Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Sons and fathers
I am putting the story below up partly because I too am one of those awful old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon types who do not express feelings of affection easily. Whole generations of Anglo-Saxons have lived like that and it is not good. Fortunately, I did pay a visit to my own father six months before he died and did so to tell him that I appreciated him. And I did. So there is some faint hope for me I suppose. My son is a better man than I am in that regard as he generally signs his emails to me with "Love". Maybe there is a generational improvement going on
When did you last have a good old yarn with the man who made you? More importantly, when did you last tell him that you love him? Have you ever summoned up the courage to tell him that?
I love my dad but I’m not especially close to him these days – neither geographically nor emotionally. This makes me quite sad when I think about it, so I try not to. We live 17,000 kilometres apart and we speak just a few times a year – my bad on both counts, I’m ashamed to admit.
I feel guilty. And it was partly guilt that compelled me to fly around the world for his 70th birthday celebrations last month. (Well, that and the fact that I was best man at a mate’s wedding the week afterwards.)
Mum asked me to say a few words after the dinner she had organised for Dad. I am often asked to give speeches these days; I guess it has become my party trick. But this one was different. This one was difficult. How do you say in front of 100 people what you haven’t ever found the words to tell a person face to face? How do you convey genuine gratitude rather than clichéd platitudes?
Blokes being blokes, we tend not to be very good at having man-to-man heart-to-hearts. Fathers and sons can go years, sometimes lifetimes, without
discussing anything deeper than the footy. And then, when it’s all too late, we can go years, sometimes the rest of our lives, regretting our silence.
So here I was with an opportunity to give a living eulogy, to tell my dad all the things I’d never told him. I didn’t give a very eloquent speech. The lump in my throat made it difficult to get my words out. But it was honest and it was an honour.
Emotion. I get that from my dad. If I were any more sensitive I’d come out in a rash. Thank goodness metrosexuality reared its neatly coiffed head when it did because now a man’s willingness to have a good cry is considered a strength instead of a weakness.
My dad taught me how to be a man not by instilling a sense of alpha male machismo and forceful dominance, but simply by embodying what it is to be a good bloke. A real man is defined by what is in his head and his heart rather than in his pants or his wallet. My father has never told me how to live — he’s showed me. He doesn’t preach; he practises.
Which is ironic, given that he does, in fact, preach for a living. He is a vicar. Setting an example is more effective than dictating one. It is easier for a father to have a son than for a son to have a real father. Although he is four inches shorter than me, my dad is someone I will always look up to.
When I got married, Dad conducted the ceremony. My bride was weirded out by this. I could understand that but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My parents are the Pictionary definition of fidelity. They’ve been married for 44 years, stuck with each other through thin and thinner, and it’s made them stronger.
One of the most important things a father can do for his son is to show him how much he loves the boy’s mother. My dad has certainly done that. I plan to do the same when the time comes. Because family is everything – even when a prodigal son like me decides to move to the other side of the world.
In some respects, my old man was the original new man. He could cook before it was fashionable — or even socially acceptable — for men to possess any culinary skills more advanced than being able to microwave a meat pie. As kids, we always looked forward to Tuesday nights when Dad made dinner. But then he’d get in trouble with Mum for using all the ingredients she had bought to last for the rest of the week.
Mum was always the one who told us off when we were young, but Dad was the more influential disciplinarian. He rarely raised his voice, which meant it had all the more power when he did. His was a quiet authority — he kept us in check with a look rather than the back of his hand.
Now more than ever he seems to read the timbre of any situation perfectly, knowing when and how to step in and when to just leave things be. That’s the wisdom of a lifetime of experience and observation.
In other respects my old man is old school. He uses the antiquated vernacular of a bygone era and I have never heard him swear. He writes long letters with a fountain pen. He wears a shirt and tie every day, even though he’s been semi-retired for five years. He’s a man of routine. He believes there’s a right way to do everything. There is nothing remotely slovenly about him.
Telstra ran an effective advertising campaign recently that plucked at the heartstrings: “Time to call your mum.” It resonated especially with me. Because I’m so self-absorbed, I rarely find the time to call my parents. That’s why I had to go back for Dad’s birthday. I didn’t just need to tell him that I love him; I needed to show him how much. And I feel better for doing it, like I’ve removed that distance that I had allowed to build up by not returning his beautifully written letters and increasingly plaintive voicemails. And the gnawing sense of ever-present guilt has subsided too.
