Australia is losing in the Pacific. Here’s why.
Ode to an Adventist education

In a world of violence, is it forlorn to hope?

Fitz - Illustration by Dola Sun (National Public Radio)
Illustration by Dola Sun (National Public Radio, USA)


TUMBY BAY - Politicians and other reprobates are known to rely on a suite of well-worn axioms as they go about their nefarious dealings and machinations in office.

One of these is the accepted wisdom that if a lie is repeated often and loudly enough people will eventually come to believe it is true.

Another is that if a problem is ignored for long enough it will eventually go away. No, this is not a truism; it is not an infallible axiom. Issues never go away until they are fixed.

Climate change and global warming have been resolutely ignored by the Australian government both before and since it got into office.

But the issue doggedly defies erasure from the public mind.

The Coalition has fiddled around the edges with the hope a few tweaks, some minor adjustments and loudly announced concessions might speed up the demise of climate change as a public issue.

It probably had good cause to think this true, not least because obfuscation and the appearance of action have worked in the past.

Morrison, Barnaby and Co probably expect this one is just taking a bit more time to expire.

This idea that time, and an unreliable public memory, so often works in favour of politicians and their ilk occurred to me when I was reading and then reviewing ‘Escape from Manus’.

It is a good book, but I couldn’t help thinking that time has passed it by.

What it describes in vivid and horrendous detail is unfortunately yesterday’s outrage.

As a stirring public scandal, the industrial scale mistreatment of refugees in Australia seems to have reached its use-by date.

It had been surpassed by new outrages, like the treatment of women in public life and now the war in Ukraine.

As a society we seem to be forever trundling blindly along a road strewn with wreckage and carnage, naively hoping to see green hills in the distance only to be fooled when we turn the next bend and run smack bang into another outrage - and some smirking politician promising to make it all go away.

Fitz -Illustration by Ilya Milstein (New York Times)
Illustration by Ilya Milstein (New York Times)

The Greek poet Menander, who lived around 300 BC, wrote that “time is the healer of all necessary evils”.

But I don’t think that’s true.

It is simply the memory that is taken care of.

The evil remains and often resurfaces again when least expected.

That’s why some events, like what is going on in Ukraine, come with a sense of déjà vu; the feeling all this has happened before.

But do we really consign everything to history?

Vladimir Putin is currently waging a war that dates back to the time of the Tsars.

Christians and Muslims the world over are still fighting the Crusades.

Revenge is something that lingers through time, ready to resurface at a moment’s notice.

It seems to be a primal human instinct which we try to normalise with terms like ‘closure’ and ‘justice’ and ‘resolution’ that play out interminably on tabloid television and in popular conversation.

Perhaps the appalling treatment of the refugees on Manus and Nauru will resurface on a day of reckoning one day in the future.

But I rather think that this is a forlorn hope.


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Lindsay F Bond

A song lyric states, 'One little wrong leads to another', and 'Whoa oh oh oh chip, chip you tell a little lie'....

The degree of untruth promoted by president Putin and subsuming the populace of Russia is amazing.

For this to occur in 2022 is truly breathtaking yet unfortunately, not unbelievable.

Putin on the risk.

Lindsay F Bond

In PNG there's cause to celebrate freedom, or the sense of freedom, while folk elsewhere fight for it.

"Myanmar's leader has vowed to intensify action against homegrown militia groups fighting the military-run government, saying the armed forces would 'annihilate' them."

Paul Oates

I understand Churchill finally admitted that he had underestimated the agreement with Stalin over the division of influence after in Eastern Europe after World War 2. Stalin then brought down the Iron Curtain while Truman was new to the job and Churchill was then replaced as PM.

Too late to do anything then of course except have another whiskey or three.

Chris Overland

Sadly, many politicians who do bad things escape any form of retribution. They mostly disappear into well deserved obscurity.

Some write memoirs in which they seek to retrospectively justify their decisions or behaviours. This never really works as future historians will unpick their deceptions and expose the truth anyway.

Some, very few, write the truth and face up to their failures or exaggerations or lies, perhaps to relieve their consciences or in the hope of some sort of forgiveness. I am struggling to think of an example though.

Morrison, Dutton et al will in due course pass from the public stage, knowing that their misdeeds, corruption and incompetence will mostly pass from public memory.

Perhaps this is because people simply prefer to forget and so spare themselves the need to confront the reality that, just maybe, due to apathy or indifference or even having given tacit support, they are culpable too.

In this way, for example, the Japanese have quietly and politely declined to confront the great evils of their recent ancestors, preferring instead to think of themselves as victims of the first atomic bombs.

Similarly, the supporters of various demagogues and charlatans who find their way to power simply develop self induced amnesia about the often many grievous failings of those they once supported.

Others choose to cling tenaciously to the lies they came to believe, refusing to concede even that mistakes were made.

Examples of this are currently very evident in Russia, where Putin is presenting an alternative reality to his followers as fact and they are choosing to believe him in the face of growing evidence that he is lying.

This is the nature of humans. It is ugly and contemptible but it is who many of us are.

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