Writer’s note: I wrote this not to advocate any position, or to say anything in particular. It’s simply a collection of observations, stories, hushed chats and whispers. There’s stories in here that aren’t my own, and it’s certainly not my intention to sound like I’m advocating a position. It’s in a minor key, it’s a bundle of observations and a collection of mumbles.
Bekka’s turning 18, coming of age, party at mum and dads. Scotty spins the tunes and dad throws up the fairy lights, mum caters to fill teenage stomachs – it’ll come up in the front paddock in a few hours anyway.
Mason’s got a new truck, lifted with an LED bar light to be seen from space. He’s the first to arrive at this festive event, and his country dimples cover valleys of insecurity. Cowboy hat bent at the front, ma and pa secretly hope he’d turn his eyes towards their Bek – if only they knew.
Stace, Maria and Bree tumble out of someone’s back seat, pre-loaded. Dressed to the nines, their heels sink into soft country soil, squealing with each squelch, their lives work to snob you off.
Jase makes an entrance, circle work in his beat up ute. The joker, always the laugh. Bekka’s beau, the half bottle of cheap bourbon held by it’s neck. He’s the joker, but she’s got a creeping suspicion the joke’s on him. 20 years old, on the same an hour, with no prospects of increase.
Family comes, smiles abound. Uncle Frank and Aunt Nina, there’s grandma and gramps. Cousins of all ages. Dad playfully grabs Danny in a headlock, trying to explain that his sodomite son is merely creative, like you can try to explain the gay away. Thanks dad, but they both grieve, unable to move past recent revelations.
Raye and Chrissy sit in the tray of Mason’s ute, necking cheap vodka straight from the bottle. He could have both in a heartbeat, but his sights are set on other targets, perhaps tonight he’ll pipe up the confidence to tell her.
Dwayne sings along to the country ditties, he’s unusually talented that way. Laughing off the compliments, he wonders how life might be different if not yoked with three generations of expectation breathing down his neck. Still, he hums along, wondering, even for a second, if things were different.
Kal, as everyone agrees, is classic wife material, the mother hen of the group. She chats CWA with mum, half an eye on Danny, blissfully unaware he’ll make no woman honest. She mistakes his compliments for flirting, and the thought crosses his mind that perhaps he could fake it, until he made it.
Speeches, and mum and dad praise their perfect Bekka. She spies Jase, he’s getting amorous with Raye, and way too close to his bourbon. She pats her tummy – a week late, and she wonders how daddy will react if she breaks the news to him.
And the party continues, and the fire crackles. They all continue to live their lives together, all in secret.
Picture from https://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fuploaded_images%2F108685-Bonfire-Party.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fimage%2F108685%2Fbonfire-party&docid=2BomfXY3f8L2kM&tbnid=ahC-QHXakHIw-M%3A&vet=1&w=500&h=332&bih=708&biw=1517&q=teenagers%20party%20bonfire&ved=0ahUKEwiY4ePVj7_SAhVrrFQKHcKHDpgQMwhFKCMwIw&iact=mrc&uact=8#h=332&imgrc=ahC-QHXakHIw-M:&vet=1&w=500
I expect this post will raise the ire of some of my more conservative readers, and perhaps generate some debate.
First up, I’m not going to debate the morality of people who have same-sex attraction, neither am I going to delve into the alphabet of sexual identities.
Same-sex parenting was again brought to the forefront of the media recently with iconic Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana expressing that there is only one family – a man, a woman and children. Elton John quickly expressed outrage over these comments, as did many progressive commentators.
The debate about Same-Sex couples revolves around ideas such as: should be able to adopt, utilise IVF and have the same legal rights as ‘traditional’ parents. It focuses on equal rights for all. I totally get this. One of the prevailing arguments used by supporters of Same-Sex couples having children is that Same-Sex couples make just as good parents. I’ve got no doubt on the parenting ability of Same-Sex couples, the love they can provide their children and the resources, time and emotional energy they so evidently give their children.
There is a risk, at this point, to refer to the recent story of a Same-Sex couple here in Australia that adopted a dear child and did unspeakable crimes to him, then use this story as an argument against Same-Sex parenting. Sadly, and disgustingly, child abuse favors no sexual orientation, belief system or set of ideals. It is an insidious crime that should not be tolerated in any situation.
It would be naive to think that legislation will stop or encourage Same-Sex parenting – certainly not in a Western democracy. Indeed, ISIS are taking a more hardline approach to homosexuality, and, as a side note, I often wonder why ‘progressives’ stand up for this evil ideology. You don’t need a science degree to figure out how babies are made. I don’t want to sound crass, but it isn’t particularly hard for Same-Sex parents to find a kindred couple (or individual) to donate sperm or a womb to produce a baby. There are still legalities involved, but to put it pragmatically, if a Same-Sex couple wanted to have a family, the ‘mechanics’ of it really isn’t that hard.
