I’m human first; not tribe
10 July 2020
NOOSA – Having just spent three weeks hovering between the drug-induced world of surreal images and the body-induced pain those images sought to drive away, it was with some pleasure that I edged into my emails.
Edged into them because my focus and cognition are not quite stable just yet, weaving and wavering between some sort of comprehension of what you have written and what combination of words and voices I am able to understand.
It was with some relief, therefore, that I came upon Phil Fitzpatrick’s most recent piece on humanity and nationality and the nonsense we get served up by those who want to divide us into various categories, presumably so they can remake us in standard images which in their poor bereft minds is the way we all should be organised.
For me I just want to be categorised as human. And let me judge people from there. That’s if I feel like judging, which mostly I don’t.
Then I opened an email from my son Simon, the internet guru and singer-songwriter of talent, whose music is about humanity and the particular challenges we are capable of inventing for ourselves, including the challenge of ensuring that the differences between us are somehow meaningful rather than just plain stupid.
As Simon wrote, and I have just been able to decipher, “I hope you dig it and it helps a bit….”
AUCKLAND - It's a song I had a while ago which Dad liked - has a 50s rock, Buddy Holly-type feel to it and Dad liked the guitars.
I didn't forget, it just took me bloody ages to do and, when you went into surgery, Dad I thought I'd get it finished for you.
Now, finally the song is finished and I dedicate it to you, Dad. Not the soppy stuff, of course, but the style and production. I tried to do the vocal justice - hopefully it works OK, and gives you a little lift and a smile - even if it's just at me yowling!
I kept the instrumentation in the style of the times - a simple drum kit, double bass, Hammond organ, tambourine, the backing vocals, and of course those guitars.
Yes, Sime, I dig it. And it helps more than mere words can express at this halfway house to recovery - KJ.
You would expect us to be better
TUMBY BAY - Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian neurologist, is alleged to have said that psychoanalysis would never work on the Irish.
This observation was based on the supposed contradictions in the Irish character caused by the brutality of their colonisation by the English.
There is no evidence that Freud said any such a thing. At best it has been attributed to hearsay from one of his students.
Characterising a whole race of people with particular traits is a very dubious proposition. So too is the idea that the population of a country or region inevitably share common traits and predilections, just as they might have a common accent, has no basis in fact.
It is, however, a recurring theme in history where it has often been used as a political weapon. Jews, people of colour and the unfortunate Irish have all suffered its consequences.
At another level, common traits, predilections and beliefs are frequently ascribed to different generations.
People who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s are supposed to be conservative in outlook, cautious, frugal and reactionary while those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, the so-called baby boomers, are supposed to be progressive and creative.
It is easy enough to look at the economic and other conditions that prevailed during these different times and attribute the mood of the people at the time to what was happening both economically and politically.
The baby boomer culture, so the story goes, evolved as a counter reaction to the conservativeness of their parents.
Hippies, free-love, all sorts of liberation movements, including feminism and black power, all happened because of what came before. A booming post-war reconstruction economy provided the perfect environment for this change.
The baby boomers are now reaching their twilight years and a new generation is taking over. If you follow the idea of generational difference it’s interesting to speculate what sorts of beliefs, predilections and mood informs these young people.
You would expect, given all the privileges and relative wealth surrounding this so-called ‘now’ generation that they would be pretty upbeat about their prospects and attitude to life.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not the case however. Some brutal realisations are beginning to surface, not least that life will not be handed to them on a platter as appeared to be the case not so long ago.
Their reaction to this apparent truth, again anecdotally, is that they are retreating into the kind of conservationism that characterised their grandparents from the 1930s and 1940s.
This is being helped along by the commentariat who are now drawing comparisons between what is happening now and what happened back then.
The existence of an increasing band of despots emerging in the world and debates about whether such figures as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are neo-fascists are contributing to the sense of doom and gloom the new generations are embracing.
There is a clear sense of a new world order emerging that looks decidedly unattractive and unfriendly.
This growing sense of an uncertain future is unearthing hitherto suppressed emotions and attitudes. The racism that was once directed at people of colour, for instance, is now turning its gaze towards people of Asian origin, particularly the Chinese.
It seems that the idea of national characterisation is alive and well. There is widespread talk of a new cold war developing between the USA and China.
The idea that the people of a nation are reflected in the mirror of their leaders and the political system in which they operate is once more gaining ground.
Politicians the world over, including our own, are feeding this furnace for their own various needs and ends. They are dressing this up as realpolitik necessary in these rapidly changing times.
There is even a hint of war on the horizon.
That humanity can tie itself into such incredible knots based on clearly erroneous suppositions is an ongoing mystery that even Freud would have trouble unravelling.
Good to see you back Keith :)
I'm happy to see that you're doing alright and on the mend.
Here's to the many more years to come, may they bring happiness and good health, cheers KJ!
Posted by: Hezron Wangi Jr | 15 July 2020 at 09:29 AM
Good to learnt that you have recovered.
KJ, you the man.
Posted by: Kenny Pawa | 13 July 2020 at 08:48 AM
In response to Phil Fitzpatrick and his comments on the Irish I am can only answer with a quote of the Irish poet, Oscar Wilde, who in his novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ stated “…there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Perhaps Sigmund Freud was aware of G.K. Chesterton’s saying ‘“The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”
That having been said I acknowledge the value of the issues being raised by Keith and Philip.
As Keith stated “For me I just want to be categorised as human.”
And as Philip stated, “Characterising a whole race of people with particular traits is a very dubious proposition.”
One of the challenges of working in PNG was that in most cases we had to work not only with people from many different provinces in PNG, but we also had to work with expatriates from many different countries.
Hopefully this helped us to begin to become more aware of our basic common humanity. It is a serious issue and good to see it raised.
Posted by: Garry Roche | 11 July 2020 at 05:10 AM
Keith, our prayers are answered and you are getting well. if its in simbu, I will kill a pig for your recovery.
Posted by: philip kai morre | 10 July 2020 at 11:10 PM
Good. I'm your nephew on the Simbu side of humanity.
Posted by: Michael Dom | 10 July 2020 at 08:32 PM
good to see that the spiders and their webs are retreating from PNG Attitude. I had fears for my daily dose of sanity, it will keep. bravo and praying for your continued strength. laikim
Posted by: baka bina | 10 July 2020 at 05:23 PM
Gutpela tru that both you, Keith, and pngattitude are both on the mend. But I would dump that post-operative photo.
Posted by: Col Young | 10 July 2020 at 04:36 PM
Home comforts midst loved ones; Tis all yours. Slantie
Posted by: william Dunlop | 10 July 2020 at 04:26 PM
Relieved to read you're edging out of the drug-induced rehabilitation stage.
But look at that's happened to our faces during the Covid-19 lockdown periods.
Huge unshaven visages with the growth marching on unchecked on top lip and just under bottom lip.
I'm liberating my razor tomoz as it's b'day day for me.
Nuzzlinh up to 80, ay, Richard. Now that's a new era - KJ
Posted by: Richard Jones | 10 July 2020 at 01:41 PM
Good to see you are safely back home, Keith.
Continue to relax, enjoy life and take your time to get back to full health.
Posted by: Martin and Anne | 10 July 2020 at 01:36 PM
It's good to know you are getting medication and are on the road to recovery.
PNG Attitude is still one of the best blogs, but then our health is more important.
Wok bai stap yet. Kism gutpla malolo.
Wishing you the best recovery and thinking of you and the family in prayer.
Posted by: Alphonse Huvi | 10 July 2020 at 01:13 PM