down no roots, create no support networks, and never feel a part of the community. These families want nothing more than to make their own way in the world in safety. They don’t want our charity. They want to build themselves valuable lives, and establish themselves in the community. After all they have been through, all they want is to live. But we would rather pay to lock them up.

Abbott professes himself devout. I am not much of a religious scholar, but I remember endless passages in the bible about compassion, and about helping those in need. I don’t remember anything about demonising the desperate.

Do you know what undid me today, more than anything else in the tales that unfolded? One of my new friends was desperately concerned that I would think him a liar, and a bad man. He showed me his UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) documents that proved he had, indeed, been in detention for decades. That he had lived, married, had a child, all in detention. That all he wanted was a life. And all he was given was jail, for himself, his wife, and his child. He wanted me to know that he was honest. That he was a good person. That he deserved to live.

I took them food today, as they have no way of contacting their case workers on the weekend. No nappies for their babies. No food for their children. No friends in the community – they were uprooted from their only support networks, and transferred to where they have no means of supporting themselves. They are not allowed to work. Who knows if their children will be able to go to school.

The Department of Immigration refers to these people, these families, as “Illegal Maritime Arrivals”. They are not. Australia has promised the UN not to discriminate on the basis of arrival, but oh! How differently we treat people who arrive by plane and overstay their visas. For a complete discussion of the legalities and technicalities I refer you to Julian Burnside.

I won’t be coming home tonight
my generation will put it right
we’re not just making promises
that we know we’ll never keep.

Ultimately, though, the legalities are irrelevant. The facts are these: Desperate people come here, seeking our help. We punish them. These people with faces, names, and families. These people who are filled with love, with gratitude, and with hope, after years of the world battering them with the worst it has to give. We punish them.

When I came home and told my family the story over dinner, my 7 year old cried: “I don’t want to be Australian anymore, Mummy!”

Is this who we want to be?

I. WILL. NOT. STAND. FOR. IT.

Will you?

 

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Treading lightly

When I say “teenage boys,” what’s your first reaction?

My daughter is vehement about not wanting to become a teenager, because everything she hears about teenagers is bad. They graffiti. They are rude. They are grumpy. They are vandals. Teenagers have a really serious PR problem.

And, indeed, 3 teenage boys made me cry last Tuesday. But not, perhaps, the way you are thinking. They showed up at my desk at recess with a gift, to tell me how grateful they were for the opportunities I have given them, and the work I have done with them.

And it wasn’t just any gift. We worked together on a dolphin research project, so they gave me a purple bracelet with a silver dolphin charm on it, together with one of the most appropriate and eloquent cards I have ever seen (also purple, and also with dolphins, naturally).

purple bracelet with silver dolphin

purple bracelet with silver dolphin

That project was one of the highlights of my career, both as a teacher and an academic. I had a wonderful time working on it, and the fact that it’s ongoing and turning into a real, usable, useful system is intensely satisfying to me. It was clear from the way the students kept working on it long after the assignment was submitted that they were highly motivated. I knew how they felt about it. And they knew I knew. Yet they wanted to express their gratitude in a tangible form.

So I wear my bracelet every day, and when things get overwhelming I use it to remind myself that I must be doing something right, and that I am appreciated.

They didn’t have to do it. They didn’t have to write the card, or buy the bracelet, or do anything at all. They could easily have taken the attitude that I was just doing my job. They could have been all take and no give. But instead, as they have done throughout the project, they took the opportunity to give back. To lift my spirits in a way I could never have anticipated, and certainly never asked for. They left me far happier than they found me, both with their work, and with their gift.

They chose to make a difference.

There are so many ways we can all make a difference.

On the weekend I went walking with my family at the Quarantine Station down at Pt Nepean. As we usually do, we took a plastic bag and collected what rubbish we could. We collected a wide range of random stuff. Polystyrene, plastic bottles and caps, hair bands, food wrappers, pieces of glow stick, rope, and a large chunk of silicon sealant.

Rubbish from the beach at Pt Nepean

Rubbish from the beach at Pt Nepean

There was some rubbish wedged in rocks where we couldn’t reach it, and it took so long to cover a small section of beach that we couldn’t collect it all. The bag we carried away with us was only a small fraction of the rubbish on the beach on that one day, and it was heavy.

Volume of rubbish collected in half an hour at Pt Nepean.

Volume of rubbish collected in half an hour at Pt Nepean.

