I was one of the estimated 30,000 Melburnians who Marched in March over the weekend from the State Library to Parliament House to register a vote of no confidence in the current government. I am very proud to have done so.
It was a messy hodgepodge of people and placards, some of which I was in favour of and others which I wasn't. That's how it goes, I guess, in a democracy – a loud mix of voices, some contradictory, which can feel uncomfortable and not entirely safe.
This might sound ridiculous in the face of internet trolls, the NSA, city bashings, Kyle Sandilands, reality TV, familial incest, Russia, the US and China sticking out their chests and the Abbott Government, but I really don't believe that humanity has reached anywhere near its highest potential. We march slowly, slowly forward into unity in diversity, greater compassion and equality, a space where we can all feel safer and freer to express our humanity. But it's an uncomfortable march – it requires us to not only speak truth to power, but also to own our own shit after a fashion, to own the bits that we don't like about ourselves.
Now, just in case I possibly give the impression of being a preachy Girl Guide with her entire shit together talking about love, rainbows and unity, to dispel that misconception I will share a couple of home truths about myself as well, helpfully highlighted in bold.
Anyway, I never made it to Girl Guides. I distinctly remember as a 10 year old dancing as a Brownie around a plastic mushroom with my fellow Junjarins and thinking, “What a bloody load of cods this is.”
It's the hardest of hard work to understand your cultural place in history, to see the shadows and blind spots that others in 500 years' time will be able to see very clearly. But as evidenced on the weekend, there are some spots that come into focus and beam like beacons – unfair distribution of power and wealth which shows up in the way previous governments on both sides have treated refugees, the way those in power are increasingly treating us.
I like one Bryan Adams song and love another one.
And yet while it's right to march and voice your opinion and empower yourself, it's a victim's stance to believe that all of the power lies in the hands of the powerful. After all, hard as it is to believe, they are human as well. I try to put myself in their position and imagine how all of us would appear to them. The mob has never been pretty and for all of our moves forward into tolerance and diversity we are still just as intolerant and hateful and despising and dualistic in our thinking as we've ever been when it comes to those who we believe are wrong. If I was a politician, I would be scared of us. And as much as I would hate to imagine it, I would be swept along in the fear and revolt that formed in me in response to that and, swept along with the revolting political machine would find myself where most politicians find themselves, toeing the line and stifling my idealism and speaking lies and bullshit.
On the train on the way to the march I saw an Anglo guy sitting with an Asian woman and my initial thought until I rejected it was that he had probably spent money to have her sitting next to him with her hand entwined in his hair.
Power is a corrupter, as we all know. Like money, I imagine there doesn't ever quite seem to be enough of it. It doesn’t fill up the hole of insecurity like we imagine it might. It seems that within Maslow's hierarchy of needs, more than enough of both money and power starts to rot and decay us from the inside.
We all know that pretty well, and for most of us it's why we were marching on the weekend.
When I was a teenager I used to call Aboriginal people boongs and not think twice about what I was saying.
I didn’t stay for any of the speeches at the march because quite frankly I was starving and my feet were killing me and my energy had run out. So perhaps my view is a little more glowing than of those who did stay because I left with lovely action-ey feelings of marching in spotty rain with thousands of people in unity. I didn't end up listening to individual people with individual views who might have appeared to some to be hijacking the whole event for their own ends. I don’t know. I didn’t hear any of that – I was eating a footlong flatbread Seafood Sensation at Subway and dreaming beautiful thoughts of the potential of humanity.
Beautiful ideas about humanity are so much easier to handle than the messy blobs of it that show up in our lives, after all, with their own ideas and how to go about achieving them and the defensiveness that flares up within our selves in response. Perhaps that's why ideas that seem so wonderful fall to poo when wielded in the hands of people on behalf of other people.
Perhaps that's what will stand out so starkly in 500 years' time –
what control freaks we were when we thought we weren't. Our beautiful ideas always end up falling into the stink of control because those filth out there don't know how to do them properly so we in here need to enforce the parameters with
which they do them. It's not only powerful people who do this stuff.
I sometimes expect people with depression and anxiety to “snap out of it” if I happen to be having a good run of not experiencing those things myself. I suffer from those demons myself and have been clinically depressed in the past.
I do not think that we are very good at putting our ideas out there into
the world and letting them be. We are micromanagers and control
freaks. We do not trust each other, not one bit. And sometimes we won't give each other an inch without a fight, either. We have been so
easily divided and conquered by those at the top for so many millennia
that we too easily fight amongst ourselves for the spoils they
leave us, and whenever our egos are threatened by someone who thinks
differently than us.
this is partially what keeps us weak and the powerful strong. Maybe
the work of correcting the imbalance rests more with us than we think it
does. Maybe our actions in our own lives to those of us who we
consider our enemies is about loving them, as some carpenter dude said
once and others have said before and after him. Maybe our actions there
affect the greater whole in ways we can't quite understand in our cause
and effect reasoning. After all, we live in an era when the unified
field of consciousness has moved from the realms of fancy into the
realms of science as a reality we can stand on. On more levels than the
mushy Hallmark one, we really are one.
I have engaged quite happily
when at get-togethers with friends in talking about whoever isn't there
even though I hate it when other people gossip about me.
When we truly believe this and know this, we might not need to
march. But if we do, we will not be able to walk past the homeless guy
and pretend he's not there while we're doing it. And we won't ignore the red traffic lights either just because we can, forcing the unfortunate cars finding themselves in the city at that time to bank themselves up and beep.
I once gave someone a blowjob in my car in the street.
When we marched round the corner from Swanston Street onto Bourke Street, there was a young woman and a homeless guy.
I vacuum four times a year tops.
The homeless guy sat with a cardboard sign and a couple of bags surrounding him and downcast eyes as we all marched past him. We really are one.
I walked past the homeless guy myself.
I used to go to school with a guy who was quite obviously not very clever. I knew this but I was very insecure. I used to say things in front of my other classmates to make myself look better and to make him look even stupider. His response was always a goofy smile. I guess that is its own punishment.
The young woman was playing Auld Lang Syne on the erdu. A
traditional Scottish poem, played by a Chinese woman, on the streets of
Melbourne. It seemed a fitting, beautiful accompaniment for a walk
where people from one of the most multicultural countries on the earth
were marching partially against the treatment of those who seek asylum
Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, yes, we really are one.