Well, hands up who thinks 2019 sucks?
There are some years that you struggle to comprehend how so many people could have had a bad year. But with bushfires encompassing so much of Australia, drought and economic downturn, it is hard to imagine too many people who might have had a great year. I hope someone has.
There’s a strange feeling in Australia right now. We have always been ‘the lucky country’. Right now, it doesn’t feel like it. Across Facebook pages there is frustration and angst. Anger with politicians who are perceived as ‘doing nothing’ or having no empathy.
And yet, we can’t agree on what to do. Mention climate change anywhere and people are polarised in their opinions – either 100% in or 100% out. I’m not even going to go there, because that’s not what this is about.
I think the thing with a new year, is that it brings hope. New beginnings, the promise of something better. And right now I think that is what we need. The promise of something better.
We can’t control the weather, unfortunately. We can control the support we give each other, and the support we give to our leaders. People are desperately looking for strong, empathetic leadership right now, and it is there, but maybe not where we would like it to be. It is in the volunteers who are fighting these fires, it is in the community members who band together to ensure their community recovers from these disasters – whether they are drought or fires or something else. It is in the small number of politicians who are there for the right reason, and who will quietly get things done when the cameras are not there.
The reality is, there are so many people in our communities who are hurting right now, so many people who are angry and I know it feels like we are powerless. I know because I feel the same way.
So, what is it that is needed (other than rain, which lets face it would solve a multitude of problems right now)? Additional funding and whatever support is needed for the volunteer firefighters? Some empathy for people who are affected? The declaration of a national emergency? Additional funding for people who have lost their homes and loved ones (trust me, very little actual money goes directly from government to people who have lost their homes and don’t tell me ‘they should be insured’ – most probably are but it can take months, if the claim is approved – this in itself needs an inquiry)?
I don’t have the answers, I’m not an expert in anything and I’m only one person. But as a nation, it feels like we are collectively in a state of high stress. A couple of people have said the last few months, since the bushfires came through Canungra and Beechmont, our community has experienced something like ‘battle fatigue’. There is constant fear – where is the next one coming from? And the news coverage of fires across the country means that you can’t escape it, even to give yourself a chance to regroup.
What is the point of this post? I’m not sure, I want to give some hope. I want to say there are good people out there – because I know there are. I want to say, hold on to that thought, and the thought that each day we are one day closer to rain.
And to our political leaders, right to the top, I want to say: look at who you are and where you are right now. Look at the desperation in the communities and think – is this what you want to be remembered for?
Then do something about it.