My views of Same-Sex marriage and parenting have changed somewhat over the years. Some have argued that permitting Same-Sex marriage and parenting is a slippery slope to all kinds of depravity. Truly, I think the depravity has been there since day dot. It’s just out in the open now. If a couple, regardless of sexual identity wants to marry, I have to be honest – it really does not impact me. Same as Same-Sex couples that want to have children. Does it really impact me? Honestly – no.
Here’s what I do think, however. I’ve written before on how my dad died when I was 6. I’m blessed to have a wonderful, loving mum and to have a step-dad that I love, respect and honour. He’s been a real rock for me in many times of woe. Here’s the rub, for me at least. As great as my step-dad is, there’s a part of me that longs to see my dad again. To share my life with, to laugh, love and be with.
Children of Same-Sex relationships, I’m sure, grow up to be happy, stable, productive members of society. I can’t help think, however, that a child misses out by not knowing their mum or dad, like a hole in their heart, that despite how much love, attention, support and goodness they get from other sources, still has a biological-parent shaped hole that they want filled.
There are people that I love, respect and worship with that are ardently against Same-Sex marriage and parenting. I understand their arguments, passions, thoughts and feelings. Honestly, I don’t begrudge them either. I expect they may take exception to what I’ve written.
Personally, I believe that the optimal way of ‘doing family’ is a child having married hetro-sexual parents, living together, working towards a shared set of values who invest in their marriage and their children. Anyone who has been in any type of relationship knows that a long term, committed relationship is hard yakka. Really hard. You don’t need to look far to see the terrible impacts of broken families.
I’ve found when you attack an idea, a person, or a way of life, it seems to galvanize those who you attack. You only need to look at the likes of Fred Nile – his stance against Same-Sex marriage seems to have strengthened his opponents. If you believe that your way of life is the optimal way – the ideal, shouldn’t the results speak for themselves?
Supporters of traditional marriage should be selling the benefits of marriage, not attacking detractors of it. Let your marriage and family be an example of love, grace, support and shared values, not a platform for condemnation. Oscar Wilde once said “Wickedness is the name we give to the curious attractiveness of others”. Certainly, demonizing a particular way of doing marriage and parenting will only support the curious attractiveness of it, not prevent it.
I’ve said before that you can’t legislate against an idea, ideology or opinion. You can legislate against a behavior (with limited success), but not ideas.
Family is one of the most important things in the world – I think we can all agree on that. If you think and believe that you have the ‘best’ way of doing family, be an example in your community. Not as a ‘holier than thou’ Flanders type family, but a real family. Get alongside families (of any colour, shape or description) in your community and support them in love. Be a family that includes, not excludes. Be a family that loves, not loathes. Be a family that shines light, not casts darkness.
I suspect that it is only a matter of time before there is no legal impediments for Same-Sex couples to marry and have children. You can sign petitions, write letters, like Facebook pages, but honestly, I suspect that it’s not going to make a whole lot of difference. Here’s where you can make a difference – with the people you work with. Your neighbors. The families at school. The individuals. As far as I know, there’s no law against being the best example of the family model you believe in – warts and all.
Marriage, family and parenting is hard. There’s always going to be people that do it in REALLY different ways to you – ways you probably won’t agree with. I’m a true believer that kindness wins over judgement any day. I truly believe that if you model, in love, what you believe is the optimal type of family, people will be drawn to it, not repelled by it. Love draws in, not casts away. Everyone is on their own journey – if you believe in God and believe his ways are right and true, his Holy Spirit will guide you, and those around you, to holiness. Pray for the families in your community, for the strength to love them in a way that they need.
Be the light in your communities. Be the best family – the family that loves, supports, guides. The family that’s honest in it’s struggles and open with it’s triumphs.
That will influence your community more than any legislation can.
Pic from http://cdn04.cdn.justjared.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/john-fam/elton-john-david-furniss-family-trip-with-zachary-elijah-03.jpg
My Pop often recalls a story of his younger years, when he joined the Air Force. Before enlisting, his Sunday School teacher gave him some sage advice. He told my Pop:
“Roy, nail your colours to the pole, and fly them high”
His Sunday School teacher was encouraging my Pop to stand fast to his faith, his morality, his beliefs. On the first night in training, surrounded by all his new mates, my Pop knelt by his bed, closed his eyes and prayed. To this day, he tells me he honestly can’t remember what he prayed for – he just prayed!
His daily prayers continued through training, his comrades got used to this routine and would respect my Pop for nailing his colours to the pole, and flying them high. In fact, one day one of his superiors was giving him a bit of stick for his faith and praying – to which his mates gathered around him and told the superior to back off!
“Nail your colours to the pole, and fly them high”.
Why do I tell this anecdote?
I read in todays local rag that our Council will be flying the Rainbow Flag on top of the City Council building. For the un-initiated, the Rainbow Flag is a calling point for Gay, Lesbian, Queer, Transexual, Bisexual (essentially, non-hetrosexual) people. This lobby have ‘pressured’ the Council to fly this flag on the Council building to mark International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. The story tells that our Lord Mayor resisted similar calls last year, but has relented this year.
