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A master of lost causes

Beautiful universePHIL FITZPATRICK

IN the immense timescale that is the history of the Universe, the evolution and demise of the human race will probably not even register as a blip on the horizon.

Our petty little planet will one day burn up and blow away as so much cosmic dust.

Yet, in our ignorance, we persevere. We fight silly wars and we plunder our home in the mistaken belief that what we are doing is somehow significant.

Some of us take on what we think are noble causes in the hope that we might make a difference. But even in our own little worlds we know this will never happen. Life will blunder on into ultimate oblivion and our causes will be lost without trace.

Apart from an enervating but thankfully short stint working for a bank I seem to have dedicated my life to lost causes. In fact, I rather like lost causes - maybe it’s an Irish thing?

I went to Papua New Guinea in the cause of adventure and exotica but this quickly changed into the less selfish cause of helping to bring a people to successful nationhood.

When I left PNG it looked like this success was on the horizon but as the years passed it became apparent that it wouldn’t happen.

After PNG I worked for 20 years trying to protect and sustain the culture of Australia’s indigenous people. We made great headway at first but slowly and inevitably the tide began to turn and we fell victim to the greater powers of commercial greed.

When I left, wearied by the effort, we had effectively come full circle. In 1994 we were back to where we started in 1974.

After that I took on the lost cause of trying to convince resource developers in both Australia and Papua New Guinea to rethink the irreparable damage they were doing to people’s cultures and the environment in which those people lived. Another lost cause.

Teetering towards old age I took on the cause of literature in Papua New Guinea. Again there were early and encouraging successes.

Of late, however, and despite some significant achievements, it is starting to look like another lost cause.

As I sit on my verandah on the Queensland coast at the end of the day sipping a cold beer and staring at the myriad stars in the night sky and the infinity of the Universe I contemplate my history of lost causes.

Occasionally I see the bright tail of a shooting star burning up in the atmosphere. There goes another promising beginning, I think.

But like my failed causes, at least for a short while, it burned with a bright light.


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Ed Brumby

As the Buddha says, Phil: everything is transitory; nothing is permanent.

Paul Oates

As Confucius might say: 'He who seeks lost causes is quite likely to find them.'

Accentuate the positive Phil. Depression lurks when the sun don't shine.

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