Girraween and Basket Swamp

(Or, A tale of Two National Parks.) I consider the National Parks of Australia to be my second home, a place where you can’t see the air you breath, nor see the concrete for the trees. As my …

Source: Girraween and Basket Swamp

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Changing the date

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Well it’s Australia Day again, and along with the Aussie flag eskys, thongs and towels, comes the controversy about the date and what that date represents to the indigenous population of Australia. I keep reading rabid posts on social media from people telling the nation’s first  people  to “Get over  it,” and I  can no longer sit back and ignore that kind of lack of understanding. There are lot’s of arguments that can be used, but I’d like to share with you my own understanding of the issue, limited as it is by my whitefella privilege.

Imagine for a moment that you’re sitting in your family home one day and there’s a home invasion. People burst through your door, kill most of your family and throw you out of your home and off your land. You try to fight back  but they are better armed than you and so you find  yourself dispossessed, a virtual foreigner in your own land. Also, all your relatives and friends suffer the same fate.

Over time, laws are written to say you never lived there and that you don’t count as a human being  with basic human rights. You are stripped of any right  to speak up or have a voice in how you are treated or to demand justice.

Then, one day the people who took your homes and murdered your family and friends say, “You know what? We never had a housewarming party.” All those people and their children think this is a great idea and they  all celebrate the homes they stole, but for the next few decades they mark the occasion on different dates*. It’s such a success they decide to hold these housewarming parties every year. This goes on for years and years until several generations later, someone says, “Hey  why don’t we all hold these housewarming parties on the same day? And  let’s celebrate them  on the date  we moved in.”**

So now,  every year on that day, the descendants of the people who took your homes and murdered your families and friends, hold a  party.

Would  it tick you  off? Would you cry out at the injustice? Could you, “Just get over it”? Now to add  a little perspective, this wasn’t just  your family home and land, this was the place were your ancestors since time immemorial had lived. The murder didn’t only happen on that date, but continued for decades and decades, as more of your relatives were poisoned, shot and imprisoned. Add to that the fact, your relatives and you yourself are still imprisoned at a much higher rate than your oppressors. On top of that, it was only recently they even  acknowledged begrudgingly that, yes, you did used to live there.

Tell me.  Could you just get over it?

Notes for those who claim it’s a long standing Australian tradition and it would be “unAustralian” to change the  date.

* The name Australia Day wasn’t universally accepted until 1935

** It wasn’t until  1994 that the date 26th of January was declared a national public holiday.

 

Vanishing Beauty.

It was the night of the Supermoon, when Luna is at its perigee, and my wife and I went out to stroll through the bush in the moonlight.img_0649

We parked the car in the industrial estate a couple of kilometres from our house and set off to get some peace and perspective about life. In that blue monochrome world, under the full moon light, we strolled the concrete path that ran beneath the melaleuca and eucalypts. As we walked, I explained how this was one of the last green strips in the area. img_0660

In the nearly 20 years I’ve lived in Queensland, I’ve watch the greenspace vanish, bulldozed to make room for housing development or light industry.  Our local councils have worked hard turning the green bits on the map brown, while out here in the real world  we watch all these little pockets of wildlife and bushland vanish. img_0656

In our haste and our greed, we are ripping out the lungs of the world, and if we don’t stop, we will all choke on our fetid dying-breath. But there is hope, I’ve seen it once or twice. Like the people who are willing to replant native trees, remove weeds and restore greenspace to some of its former glory. These people deserve to be paid, yet they receive no fanfare, they just get on with making the world a better place.

Local governments see only dollar value when it comes to these last few remaining pockets of bush. The larger ones near my home are sealed off, one being a military firing range and a couple of others are Housing Dept. Land, earmarked to be sold off and bulldozed like all the rest at sometime in the near future.

When I moved to my current address, there were farms and large stretches of green where I could walk and think and attempt to retain my sanity. I would be dead if  not for those little  parcels of nature.

In that monochrome world of last night, under the light of the moon, I clung to that  little patch of green between the industrial park and the main road and breathed a little easier.  img_0655

When the Supermoon comes around again in 2034 I wonder what it will see. Will we have changed, or will we have turned the planet into a carpark as we fight each other to steal the last of the oil. img_0654We stand at a crossroads, every single day. At each new decision we help or harm each other and the world in which we live. Talk to each other. Share each others dreams, and fight for what makes the world a better place for everyone.

Chris K

Why I never use the terms, Political Correctness or Patriot.

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(Note. If you want to argue with me in comments feel free, but know that debate is  welcome, vacuous abuse will be ignored. Learn how to justify your opinions.)  Rant starts here.

Let me begin with the fact I don’t have a problem with terms like, POLITICALLY CORRECT or PATRIOT. My problem is that the meaning of these terms has changed. The terms nowadays are used mostly by Right Wing Nut-Jobs who seem to think that these terms are a defence of their right of free speech.

“You’re anti war? You’re not a patriot.”

“How dare you take me to task about my rape joke. Oh, you’re just being politically Correct.”

That’s not a justification people, that’s a cover for your inability to defend your beliefs.

I love my country, but the term patriot is used by so many racist groups now, who seem to think a lack of melanin in their skin makes them somehow superior, that I refuse to use the term to describe myself.

On Twitter, Facebook, etc. you’ll find these terms almost exclusively used by people who want to be racist, misogynist, homophobic  or anti anyone different. They are used by people who want to shut down debate. I keep coming across people using these terms in place of a balanced and reasoned argument to support their opinions. This is not about people being offended by “Naughty words,” this is about people who never step into anyone else’s shoes. This is about people who refuse to show any kind of empathy. As my friend Katie Taylor wrote recently, “There is a BIG difference between being crude and just being an arsehole.”

