Archive for the Politics Category

Confused About American Politics

Posted in Parenting, Personal Thoughts, Politics, The World with tags , , , , on May 18, 2017 by Neal

I’m not looking to start a flame war or fight but I’m confused by American politics at the moment. Now I know a lot of people weren’t expecting Donald Trump to win the presidential election, so it was a bit of a surprise to many I’m sure. He had some very controversial policies and views during the campaign which caused serious concerns amonst not only Americans but the world at large. A lot of hype comes from the media and assorted action groups on social media so you need to be cautious of what you read. After all “fake news” or “alternative facts” seem rampant these days. 

What has me stumped is the complete lack of respect for President Trump. Sure a President or Prime Minister cops a certain amount of flak and disrespect from various people and groups during their time in office. Comes with the job. Yet things started before Trump’s inauguration. Sure some will say that President Trump has not earned the respect of the people because of his actions but are they basing that on the man or the position? From what I’ve seen the position of President of the United States carries a certain amount of automatic respect with it. You may not agree with governement policies or actions but you pushed that aside for a moment when it came to the president. The best example I’ve seen of a backlash for presidential-disrespect, was when the Dixie Chicks made this comment during a concert in 2003

“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas” 

The backlash they got for that was extreme. They had boycotts, sponsorship losses and a long list of threats against them as well. Bit excessive for expressing an opinion. Perhaps views on freedom of expression and speech have changed over the last 15 years?  I know social media makes it easier to get your word out into the world. 

As I said I’m a little confused by all this but perhaps it’s just my views that make it confusing for me. President Trump has a style and approach that none have ever seen in a president so perhaps that is changing the political and social landscape of the world. Just some ponderings for consideration. 

What A Messed Up World – part 2

Posted in Family, Food, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Politics, The World on April 24, 2017 by Neal

What is a “lucky country”? 

Is it lots of land and freedom to live we’re you want? Is it the ability to protest or disagree with the government and not fear reprisals? How about wealth that makes you not want for anything? Religious freedom? You could probably ask thousands of people and you would get a mix of these things plus many more definitions. In fact the idea for a lucky country is so broad that it all boils down to a simple common factor, it’s people. This is what makes a country lucky in my view. Without people all you have is land that no one uses. People shape a country, give it focus and direction. That being said we can easily loose sight of what it means to be in a lucky country. 

My wife recently got back from a missions trip with her school to Cambodia. She was talking about some of the things that could be said and not said which we would normally take for granted. Yet the biggest thing that stood out to me was the resourcefulness of the people there. For a developing country they certainly don’t take anything for granted. Wallets made from recycled tyre rubber, iPad cases using recycled paper and fabric, laminated newspaper wallets and pencil cases, coffee cup wrappers made from upholstery scraps. This might not seem like much but for many it’s the difference between eating that night or going hungry. 

Perhaps it is necessity that creates a lucky country? How many of us would spend 13hrs a day sifting through garbage piles looking for materials to use or sell? After all many of us take what we have in life for granted. We have food, roof over our heads, safe place to sleep, if something we own is broken we toss it out and usually get a new one (seems to include spouses as well if you look at statistics 😁 ). Without a necessity we don’t seem to have a driving force in our lives. Keep in mind I am being very general here so it’s not the same for every individual. 

If you read stories of life during the two world wars, there are loads of examples of people using their ingenuity to help keep things moving with limited resources. Recycling was an everyday thing. Growing your own food made it possible to extend limited rations for many valuable days for those not on the front lines. Those fighting also used creative ideas at times to get by with their own limited resources. 

To me a lucky country is made by its people. Those who take what little they have and find ways to live a full life. People who help their neighbours to thrive. Diversity of cultures and nations that learn together to be a greater country as a whole than a country of singular people.

