I read in the Global Mail yesterday that Tony Abbott is conspicuously subdued in Parliament at the moment, leaving the aggression to others and even letting Malcolm Turnbull ask a question.
(An aside: I returned to the Global Mail after it saw sense and went vertical instead of horizontal. I can’t be doing this left-right, east-west thing. Like the Kuuk Thaayorre of Cape York I prefer to use cardinal directions and say I’m a north-south kind of woman when it comes to scrolling).
While it can only be good to be freed from the holistic assault of Abbott’s strident and inanely repetitive aggression, it won’t be long before we get thoroughly sick of the rest of them picking up where he left off. We are heading into an election year. It’s time for the LNP to put forward some serious policies. In other words, it’s time for the LNP to treat the voters with some respect. They aren’t generally big on respect, especially for respect for women, preferring instead to operate from a position of entitlement. Respect and entitlement are not happy bedfellows, but sadly, for many who attain positions of public power a sense of entitlement overrules a sense of common humanity.
Speaking of respect, after a few months in the city I’ve had it with people bearing down on me, completely oblivious to my presence because they are obsessively focused on their phones. Innumerable are the times I have skipped to the side to avoid a collision, but no more. As of yesterday I’m standing my ground. I expect injury. I expect to be knocked down by men twice my size who probably won’t even notice they’re walking over me because they’re texting.
The ways in which we use public space have changed drastically since the advent of mobile phone technology and jogging. Once it was relatively safe to be a walker. Now there’s hardly anything relaxing about it at all. Strolling through the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition we were assailed by dripping joggers who seemed quite prepared to shove us off the cliffs rather than slow down, some even muttering “Move over for fuck’s sake” as beads of their rank sweat landed on our arms and faces.
On the question of the use of public space, there’s an excellent piece in the New York Times Review of Books, July/August 2012, on the decline of libraries in England. Author Zadie Smith points out the lamentable lack of public space where one can safely be without having to fork over any money for the privilege. Libraries are one such rare space and in England, they are rapidly decreasing as councils sell them off to developers for upmarket housing, because they aren’t considered “profitable.” Libraries are becoming obsolete. The argument made by technocrats is that people can find anything they want on the Internet, so why do they need the physical reality?
This economic and technocratic rationalisation again has no respect for humanity. Libraries offer much more than books. A library is a holistic experience. It offers an engagement for the senses that cannot be matched by the Internet. As a young girl, the library was for me a refuge, a temporary sanctuary from dysfunction, a safe place where I could lose myself in the sight, feel and smell of books that offered me other perspectives of other worlds. I could not have found this on the Internet, had it existed at that time, because apart from anything else, I would have had to stay in the physical reality of an unsafe home.
As Smith puts it: “…emotion also has a place in public policy. We’re humans, not robots…[libraries] are the only thing left on the high street that doesn’t want either your soul or your wallet.”
Politicians are in general pitifully lacking in respect for the people who put them where they are. What they should take from the results of the last election is that we are fed up with this attitude from all sides. Respect the human, is the message they need to take on board. We are not robots. We don’t like or want aggressive, repetitive sound bytes. We want policies. We want respect.