Abbott in favour of same sex marriage?

Says Tony on Friday-

“While there is a little difference between the legalities …..  there’s no difference in the morality”


Oh, wait.. he was talking about bombing over the border in Syria. Something that’s illegal under international law.

So we can’t override the law with a moral argument when it’s about love between people but we can to justify acts of lethal violence!


Leadership, entitlement, bullying, homophobia and racism

I think we have a problem, and it’s “leadership”, and I think it can have toxic results unless we are very careful with the concept.

Leadership is only harmonious if everyone agrees, which is rare. Usually there is reluctant compliance from “followers”.

This means dissent must be over-ruled, no matter how small or large, if you believe that non-compliance is a threat to your authority as a leader. Power over-rides respect for different values.

Which means you might have to make a captain’s call. Tony Abbott did this over same sex marriage. He said “I am the leader, I had to make a call, and I think this is the best call” (Top marks for self-referentiality!)

There is an alternative view, but when you have a strong lashing of entitlement it wouldn’t be front and centre. It is “I am the leader. My job is to empower, negotiate, reconcile and synthesise. If this isn’t possible I must honor and respect different positions and advocate for one voice-one vote. That is my duty”

Entitlement to make a call in the face of widespread opposition is similar to the booing of Adam Goodes. “We can boo anybody we like, for whatever reason and reserve the right to boo even when it has become symbolic of racism”

The problem here, I think is similar. Sense of entitlement over-rides our societal duty to each other to  minimise harm, maximise goodwill and move as much as possible from

intolerance (“you are other and you cause me fear, disdain or disgust”)


tolerance (you are other and despite negative feelings you may live alongside me if your impact is minimal)


appreciation-despite-not-understanding. (you bring a lot to our society. I don’t feel negative but I just don’t get you)

The latter state is a step towards

appreciation of difference. (thanks Michael White*)

“You and I are same and other. Your thoughts, beliefs, culture are amazing. Let’s work together to bridge difference and foster goodwill, and societal benefit”

Something Tony has occasionally mouthed, but rarely enacts. His captain’s call from entitlement is hurting same-sex lovers and de-values his colleagues considerations and heart-felt positions, and his call on climate change is hurting the world.

Oh, and bullying? Yep it’s integrated in the process.

Fortunately connectivity in the modern world enables an alternative conversation and collectively we make small steps despite patriarchal restraints.

And (cynically), fortunately the progressive corporate take-over of government (see our TransPacific Partnership ‘agreement’ push) seems to be empowering us to think outside  leadership structures.

* Practice notes: Couple therapy” “Urgency for sameness” or “Appreciation of difference” Michael White

Healthy food. Trying to reach the stars, but ending up with heads in the clouds.

Here’s a cloud. It has little to do with this post.

No, I refuse to rave on about how bad are our current dietary guidelines or the government’s Health Star Rating fiasco. No I won’t rave. David Gillespie has done the raving for me here (thankyou David) Continue reading Healthy food. Trying to reach the stars, but ending up with heads in the clouds.

Transition through the middle place

Prompted by witnessing a person in the education world flip between “our students are adult learners- it’s their fault if they can’t organise their education schedule” to “don’t burden the poor little things with too many resources- we have to stage their education in developmental steps” I found myself thinking about what construction might lie between these two extremes. What is the middle place? And how quickly do we transition through it without noticing? Continue reading Transition through the middle place

Empathy: Dutton, Abbott, Brandis, Hockey, Triggs and Nasir

I’m moved to write after reading and hearing so much about the Rohingya refugees.

So here we are, caught with leaders so lacking in demonstrating empathic skills that they are self righteously exhibiting their views without much of an inkling of how they are being perceived as “out of touch” or downright cruel. I’m sure they feel really misunderstood.

Unfortunately, I believe they have a responsibility to shed their experience of being victimised and to act both compassionately and in the interests of Australia. The possibility that both can be achieved simultaneously seems to elude them – Continue reading Empathy: Dutton, Abbott, Brandis, Hockey, Triggs and Nasir

Empowerment. Two disparate views. (published despite my dislike of dichotomies)

View 1. Some people have more power than others. Some have privilege and are blind to the fact that fate has dealt them a good hand, and others not so good. Empowerment is more the responsibility of the blessed who are in a good position to advocate for those who have less ability to do so. Let’s call this responsibility.

View 2. It’s all to do with choices and perception of choice. Disempowered people have more power than they realise. We can assist them to embrace their power, but we shouldn’t give handouts, as this will impede their empowerment. Let’s call this “blame the victim”.

I just saw red when I clicked on this link in from a mailing list I get sent to me. Empowerment. It’s from a chartered psychologist in the UK called Peter Honey.  It outraged me and took me a while to calm down. It’s worth a read to see how cruel some ideas can be. I’m not criticising his intentions here, just wondering whether he has critically examined his assumptions, which I would say aren’t particularly uncommon. The harm I believe can be more when such views are delivered by a “guru” as I saw him described on the web. It’s no wonder the disempowered often end up anxious or depressed after they encounter these oppressive views.

While this view has a tiny bit of merit in some circumstances (I think there are some people whose survival skills fuel their disempowerment and it becomes hard to break the cycle), I believe it does so much harm. You see the effects of pushing this as a truth in the news on a regular basis. Only today in Ballarat were victims of past child abuse pointing out to the Church that supporting George Pell in preference to advocating for them was making them feel blamed for the consequences of the abuse. Why not take this assertion at face value?

I believe we need to really question some constructions of “empowerment” and its compatriots, for example “resilience”. There are some people who have been so oppressed that they become “doppressed” and their lack of resilience is because of the ongoing and persistent labelling (“not taking responsibility” for example.) Let’s not blame them for their suffering.


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And here’s a nice view from today as I walked the dog. Aware of my privilege to be able to do so.

Do you do an emotional workout?

It’s 11am and I’ve already (unintentionally) done my emotional workout for the day. It started with a phone call where I learned about a senior doctor (supported by two colleagues) bullying medical students. (not in my town fortunately!)  They berated the students, accusing them of arrogance, stupidity and weakness. The students were told “Know your place!” all because the students asked to be excused from an activity so they could study for their upcoming exams. Haven’t these doctors been reading the news?

ANGER– Which I have re-narrated as “passion for justice”. When will we turn our medical culture around? I felt ashamed of and angry with some members of my profession.

Then I read about the outpouring of generosity for the homeless student who wants to be a criminologist and is living in a tent under a bridge (It must be SOOO cold!) I shed a tear or two.

THANKFULNESS TO OTHERS for being so compassionate. I felt good to be a human.

Then I remembered all the work I had to do today! I had a little panic.

FEAR- I had a little chat with fear, thanking it for reminding me not to waste the whole day, and re-examined my expectations. I wouldn’t try to do so much. The panic was a little less overwhelming

Then I decided to head down to the local coffee shop for coffee and a croissant (yes I know it’s pro-inflammatory! and yes it might have been avoidance!) The new Florence and the Machine album was playing, the sun was streaming in, and some kind patrons were rescuing a terrified wandering little dog outside. I read a funny clip in the Herald Sun from a lavatory in Japan

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That’s it. Workout over. On with the working day!

Must get a physical workout in later!