It has been difficult to write recently without making some reference to the level of anger being expressed in so many ways by so many people. In Australia we have the spectre of politicians expressing their anger by taking revenge on colleagues from their own political party in government, urged on by the increasingly vociferous attacks from the angry men who hold sway on some radio programs. These government leaders of our society, tasked with providing effective government, seem to have forgotten that it is best achieved by building relationships based on trust. This is certainly not achieved in an atmosphere of “threats, intimidation and bullying” as one female Cabinet Minister admitted publicly. The men call it “robust conversation”, but I wonder if they mean it the way Jim Killen and Fred Daly did? Sir James Killen was a member of the Liberal Party Government from 1955 to 1972 and again from 1975 to 1983. Fred Daly was a member of the Labor Party Government from 1972 to 1975, having been a member of Parliament since 1943. Both men had “robust conversations” many times in Parliament and in the media, but had so much respect for each other that Jim Killen wrote the preface to Fred Daly’s collection of political memoirs. I could not imagine Tony Abbott writing a similar preface for anything Malcolm Turnbull will write, and they are supposedly on the same side of the political fence?
There is a culture of anger based on frustration and fear in our society that needs to be understood. Anger cannot be denied, it is a normal part of the human condition, but it should be understood. To unleash anger in the name of improvement is the real problem. Anger, based on frustration and fear, denies the person confronting the opportunity to respond in a positive way. The only response to anger is more frustration, more fear, more anger. It builds a cycle of destruction that is the antithesis of trust, effective leadership and positive relationships. That is why the bullying, intimidation and threats that our leaders demonstrated as their preferred mode of achieving their goal in recent times is so disturbing. It destroys effective government, it does not provide it.
Last night on National Television, Alan Jones, the man who described himself as “very comfortable” with his “privileged position” that enabled him to “manipulate and paralyse our parliament”, as one questioner put it, advised one female Liberal Party member who had complained of bullying to “take a teaspoon full of cement and toughen up”. Alan has been a radio “shock-jock” in Sydney for many years and has built a reputation as being a leader of reactionary conservative views with his angry tirades against any alternative view to his own. He is one of many angry men who seem to have a hold on radio especially in Sydney. They use their anger to build an audience of frustrated people who resent changes and do not want to consider any reason to question. It is a view of the world that is too prevalent in this society of goal-oriented achievers who want to protect their place and position against any threat they perceive. That is the fear they base their anger on, that is reason we have a leadership of destroyers, not builders.
To build a positive future we need to accept and understand who we are and how we have got here. Only then can we hope to start the conversations that are so desperately needed to enable us to grow. I live in hope and offer this image for reflection. Peace.