What A Messed Up World – part 1

Posted in Parenting, Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by Neal

Who hasn’t heard of sponsoring a child? You’ve probably walked past sprukers in shopping centres or seen donation tins at the counters of stores. There are a wide range of NGO’s that help children in less developed countries with food, clothing and schooling. All stuff we take for granted. These organisations help improve the lives of children, their families and their communities with stuff we take for granted. After all everyone in the world should be able to buy fast food and throw away most of it because it isn’t what you really wanted to eat, able to leave the tap running into the drain while arguing over which celebrity wore a particular dress better, complain that there isn’t a single thing to wear despite having several wardrobes full to the brim and not to forget that school is so dull and why do I need a job when I can get a government hand out? 

The sad part is some people actually behave and think like this. We are supposed to be the more developed countries yet we act like children most of the time because we have access to everything and more than we need. The real catalyst for my ramblings is a radio add I heard this morning for child sponsoring. It wasn’t for Somalia, India, Rhowanda or any of the normal countries in dire need of assistance. No it was for a country that I had never figured would need child sponsorship, Australia. 

This got me thinking which is always a bad idea. In particular I was stunned that poverty levels in my own backyard were so bad. I’m not deaf or dumb to the way things really are. The media goes on about statistics and figures which seem to just smoke screen a lot of the real issues. Governments can spend millions on a royal enquiry for this or that but can’t support community shelters. Hundred of thousands can be spent on exclusive state dinners but funding the school breakfast programs is too much of a burden for tax payers. There are thousands of children that are being miss treated by their peers simply because money is now the biggest factor in their lives. Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke was derided for his pledge that “no child will live in poverty by 1990”. Yet after 30 years, assorted governments and global situations there is an increasing number of children every day being affected by poverty, something they have no control over and should never have to worry about in the first place.

I know that there are a wide range of problems, causes and solutions but when did the lucky country become so desensitised to the common person (would use common man but that starts a whole arguement of sexism) and their plight? When did the have nots outnumber the have lots by a billion to one? The sad part is that there is no easy solution to this problem. To tackle things on such a large scale would require a lot of time, planning, money and compassion for others. 

That being said I am guilty of allowing our finances influence my children. The stress of juggling bills and income tends to bleed out from my control and affects my kids. I remember telling myself when I was younger that I wouldn’t allow money matters to trouble me or my family like it troubled my parents. Don’t get me wrong we never lacked anything but the stress of running a small business and family at the same time took more of a toll on my parents than I ever could know. 

What I want to stress is that children should not be troubled by the burdens of poverty in a country with as many opportunities as Australia. They should be allowed to be children and not grow up to think like an adult before they’re old enough. The same for developing countries, children should be happy and not wondering if they will eat at all today. If you can help someone please do so. It doesn’t have to be financial, sometimes a random act of kindness can help remove the cloud of doubt that hovers over us for a while. If you have loose change then give to charities or if possible sponsor a child. 

Remember: you can’t move a mountain intact, but you can chip away at it one rock at a time. Change the lives of others with one deed at a time.

Same Sh1t, Different Year

Posted in Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World on January 2, 2017 by Neal

Well 2016 has proven itself to be a very trying year. We lost a lot of celebrities, some a complete shock at their passing. Various terror groups continued their relentless attacks against a world they wish to control, seeing hundreds of innocent civilians fall to the meaningless attacks. The death tolls from natural disasters added to the damage around the world. The United States got a surprise with the election of Donald Trump as president, while the Brexit result stunned the world. A lot of people seemed to think the world was about to explode with all the troubles it was facing. 

Then 2017 rocks up and everyone is celebrating. A new year and with that a total change in how things work. People won’t die, we’ll all be nice to each other, the four horsemen will settle down and play poker over a few beers, the world will know complete peace as of midnight January 1st.

But wait it seems people didn’t get the memo from 2017. A mass shooting at a New Years party is not how 2017 should start. It is easy to come up with idealistic views for a new year but the reality is a lot harder than we can imagine. However I am not suggesting we simply throw away our intentions of a better year in favour of the same old routines. As a species we tend to give in to the mediocrity of life. While many species find ways to deal with adverse changes we tend to find it difficult. 

