The Hot Breath of Humanity and The Art of Growing Up

The Hot Breath of Humanity and The Art of Growing Up

by Kirsten Macdonald

Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears…

 John Marsden has the knowledge, and he’s not afraid to use it.

 John wrote a book, and it comes with a warning tag because in case you haven’t yet heard, The Art of Growing Up is not for the faint of heart. With over 5 million books in circulation and a teaching career spanning more than 3 decades, is this bloke really an expert on young people and humanity? Let’s find out.

Are we going to wax lyrical because we have a fan base here in the Ponderings office? Not on your life. This work deserves more.

It’s a  book that will challenge and create bedlam. On purpose. With purpose.

From the angel brat to parents behaving badly, the educational insights of Bart Simpson to the hero complex; The Art of Growing Up will get you thinking.

 

 

 

 

First-hand accounts will have you gasping, they are frightening accounts if we are honest. 

He takes complex modelling and hypothesis and turns it into a manifesto, not just about parenting but humanity. It’s time for humans to grow up. 

Marie Berg’s description of the umbilical cord pulsating, and the journey of a mother learning her baby’s cries,  skin against skin may bring tears.

His unapologetic compassion for children and understanding with a “we”  and “us” tone gives rise to humour around adaptability and the playful mocking of his beloved dog for the lack of opposable thumbs.

One moment you are reeling from a statistic to visualising a Divi van being rocked from side to side.

Transported to a Dickens novel listening to John take off Mrs Jellybe in raucous female tones,  could leave you with violent belly laughs. (Tip- we couldn’t resist the author’s voice in the audiobook version.) John Marsden certainly has a voice for painting a picture, and he’s not mucking around. 

Exploring the paradox of being human is presented in visions of people carving their initials into beached whales, only to be years later showing compassion.

Does he think we are all idiots? Not quite. Well maybe…

 

Is change possible? Can public opinion be shifted?

The irreversible damage to children is likened to climate change and deforestation growing right alongside narcissism. The physical and emotional abuses to kids just needing to be kids may induce either a deeply saddened sigh or a clenched fist or both.

Is there hope?

Nourished Life Ad

John’s suggestion that it may be time to honour those with progressive views may be a warning siren at the eleventh hour, and we agree, more than band aids are needed.

I can’t help but feel this is a  teachable moment paradoxically intentional. For a moment, you feel like this mentor has lost faith in humanity, and let’s face it,  he would not be alone. The contempt for ignorance is not so subtle.

We are seasoned with the reassurance of the evidence of people working tirelessly for a better world and teaching children to defeat the forces of self-interest and ignorance. You get a distinct idea that public opinion can be reversed if not re-engineered.

What is the answer? Open minds? Committing Good Deeds?

You don’t have to agree with him, but that’s the thing with Progressive thinkers, they aren’t asking you to.


Scroll down to read the interview…

We interview John Marsden about his new book The Art of Growing Up

John Marsden writer Australian novelist The Art of Growing Up

KM: There are some ideas that say the way the current western world is organised is intentional to keep it turning economically for the powers to be. Russell Brand and Brene Brown talk about the intricate idea- the way to rule the world is clear- you invoke fear, give the masses of the middle class a bully to be fearful about and introduce whatever power you like to control and exhume power. It is quite interesting. Do you think the fear coming through from parents is a post response to this- the need to protect the young? 

 

JM: In general, I agree with Brand and Brown, although of course there are other factors at work, such as the insatiable ambition of sociopaths for power. But a desire to protect the young has been a trait of human parents since time immemorial, in most or all societies… it does, however, seem to be getting too obsessive, partly in response to the realistic fear that the havoc wreaked by humans has reached a stage where we are in considerable danger.

 

KM: So much of the baby boomer era is marked with abuse, the cane, the blackened eyes and physical abuse as well as kids not getting “too ahead of themselves” and the very colonial idea of knowing one’s place, do you think parents now have mistakenly overstepped the balance, going too far the opposite way in an attempt to be better at everything? 

 

JM: Yes, although emotional abuse has also been a factor in previous generations, and physical abuse is still happening today. But it does seem that many of today’s adults and parents are angry at the way they were raised by their parents and angry at the way they were educated by their schools and teachers. This does, almost inevitably, cause a strong swing in the opposite direction.

 

KM: Bravery has been the theme of many of our stories because you don’t just wake up and say I am going to be brave today- bravery is a response to a situation, and you make a choice. You are a brave person in our opinion because, in many instances, you have pushed head-on into the “establishment” for the benefit of children’s education and their fundamental right to be heard and respected. The Alice Miller school’s namesake really explains a lot. What was the tipping point for you when you thought- this needs to be written? 

 

JM: The choice to be brave is usually only possible for people whose lives are built upon strong foundations, although sometimes it can be a reflex response to danger. I’ve written The Art of Growing up because of a growing sense of urgency… my feeling that the lives of many young people nowadays are so lacking in first-hand experiences that solid foundations for adulthood are not being laid. If children know little else than their home, the school campus, the shopping mall and the barren local playground, they enter adult life so lacking in understanding, initiative and imagination that their prospects are about as good as those of a snail on the MCG in the middle of the Grand Final.

 

KM: Courage is not easy for many people because the need to be liked is stronger. How do you forge this tenacity and foster the strength to be true to your ideas?

 

JM: It’s the inner person who matters most. A child subjected to relentless criticism is as badly off as a child subjected to mindless lavish praise. Children who confront plenty of authentic challenges – not fake ones – and are supported to overcome those challenges using their own resources (such as intelligence, creativity and learned skills) are likely to be successful in navigating the challenges of adult life.

