What I can No Longer Write About
The calendar stares back at me balefully, each blank box testifying to another day passed in mourning. The calendar is coated in black sharpie strokes that, against a white background, make it look like prison clothing. It’s a fitting metaphor. The events on my calendar are not trapped by time rather, time is trapped by these events. Two years now and finally, the American election trudges on to the final days. Since I can remember, innocent people are still being tortured and dehumanised on our overseas detention centres and even though I try to forget, our politicians are still a sack of potatoes. Each sharpie stroke, like a pin into a voodoo doll, is a pain unseen but felt. “Let’s do something better than count dead days”, my Sharpie tells me. “Let me write up a shopping list, or draw a house with a happy family in it, instead of marking the loathsome emptiness of this calendar. We move on but that emptiness remains”. My sharpie is a nihilist, can you blame him? I place Sharpie down and he almost rolls off the edge. No, not today Sharpie, you and I are in this together.
I understand why Sharpie would rather drop off the edge. Slash-slash for the day that Tony Abbot said taxpayers shouldn’t fund Indigenous lifestyle choices. Slash-slash for the day Peter Dutton said people set themselves on fire to get to Australia. Slash-slash for the day George Brandis didn’t know what meta-data was. Slash-slash for the day that the chameleon Hillary Clinton was caught laundering money through her foundation. Slash-slash for the day that a potential leader of the free world spoke about abusing women and laughed. In the words of Hamlet, “I could live life in a nutshell and still count myself the king of infinite space”, but only if you keep the shell closed, I don’t want to go outside.
I don’t think I can.
Should I talk about Hillary Clinton? Her support for trade deals that see corporations with more power than national courts? What about her Iraq war vote? Her Patriot Act vote? The drone killings she supported? Maybe I should speak about her few hundred thousand dollar speaking fees provided to select business conferences and then funnelled into the Clinton foundation? Or perhaps the highly illegal use of a private server to hide information that could potentially send her to jail? Should I speak about her personal ties with Wall Street, her hawkishness which saw the destruction of the Libyan state? Should I just talk about how she sits on the dark side of trade, war, freedom and economics?
Nope, I won’t.
Should I talk about her equally maniacal and self-obsessed counterpart in the American Carnivale? Should I talk about the man who claims the system is rigged but then abuses tax loopholes to save money? Should I talk about his bad business practices that has seen him go bankrupt more than a few times? Should I talk about how running a democracy like a business is potentially dangerous to human freedom? Should I talk about how he who has no name has disintegrated reality by relishing in lies and using fact and fiction wherever convenient? Should I talk about how he thinks it is pure banter, just locker room talk, to denigrate and sexually abuse women?
No, not doing it.
Should I come back to our side of the world and talk about our own government? Should I talk about a Prime Minister who, when opinion polls slump, begins fear mongering about refugees? Should I talk about his ministers who use tax-payer money to buy airline tickets for their pets? Should I speak about how the Coalition thinks equality is something which you must fight for? Because you’re definitely not born with it. Maybe I should talk about the incarceration of innocent civilians in the Malaysian archipelago which is only worsened by the murder of innocents in the Middle East? I believe the body count for Iraqi civilians sits at over 400,000 dead. Maybe I should just talk about how the government finally recognises that Climate change exists. They are hardly taking steps to do anything about it, but they acknowledge that it’s there. It’s all about baby steps.
I am quite tired of seeing us stepping backwards. The fundamental rights and freedoms that were fought for so hard in the later part of the 20th century are slipping away. Right wing, borderline fascist parties are rising in Europe. Donald trump wants to build a gigantic wall across the Mexican border and monitor Mosques. Hillary Clinton wants to continue carpet bombing the Middle East, except more intensively. Malcolm Turnbull is trying to ensure anybody that tries to come to Australia by boat is permanently banned. Pauline Hanson wants all Muslim immigration stopped. Gay people are still not afforded basic civil rights. All this is against a backdrop of market-driven human rights abuses that see the minimum wage drop, work security weakened, taxes increased, people dying because they cannot afford healthcare and a system which reduces the beauty of human experience to the experience of a being cog in the machine. As usual, animals and nature are abused the most and forgotten the easiest.
To quote another familiar passage in Hamlet, he says,
“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer.
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep”.
In the current state of the system, I see myself with two choices: to suffer this outrageous fortune, or to oppose and try to end it. On the one hand, I could tolerate it, pull out my trusted sharpie, and keep counting the days. On the other hand, I could try to fight against the rancid stupidity of our political discourse. But, such a fight, as Hamlet knew, is like swinging a sword at a tidal wave. A poxed democracy, vexatious media and pretentious liberal class have failed us. It is a fight I know I cannot do on my own, but my Sharpie has dried out. I place the cap back on and put him away, rest easy old friend.