There was an election in Australia the other week.
I have no understanding of Australian politics, so I read up on the subject.
Their Liberal Party is conservative. The National Party, a smaller party, joined with the Liberal Party to form the Coalition, a group large enough to form a government.
Australia has many parties, and they can make deals and shift votes to gain power and influence decisions. Not like our two-party do or die system.
The Australian Labor party (ALP) is left-centrist. ALP is the party that supports unions and other progressive types and consider themselves social democrats.
The Coalition and ALP were the two main contenders in the recent election. The ALP was expected to win – all the polls said they would – and gain control of the government and take Australia in a more progressive direction.
They did not win.
My Australian goddaughter’s Facebook page reflected her and her friends’ shock and dismay: “Devastating.” “Oh no!” “When I woke up and heard the results, I was so depressed.”
So – the government of Australia is firmly in the hands of the conservative Coalition for another few years. Their leader, Scott Morrison, attributes their win to the “Quiet Australian.”
He describes Quiet Australians: “They have their dreams, they have their aspirations, to get a job, to get an apprenticeship, to start a business, to meet someone amazing, to start a family, to buy a home, to work hard and provide the best you can for your kids, to save for your retirement.”
My goddaughter comments: “I want all this PLUS action on climate change, humanitarian treatment of refugees, etc., etc. So does that make me a ‘loud’ Australian? A ‘quiet’ Australian is basically someone who looks toward their own self interest and shuts up about equal rights, climate change, the environment, etc.?”
At least one analyst believed the Coalition got votes with their fear-mongering ads saying that Bill Shorten, leader of the Australian Labor Party, would tax people’s cars, retirement, and small businesses, and would institute a death tax, and that the last time ALP was in power “they let in 50,000 illegal immigrants and cost taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Again – familiar?
When I first read the pained reactions of some Australians to the outcome of the election, I thought some words of sympathy might be in order from a country that could feel their pain.
I posted on my goddaughter’s Facebook page:
“Obviously, I’m an Amurrican and don’t understand the ins and outs of your politics – but you sound a little like we did when DT was elected. My deepest condolences.
“Our situation, as you may know, goes from bad to worse, to even worse, day by day.
“My advice, for what it’s worth, is to make sure you have a peaceful place, inside or outside of yourself, and go there often. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
“Remember to be joyful, and love life – what else are we fighting for? A future for our children and grandchildren, yes. But find what’s worth loving in life right now.
“It is too easy to become discouraged by the blind greed, stupidity, and cruelty of politicians. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Run for office. Grow flowers. Practice your art.”
After I wrote that I looked at it and thought, hm, I ought to copy that and print it up to look at when the melancholy and grief of this hard, sad old world get me down.
The Germans have a word for the melancholy and grief of this hard, sad old world: Weltschmerz.
Look, we do not live in a war zone being showered with phosphorous bombs by our own country’s leader, as some people do at present. Many of us benefit from living in the richest country in the world. I certainly do.
However, we do have homeless and starving and addicted and indigent people. We do have children in concentration camps. We do have white guys willing to go to any length to control, torture, and kill the women and people of color they fear and hate: Yeah, let’s imprison women for having miscarriages. Let’s hire ICE agents who sexually abuse the children in their custody. Let’s not give a rat’s behind about missing and murdered indigenous women. Let’s not have sensible gun regulation, because once you are born, your life is worthless.
I try not to allow what I know of this world to keep me from living.
I pray, and sing, and write, and laugh, every day, from my heart, and my belly, and my soul.
That is my resistance to the cognitive dissonance of life in America and the trend toward similar governments around the world these days; to the Weltschmerz.
It ain’t much, but it’s all I’ve got.