Monday, September 2, 2013

the vision splendid

A thought has occurred to me, as thoughts do from time to [usually inappropriate] time: No one in the larger parties currently running terror election campaigns has any idea of how they would like Australia to be.
For a very long time I thought the major parties had shared goals for Australia, and that the only difference between them was what they believed was the right way to achieve them. How old must I be before I stop being naïve?

The man who was my boss [until recently when his monetary outgoings began to exceed order incomings and product outgoings] is a positive, intelligent and interesting chappy. He liked to talk about this or that as he drank his first latte of the day and on one particular day his chatter turned to the idea of mission, vision and values statements.
Most organisation's mission, vision and values could, he said, be summed up by the statement they want to be big and successful. All else is meaningless guff. Spin, even.
His own vision is that he can go to work and spend his day doing something he enjoys, surrounding himself with people he enjoys doing things they enjoy doing well. Despite the economic pressures over which he has little control, I feel he has been quite successful at achieving his vision.

A leader, it is said, is someone who can recognise and tap into a commonly shared vision, express it well, and show people by example how to achieve that vision. Let's take a quick peek at Martin Luther King Junior's leadership as an example seeing as how, 50 years after his watershed speech, it is still the most current gold standard example [an indictment  in itself of today's leaders].

"…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character…"

Exactly what is the vision for Australia of our current leaders? I would be hard pressed to answer that question, whether negatively or in positive terms. What I fear is that our current leaders would find it as difficult to answer as I do.

My own dream is that one day I will live in a country where the sins of the parents will not be visited on their children. My dream is that one day I will live in a country, not where there are equal outcomes for all, for that is impractical, but where everyone will, so far as possible, have an equal number of opportunities as everyone else to create opportunities for themselves.
I would like to live in a country where everyone's contribution is measured, not by outcome and not solely in dollar terms, but by how well they make the most of their ability to contribute. My dream is to one day live in a country where those who are the most privileged do not necessarily receive the greatest reward simply because they are privileged.
I would like to live in a country where the majority can feel they have a place in the larger scheme of things, where the majority is not comprised of a hundred minority groups, each alienated from the rest of the population.

It's possible many of us baby boomers, required to memorise great slabs of stuff at school, can rattle off the first verse or two of such stuff as Paterson's Clancy of the Overflow.

Morbid creature that I am, I was smitten by his description of a time and place where work was an end in itself;

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
    Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
   Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
   Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
   Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
  As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
   For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

This whole competition for votes thing seems to have become an end in itself as well, indicating quite strongly just how divided this nation is. Not divided by ideas about the best way to achieve a common vision, but by the very absence of a common, clearly articulated vision at all.


  1. "where the majority is not comprised of a hundred minority groups, each alienated from the rest of the population." It does feel like that most of the time. I reckon if a politician came up with say a ten year plan for a better society and worked hard to achieve it, he or she may well get elected.

  2. oh how I adore that piece of beautiful poetry. An all time favourite.

    I completely agree of course. If you watched QandA tonight, Rudd tried to assert that his vision was of 'a fair go for all Australians' - though not actually sure HOW that would happen with the policies on the table.. It only served to illustrate how rehearsed both politicians in this race are. Sigh.

    1. M, in all the years I've been voting I've never been so terrified by the prospect of either major party winning.

  3. I'm voting for you FC! I've been watching so much political debate this las week in the hope of getting a clearer picture and seriously it's still as clear as mud :) I'm just horrified at the thought of Abbott getting elected, quelle horreur !!

    1. Grace, sorry I don't know how to link this properly, but there was an interesting discussion about voting recently on one of River's posts

      I think our options are - vote for a local in lower house - someone you like and who needs a few votes to get their deposit back, in return for giving you a first choice other than any of "them"

      If Coalition is a dead cert to win lower house, vote Labor for Senate, then they can stonewall each other.

      If you absolutely can't bring yourself to vote at all, Andrew made a good suggestion which is prepare a meaningful statement to write on the paper which will be seen by vote counters and especially by party scrutineers.

      [For me, Saturday might be the beginning of a brief bout of anorexia. Well, knowing me it will be tres brief.]