 

KM: Do you ever get scared about not being a good enough parent or a teacher? 

 

JM: Sure, of course! But I try to be thoughtful – to draw back from a situation and get as much perspective on it as I can. And I’ll use common sense, instincts and my own life experiences… when they seem to be ringing true notes.

 

KM: Have you witnessed the playing of Fortnite, and what are your thoughts on gaming socially?

 

JM: Yes, most of our boys at home got into Fortnite pretty avidly for a few months, but then they moved on. Gaming can be a very sociable activity, especially when two or more kids are at the computer and there is some collaboration happening (which could be one kid shouting advice and/or criticism at the other of course!). 

I’ve got no problems with people playing computer games quite regularly (I’m pretty good at Crossy Road!) but not every day, not compulsively, not to the detriment of other activities. Essentially, computer games are mindless most of the time and meaningless all the time – but so are a lot of other leisure activities.

 

KM: Do you believe teachers should have to achieve a higher ATAR to get into University to make sure we are getting passionate teachers that really want to teach? In Finland a Masters Degree is required, it’s impressive. Thoughts?

 

JM: In general, yes, we have to do a lot to raise the standards of teachers. Unfortunately, teachers often give their own profession a bad press! For example, they complain to their students about how hard and frustrating and rewarding their job can be. This can result in the best and brightest students – the ones whom we desperately need as teachers – choosing other careers! 

 

KM: What is your favourite part about being a teacher? 

 

JM: I guess two things – one is that it’s a very creative job. Creating a lesson, creating the materials for it, opening metaphorical doors to young people – it’s exhilarating. The other is the opportunity to help children or teenagers who are struggling with their lives. When you see them make some progress, perhaps after a long period of stagnation or worse, you do feel that you’re doing something useful.

 

KM: If you could choose any fictional character from your books to be Prime Minister who would it be? 

 

JM: I’ll give the obvious answer and say, Ellie Linton. I like that she is gutsy, thoughtful and honest. She can look at herself in the mirror and acknowledge that she makes mistakes and has flaws –like every other human in the history of the universe. My second choice would be Lee, who is a complex guy and a deep thinker.

 

KM: What do you think about Ponderings and the telling of stories with an authentic voice rather than “selling a tale that grabs eyes” journalism? 

 

JM: Anything which allows and even encourages the authentic search for understanding and avoids the glib, the superficial, the shouting of slogans: it’s great to see. The shopping recommendations look O.K. too.

The Art of Growing Up Is Available at all good book stores.

We highly recommend the audio book, but we can’t ignore a good traditional book too.

Click the Book of the month link to buy both.

 

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Independent Media is critical; it means no large media giant is pulling our strings or dictating what we write. Ponderings provides an alternative to networked media, producing stories about issues of social justice and humanity; that might not otherwise be told. Some you will need no introduction and some you will be uplifted to find out about and be inspired by. This year, in particular, our lineup is going to delight and surprise you.

 

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Bear Fire, Five Minute Reading Meditation

Bear Fire, Five Minute Reading Meditation

Instructions – please use a laptop or Ipad for this activity

*Attach your headphones-
*Click Play and on the Featured Artist.
*Skip the Ad! Adjust the volume for comfort
*Get Comfortable
*Read
*Ponder

So what is Mindmusic ? The first of it's kind just for you.

Instrumental music and language are syntactic systems, employing complex sequences in the Broca’s area of the brain. Linguistic and musical syntactic processing, these two human abilities can cross paths- sounds complex right? Let’s break it down- listening to harmonized music while reading a story designed to help you imagine and be mindful of the two experiences simultaneously. 

At first, it might seem distracting, but just like meditation, the more you practice, the better you get!

We have some uplifting and inspiring pieces coming up for you, paired with some of the world’s most beautiful harmonies. We have crafted some written pieces with a rhythm in the syllables and consonants.

We share it with you. A first of its kind in the world. May you imaginate while stimulating your senses and strengthening your mind. The first one is below- Bear Fire.

Bear Fire, our very first reading meditation. Plug in your headphones and select the music we have paired for you, relax, read and escape. Adjust the volume to suit your comfort. 

Instructions – please use a laptop or Ipad for this activity

The old man sits by the river, watching the ripples turn and eddy around branches. Shining egg like rocks weathered by eons of water flow shaped the movement of the water, and the old man smiles. His weathered face a portrait of a lifetime, and his smiles now as his grandson throws a rock into the water.

Why do you sit by the water so much Grandfather? The young man asks. Thinking how boring it must be to always be seated like this looking at the same water. His long grey hair is pulled back into a ponytail, he has humoured his granddaughter that morning and agreed to a pink sparkled hair tie with a small plastic butterfly glued to its edge. 

“You are in exploration, my child. But one day, when you are craving peace and stillness, you will understand that nothing remains the same in this water, it changes all of the time. Its the moments of contemplation that creates curiosity.” 

The young man grinned, so often his grandfather who would forget his truck keys would be full of this riddle like wisdom. He found him amusing. 

The old man sees the innocent amusement and understands it for what it is. Not mockery, but a youthful exuberance yet to know. 

His grandson is young and energetic, playing the sports of his peers, driving cars and holding the hands of pretty girls, he is good. He has made time to sit together.

The old man hopes that these small moments will stay with the boy when it is time for the old man to journey to his ancestors, for he knows it is coming soon. 

“Can you explain to me why you need to come here, other than getting away from the noise of the house?” asks the boy. 

