Regaining Equilibrium

Over the past month or so I’ve thought of at least half a dozen politics-related themes to blog about, but in the end I’m not sure there’s much I can add to the swirling vortex of election debate already out there. So I thought I’d just record my subjective experience of it instead, because maybe it’s all I have to offer. What’s one more snarky facebook comment or witty tweet worth? It doesn’t come to much at this point. I’ve just got me.

The first election in which I was old enough to vote coincided with an end to the long Howard Years and the introduction of a (nominally, or perhaps relatively) left-wing government. This means that for the entirety of my voting life, the dice have more or less rolled my way. I have to acknowledge my luck in this, but it has rather spoiled me for the reality of politics, which is that there will not always be a political party that represents you in power. (Theoretically, the government is supposed to represent all citizens, but that feels so far from true right now that it’s hard to take the idea very seriously.) I’m just starting to come to grips with the associated feelings of frustration and political helplessness this brings, and recognising that, despite some of the Labor Party’s lurches to the right on some issues, conservative voters were probably feeling something like this for the last six years.

What do you do when you feel like the system has let you down, when it seems no one’s listening? How do you stop feeling alienated in your own country?

It’s stupidly simple, I suppose. Things go on. You wake up the next morning, a bit hungover maybe. You cook breakfast, go for a surf. Regain equilibrium. You talk to people who get where you’re coming from, so you don’t feel like the last sane person in a nation of crazies, or maybe the other way around. You remind yourself that no matter how horrific it seems, you are not actually living in a place where everyone thinks women or minorities are inferior, and despite how overwhelming it feels there are still plenty of decent people in the world, even most of the ones who voted for a party you don’t support.

Getting this perspective back is incredibly fucking hard.

It’s also the only way to prevent losing all hope in the human race. So it’s kind of important.

I am thinking of going off politics for a while. (I bet this idea will last all of about 3 days, but hush, let me at least contemplate it.) A little while ago one of my friends asked me, I think only half-jokingly, when I was going to enter politics myself, and I snort-laughed at the idea.

No, I thought, there are much better ways to attempt to change the world, if that’s your bent. Not to mention less soul-crushing methods.

So perhaps the next time a politician makes a thoughtless, throw-away comment reducing women to their sexual function, I will take a deep breath and pick up my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Maybe the next time a politician admits that their God or the voices in their head told them to vote against gay marriage, I will renew my membership with the Atheist Foundation of Australia.

The next time a politician displays their ignorance of science and spouts their opinions of the Big Whacky Climate Change Conspiracy, I’ll engage my creative drive and write the parody short story I’ve been meaning to do for years, the one that has Evil Scientists dressing in black trenchcoats and dark sunglasses and doing commando rolls out of limousines, being super sneaky.

Earlier this year I attended a discussion panel at the Sydney Writer’s Festival about feminism in Australia and the wider world today, and something that one of the speakers said really stuck with me. Remember to look on the bright side, she said. Hold on to your humour and hold on to your humanity. “After all, Martin Luther King never said, ‘I have a nightmare’…”

… So.

Go outside and have picnics and write and take photos, disengage from the theoretical and re-connect with the real. Also abandon the real for short periods of time and lose myself in fiction, for the sake of my sanity and to re-charge my batteries.

It’s not like I’m coming up short for hobbies. There are so many things I could be pouring my energy into.

When things seem nightmarish, remember to keep dreaming.

And breathe.

You’re no good to anyone or any cause at all if you burn yourself out.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nick
    Sep 08, 2013 @ 16:36:39

    Trench coated scientists commando rolling out of limosusines ๐Ÿ™‚

    When it comes to politics though, you are really giving the politicians waaayyy to much credit if you are feeling ‘overwhelmed’ by an election result. The vast majority of the bureaucratic behemoth that is the government sector will remain exactly as is, doing exactly what it did yesterday. Buses and ferries will still transport people. Roads and ports will not vanish over night. Hospitals and schools will still open. Police and fire fighters will continue to serve. Our military forces will keep training to protect us against the unthinkable. Whatever puppet master sits on the throne does not change the fact we’ll all go about our lives tomorrow more or less exactly as we did yesterday.
    Also, if you think the last 6 years of labour government consisted of noticeably more or less screwed up decisions than the 6 years of liberal before that, then you are simply being willfully ignorant. Labour were just as willing to cut our aid budget and close our borders to refugees, thus jeopardising any semblance of our humanity as a nation. As every government before them they have continued to add complex layers to the already incomprehensible systems of laws by which we are governed. Our court systems are still overwhelmed, our jails still overflowing and our police spending more time cutting red tape then keeping us safe. And if you think they’ve actually achieved anything in protecting the world’s struggling environment then point me to a single multinational corporation that has changed it’s policies from ‘screw every consumer for every dollar they have’ to ‘let’s make something the world needs at a price the world can afford’.
    The political decisions of our pathetically weak politicians have had a negligible impact on where the world is headed, regardless of which party they are representing. The message we should be sending to Australia’s leaders is not ‘yay liberal’, or ‘bring back labour’. There were no good options yesterday. If we want real political change then the message we need to send is ‘f#$k the lot of you, it isn’t good enough!’
    What we need is some real change by people who don’t think that the budget deficit of one of the world’s healthiest economies should be front and centre of our political debate. People that understand no human being on the planet has yet worked out a way to work more than 7*24 hours in a week and therefore can not possibly justify earning a million times more than anyone else. People who aren’t so juvenile as to think name calling members of opposition is a constructive way to get things done. People with the foresight to look past the next election. And people willing to acknowledge the world is a bigger place than Australia and we need to do more than allocate a few tenths of a percentage point towards acknowledging that fact.
    So… *take’s breath and keeps dreaming* ๐Ÿ™‚


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