As some of you will remember, I have a bit of a fraught relationship with the ABC's current affairs programs, AM and PM. I usually listen to at least a part of them, out of a sense of duty and sometimes from morbid curiosity. Yesterday morning, though, was especially disheartening: an interview with the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, a man whose financial probity has been questioned. He, for his part, was giving an interview that ran heavily to key messages and ideas clearly thoroughly vetted by focus groups. The news then moved on to the government MP and Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop, who has her own financial irregularity issues. It nauseated me to think that we are lead, now, by men and women whose words and deeds are never more than petty and venal, and who think we're stupid enough to believe them when they speak in soundbites.
It nauseated me most because the world in general and humanity in particular is such a beautiful thing. Every day we see and hear of physicians who use their considerable brainpower to alleviate the sicknesses of ordinary schmoes like me. Scientists show us new things about how the universe works and engineers find a way to put that knowledge to practical use. Men and women from the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis down find a way to lead devoted and holy lives. Artists create things of beauty and athletes bring out in actions all that is best in the human spirit.
Maryanne Jacobsen, 'It's the little things that count'
available for purchase at Paint Dance
The world today, in short, looks like a bank of swans being ruled by a murder of crows
I'm not about to suggest that we need a new political movement. From at least as soon as the Fifth Monarchists cut a deal with Oliver Cromwell, power has tainted purity. It strikes me that there's no point asking (as they did) "who shall rouse him up?" if, before rousing him up, we need to do a whole lot of unseemly bickering first. And escaping the world with a personal version of Noah's Ark (or, more accurately, Jamshed's Var) is as economically precarious now as it was in Winstanley's day.
Banner of the Fifth Monarchists
But in all that we do these days, wouldn't it be better if more of us ignored the jackanapes and scoundrels who populate politics, and do things that express the best angels of our nature? Paint a picture. Learn first aid. Write a poem. Join the Country Fire Authority. Dance. Volunteer at an Opp Shop. Offer to mow the lawn of the old lady down the road. Plant a tree. Make something. Most of us aren't going to save the Amazon rainforest, but pretty well all of us can have a front yard that's pleasant for other people to look at.