“Ah, yes, the noise. It is the noise” he returns quietly as he reaches for their mugs and the thermos of tea he bought with him.  He hands them to the boy and motions with his wrinkled brown hand to pour.

Returning to the fallen branch he sat on, like a saddled old friend, he takes out the leather pouch and small packet of waffery papers.

The damp hairs and strands of tobacco are pressed into the paper, held gently between his fingers, and he breathes in deeply as he rolls it back and forth. The scent is earthy and whiskey, warm and sweet, amber and leathery. Like home. 

“Those will kill you, Abuelo,” says the boy. 

“Most likely,” says he. “Most things you love do in the end.” 

“We wear layers my boy, coats and shirts; the stories we are told and form our love and friendships, our beliefs and the things we use to survive. But sometimes we have worn them so long the fibres have etched into our skin.

We keep this hidden skin, and it keeps us warm, but we must be careful. The skin can become forgotten and grows knots and tears. Every so often, we must be still” he lights the tip of the cigarette and draws the sweet smoke in, exhaling slowly.

“By being still, we are reminded of the threads that need trimming, the loose threads that no longer serve us but bind us. New skin grows with a new coat, full of promise and hope. This is what our ancestors want for us, and it only comes from the stillness. I come here because Out There is a wild place of an exaggeration, it makes our senses run like a bear with his paws on fire, and we do not know it. We smell the smoke but do not know what it is. So I come here to put my paws in the water.”

“Moments are the currents in the stream you and I sit beside, coursing along, flowing and ebbing, running into each other. Without them, the fish cannot swim, the water does not stay fresh and vibrant. Such is flow. Without it, the water becomes stagnant, the heart develops a sickness in the soul, and the tragedy of moving through life without purpose is sad and causes anger.” 

“Like old Martha?” asks the young man. Old Martha was the woman who lived near their village, coming out every so often to yell abuse and grumble at every person for all the perceived wrongs only a bitter heart can conceive of. Her walking stick was as sharp as her words and her hatred for small children was notorious. People were frightened of her rage. 

“Yes, like old Martha, shaking her fist at our ancestors, because she feels they left her. But they did not, and neither did God, she forgot to be still so she could hear the whisper, the movement and the rhythm of life within the stillness. One day she will know it, and it will be a refreshing drink on a hot day, parching her poor soul. We must show mercy to those in anger for their longing.”

“Abuelo, how do you know all these things?”

“Because I did not rush, and I listen for a lost language.” 

“What is this language you talk about?” asked the boy. 

“It can’t really be explained, you either hear it or you don’t” he replied. 

The boy smiled at his crazy grandfather and they sat, listening to the sound of the water, the bird and the movement of nature. 

The boy was still and the old man smiled.

Did you enjoy our reading meditation? We would love if you would like and share it, or leave us a comment and tell us what your experience was.

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Join our other 22,000+ Ponderers and discover the real stories and voices of us. Subscribe today and get your Free Copy.

 

 

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Get your free copy and all of this for $24.95 a year, YES PLEASE! 

 

 

Independent Media is critical; it means no large media giant is pulling our strings or dictating what we write. Ponderings provides an alternative to networked media, producing stories about issues of social justice and humanity; that might not otherwise be told. Some you will need no introduction and some you will be uplifted to find out about and be inspired by. This year, in particular, our lineup is going to delight and surprise you.

 

Yes I want to support Ponderings and subscribe

$24.95 AU per year


The Warrior, the Compass and the Fight for Truth

The Warrior, the Compass and the Fight for Truth

A medical system in crisis, and one doctor’s fight to restore the moral compass. We unpack the issues with Paddy Dewan and put an invitation out to the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt…

 

There are archetypal roles in human history, representing and maintaining the “moral compass” aspect of our human collectiveness. 

Shaman, Cleverman, Kung, Elder, Healer,  Judge, Psychologist, Nun, Yogini, Pastor, Rabbi, Journalist, the list of these intended guarding personages goes on. They all share a common fibre; people have looked to them to show us the way, to set the example and uphold safety, truth and care for the good of each other.  One such very admired role is that of Doctor.

The learned person who cares for the vulnerable and ill. Yet according to many in the field, it is becoming frighteningly apparent in many Australian medical establishments, the rose of the medical compass is faltering, no longer pointing North but rather  bending towards closed doors.

Yet there are those who are relentless in their dedication, these warrior types who continue to strive and fight to uphold the ideal, climbing through the trenches onward to navigate treacherous roads for the people left broken hearted and left wanting.

Missiles and words from colleagues are thrown, twitter grenades are launched and the very processes needed to keep the soles on their warrior shoes and continue the roles they have worked so hard for are being stripped away. 

 

People are hurting. This is real.

The hand on heart promise to ‘remember that there is an art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug. I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.” These are the words formed so long ago adopted and adapted all over the world. The Oath of the Doctor. 

Vulnerability, accountability and tough conversations are no longer the growth tanks from which new ideas and ways spring forth. Instead of peer reviews, tainted news reports waxing lyrical into the hearts and minds of the general public seek to control the wheel.  The puppet strings are pulled by the powers to be, and brilliant journalists are haunting the halls with silenced mouths, and empty pens.

An underground smattering of Doctors and patients afraid to speak up and operate, patient’s heartbreaking -purposefully buried beneath a decaying process that may have lost its way. 

The inability for Surgeon Dr. Paddy Dewan to perform a life-saving operation in a public hospital because he has upheld his oath in favour of kowtowing to the people who have forgotten the face of their teachers. 

