Sorry it's been a bit quiet here on the blog these last few weeks. In part, work and SES things have been hoovering up time in an astonishing manner. More seriously, though, I've felt like I don't have any words inside me for a while. It's hard to describe, but I've been feeling kind of rootless, and doing anything much concrete has felt kind of impossible. In a kind of absurd way, I feel like I can't make any impact in the world.
My contract with GMW has been extended, which is good because I need the money, but the work is as valueless as ever. Last Friday the most challenging job of the day for me was being sent out to fetch coffee and a slice of banana loaf, and this afternoon I'm likely to be asked to do some filing. Remind me what a brilliant use is being made of twenty years' training and experience as a lawyer.
And no, finding another job is not going well. I'm too old - and my career is too chequered - to be hired by any law firm (I was actually told this by an HR officer when I was applying for jobs some years ago, and it's surely not the less true now). Honest to God, I have no idea what to do next.
I spent most of the weekend up on the roof at the farm, cleaning the gutters and hammering in roofing nails that had come loose.
I also then spent some quality time with the chainsaw cutting up a tree that last week's bad weather had uprooted.
I was pretty happy with that as activity. That sort of Hank Hill style home improvement work is what I wanted in life, and what I had in the Before Time. And I needed it after skyping with the girls on Sunday. Grace asked me why I didn't come over to visit, and saying that she wanted to help daddy and sit on the couch and cuddle with me, and this all made me miss them even worse than usual. Long distance life sucks on a cosmic scale. After that, the simple but absorbing task of hammering nails and cleaning gutters while trying not to slide off the roof was kind of a relief.
I'm not certain how this week will play out. There's some supplementary rooftop safety training with another emergency service unit this evening, and legal service volunteering tomorrow night, and then SES on Thursday and at the weekend. At least it's practical work. I'm getting less patient with people who want the world to be a better place, but who want someone else to make it so. You think Australia's refugee policies are inhumane? You may be right. But you can make them better by applying to work on Manus Island, or by volunteering to aid new arrivals to settle in. But if your plan of action looks like this -
There are things that we who are opposed to torture and cruelty can do. We can vote on this issue by not voting for the two parties championing these monstrous policies. We can counter the media narratives by discussing ‘alternative solutions’ to this global crisis. We can phone our unions and let them know this issue matters, that with that kind of collective support, we can make a difference to governmental policy. Unions are meant to show how we can organise toward a better world. Imagine if there were a general strike on this issue (imagine the increase in union numbers that would result). We can also join or support one of the organisations already involved in fighting detention: Divest from Detention, RISE, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Refugee Action Coalition, the upcoming March for Civil Disobedience and Refugees.
- then all you want to do is make the hard work somebody else's priority. If you want to talk about a better world, then get in and try to have a subsidy granted to Meanjin. If you actually want a better world, then get some boots and overalls and get your hands dirty.