I’m not saying all people are like this. There are a large number of people who will go out into 2017 and make monumental changes to the world, preferably in a good way. Some will have a negative impact while a greater number will have a minor impact. No matter the impact we have to realise that 2017 will be different despite all the negative things thrown at us. We can’t get caught in a case of SSDY – Same Shit, Different Year. “But nothing will change so what’s the point?” People will exclaim. True some things will always be a constant in the course of a year. People will die, wars will be fought, disasters will strike and taxes will be paid. 

Now I have a shocking secret to tell you so listen closely, 2017 isn’t a double headed coin. It’s a normal coin and like a normal coin there are two different sides. While we tend to look at all the negatives in a year it will be far from the same as last year. Babies of all species will be born, friendships will be made, lovers will meet, discoveries that change our lives will be made and in short life will move forward despite the evil machinations of others. 

Let’s try a new approach this year. How about we focus on Different Year, New Possibilities. Not as catchy a phrase I know but we can’t make changes if we only focus on what has been and not what can be. 

Have an amazing 2017  

Religious Freedom For All…..Except

Posted in Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World on December 24, 2016 by Neal

The following is a personal attempt to understand how things in the world are at the moment. To clarify I am a Christian but not a Theologist so my knowledge of various aspects of religion are limited. I am always open for discussion on topics so my views can change over time. 

2016 has proven to be a year of social and moral extremes. The increased threats of terrorism in the name of religion have created great divides in our world. With the proliferation of social media in our lives, the spread of discent and disinformation is just a great as the spread of truth. The most noticeable is the increased distrust of Islam thanks to extremists. 

Now I’m not labelling all Islamists as dangerous. That would be very hypocritical of me. History is full of moments when religion has been the catalyst for wars or massive changes in the world. To say one religion is worse than another makes as much sense as playing Russian roulette with a loaded Uzi.

What I have noticed is that while as a whole society preaches religious acceptance, there is an equally large part that ridicules religion. Social media platforms allow people to post all sorts of stuff with the knowledge that most people can claim ignorance of the source. After all who bothers to check facts these days? 

Now as a Christian I see posts and memes and wonder, “what have I done to offend?”  It seems that just being of faith these days offends some people. I will admit I used to be the sort of person that probably would join in on the ridicule, but after a series of events I had a reconsidering of my faith. Now that being said I’m not a born again evangelist who stands on street corners shouting at people to repent. I’m just as likely to make a wise crack about hell as I am heaven. Some may consider my views too relaxed but I feel that I am always true to the one core belief that I have had since I was young enough to remember. Treat others as I want to be treated. Yes I know very cliche and I’ve not always been good at leading by example. 

But I’ll talk about myself another time and back to the world we live in. It seems that people are quick to have a go at religions because of either misinformation by the media, political opinions, lack of understanding or past negative experiences. Now I’m not nieve and know that politics and media are a major factor in the world’s views on things. After all when you hear 15 times in 30 minutes about some extremist blowing himself and others up it’s no surprise opinions are formed so quickly. It is strange when people go on about how religion should not interfere or criticise their lack of beliefs, yet they themselves attack those of various faiths. 

So what am I blathering about you are probably wondering? As a whole the world is diverse and has a wide range of faiths and beliefs. Even if everyone all followed the same set of rules there are many ways to interpret those rules. I have a simple request for 2017 that some may find odd. I would like everyone to respect each other’s views and rather than ridicule or fight over them, let’s discuss things openly. Don’t let media and political speech tell you what is truth. Not everyone one of faith is an extremist. Not every unbeliever is a heathen. We are human. We are imperfect but it is those imperfections that make humanity what it is, yet it’s is those differences that we need to have a better understanding of in order to prosper.