But less about me, more about you. How’s your relationship with your old man? When was the last deep-and-meaningful you had with him? I say it’s time to call your dad. Tell him what you’ve always wanted to tell him but have never quite found the time, or the words, or the opportunity to say. Tell him you love him.
It doesn’t matter if you talk to him once a day or once a year: do it today. You’ll be glad you did.
A homosexual activist embraces conformity where one he stood for liberty
A sign of the pressures to conformity imposed society-wide by political corectness?
One of the less commented-on aspects of the gay marriage campaign has been its taming of Peter Tatchell. For decades, Tatchell was a thorn in the side of both the establishment and the squarer sections of the gay rights movement. A permanently outraged queer, he railed against the hypocrisies of politicians and priests and also against what he called the “sharp-suited middle-class professionals” of the modern gay movement, who were obsessed, as he put it, with “cuddly issues like gay marriage”. How times have changed. Now Tatchell is on the frontline of that cuddly issue, loudly agitating for the right of gay men and lesbians to get hitched. The deviant has been domesticated.
With just one day to go before the Government’s consultation on same sex marriage closes, Tatchell is pulling out all the stops to ensure the “legalisation of same sex civil marriages”. He is coordinator of a campaign called Equal Love and has become the go-to man for media outlets who want a firm-voiced advocate of gay marriage. What a turnaround! Ten years ago he wrote a brilliant, blistering assault on gay rights activists who demanded the right to marry, denouncing their desire to “embrace traditional heterosexual aspirations” and slamming them for having “succumbed to the Blairite politics of conformism, respectability and moderation”. He railed against the “career campaigners” who had “infused the gay movement with their own cautious respectable values”. They “crave acceptance and advancement”, he said, which is why they forefront “safe, cuddly issues like gay marriage”.
In that 10-year-old article, Tatchell made a very good point about equality – and it is testament to the shrinking of the political mindset in the succeeding decade that it is virtually impossible to imagine anyone making the same point today. He said equality was not the most important value in the world. Indeed, he said it was a shame that “equality has become the unquestioned political objective [of the gay rights movement]”. He argued that “accepting mere equality involves the abandonment of any critical perspective on straight culture. In place of healthy scepticism, it substitutes naive acquiescence. Discernment is surrendered in favour of compliance.” Looking back at the birth of the gay liberation movement in the early 1970s, he said: “There were no calls for equality; our demand was liberation. We wanted to change society, not conform to it."
Indeed. Essentially, the aim of the radical gay politics once promoted by the likes of Tatchell was to liberate homosexuals from the purview of the state. The gay marriage campaign represents the precise opposite: it is about winning state recognition of gay relationships, pleading with the state to sanctify homosexual living arrangements. Where once gay activists fought to get the state out of their lives – out of their bedrooms and their bars – now they are fighting to get it back in, calling for it effectively to say: “Your relationships are valuable.” The demand for liberation has given way to the plea for state recognition. That even Tatchell has been won over by what he once described as the “politics of conformism, respectability and moderation” shows just how unquestioned today’s so-called equality agenda has become.
There is something bigger taking place here. We haven’t only lost one of Britain’s more colourful radicals to the all-consuming vortex of political conformism. More than that, the taming of Tatchell speaks to a broader diminishing of the ideal of liberation and its replacement by the safe, grey politics of identity and recognition, where every political campaigner (certainly not just gay ones) now basically leaps up and down and asks the state to give him the thumbs up of official approval. The gay marriage campaign will end up expanding the remit of the state, granting it the authority to overhaul an ancient institution, redefine our relationships, and rebrand us all as “partners” rather than husbands or wives or lovers. That such a campaign is being spearheaded by those who once sought to eject the state from private life is ironic, and sad. How about fighting to get the state out of marriage, and letting communities decide for themselves what this institution means, rather than inviting it in to remake marriage in its own PC image?
Up to half of the British 'jobless' may be working in the black economy as thousands forfeit their handouts
Almost half of jobless people told to do unpaid work are opting to forfeit their handouts instead. The figures show that many benefit claimants are working in the black economy, according to employment minister Chris Grayling. They would rather give up their welfare payments than forego their undeclared earnings, he said.
