On Thursday morning I popped out to do a bit of shopping and ran into a friend. I have known him a long time – more than 30 years and he is a mild mannered and generally fairly quiet man. We said hello and I asked how he was going, expecting our usual mid shopping centre light chat before moving on for my coffee. But, I was surprised when he stopped, looked me dead in the eye, threw his arms in the air and said ‘I’m just so angry about the budget.’
This started a long conversation about the contents of the budget, our social philosophies (we agreed on some things, disagreed on others) and where we would like to see the country going. We talked passionately, unaware of what was going on around us, deep in thought and contemplation over what has happened to the country and what may be yet to come.
I must confess I walked away quite invigorated. I have never spoken with this friend in this way before. We usually talk kids and life and light stuff. And it made me wonder if perhaps this would be one of the more positive outcomes in this changing country of ours. I wonder if it will cause more of us to engage in our community and its politics, to really understand what is going on, what community leaders and politicians are planning, to be part of the discussion.
I remember watching Q&A a few weeks ago when the students protested. I will freely admit that it annoyed the cr*p out of me. Not the idea of protest, but the way it was done. Ask questions, have your voice heard. Don’t just interrupt for the sake of interrupting. Tell us what you think of wrong and how you think it can be fixed, in real terms.
Will this budget make us more engaged as a Nation? I say that knowing that the majority of Rioters are already pretty d*mn engaged, but for those of us out there (like me) who used to fill conversations with general ‘chit chat’, will the tone of those discussions now change?
I hope so. I really hope this gives us the very positive outcome of people being more aware of what is going on, better ‘versed’ in the process, more interested, more vocal – not just to complain but to stand up and say ‘I disagree, and this is what I’m going to do to change it.’
Maybe it’s time for us all to take a more proactive stance in our politics. I don’t mean to get people into the streets, but to meetings, have their opinions tabled, join political parties or start their own discussions. Or, merely have a meaningful conversation with an old friend to get that thinking happening. It’s good for the soul.