I went to a writing class some time ago that, in retrospect, seems a little daft. Blogging 101, after I have been writing this particular blog for over a decade? So, why did I go? You might well ask. I was hoping to pick up some tips. I have altered very little on She Gathers No Moss, since a friend first helped me set it up all those years ago. Technically, I am as illiterate as ever. Economically, it is still a labour of love. I blog because some of you are kind enough to say you enjoy reading it. I blog because it’s good exercise for the brain, and for the typing fingers (all three of them). I continue to blog based on a love of writing, as well as a love for the things I write about: food, wine, travel, history…
“Why blog? What do you want to blog about?” These were the first questions our lecturer asked. I think I already answered that. Some people blog to create business, others to promote a brand. Some – remember ‘Julie & Julia’? – are lucky/ organized/clever/committed enough to make money from it. I learned that day about all the very clever things people can do with their blogs, that I mostly don’t. I try to post regularly. Generally, with new material. Two boxes ticked anyway.
Her final advice? Do what suits you and your blog. Don’t be distracted, confused or trapped by what others are doing.
OK. Great. Then I blog as if I am writing a regular newspaper column and hope I am communicating with my audience. But I guess, at the end of the day, I blog because I enjoy it. If you enjoy it too, hip hip hooray! Bonus!
As a kid, I wanted to write whole novels, but it turns out that an essay length article is about the extent of my concentration span. When I walk into a book shop and see the space piled high with books I am yet to read, I panic about running out of time. And I wonder if I actually have anything to add to this mountain of words that hasn’t been said a million times before.
Don’t get me wrong, I love-love-love bookshops. Like a kid with a box of chocolates, there’s no way I can ever stop at one. But when there is so much writing in the world, how does anyone avoid the accusation of banality, cliché, stereotype or platitude? Isn’t there a theory that there are only seven plots in the world?
And yet, and yet…
The imagination is such a wondrous thing and language such an infinite gift that we never seem to run out of creative ideas, or new ways of saying things that we feel are worth sharing with the rest of the world. We love to play with language. To test its boundaries and invent new words if the old ones have got a little stale. Our words weave us together. Our friends, our families, complete strangers, we become united in our common love of communicating with others, of exploring language and using it for all the things we are trying to express.
But sadly, the pendulum swings, and words are being used to drive us apart. As Australians, we are being forced to choose between yes and no, black and white, fair and unfair, past and present. Our politicians are wrangling over something that we should have dealt with years ago, and they are dragging the rest of us into an expensive bidding war.
Because, let’s be honest, this referendum will cost a bomb in our post-covid world. Remember that strange moment in time when politicians acted as if money grew on trees, and we could just close down the world for months and there would be no repercussions? What have we learned from that? What will we learn from this new upheaval? Sorry, I really don’t have the answer. But surely dividing to conquer isn’t it?
I have heard both sides of the argument. And whoever I am listening to, as long as they are being reasonable and not simply racist, I believe them. Today, the convincing argument for yes. Tomorrow, the Nos. I have four weeks to decide which box I will tick. To do or not to do. To alter the Constitution in order to recognise the First Peoples of Australia, by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, thus altering the toxic discrimination narrative of the past. (And it has been pretty damn toxic.) Or to leave it alone and avoid the toxic repercussions of an Australia divided? An us and them landscape that undermines a fundamental principle of democracy: the equality of citizenship?
Yep. I know. That concept – the equality of citizenship – hasn’t worked in the past either. Even after women and First Nations people were given the vote. We know it’s been proved time and again that our operating democracy is flawed. But how will the Voice change that? I have heard it is better to vote yes, to open that door to improving the situation for indigenous Australians. Let’s face it, they tell me, it couldn’t be worse. Other countries have done it before without all this fuss, apparently. Look at Canada and New Zealand. So, I look. And is the situation of their indigenous people so much better for that recognition?
Point two on the proposed alteration to the constitution says that ‘the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’ Not on matters relating to any other Australians, just to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. OK. Good. That makes sense.
But on the other hand, point three states that ‘the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.’
So what power does the Voice actually give anyone? The Voice can advise the Parliament, but do Parliament even have to listen, never mind actually act upon that advice? And if we don’t give him the answer he wants, our wise Prime Minister is apparently promising to do it all over again tomorrow. Could that money not be better spent fixing up some of those most obvious flaws? Like Education? And the prison system?
Am I being obtuse? Probably. I swing from one side to the other like a weather-vane. I can see the good and the bad in both choices. Must I simply make the ‘less bad’ choice? Please can someone explain?
So, it seems out that today’s post is neither about food or wine, history or travel. It turns out I also blog to ponder.
With thanks to Google Images.