Shortly after Bob Brown announced his retirement, Federal Member for Higgins and Abbott attack puppy in training Kelly O’Dwyer tweeted that we now had a female deputy PM as well as female PM. This observation prompted ABC journo Latika Bourke to ask whatever could Ms O’Dwyer know about Wayne Swan that the rest of us don’t?
Of course, Ms O’Dwyer was keeping alive the Opposition tradition of claiming that the Greens are really running the country and so their new leader, Christine Milne, is our deputy PM in everything but name.
I first noticed Ms O’Dwyer when she took part in a Qanda episode. If you’re interested, you can find this on her website. I formed the opinion then that she is given to belligerence, quite lacking in manners, and adept at the practise of “talking over everyone else not caring if your audience hears you because your objective is to drown out all other voices not to make an intelligent point yourself.” Yes. That.
I also formed the opinion that her subtext was “Look at me Tony look at me! I’m doing it just like you! Can I have a schmacko? Please?”
Had it not been for the notice warning “Puppy in training. Not to be fed or patted by anyone other than handlers” I would have chucked her one myself, being a sucker for unrestrained approval desperation. Below Ms O’Dwyer is pictured with Mr Costello who never became leader of the pack. It looks as if he’s eating a sausage. Or perhaps he’s going to feed it to Ms O’Dwyer. I don’t know what these people get up to.
In 2010 I wrote this article for On Line Opinion titled “Reclaiming marriage from the great big Christian hijack.” I wrote: Marriage has existed a whole lot longer than Christianity. The Chinese philosopher Confucius, born in 551 BC, offered this delightful definition: “Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love.”
Two years down the track and because our PM made a point of reassuring us the day after she took office that there would be no change in the Marriage Act to accommodate same-sex unions, we are no further ahead. It is rumoured that Ms Gillard was compelled to make this otherwise inexplicable statement by the Australian Christian Lobby. (I claim her statement was inexplicable at the time because Kevin Rudd had only just been rumbled, and the last thing on anybody’s mind was gay marriage.)
What remains inexplicable to me is that Ms Gillard is a professed atheist and personally uninterested in marriage. Some 60 per cent of Australians approve of same-sex unions and there are Christians among them.
Why the ACL should have such influence over Ms Gillard is also inexplicable, and quite unacceptable. Frankly, I’m a bit fed up with public Christians at the moment. That appalling performance by Cardinal Pell on Qanda did it for me. In the On Line Opinion essay I wrote:
Perhaps what is required from Christians these days is a little humility. An acknowledgement that they haven’t got everything right, indeed there are things they have got horrifically wrong, and that there is a collective as well as an individual responsibility for this that must be addressed before they can legitimately turn their rigorous attention to the maintenance of a broader human morality.
If I were imagining a god, she/he would care a whole lot more about believers destroying the bodies, hearts and souls of children than about preventing same-sex marriage, and same-sex adoption. If my god was going to smite anybody, I hope she/he would be smiting the perpetrators of those crimes against children, and those who enabled and protected those perpetrators and denied their crimes. I hope she/he would take positive action to enlighten those who would deprive children of love and legal security, solely because these people are unable to personally deal with the concept of love between same-sex partners.
My god would teach that loving one another is the only thing that matters, and from that all else will grow.
She/he would also be smart enough to admit that loving one another is the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do on this planet.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” said Christ.
“We must love one another, or die,” said the poet, W.H. Auden.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal,” warned St Paul.
It’s time to reclaim marriage from the Christians. They can’t claim it as their own. It belongs to everybody. Marriage in Australia in 2010 is about loving one another, whatever gender the other happens to be. It is about hope, and deeply good intentions. It’s about wanting to be the best a human being can be. It’s about wanting to create a living, breathing mystery, day by day, with the person you love and who loves you.
How may times must these sentiments be expressed, and by how many people, before politicians take heed?
Christians, your noisy gongs and clanging cymbals are making my ears bleed.
Finally, adieu Bob Brown. There are many ageing white males in positions of power that I can think of who would do well to emulate Brown, and bugger off. Knowing when to go is a rare talent, whatever your field of endeavour.
I have no idea if this is the beginning of the end for the Greens. As the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas observed about death: One does not know when death will come. What will come? With what does death threaten me? With nothingness or recommencement? I do not know.
And that, my friends, is why I can’t call myself an atheist, for I do not know. While this is unkindly described as “fence-sitting” by some, I argue that it is a sign of maturity to learn to become comfortable with uncertainty. Only children demand certainty. The adult knows there is none. Nowhere. Ever. Ever. I know that for sure.