As my readers know, I think the Prince-Knighting Nincompoop (tony abbott) made a complete fool of himself when he said that he would rather be a loser than a quitter. For added context, he had been a member of parliament for 25 years, had spent four days short of two years as a domestic and international embarrassment, and just under three years doing all he could to destabilize his successor’s leadership. If he had been a first-time candidate, fair enough, it was better to have tried and lost than not at all, but after 25 years and the stark choice for his electorate being between him, an arch-conservative dinosaur and Orban-lover, and a bright, younger more socially progressive but right-leaning candidate who cared about the environment, rather than having a dig at his successor, who said that former PMs are better off outside parliament, he should have bowed out gracefully. His political love daddy, John Howard, was the second PM to lose both a general election and his seat concurrently, and it was his hubris that kept him there.
I have had people say to me, “If you don’t go past this place, those others have won.” But have they? I went to university with a woman whose father served in the Second World War, and he died at around the time my maternal grandfather did, and for 48 years after the war, he wouldn’t buy anything Japanese. I knew another woman, whose grandmother had three brothers who served in the war, one was killed, one was taken POW and one survived, but the irony was, the brother who was taken POW was not anti-Japanese and the brother who was not, was. He wouldn’t accept anything Japanese until he was in his late 70s and was going blind, and he enjoyed reading, and some of the technology that he needed to be able to read was from Japan, and that caused some of his bitterness to ebb away. In the first man’s case, well, he did what was right for him, but he kept himself from enjoying things he could have enjoyed due to his bitterness. I knew a woman whose uncle was like that, and her aunty bought a little plate that she liked that she didn’t realize was made in Japan, and the woman’s uncle threw it in the bin. He softened his attitude later on.
Say a man like the woman’s father, when television first came out, bought a Pye or Thorn television that was made in Australia, and when black and white TV gave way to color, he upgraded to a Pye or Thorn color, and, in 1987, the Pye or Thorn was dying, and a TV repairman came around and said, “Look, that’s not a good picture, it would be cheaper for you to get a new TV.” And he said, “Well, can I get another Pye or Thorn?” “No, they aren’t in production anymore.” “Well, what do you recommend?” “Well, Sony, NEC.” “What about Rank Arena?” “No, Rank Arena is now owned by NEC.” He is horrified to see that it’s Japanese, but he goes to his daughter’s house and his grandkids are watching a Sony Trinitron TV and he’s impressed with the picture, and he decides, “Okay, I’ll give it a go.” He buys an NEC TV and is impressed with it. Some of the bitterness might ebb away and if he says to his mates, “Look, I’ll buy Japanese products, but I don’t want to go to their venues,” he’s setting boundaries, and that’s fine. He’s reducing power that it has over him.
Attending a school reunion last year was something I had sworn I’d never do, but I did. I still have some flashbacks to experiences I had at school, but I felt less alone, and I was talking to two old classmates and mentioned a kid who used to bully me, and then said, “Yes, he was in our primary school class, and he was a little so-and-so back then, too.” If they’d said, “Who? Him? No, he was a lovely fellow!” it still wouldn’t have altered my reality. The bully didn’t win. But there again, timing was important. I wasn’t ready to attend a school reunion after 10 years, or 20 years, but a few things happened, and I felt more ready after 30 years. And another realization that I had was that we were just people in our late 40s, we weren’t who we were at school. And just like I read this year where they said to people to rather than wondering what’s under the Christmas tree this year, to be grateful for who is around the table, I thought, be grateful that some people who you went to school with were at the reunion. Of the people I went to school with, two died by suicide and one died in a car accident, leaving behind a daughter he didn’t know his girlfriend was carrying when he died.