The trouble with starting to collect rubbish is that it’s very hard to stop. It’s easy to become a bit obsessed, and not stop as long as there is rubbish in sight. Sadly, in our current environment, that often means not stopping. Ever. Because there is SO much of it. Ever since our involvement with the Baykeepers Documentary, we have been a lot more aware of rubbish. Heartbreaking pictures of dead birds and dolphins with a stomach full of plastic bags tend to have that effect.

So if you make yourself responsible for it and decide to clean it up, you could be at it forever. And ever. And ever.

But you don’t have to pick up every single piece of rubbish to make a difference. The other day on the way home from work I ignored a lot of rubbish, as I have to, or I’d never get home. But I did pick up quite a few large pieces of polystyrene. This is particularly nasty stuff, because it breaks down into small white balls that look exactly like eggs. It attracts toxins and pollutants, and winds up floating, egg-like in our waterways. Indigestible balls of poison that our native fish, birds, dolphins and seals snap right up, with tragic results.

So I picked up as much of it as I could, and then I rode home. The rest of the rubbish that I had not picked up nagged at my heart, but I was comforted by the idea that there was a whole lot less rubbish than there would have been if I hadn’t stopped at all. Sure, I hadn’t got it all, but I left that part of the world a little cleaner than I found it.

I think this is a lesson I can learn at work, too. I can’t fix everything. I can’t do everything I want to do. I can’t solve every problem for every student, or even make my own subject perfect. But I can aim to leave the world better than I found it. Not perfect. Not clean. Not sorted. But better than it would have been without me.

It’s easy to feel that we have so little power, such a faint voice, that nothing we can do counts. There’s so much rubbish that it feels as though there’s no point in even trying to pick it up. But if everyone picked up 3 pieces of rubbish, our insoluble litter problem could vanish overnight. We can’t fix everything alone. But we can do a little every day, and have an impact that surprises us, even in a week. And by doing what we can, we can inspire others to do what they can. And together, our tiny acts can build up into a tsunami of change. Just by doing a little, when we can.

Like my students, we can choose to give back. To make a difference in the world. By showing someone we appreciate them. By cleaning up our local environment a little. By seeing something that needs doing and getting it done.

And that’s something that everyone can do.

 

 

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That kid is so lazy

I was an exceptionally lazy student in high school. I never got the hang of study timetables or regular work habits. I had no work ethic to speak of. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, I just never saw the point. I was lucky enough to get into university by virtue of a very good memory – not because I worked at it, but because my brain retained enough interesting tid bits to get me over the line. Way back in the mists of ancient time, Computer Science was  a subject you had to clear an academic hurdle to get into, and I managed by some fluke to clear it. So I added CS into my Science degree as an interesting but not especially relevant fill-in subject.

I hated it. My goodness, it was dull. And yet, by third year, CS accounted for every subject in my degree. Here I was doing a double major in a subject that I professed great loathing for when I started. What kept me hanging on was that I could see the third year list of subjects, just dimly, from where I sat in my yawn-inducing first year classes, and they were fascinating. There was Artificial Intelligence, Image Processing, Computer Graphics, and a whole host of other things that actually interested me. I could see that it was going to get fun, if I could just stick it out. So I scraped through first year, crawled over the pass mark in second year, and in third year I actually started to enjoy myself. By honours I was loving it, and when I was offered a PhD project I leapt at it.

More years on than I care to count, I still label myself as a lazy person without much work ethic. Yet on Thursday I saw my GP for a disturbingly painful patch on my leg,  which I thought might be related to the massive doses of antibiotics I was on for a sinus infection. My GP was alarmed (which is never a good sign) and diagnosed me with yet another bacterial infection – this time cellulitis, which she said is likely to be because I am run down and my immune system has become compromised. She put me straight on a third type of antibiotic, and told me quite sternly to rest, or wind up in hospital on intravenous antibiotics.

I was a little spooked by the gravity of her manner, and the threat of a hospital stay. But there was a workshop the next day that I felt was really important – about a new year 12 Computer Science subject. It was a long trip to get there, a long day of pretty intense work, and a long trip home. Only a crazy person would sign up for something like that after such strict instructions from her doctor. Certainly a lazy person with no work ethic wouldn’t even consider it.

Of course I went to the workshop. And I’m really glad I did. I’ll be going to the second day of the workshop tomorrow too, if I possibly can, although I have spent most of the weekend in bed trying to compensate.

