Sunday, March 24, 2013

My political manifesto and why you should give a shit

Politics is too serious a business to be left up to politicians.

There is an immense amount of coverage on the popularity, unpopularity, crimes, bickerings, speeches (not often enough the policies) of our political leaders. From their tone of voice, choice of swim wear, changing hair styles, optical apparel, capacity/incapacity to articulate themselves and every personal detail, our candidates for prime minister are under a critical microscope.

Too often we leave it up to them to run the country. Yes, they are meant to lead the country.. but in the direction we decide. Politicians only fall as far as we let them, and they only rise as high as we demand. I am not naive enough to think my voice does not matter. I know that politicians do precious little besides pander to our votes. They answer to us. If societies ruled by dictators can be overthrown by popular movements and protest, what is our excuse in our democratic society from succeeding in pushing our politics to be more than it is now?

If you are not interested in engaging in the politics of your country, you have not earned the right to complain about the state it is run. If you were a friend of mine who was constantly complaining about the shortcomings of a relationship without taking steps to rectify it, you would not have earned my sympathy. I would not throw you a pity party.

Yet you are not the first and will not be the last person to be exasperated by politics. This is both comforting and disconcerting but it is not the end in itself. The exasperation is a step away from indifference and apathy and towards finding out what is next.

Educate yourself. Take an inventory of the issues that matter to you and the policies and ideology of each party. Understand that once your vote is in, your job is not over. Remain interested in the issues you prioritised to make sure they see it through. Write a letter, sign a campaign, go and visit your local MP or seek avenues to engage or protest or support. Be acutely aware that the media is not gospel. Seek a variety of sources.

Be ready to accept that other parties, other than the one you have chosen, have valid view points and policies and leaders. Dogma and blind faith was never good for religion and is toxic for politics.

Engage, educate yourself, and evolve with the times. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to be an asshole

1. Believe you are right and that everybody else is wrong. Even when you realise that you are wrong, continue to insist that you are right, sometimes at the expense of your own better judgment and often the patience of your friends.

2. Never apologise, ever. Just don't do it. So you were wrong, and you know it, adamantly and persistently deny the evidence. Take the secret knowledge of this to the grave. Humility is for wimps and decent human beings. Let pride dictate your actions and willed ignorance your words.

3. Reserve the right to not do something you said you would. If you said you'd call, don't bother picking up the phone. If you said you'd be there, don't show up. Provide no excuses, or if pressed and if you're feeling particularly obliging offer lame, barely plausible half ass attempts to cover your tracks.

4. Seek people only when it is convenient for you. If, at four am in the morning, you are feeling insecure and perhaps a little lonely don't think twice about calling somebody you are never there for but whom you know has the kind of decency and kindness you can take sweet advantage of.

5. Take nobody's feelings into consideration other than your own. Do not walk a mile in somebody else's shoes. Empathy is discouraged and highly counterproductive in your efforts to be an asshole. All it does is lessen your ability to think about what you want and how you're going to get it.

Sometimes people are assholes. I've had my fair share of moments, so coming from a currently reforming sometimes regressing former asshole - the motto shit happens or I don't care are not good enough. Even knowing that everyone can be an asshole doesn't help. What does help is:
1. realising when you are being an asshole and
2. learning how not to be, by learning how decent people treat each other

Do exactly the opposite of what an asshole would, avoid the classic asshole motto Insecurity-Is-An-Excuse-For-Everything and you'll steer clear of this most common and sometimes contagious of all human diseases. Go forth children, don't be assholes play nice!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

But still, like air, I'll rise

I first came across Maya Angelou without knowing I had. There was a period in my life when I listened almost exclusively to Ben Harper and it was in his song 'I'll Rise' that I met Maya, through Ben. Her words and his voice combine to make from her poem, his song. There are just some things that stick with you, and this is well and truly one of them.

For me it's everything I didn't know when I first heard this song when all I could do was grasp at its meaning. It's everything I know now and the way it stamps its truth over and over on my life.

The truth and power of this poem is its unrelenting, forceful hope that looks arrogantly at struggle as if to say, 'so what?'

To every horrible tragedy, to every end-of-the-world, to every love lost - 'So what?'
To every setback, to every unexpected disappointment, to every person that says no - 'So what?'
To every job loss, to every break down, to every test you will fail, every error you will make - 'So what?'
To everything you feel you cannot fix, you cannot change - 'So what?'
To every time you've reached the point of no return, wondering how you get back from this - 'So what?'
To every single thing the world will throw at you, over and over and over - 'So what?'

Still I'll rise.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The reckoning

All of the things. The crap days where you want to blame your period for being such a bitch but you can't. The routine that used to comfort you but now only irks and inflames some slumbering unrest. The way you drown and dull it in red wine and busy-ness. The self-deprecating humour. The endless comparison with everybody else your age who are ahead in a game you don't even want to play.

The foreign movies and sbs documentaries and youtube clips you stream when you should be sleeping. The fear that grips you at the height of your insomnia. The laughter that almost turns into crying. The call centre work or admin or part time jobs that are not your career and have nothing to do with a career you have not yet even begun to discern. The boys you kiss feverishly on a one-time-only deal. The way you learn you can be tender without feeling any tenderness at all.

The reading, sideways and upside down and with your arms in the air above your head until it hurts. The way you talk about the books you read and information you consume, in that arrogant way young people have of thinking they know what they're talking about. The way you feel like you'll never master spanish, no matter how many countries you go to or how long you spend there. The cheap thai dinners that always consist of conversations that are collages of doubts and stories and insatiable curiosity. The dancing, oh, god, the dancing. As if your life sanity depended on it. Dancing is how the world melts away.

All of these things, this is your reckoning.

There'll be some time in the future, far enough away in years for it to come sooner in life than you think - when all of these things will stop making up your life. You are half-baked, you're not ready yet. Kid, you're not even close.

You're the crappy pencil sketches of Picasso's Guernica before it became Picasso's Guernica. The reckoning, this is the reckoning.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We are all kites

It starts off innocently enough
a string and a rhombus and a stool
you unwind it, tentatively
you gauge the breeze
and let go

The kite seems doomed at first
but catches that sudden river of air
at the last second and
is at once drawn upward
until it dances in the sky

We are all kites
plummeting towards the earth
and straining to reach the sun
caught between the realm
of flying and of quiet rest
at the mercy of the wind

We are all kites
we weather the weather
and are caught often
in tree branches and telegraph poles
when we lose our way
or else are carried there
by a force of air
we had resigned ourselves to

We are all kites
and we discern which winds are best for us
the hot wind that moves quickly
but leaves us suspended
or that whisper of a breeze
where falling seems probable
too weak to carry us far

We are all kites
and are still navigating the stars
the wind, the sun, the string
that marries us forever to this world
no matter how high we fly
or how much it shrinks from us

We are all kites
waiting for that magic wind
that will take us where we want to go
when or if or after
we figure out where that is
we will fly and plummet and
entangle ourselves over and over
because we are all
yes we are all