Yesterday’s Sunday lunch

12 Nov

The Shakespeare Hotel in Devonshire Street Surry Hills was the venue again. Simon H (who turned 50 a week ago!) was meant to join us, but was delayed; he did arrive in time for drinks.

Looking back I note the equivalent Sunday last year:

This very informative documentary was made for PBS in America and there is an equally informative website; Part 2 is on SBS next Sunday night.

Lord Malcolm recommended it to Sirdan and I as we pushed him in his wheelchair from the hospice to the fish restaurant, where we had an excellent lunch.

There will probably not be many more such excellent lunches.

That story continued until the beginning of June this year. Right now another friend is facing a rather ominous diagnosis, but I am not free to say more about that. And M has had a bad experience in South America; again I can’t go into it, but at least it was not life-threatening and isn’t a health issue. It may cut his trip short though.

Looking back too I note that last November was a difficult period in relations with Daniel’s blog, which has had its vicissitudes since. That is much better now, but he really does lead with his chin at times as this comment on Jim Belshaw’s post NSW – Problems in Child Welfare indicates:

…The main problem is human nature. Dealing with that at source requires either stronger laws with ever more severe punishments or genetic engineering. I see no other solution!

Um, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? You had severe punishments and genetic engineering there. But wasn’t that a dystopia? Look, I can see where Daniel is coming from at an emotional level, as a vent, but such (frustrated?) suggestions don’t really offer much, do they? And before anyone jumps in and says Oh, don’t you care about kids suffering? obviously I do, and so, probably, do the people at DoCS — in fact, just about everyone cares. But as Jim says:

None of what I have written should be construed as a criticism of DoCS or its staff. Yes, there are specific DoCs weaknesses. Yes, mistakes happen. Yes, things can be improved.

But as we move into yet another inquiry into DoCs and its operations, I would make the simple point that the system itself is broken and that we, collectively, have broken it.

Can we fix things? Yes, within limits we can. Do I think that we will fix things? At the moment, no. I see very little evidence that we are prepared to discuss the fundamental under-pinnings, including our own attitudes. So, for the present, things will continue as they are.

That is probably right, and isn’t good news. On the other hand Jim does concede that improvement is certainly possible. Globally and historically, though, the suffering of innocent children is not news. In a way we are lucky that such problems, bad as they are, are nothing compared to what faces kids in Palestine, much of Africa, Iraq… One could go on. And that’s just now.

I might add my own sister died in horrible agony at the age of 11. Strangulation of the bowel, gangrene, and septicaemia are pretty bloody horrific, and it is amazing how much of this I remember. It wasn’t the fault of my parents; it was in large measure the fault of the then hospital system, who were very careful when I myself presented a year later with almost the same problem… The fact is my sister should be alive today because even allowing for the state of medicine in 1952 she died needlessly. I have known the sadness of kids dying. My parents never got over it, not really, and in some ways neither did my brother and I. And there were some, not many, but some, who pointed the finger at my parents at that time… But shit happens, doesn’t it?

And yesterday at church was an Aboriginal family — it is Redfern after all — who have had their issues, who are poor, who have “bred like rabbits”… But there was obviously a lot of love there, and decency despite the circumstances. I gather they came along because there had been hopeful events for them lately, some of them possibly connected to what the church has been doing.

People do what they can.

And M spent his childhood in China in a time of famine and then the Cultural Revolution…

And the woman you see in the background of the church photo in the previous entry spent her childhood and young womanhood in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and has seen a lot…

Tuesday night

Interesting comments*, I thought. Thomas can have the last words; though his post is not directly related, the comments are.

Concerned about kids?

We all are: teachers, parents, citizens. Go to counselling support for children and parents. Don’t just fulminate via the keyboard. Go to The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Find out what you might be able to do. I am happy to support the work of Uniting Care Australia, just one of many agencies seeking to make a difference: …providing community services to over 800,000 Australians each year. Services are provided in the areas of aged and community care, children, youth and family, disability, employment, and rural and remote communities. In addition to direct service delivery, UnitingCare agencies are committed to justice, equity and participation for all people. The UnitingCare ethos is one of honouring the dignity of all people, working toward the social good, and advocating for those most disadvantaged in society.

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Posted by on November 12, 2007 in blogging, gay life/issues, Personal, Surry Hills


16 responses to “Yesterday’s Sunday lunch

  1. ninglun

    November 13, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Daniel, I will let others judge your words. They do not merit any kind of reply from me. Other readers probably understood the point I was making.

  2. ninglun

    November 14, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Open again for reasonable responses.

  3. AV

    November 14, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    From one pedestrian practitioner to another . . .

    I’m just sick of wearing the proposition there is some kind of magic bullet that will solve every bloody issue under the sun.