A surgeon banned from working in a host of public hospitals, not because he is not brilliant at what he does, it is because he says, he has tried to hold people accountable for mistakes, to make sure they don’t happen again.  

Yet people like Paddy are accused of the very thing they fight against- power and ego.   

There are not enough walls to fill the qualifications, I have never seen so many in one space. Then there are the photos, photos of happy kids and smiling parents. He fights day in day out from a tiny office in Sunshine, with old lino and bare of the glitz and glamour of the Eastern Suburbs. He is a globally respected surgeon, he runs a successful charity called Kind Cuts for Kids, helping save lives of children in developing countries and he gives a shit. 

Courage is a tangible and often instinctive response to a threat or a need to protect others, how do you believe it is forged? 

I was walking with my nephew many years ago, in a paddock. We were going to dig for worms beside a dam. I looked at my hand on the long-handled shovel as I raised it in the air and thrust it in the direction of his foot. I cut off the head of a snake that was just next to him, between the two of us.  

My primitive brain saw, heard and directed the message to the action centre, bypassing the white-matter neocortex that is much slower.  When it comes to the survival instinct in my medical career, I obviously prefer the primitive pleasure of the joy of the family to the strategy of ensuring you ingratiate oneself to colleagues – I probably would have died early in the German times of Hitler or the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

Courage is also demanding physically and mentally when it is an ongoing requirement to work in your field – where do you find the guts to keep going? 

Like the real Patch Adams, I get my inner strength from the families I assist. He rang me a few years ago after one of “my” families arranged for him to come to a charity function in Sydney. He said, “Hi Paddy, its Patch here. I gather your system is as fucked up as ours”. I agreed!  His phone call that day was an inspiration.

When the protectors and the lifesavers are desperately trying to uphold the moral compass when their intention is PEOPLE and not power or ego, what can they do to help you, what can everyday people do? Democracy is built on the tribe having a say in their rights. 

I am an everyday person; I am a plumber, a boy from the bush but, I roar like a tiger when I see injustice in medicine. If everyday people informed themselves, then reacted, we would have a better world. Others can contact their politicians, contact the regulator and make those that are advocating for them feel they are not alone. 

The problem is that most are self-interested – once the champion has solved their problem, they lose interest in the problem they have created for the champion.

You are brave, and you are human, not infallible and not emotionally bulletproof, when you read and hear negative comments from peers and the institution you have invested time, education and faith in, what does that feel like? 

Such negative comments led to me writing “Look the Tiger in the eye”, while in the witness box.  I am reminded of the father who punched the door when I said his boy needed an operation – because he was so angry with the neglect of others. In the VCAT courtroom, the AHPRA barrister was presenting a barrage of negative comments about me.

That very same father stood up quite fiercely and said: “I am not listening to this fu**ing bullshit any more”.  

I am also reminded about Lindy Chamberlain, then I go and use a chainsaw or build a fence, or go to a developing country. Sometimes I am angry, but these days I feel more resolved than angry.

 

What does it feel like to hear positive and endearing commentary from peers and those who believe in you and what you do each day, preserving health- what does that feel like? 

I love hearing the positive comments, and more-so, I enjoy the positive body language. The look and behaviour of friendship, thanks and caring. This is everything. 

What do you believe drives a person to protect their career more than the care and life of a person?  

Human nature! Selfishness, money, greed, a lack of caring. Often it seems that those who are better at protecting their career have less clinical skills. Within organisations, it appears that those who are not a performance-comparison threat are more likely to be promoted.

The opinions of others are none of your business, and yet they seek to destroy and hurt. What is your go to, to help equalise and keep you focussed on your life and your life’s work?  

Writing Poetry, dancing, some art and furniture making, farming, a 1962 Fordson supermajor tractor, developing country visits, my Australian patients and, last but far from least, my wife, Padma.  I blame Rudyard Kipling!

What does your family love most about you? 

Standing at the kitchen bench typing, as Padma says, “my multiple abilities” – so I remind her I fixed the heating yesterday.

Were you a rebel when you were younger or have you been forced into the perceived role of rebel rather than simply being someone trying to do their job? 

I was the “father” in the family home. I learnt to cook and clean had an after-school job and was top of my class. I was good friends with all the teachers and had great friends from all backgrounds.  At university, I had little money so wasn’t a pub lad, but couldn’t afford haircuts. But I could dance, which was a bit radical – it certainly didn’t make me popular with the guys!

Then in Ireland, I experienced medicine by the spin doctor (which led me to do a PhD to prove what many were saying was “product driven medicine”.)  Then on return to Australia, I found poor standards accepted, false indications for surgery supported. I was soon elevated to the status of a radical when I refused to accept certain events.

I have been presented by the media as a radical as a way of them supporting the poor standards of the regulator, VCAT, the coroner, medical administrators and other surgeons.

Is the moral cost to you submitting to the system trying to force your hand higher than the one to keep going and fighting?  

Absolutely, a German officer was quoted to say – something like – If you have a difficult decision to make, look to consider the worst possible outcome of what seems the right decision and, if you can tolerate the consequences, then make the morally correct decision.

If we imagine humanity as a linear story – if you had to choose just one person as the protagonist for choosing good over conformity who would it be? 

Nelson Mandela – his time in prison reminds me of the little time since 2003 when I lost my position at a major hospital for choosing justice over conformity.

Favourite photograph and why? 

