Australians have a chance to prove that they’re not all bad


Can anyone tell me how to quote this properly – I’ve seen other bloggers paste online articles into the body of their blog with much greater success than this!

We could go down in history as greedy, gullible, mean-spirited,
selfish, short-sighted and tight-fisted, writes Catherine Deveny.

WHEN you find yourself at the ballot box on Saturday, remember, my
friends, that this is a rare opportunity to make a difference to the soul of
Australia.

Our participation in public life is limited to five minutes every three
years and an election like this only comes about once in a lifetime. In four
days you will have an impact on the history and the direction of our country.
Your vote will affect people who haven’t even been born yet. You’ll have an
opportunity to stand up and say, “We’re better than this.” Braver than this.
Smarter than this. And more compassionate than this. And bigger than this. We
are not afraid of the future. We are shamed by our recent past. But united by
the possibility of the future. And hope.

This election is an intelligence test. A test to prove we can see past the spin, the dog whistles, the short-sighted rhetoric, the scare campaigns, the pork-barrelling and the fearmongering. A test to show that we are smarter than the Government gives us credit for.

If we do not seize this opportunity for change we will go down in
history as the most greedy, gullible, mean-spirited, selfish, short-sighted,
tight-fisted generation in the history of Australia. How will it feel sitting in
front of that $5000 plasma TV watching reruns of American reality shows, wearing
clothes manufactured in a sweat shop and sitting on a sofa made by Third World
slaves? How will that feel when our public education and hospitals have been
gutted and our environment corroded to a point of no return? How will it feel
knowing we have turned our back on people who need us most: the poor, the
broken, the scared, the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable? How will it feel
when you turn to your children and say, “I believed him”?

On Saturday, you can prove that what is in your heart and on your
conscience is more important than what’s in your hip pocket. You’ll be able to
say to your grandchildren that you voted for better. You voted for truth. You
voted for imagination. You voted for all of us, not just for the white
middle-class working families who have never had it so good.

Our family has never been better off because we are one of those white
middle-class working families.

But not all of us are working. We are not all white. We do not all
speak English. We are not all heterosexual. And we are not all families. But we
all deserve a life of dignity, peace and fairness.

I don’t have to imagine how it feels to be an outsider. I know. I know how it feels to be a child and have our home sold from under us. I know how it feels to live with parents crushed by poverty and paralysed by hopelessness. I know how it feels when you can’t afford to go to camp and instead have to wave the bus goodbye. I know how it feels to know that you are poor.
But like many people from the working classes, I also know how it feels to be given a chance. And the thrill of achievement beyond your wildest expectations. To live the better life for which our families courageously fled poverty, war, persecution and famine.

Opportunity is created only through vision, tolerance, acceptance and imagination. I was the first person in my family to graduate from university. And many have followed since. At the time it seemed as though the club was being dismantled, but this Government has almost finished building a new clubhouse. And this one is surrounded by razor wire, security guards and X-ray machines.

This election is a gift. Look back at the past 11 years and imagine the next decade as more of the same. The divides becoming wider, the damage becoming irreversible and the lies and deceit in politics becoming normal.

On Saturday you will have a rare opportunity to prove to our past, to our present and to our future that we are better than this. And we are not stupid enough to swallow the short way round but the long way home. At my grade 6 graduation, I stood side by side with Greeks, Yugoslavs, Macedonians, Poles, Italians and Maltese and we sang: “I’m as Greek as a Souvlaki, I’m as Irish as a stew, I’m as Italian as spaghetti, I’m as Danish as a blue, I’m as German as a dumpling, Middle Eastern as a lamb. I’m an Aussie, yes I’m an Aussie, yes I am.” And we believed it.

Over the past 11 years, I have lost faith in the Australian people.
I’ve felt shame at the spin they have swallowed, the politicians they have
believed and the values they have embraced. I’m horrified at how politicians
have chosen to lead our country using fear over faith, greed over bounty and us
and them over we. I just hope I am not alone. There’s plenty for all of
us.

I don’t have to imagine how it feels to be an outsider. I know. I know
how it feels to be a child and have our home sold from under us. I know how it
feels to live with parents crushed by poverty and paralysed by hopelessness. I
know how it feels when you can’t afford to go to camp and instead have to wave
the bus goodbye. I know how it feels to know that you are poor.
But like many people from the working classes, I also know how it feels to be given a chance. And the thrill of achievement beyond your wildest expectations. To live the
better life for which our families courageously fled poverty, war, persecution
and famine.

Opportunity is created only through vision, tolerance, acceptance and imagination. I was the first person in my family to graduate from university. And many have followed since. At the time it seemed as though the club was being dismantled, but this Government has almost finished building a new clubhouse. And this one is surrounded by razor wire, security guards and X-ray machines.

This election is a gift. Look back at the past 11 years and imagine the
next decade as more of the same. The divides becoming wider, the damage becoming
irreversible and the lies and deceit in politics becoming normal.

On Saturday you will have a rare opportunity to prove to our past, to
our present and to our future that we are better than this. And we are not
stupid enough to swallow the short way round but the long way home. At my grade
6 graduation, I stood side by side with Greeks, Yugoslavs, Macedonians, Poles,
Italians and Maltese and we sang: “I’m as Greek as a Souvlaki, I’m as Irish as a
stew, I’m as Italian as spaghetti, I’m as Danish as a blue, I’m as German as a
dumpling, Middle Eastern as a lamb. I’m an Aussie, yes I’m an Aussie, yes I
am.” And we believed it.

Over the past 11 years, I have lost faith in the Australian people.
I’ve felt shame at the spin they have swallowed, the politicians they have
believed and the values they have embraced. I’m horrified at how politicians
have chosen to lead our country using fear over faith, greed over bounty and us
and them over we. I just hope I am not alone. There’s plenty for all of
us.

The Age – 21st November ’07

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