    Absolutely. There’s a blogger on my sidebar who proposes nuking the Middle East (Jerusalem included)–military and civilians alike, adults and children alike–as a solution to the problems there. (One of the problems concerning said blogger being the high number of US military casualties in Iraq.) He too has become very testy with those who have criticised his idea (which is one reason why I haven’t bothered to do so myself).

    The problem with magic bullets is the fact that they are magical. The “let’s nuke the Middle East” magic bullet would simply be counterproductive: it would lead to, among other things, greater global insecurity and therefore increased US military commitments overseas. The “let’s sterilise unfit parents” magic bullet targets those whom it purports to rescue–the disadvantaged (I can hardly see John and Mary McMansion being targeted under such a policy)–and has genocidal ramifications if such disadvantage afflicts a large proportion of a certain ethnic group. In both cases the political culture would have to lurch a lot farther towards rightwing authoritarianism (i.e. towards fascism/Nazism) for these proposals to be taken seriously by policymakers. In short, it will never happen, thankfully (or at least it is extremely unlikely to happen).

    Therefore, the self-styled “bitter pill” is really just a cop-out: propose an extreme solution, and you avoid having to think about a realistic or achievable one.

  4. ninglun

    November 16, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Transferred here from the entry as there it was a distraction from a serious point.


    * I was expecting a brain spasm. I was not disappointed. 90% attitude, 10% content. Relevance to anything he who would save the world might actually have read here or elsewhere: 0%. Crass generalisation: 100%. Sad, really, because that writer knows better and has written much better things than this vindictive if well-honed puffery. Perhaps teachers should be chosen purely on the basis of the successes they’ve had in the real world, give students decent role-models for a change. We’ve been down this sterile — indeed cliched — path before, I vividly recall. (Should that be giving?) Friday’s sequel goes:

    Most people, whether because of genetics or environment or both, are highly resistant to change. They appear to be permanently locked into the past and, like parrots, when challenged they merely regurgitate what they have been taught or what they believe. Their minds are enclosed boxes, ones where the light of originality can never penetrate.

    In blogging terms, such people often peddle self-indulgent trivia because serious issues are beyond their intellectual or moral capabilities. But they are very fond of pontificating should anyone dare question their static thinking!

    There you have my blog in a nutshell. 😉 I have upgraded my masthead accordingly… The writer’s modest assumption of moral and intellectual superiority in his assessment of my blog (indeed of most blogs other than his own) is quite telling — symptomatic even. It must be lonely at the top.

    I still believe his heart is in the right place on many issues — including the one that led to the comments here and their sequel. It is just a shame his pessimistic nihilism and rather unusual sense of mission allow so little room for genuine discussion. Confirmation, on the other hand, is always welcomed as “constructive.” It is the ultimate in armchair radicalism, all thunder, no viable plan. Let’s face it, my sin was to say “Consider the consequences of what you propose…” I feel no guilt at all over that suggestion. Should I?

    Here is a nice variation on the canard that entry depends on: those who can do — those who can’t blog. Also a canard, of course, as that blogger points out.

  5. James Russell

    November 18, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    [I have edited this comment, for reasons that will become apparent. I should add it was all welcome as written, but I take “Don’t quote me” literally and it is also the right thing to do in this case. The comment needs to be read in conjunction with an earlier post about the issue of DoCS. –N]

    For what little it’s worth, my mum actually knows Shellay Ward’s parents from when she worked for Australia Post (I think I may have actually met them myself in passing once). They were semi-regular customers of hers, I think largely by virtue of the fact that the other staff didn’t like them (particularly the man, based upon his appearance). Mum, however, found nothing wrong with them (and Mum tends to be quite particular about people she does and doesn’t like, so a thumbs-up from her may be considered a definitive positive), and her observation of the couple’s two other children was that both of them were in evidently good health and didn’t seem to display any signs of being unhappy around the parents.

    I can’t quite remember the story Mum told me that she heard from them ….[I have removed this story from the published version] ….Don’t quote me on that, but I think that’s what she told me, I don’t recall exactly.

    The truth of the matter is something I don’t know, and I’m not sure we actually will ever know the full story of what happened. For what it’s worth, though, based upon her experience of the two parents, Mum reckons that they may not be entirely innocent in the whole affair but DOCS need to accept a fairly substantial share of the blame for it.

    As for the “magic bullet” solution AV describes, I always just think when I see that sort of thinking proposed: “why stop there?” If you’re going to seriously advocate the genocide of part of the human race, I reckon you should have the decency to advocate the destruction of the entire species; wiping out all of humanity would surely be more beneficial to the world than just wiping out part of it.

  6. ninglun

    November 18, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    I guess there is little we can say at this stage, especially in published form, given charges have been laid.

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