The wedding photo of Padma and I standing by the water of the Woolshed falls, which is on the creek. Our wedding was on the land on which my great-grandparent looked for gold (5 acres),  near Beechworth.

We purchased that land, and a little more, on the 10th anniversary of our wedding, on the anniversary of my mothers birthday (23rd May), which was one of our two weddings, the other was on the 50th anniversary of Padma’s parents’ wedding, on 20th June (Padma and I will exchange crystal on Thursday).

We both love the wonderfully romantic story of our two weddings.

Documentary or Netflix binge when travelling? If so, which one do you recommend? 

I NEVER watch television when I travel; I watch an occasional movie on a plane – I often crying during movies. But if I was to binge it would be on documentaries.

What irritates you more, losing a sock or being late? 

I have a system of keeping track of “one-tys” so that never worries me. And I love mending them, I call it “cycling” (as compared to recycling). I prefer not to be late but relax in a traffic jam.  

Are there other people like yourself believing in upholding the moral compass within our institutions that strive as you do regardless of the threat to their credibility and reputation? 

Yes, I have met some of them via the Healthcare Excellence Institute Australia – Jane Bannan and Jane Tolman, for instance.

How does it feel when a patient celebrates a birthday because you were brave enough to do an operation or find an anomaly that helps promote life? 

Interestingly, this question reminds me of the occasions where I have helped families come to terms with the death of their child. On a visit to PNG, I saw a boy with a big lump on his chest wall. He was about 10 yo.

The next day I saw the family with a chest x-ray that indicated he had a terminal illness. I said in my broken PNG language, “him buggarup algetter” which implied he would die from the illness. They said as I was almost in tears, “we are happy that God has given him to use for 10 good years”. 

During the same trip, a judge and his wife were losing their boy to kidney cancer, while he was on his death bed, they were phoning Europe to chase more refined histological interpretation and were falling apart.

The first family taught me how to cope with death, and has helped me teach other families around the world. Not from a religious perspective, from the importance of knowing what can be changed, and accepting it. And, knowing you have saved a life and enabled another birthday celebration is amazing.

How does it feel when a person is diagnosed correctly after misdiagnosis?  

Lucky; the more I practice, the luckier I get; the more I listen, the more I know.

Do you cry very much? 

Usually while watching “call the midwife”, and while watching “Invictus”, the movie. Sometimes when flying away from the countries, I have gone to treat kids in developing countries – tears of joy really.

How hard is it to separate your emotions when you like a patient? 

I like most of my patients. Operating on someone is a very personal thing, with great responsibility. Maybe it is like a pianist and the piano – great music can be created, great admiration for the instrument,  

Is there a legislative action that can be taken to protect those that seek to protect us? 

We do not have free speech in Australia; the media publish to a formula, not in the pursuit of truth and many politicians are liars and cheats. 

What is the point of difference between you and the Doctor who looks a patient and their family in the eye and says “there’s nothing we can do” when in fact they know there is and they know they are being influenced by peers and boards to say no?

I once wrote a poem called “you child becomes mine”, which says it all – just by the title. Others seem to have the attitude that if something went wrong and they were not on-call, it was not their problem. The best example was when I was a registrar in Dunedin. A fellow trainee had operated on a man in his forties for varicose veins.

While operating in the back of the knee, he injured the main vein of the leg. When he was called to suggest he come to help fix the damage, he refused “because he was not on-call”. He got away with what I thought was unthinkable behaviour.

Are there many others like you that have seen the character assassination and are frightened to make a stand? 

Yes and there will be more!  I work on our farm, volunteer overseas and review coronial cases and report adverse events to the surgeon, the hospital involved and the regulator. I give expert opinion in coronial cases, spend time organising meetings to review the regulatory process, and remain determined to make medicine safer.

Are you a hindered lifesaver? 

Yes and No. As a result of the Australian political rubbish, I have made a huge difference in developing countries.

If you could tell the Australian public one compelling aspect you wish they knew about our current medical establishment, what would it be? 

Education of the public to enable them to get the best health outcome for their children is not a priority and combined with a failure to listen to and respect parents results in overtreatment, undertreatment and adverse events. I invite the Health Minister to sit down with me to discuss the coronial process and regulations, the system is broken and this is not getting taken seriously. 

Dr. Paddy Dewan’s eyes light up when he speaks of his charity, his love of helping others and the curious nature of those possessed by ego. Every day he marches on, fighting for the rights of Australian’s to have access to truthful medical care. We have pondered with him and its the kind of ponder that you leave better than when you started. 

So – Hon Greg Hunt MP will you ponder with Dr. Paddy Dewan? Are you prepared to sit down and listen to a man dedicated to the oath he took and the protection of the integrity of our medical system and those whom you represent? 

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Treaties, Climate Change and the Fight Club of the 2019 Vote

Makarrata, a treaty and 650,000 years of carbon dioxide lead to this moment, a minister walked into the Fight Club of the Australian Election.

At Ponderings, we believe in telling the stories of those who have overcome adversity to achieve positive change and to reflect, to inspire and to prosper.

When a person becomes so impassioned for the justice of others that he leaves the safety of a pulpit and walks into the den of politics- you take a breath in. He is part of our Ponderings community and has rolled up his sleeves and entered the fight club holding a torch. What is he coming with? Climate change, The Uluru Statement from the Heart and voice of the Makarrata.

He is a grandfather, a devoted husband and a beloved minister of the Anglican Parish of Gosford. This is not a man sipping his Grange from a megamansion or a lefty infuriated throwing around restless and careless words. He gives a shit that’s for sure. He set the social media world ablaze and became the talk of the world when he used his church message board on the front lawn to say “Dear Christians, some people are gay, get over it.”