A friend of mine posted a meme recently which read “POLITICALLY CORRECT. A term used for whiney, overly sensitive pansies who need everything sugar-coated for them.”
I’d like to respond with this. POLITICALLY CORRECT. A term used predominately BY privileged white males who can’t handle being told they’re being an arsehole.
I’m kind of sick of people using the term to excuse treating other people like Shit.

The sheer cognitive dissonance involved in defending free speech by telling someone they’re being PC and should shut the F. up would be hilarious if it didn’t make me cringe so much. Like, really, that’s the best you can come up with? If you want to justify your racism, misogyny  or whatever other prejudice you hold, you better have a logical argument because otherwise I will dismiss you as a fool, though I will harbour the fear you could also be dangerous. “Words never hurt anyone, ” I hear them say. Ignoring the irony in how hurt they sound being called out for their prejudices, This is not always the case. Tell someone who’s suicidal they should kill themselves and see how much those words hurt. Tell someone who has been sexually assaulted that someone should rape them and see how harmless your words will be.

If you use terms like PC and Patriot to hide behind, to reinforce you hate, then understand just how you appear to me and expect me to give you nothing but logical, thought out arguments that prove you’re an arsehole.

Is that PC enough for you?

 

The Kingfisher moment, Or Why I don’t support the MRAs.

azure-kingfisher-ct280-280x220Today, as with most days, I spent an hour walking in one of the pockets of bushland near my home, just trying to take a breath and remember that not everywhere is concrete and steel, and that beauty is still around me. It gives me a chance to think, to create, to dream and to contemplate this crazy world we live in. This morning however I observed something about myself that I felt I should share
As I walked along a track, surrounded by grevilleas, Tea trees and gums, the sound of birdsong in the air, I heard the familiar sound of crows up ahead, calling to each other and I knew they were talking about somebody up ahead on the track. Soon I saw a woman, I’m guessing in her 40’s, walking away from me.
Now I walk quickly, a product of bushwalking with my brother as a child, his motto being, “Keep up or get left behind.” At my less-than-leisurely pace I would catch up with her quickly. Then this conversation happened in my head.
“Slow down. Your in the bush, alone, and having an old fart come up behind you could be a little frightening to a woman on her own in the bush.”
I slowed and stopped, and spent a few moments just watching a kingfisher going in and out of its nest, having tunnelled into a termite mound up a tree nearby.
After this I continued on my way, never seeing the woman again.
Did she notice? Would she ever realise I had given her space so she’d not feel uncomfortable? Almost definitely no, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because at the cost of a couple of minutes watching a royal blue kingfisher in it’s natural habitat,(Not really a cost at all), I ensured I didn’t perpetuate the air of danger that has become commonplace for women today.
Now the MRA brigade would howl, “Why should I have to change my habits just so some uptight woman doesn’t feel threatened. It’s her hangup not mine.”
To the members of my gender who still don’t understand we live in a world where the next President of the US can laugh about sexually assaulting women. If you can’t see that kind of world puts all women on the defensive, then I don’t know what will. To you I say, who the hell made your feelings more important than anyone else’s? When did giving up a minute or two of your precious time become more important than ensuring others feel secure.
I think a lot about this world we live in, and as an observer of people, I find it’s important to stop sometimes, take a breath and step into other people’s shoes
Who knows? In the space of that breath, you might find your humanity.

Splitting my Blog A Question for my fellow authors.

End the violence.

Its time. The discussion on Women’s equality recently here in the land of Aus, has prompted me to start a second blog, (where will I find the time?) called somewhat appropriately Not All Men Are Bastards.
This will leave Part Time Lunatic for my more creative pursuits and my take on the writerly game.
So here’s where life stands at this moment in time. I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks and as a part timer no money’s coming in from my side. (No this is not a call for donations LOL) My writing has suffered though I have been learning a few new tricks for editing book two Immortal Darkness, still aiming for Christmas release.
Learning lots about Past Perfect and Simple Past, and I can see some of your heads nodding off so I won’t bore you.
Book two is looking like running to about 90k words and I’m mostly happy with the way its gone.
Now here’s a big question to the female writers and readers out there. There have been discussions out there about female tropes used in spec fiction, and one caught my eye because I am skating very close to that particular edge with an event in my book.
So here’s the thing, (possible Spoiler alert) A character, female, imprisoned and experiences abuse that only happened in her mind, a false memory implanted to break down her psychic barriers. A complete and terrible violation that is only alluded to as I am still aiming at the PG rating, so to speak. The focus is on the people in the false memory who perpetrate the abuse, including the main character. Shifts the reader from the act of violation to the relationship fallout that follows upon freedom. The PTSD is played out over the subsequent Chapters, bringing out the emotional and the psychological impact of the interrogation. Questions are raised including reality vs illusory reality but the plot revolves for a time around her struggle with it. She does recover and return to her butt kicking self, stronger and ready to face the next challenge. With some help from the elves she overcomes the burden of the memory after all she knows what’s real.
Here’s my question. Is this an overused trope?
Personally I’ve known a number of women who had been abused, and witnessed the long term damage that it does and the power of a woman who survives such a thing. For me this subplot allows me to express some things that are close to my heart and I’m hoping that it is a shared emotion with the readers.
Any thoughts, Ideas or Abuse?
Please comment below.

Chris Kneipp
Part Time Lunatic and full time human being.