And while I was lying in bed feeling rather sorry for myself it suddenly struck me. I have accidentally acquired a fairly insane work ethic. A work ethic that, truth be told, has probably led to this series of infections in the first place, never mind my ludicrous way of dealing with them.

This lazy, hopeless student now works herself half to death in order to do the best job she can. She gets given a medical certificate to take two days off work and she goes to work anyway.

What changed?

I’m doing something I care about. I’m doing something I believe is important.

My education didn’t give that to me, but I was lucky enough to bluff my way through until I found something that did. Our education system is still, for the most part, not giving that to our kids.

I have seen students tackle subjects that don’t grab them with such unwillingness and lack of effort that I have despaired of them ever achieving anything. I have seen those same students turn around in other subjects and perform prodigious and almost miraculous feats of effort, energy, and intelligence in order to achieve something they are actually interested in. Something they can see the value of.

We certainly have talented, passionate teachers in the system who could make a difference. And some of them do. But for the most part teachers are so busy keeping their heads above water that they have no time to contemplate radical changes to both curriculum and delivery. Those teachers who could make the education system an amazing place to be are, for the most part, too crushed by workload to even contemplate it.

It’s very easy to label kids lazy. To curse them for being unwilling to make an effort. And certainly we all need to learn to put in some effort on the things we don’t want to do – life is full of necessary, but profoundly dull tasks. But I think we need to spend a little less time calling kids lazy, and a little more time asking ourselves what we can do to motivate them.

 

 

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Who’s running the world today?

I’m gonna wait til the moment has come

I’m gonna wait til we all stop from running

I’ve spent the week alternately trying to make sense of the Australian Government’s new budget, and trying to pretend it isn’t happening.

Last year I read Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” in an attempt to make sense of the chasm between the right and left of politics, and it made some kind of sense to me – I was able to see morality on the right as well as on the left. But I am at a loss to find morality in this budget. It seems to be a kind of “no-one gets anything for nothing (oh, wait, except big business, politicians, and really rich people)” ethos, together with “let’s stick it to everything Labor ever did or wanted to do”.

It’s a vicious, punitive attack on the vulnerable. It guts our healthcare, education, and welfare systems, not to mention the environment, in the name of an economy that has a mythical “budget crisis” but in fact is the envy of the developed world.

We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We don’t have a budget deficit crisis. We have a health deficit crisis. An education deficit crisis. A compassion deficit crisis. We are punishing refugees for political, not humanitarian or practical reasons. We are dismantling our universal healthcare system, and trashing our education system – which was on the point of the most equitable reforms Australia has ever seen, in the form of the Gonski recommendations.

I’m gonna wait till I reach for the sky
Tin legs and tin mines, anyone’s cry
Cry in the hope that there’ll be tomorrow

Waiting around there must be a sound
Time to start thinking and working it out
Come with me now, try with me now, when I’m laughing
Who’s running the world today?

Midnight Oil, Tin Legs and Tin Mines.

And so people will march today, protesting the unfairness, the viciousness, and above all the lack of honesty in this budget. Protesting the lies. (“No cuts to… oh, just about everything that has been cut. No new taxes. No governments doing one thing before an election and another thing after. Oh. Unless, you know, we want to.”). Protesting the utter lack of compassion – “$7 is just a couple of middies of beer”. Never mind that it’s more than some families have to spend on dinner. (For an impassioned perspective on that, search for “Kaye Stirland’s open letter to Joe Hockey.” Prepare to be blown away.)

But Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will ignore it, as they have ignored every other protest. They know they can’t be held to account for over 2 years at least. They know they have free rein to hack and slash, buy a few votes in the final budget before the next election, and then there is a good chance they will be reelected.

The press barely hold governments to account. They don’t analyze their statements to see if they are true. Those few fact checkers that are out there don’t seem to get any cut through. The quick sound bites about the alleged “budget crisis” carry the day. The truth is there are zero consequences for broken promises in this political system. (Unless you’re female, of course.)

But what if there were ?

What if a certain proportion of the population – say, 5%, as in the constitution of many incorporated associations – could stand up and say “We’re not happy with you. You’ve broken too many promises.” and force a re-election? Or simply a referendum on their performance that could result in a people’s double dissolution?

What if there were a “this government has gone too far” button?

Would you press it?

 

 

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