What followed was advocacy and lots of it. Informed, educated, and a whole of fearlessness. It’s not easy standing up for those who need it most. Rod Bower has braved break-ins, had sermons bombarded by white supremacists and death threats come weekly. A minister of the church opening the Sydney Madigras? He’s copped it and still he marches forward.

Fast forward 2 years, and he is the representative for the ICAN party in the Federal Election; Independents for Climate Change Action Now. ICAN is a coalition of independents from across the political spectrum with some specific plans on what needs to happen to give the mechanics of our democratic machine a grease and oil change.

So I asked Father Rod Bower some questions because if you have made it to the top row in the voting ballot, people want to know what the heck you are going with that platform if they vote for you.

What do you hope to achieve once you’re in there?

In the first 100 days, I will help the parliament to declare a Climate Emergency. I will help the parliament to revisit the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This will set the cultural parameters for the term. All legislation must be climate-informed for our children to have a bright future.

Ponderings: The Uluru Statement from the Heart – is a national Indigenous consensus position on Indigenous constitutional recognition, which came out of a convention of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates in 2017.

The Uluru Statement sought a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about indigenous history. Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past.

Why climate change?

In the past 650,000 years, the carbon dioxide Level in the atmosphere has never risen above 300 part per million, with an average of about 200ppm. Today it is over 400ppm.

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 0.9 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

We can mitigate the devastating effect of global warming by becoming a zero-emissions society and by capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it the ground and plant life.

In short;

The planet is warming.
We did it.
It’s bad.
We can fix it.

Why is it important to have independents elected?

The two-party system is no longer agile enough to meet the rapidly changing political landscape. The system has become so corrupt that only a solid group of centrist independents will be able to precipitate changes to election donations and establish a Federal ICAC.

How can voting for an independent positively impact government in Australia?

The Gillard Government was one of the most productive in modern Australian history. That is in part, due to Julia Gillard’s excellent negotiating skills but also to the fact that she had a group of sensible independents with which to negotiate. A minority government, where the balance of power is held by productive independents, works well because ideology has to stand aside for practical solutions.

What do you need now to get there?

To win a Senate seat in NSW a candidate requires a quota of 14.5%, that’s a little over 700,000 votes. The more primary votes we get, the more preferences we will attract. So if voters believe that a proper response to climate change is essential and a sustainable society is crucial that they can vote 1 ICAN in the Senate.

Group Q in NSW
Group K in Qld
Group M in Vic

People may not understand the vital importance of independents representing sections of the social fabric of our country in government. They help create a balanced representation, to pass legislation and stop the corruption of our democratic system. It’s a system worth protecting!

If you would like to find out more about the ICAN party and the members, you can click here.

To read about the Uluru Statement of the Heart and Makarrata you can click here and read the statement below.

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the Heart:
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds, and their culture will be a gift to their country.
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

The O’Donnell Sisters Guide to Mama’s Survival

The O’Donnell Sisters Guide to Mama’s Survival

The O'Donnell Sister's Guide To Mama's Survival

How has your day been Mama?

Right now, you might have your magnificent offspring on your hip while talking on the phone- stepping over blocks and shooing the dog away from lunchtime spills on the floor. Between ubering, cheffing, counseling, diplomatic rationalizing and smashing the glass ceiling you may well be wiping wee off a toilet seat and mentally preparing a list of everything you NEED to do while pondering Marie Kondo and realising how many things are just NOT sparking your joy… Welcome, you are not alone!

According to research by Griffith University, many women struggle with being time poor and the demands of being a mother, the requirements of being an employee and “getting it all done.” No kidding. I mean, really? “IT ALL” is a broad term to throw into inverted commas people. C’mon already. We are amazing, we are warriors- tell us something we don’t know! But let’s be serious. It can be so hard.

Mother guilt can be heavier than a bag of bricks.

The old phrase “a woman’s work is never done” could not be more ‘en pointe in our western–i-can-do-it-all-because-bras-were-burned-for-me world. Life is busy. Busy women doing many things with as little mistakes as we can manage because the world is watching right?

So, as busy mums how do we lessen the burden and start living our best life? What is this magic that will give us more energy and propel us out of the world of Mombie and into the land of the living and being present?

Now we could sit here and tell you like everyone else to meditate the proverbial out of yourself, however, let’s keep it real. We are modern women with modern needs, and sometimes it’s the little things that put a smile on your face.

The Road For Hope Cancer Journey From Ponderings Magazine

1. DITCH THE GUILT

We are living in a time where women are waving the feminist flag with one hand and holding the washing basket in the other. The load on the mother has increased to include basically EVERYTHING! Working, childcare, home duties, meal prep, bikini waxes or if you are liberated- not- corporate takeovers, Bachelor Degrees in OMG I AM A MOTHER NOW WHEN AM I GOING TO SLEEP AGAIN- to hang on, I love this, this is WORTHY.  Oh and worming the dog.- don’t forget that. Are you Vegan and gluten intolerant or maybe your child has allergies? Put the whiskey down, its ok, we have more… point is- GUILT is too heavy an emotion, it holds a heavy vibration that will zap the energy you are already lacking. So give it a miss and send it on its way. Good vibes Mama, more of this in your life will do nicely.

2: Hire a cleaner!

Good thing I mentioned ditching the guilt first right?!  

Regardless of who does what in your abode, stats from Macquarie University tell us that in Australia 86% of women do the majority of the housework. Would you like some gender inequality with your smashed avo?