‘I sat through an interview with a young man in a job centre who was working for a few hours a week, below the benefit threshold, at a local nightclub,’ he told the Mail. ‘But he’d missed the previous week’s signing-on interview, and was told he’d be losing a week’s money as a result. He just shrugged. ‘No one just shrugs if they lose a week’s money, and they’ve got no other means of support. But proving it is easier said than done.
That was one important reason why we introduced a month’s full-time activity in the community for jobseekers who are clearly not pulling their weight, or working in the black market.’
Official figures show that 29 per cent sign off jobseeker’s allowance rather than turn up for unpaid work. A further 17 per cent fail to start their placement and lose their benefits in consequence.
The analysis covered 3,190 people in May, June and July last year.
‘We know there are people out there who are working on the quiet while on benefits,’ added Mr Grayling.
‘In 2010/11, people who were working while pretending to be unemployed in order to claim benefits cost the taxpayer an estimated £243million, including £94million in jobseeker’s allowance.’
Ministers have announced a major expansion of the scheme – dubbed slave labour by Opposition MPs – that will mean as many as 70,000 people a year can be referred to a mandatory work activity.
The system of sanctions is also being tightened to make sure people cannot simply sign off benefits and sign on again a few weeks later in order to avoid their placement.
The mandatory work activity scheme is separate to unpaid work experience for private firms, which has also been controversial and subject to legal challenges.
Job centre staff have been given powers to force those on out-of-work benefits to take unpaid posts.
Those who appear unwilling to look for work can be referred to the scheme at any stage, even on day one of their claim.
The placements are typically with charities or involve some kind of community service, such as helping to maintain parks.
Those who refuse to take part, or agree but then fail to turn up without good reason, have their £67.50-a-week unemployment benefit stopped.
‘I’ve met people who freely admit to having been feckless and lazy, but who have found a working environment to be enjoyable and rewarding, and have started to take the whole job search process seriously as a result,’ Mr Grayling said.
‘We don’t force people to do commercial activity – but we are absolutely willing to make people do community work if it will help their job search.
The less people do while they are unemployed, the more remote they become from the workplace. Sometimes it is because they are lazy and don’t care.
‘More often it is because they lose confidence in their ability to find work, and they stay at home and become more and more depressed and fed up. ‘Most people on benefits do not want to be there. It is only a minority who can’t be bothered.’
Labour’s work and pensions spokesman Liam Byrne said: ‘This announcement does nothing for 99 per cent of Britain’s jobless.’
Australia: HIV positive dentist claims Dental Board of Queensland 'contravened his human rights' by preventing him from conducting 'exposure prone dental' work
A human right to infect people with AIDS? This is an offensive politically correct absurdity
A DENTIST who is HIV positive claims the Dental Board of Queensland has "contravened his human rights" by preventing him from conducting "exposure prone dental" work.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in a just published four page written decision, has given the green light to the dentist, know only as "M", to take action against the Board under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.
QCAT senior member Clare Endicott said she was satisfied M be given an opportunity to establish if his complaint was a "contravention of his human rights."
"M is a dentist who is HIV positive," she said. "The Dental Board of Queensland has directed M not undertake exposure prone dental procedures in accordance with one of its policies. "M contends that the application of that policy contravenes (the Act) and as a result constitutes unlawful discrimination.
"This case involves very grave matters with implications that could have wider consequences than those immediately affecting the parties."
QCAT has already ruled the conduct of the Board in this case did not constitute "unlawful indirect discrimination", but has yet to decide if it was "unlawful direct discrimination."
The Board had submitted the application by M was "vexatious, misconceived, lacking in substance and an abuse of process."
Ms Endicott said the Board conceded it had discriminated against M, but submitted it was exempt from consequences under sections of the Act.
She said M opposed the Board's application to bring an early end to proceedings, saying he wanted to adduce evidence to refute the reliance of the Board's "statutory defences".
"Both M and the Dental Board should have the opportunity to have their arguments about this complaint considered by the tribunal," Ms Endicott said.
"The implications (of this matter) have a bearing on how the instrumentalities of the State, including the respondent Board as well as this tribunal, conduct themselves when dealing with the rights of individuals."
"I am satisfied that M must be provided with the opportunity to have a just determination of his complaint which alleges a contravention of his human rights."
On March 12, Ms Endicott refused an application by the board to bring an early end to the proceedings.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.