Hiring a cleaner may sound like a luxury for some- however, hiring a cleaner even once a fortnight to do the tasks you hate or don’t have time to do (insert scrubbing bathroom grout, the laundry pile, cleaning the oven) is a winner.  By outsourcing, you are giving yourself time to do less obligatory tasks and allow more meaningful moments. Take time for yourself, make memories with your kids (the fun ones!) and the job still gets done. Can’t afford it? Try and work it into your budget by ditching the lattes and takeouts- substituting things in your budget to make life easier may become your next best trick. $35 every two weeks for an hour of those jobs might be a life-changer.


planet spectrum

3. Organisation time

There is no way we can remember everything. Keep an electronic diary on your smartphone with alerts and reminders. Keeping track of events, library day, bills, appointments, due payments. It’s like having a free PA that reminds us of the important stuff. Have you checked out Google Personal Assistant? If not.. do this today!  If you make time to check your phone once a day, you won’t find yourself red-faced in the school car park- it is not Crazy Hair Day and your child is walking around the playground looking like Johnny Rotten.

4. Learn to say NO.

You don’t have to explain yourself to anybody. No is a lovely word when it is used in the right context and when it comes to you Mama, saying No sometimes can be your saving grace. It might be no to catching up, no to attending something, a party, or a favor. You and your children come first. There is a time in adulthood when we need to conserve our energy for the important things. Those moments are when we bravely decide to sidestep the “have to’s” and permit ourselves to opt out. And if you pause and think about it- who deserves the best of you? You. What you take from one bucket you give to another.

Everyone else can wait, and if they don’t understand that it might be time to rethink who your tribe is.

Leaderboard Ponderings Australia

5. Take 10 minutes.

When the kids are asleep, or entertained, take ten. Go outside, put your feet on the grass- adorn your head with headphones playing soothing music and thank yourself for being you. Yoga Nidra meditation is really awesome too. Or….if you wanted to you could put on your old Doc Martins and smash out some interpretive dance to Four Non-Blondes. Your own silent disco. Cool doesn’t have a used by date in your loungeroom.

We will leave you with our parting gift of advice: NETFLIX. Gorging pure escapism for the sake of sanity. We are talking Outlander, no limits, no judgment. Soulfood. Mr. Grey is a thing of the past- we’re talking kilts, rolling hills,  a thick Scottish accent, and a sporran. Did someone just say “Sassenach?”

 The O’Donnell Sisters
One is a celebrated author, mother, and teacher, the other is the black sheep and ratbag wordsmithing her way through life with gusto. Kate O’Donnell and her sister Kirsten can often be found reminiscing and talking women’s business over a peppermint tea (Kirsten’s is often laced with Gin) and knitting. Kate knits, Kirsten does not. Mind you Kate does play a mean steel six string guitar and loves a good Xavier Rudd concert. Her big sister loves popcorn, gardening, Hemingway, quantum physics and is quite partial to a pirouette. She is not certifiably crazy but on the quiet- she thinks she might be the OA.

Socks and Sandals To Help The Homeless

Underworks has partnered with the Salvation Army, who together are on a mission to provide socks...
Murder on the Dance Floor

Murder on the Dance Floor

Murder on the Dance Floor, by Kirsten Macdonald

There was a Greek man who had a way with words. Pre: warning this is a long one, so pull up a comfy chair and a beverage. It’s about to get real.

 

Anyway back to the Greek dude, he had this cool story about a Cave. It has challenged humans for hundreds of years and inspired them, like a never-ending piece of string. As an endearing Ogre once said, “there are layers.” For those that don’t know, here is the lowdown. We welcome Plato to Ponderings.

Blog space The Cave

There is a cave with three prisoners tied to the roof and cannot look at anything but the cave wall in front of them. They have been there since birth never seeing outside the cave.

 

Unbeknownst to them, behind them, there is a fire. Between the prisoners and the light of the fire is a walkway. People walk along this walkway with all sorts of objects as well as small animals etc., like dogs and rodents.

 

As the people walk past, their shadows projected onto the wall in front of the prisoners. Imagine if this were you- if you had never seen these people, objects or animals before you would believe that the shadows of these things are ‘real.’

Blog space The Road For Hope Cancer Journey From Ponderings Magazine

Blog space

The prisoners play a guessing game; each one guesses what they are seeing and give it a name. The best guess according to them becomes the holder of all answers to nature.

 

One day the chains holding one of the prisoners becomes brittle and breaks, the prisoner then escapes and leaves the cave.

 

Shocked by what he sees outside,  he does not believe it can be real.

 

As he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings, he ponders on if the shadows were real or if this world he sees is real. An intellectual journey ensues. He understands that his life in the cave was useless and the guessing game was pointless. He sees that the light is the source of life.

Blog space Ponderings Online Magazine Tanya Breen Art CreativeBlog space

The prisoner returns to the cave to tell the other prisoners of his findings. Instead of listening to his voice of reason, the other prisoners threaten him with violence and death if he tries to set them free.

Interesting…

2018 is coming to an end. There are susurrations in the world alluding to the breaking of chains. Can you sense it?

Let’s be honest here, looking into the light and stepping into the metaphoric sun could scorch your arse, who are we kidding? It is a bit of whoa and a whole lot of hanging onto your bums; this ride is going to be big. You in?

What if instead of making a New Year’s resolution you make a daily one?

What if each morning you choose to be very observant so when the opportunity to reflect and be inquisitive about life presents itself, you can take it, hold it in your hand as a gift or like a new species you haven’t witnessed before. You may have encountered it a million times but never noticed it had wings that could make it fly…

Stepping into a place of real propagates growth under its light and warmth. Hangups and resistance lose their weightedness, no longer of service, weakened like brittle bars on a cage.

If you experience the bars crackling away, it gives room for Joy to enter. Realization and Epiphany are her friends, and they are contagious. While Joy is lots of fun, Realization can be a hard taskmaster and Epiphany can be two-faced, gifting either inspiration or hurt.

In my experience, the next dip in the ride happens like clockwork: not everyone wants to catch the bug, like those folks still chained up.

Blog space

Blog space Some folks behave like you carry influenza of the philosopher kind and will kerchief their hearts and conversations quicker than a mortician during the black plague.

I am told by reliable sources with qualifications it is okay; it’s not you, it’s them. The chains are comfortable and aren’t disruptive. Disruption and change can unbalance and disturb people’s perception and equilibrium. In some cases, people can even act like asses. Asses come in all shapes and sizes. Passive aggressive is one that tickles my angry bone, outright agro is at least honest, patronizing or just wholly non-committal can be irritating otherwise known as Shruggers, or Whatevs. The clincher is when you were thinking you are out in the sunshine when you are in fact daydreaming while still chained up. There is no room for arrogance in life is there?

Perchance, you are in the company of awesome glimmering shiny people, and you are not in a cave but on a fabulous dance floor, losing yourself to the beat and the fun of movement, in the real sun, relishing the ride and excitement.

Some will smile and want to get on the dance floor with you and fly their freak flag too.

Some people will smile and wave with one hand while they throw rotten fruit with the other because deep down inside they want the connection, they wish to step onto the floor. Light and shade. It is the order of things.

 As much as you cry out the invitation to C’MON and grab their hands and beg them to dance with you, you cannot make them. You cannot push and shove people. You really must not. Maybe their ankles are sore, perhaps their tender heart is broken, and they need time to heal it so that when they step onto the dance floor, it is their decision and will feel proud of the steps they took. Not by being dragged up by you.

Have you experienced this? You try and drag people up, and they shuffle their feet for as long as is necessary then quickly retreat to the chair to talk to someone or get on with what they were doing. It’s a groovy disco for happy folks and enablers too lol. There are all types here.

Blog space planet spectrum

Blog space

Some will go and drink and pretend no one is dancing at all, and some will self-medicate as it is all just a bit too much and they have no idea how to even walk to the floor because they were told their whole lives they have no legs. Blog space Some will make their own cubby house under the table with their friends, tucked in and feeling calm and safe. Everyone in their own time. Maybe you get up in your best sparkly stilletos and twist your ankle because you were so busy farting rainbows you didn’t see the cracks in the floor. It happens. As the very wise author Gary Zukav says “We are at earth school you know, anything can happen.” See the video after this article- it’s worth watching.

 Perhaps your chains broke a long while ago and being in amongst the haste and hustle is wearing you down, leaving you enervated and midding. The world can be a wytai. Homesickness may kick in. Or you could sprain your ankle with your big sparkly platforms.

I happened upon a gem.  

 If you suddenly became aware this week that it is your last on this earthly plane- I can predict that you will not seek permission to do what you want, you will not hang on to old hurts as a reason for delay or resistance.

 You will quite possibly think about the things you haven’t done you wish you had. You may

think of the people you genuinely love the deepest and want to express it to them.  You will undoubtedly ponder about forgiveness and redemption. There will present a need for impulse and desire,  a flashover or two. You will feel more love than envy or hate.

Alternatively, the fear of failing to trust yourself will hit you in the face like a backyard cricket game gone wrong.

However, I do know this my friends; you will indeed get up walk to  the dance floor like a bug towards the light.

I have lived this and am blessed with good fortune to continue to be here in this wonderfully confusing place for what I hope and trust is much longer than what was anticipated. However, none of us ever really know do we?  Sometimes turning to the light means thinking about our mortality. Restless inner stirring within is an unfulfilled destiny seeking you out. Perpetual and timely.

 Listening to the music and understanding the rhythm of life in a new way with a realization that the DJ can play some pretty cool beats is not a bad place to be.

  PS- if you are can you bring ice? I twisted my ankle and my arse is on fire. x Kirst

 

 

 

 

Socks and Sandals To Help The Homeless

Underworks has partnered with the Salvation Army, who together are on a mission to provide socks...

Join our other 22,000+ Ponderers and discover the real stories and voices of us. Subscribe today and get your Free Copy.

 

 

  • You get a copy of Ponderings Magazine Anthology featuring the year's best stories and features delivered to your door.  

 

  • Weekly Discounts and Special Codes from our affiliated advertisers. Each article delivered to your Inbox exclusively. 

 

  • Access to Ponderings Radio- launching in August, with audio versions of our stories.

 

  • You support the publishing of free media and it's the best feeling being part of something with purpose. 

 

  • You become a member of a genuine community with rewards from those that believe in what we are doing. 

 

Get your free copy and all of this for $24.95 a year, YES PLEASE! 

 

 

Independent Media is critical; it means no large media giant is pulling our strings or dictating what we write. Ponderings provides an alternative to networked media, producing stories about issues of social justice and humanity; that might not otherwise be told. Some you will need no introduction and some you will be uplifted to find out about and be inspired by. This year, in particular, our lineup is going to delight and surprise you.

 

Yes I want to support Ponderings and subscribe

$24.95 AU per year


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