I believe a city, a state and a nation should rally around the flag. It should be a unifying point. A rallying point.
Here me out – this blog isn’t against any particular sexual identity, it’s not a stand against tolerance or understanding. I’m not anti-inclusiveness.
Here in Australia, specifically New South Wales and Queensland, we have a ‘State of Origin’ football match. Traditionally, the losing state flies the winning states flag on either the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Story Bridge for a day after the final game. It’s a bit of fun, it shows friendly rivalry and lumps a heap of shame upon the losing team!
When an army invades territory, it plants a flag, indicating the territory has been overtaken. We are seeing this almost every day in the Middle East, with the evil empire ISIS stomping across that barren land.
When I see any group (a sexual identity, a religious group, a group of supposed victims) fly their flag on a Government building, the flag that is flying becomes a point of division, not a point of unity.
It tells me that, in this case, the Government is NOT nailing their own colours to the pole and they are NOT flying them high. It’s siding with a particular group, a particular cause, a particular people – not the whole electorate they have sworn to represent.
You might not ‘agree’ with the Flag. Our own Australian flag holds the insignia of the United Kingdom. Many terrible things have happened under our flag, but many great things have happened, too.
I don’t often agree with the decisions our government makes (from both sides of the spectrum), but I do believe in Australia. I believe in Queensland (the Promised Land!!). I love Brisbane. But I’m proud that our Government buildings fly their respective flags. You might scoff, but the Government is responsible for the decisions it makes under the flag. Are ‘designated victim groups’ responsible for Government decisions made in Government buildings? Not on your nelly!
This silly business of flying the Rainbow Flag on a Government Building does not promote a cause. It promotes a victim mentality and waves a flag of exclusiveness, not inclusiveness. A cause may be noble and good, but it’s no excuse to fly an alternative flag on a Government building.
It might start with a Rainbow Flag, but when will the next ‘designated victim group’ want to fly their flag on our Government buildings?
In Australia, we still have some free speech available. If you want to fly a Rainbow Flag (or an ISIS Flag, or a Swastika, or a foreign national flag), you’re free to do that on your own. Push your own barrel.
Don’t waste my Governments time on ‘symbolic’ gestures, wasting resources on your own cause.
I’m proud of my country, my state and my cities flag. That’s the only one I want flying on my Government buildings. I want it flying high, and I want it flying proud.
One of the joys of lego is creating. Building up. Making new adventures. If you’ve read my blog before, this isn’t the first time I’ve talked about lego.
Recently, we had friends over and the children played with the Lego. Through the play, it was evident that they were not building up. They were tearing down. In fact, they had taken all the tires of the wheels and broken most of the already made models. They took joy in tearing down, not building up.
Needless to say, I was very upset.
Any child who builds lego will attest to the joy in creating the model. Of following the instructions and seeing a mess of colorful blocks turn out to be a building, a space-ship, a school or truck. Sometimes hours are spent building a model, each intricate piece added to the ever-evolving model.
Often, once a model is built, it is just admired. It might be put on a shelf or cabinet and just admired. It just seems so – special, especially if it is the first model your child has built.
Over time, the model is played with. It is very carefully taken off the shelf, enjoyed, taken pride over. Sometimes a piece here or there will break off, and it is carefully restored.
As it happens with lego, it does end up breaking in some way. I have a box of lego at my parents, some of it is over twenty years old. Absolutely none of the original models stand – now each time that lego is brought out, it’s a new adventure.
The joy is still in the building up. Finding the perfect piece to make the castle, the speedboat or the stable. Pouring over thousands of pieces for that one very bit that will build up the model.
You see, building up lego is like building up a soul. It’s like building up a person. It takes time. It takes patience, but once you’ve built something up, it is beautiful to behold. Have you ever seen a family who invests time, energy and love into each other? It is a beautiful thing to behold. Each family member is invested in building each other up, and it shows.
Even the best person goes through rough times. You could even argue the reverse – rough times can build wonderful people. I know in my own life, some of the people that have impacted me the most are those who have faced terrible adversity are the most interesting, strong, amazing people.
Like lego, the soul can be destroyed in an instant. A model can be smashed on the ground, treated roughly, have bits broken off it. A soul can be mishandled, bruised, even smashed. Harsh words, abuse, neglect, cruelty can all smash a soul. I can have a box of smashed lego. Guess what happens to it? Nothing. It stays broken. It stays smashed, incomplete, unusable, un-enjoyable. What can be done with a box of smashed lego, especially if you no longer have the instructions? You could leave it broken, or you could create something new, something beautiful.
Unlike a box of smashed lego, we can choose to restore our soul. We can find the broken pieces of our heart, scattered at the bottom of a box and create something new. It will never be the same as the original. The thing with lego boxes, and with life, is you pick up new things. Now, I’m speaking as a boy here but your medieval castle can have a moat complete with jet-powered speedboats and friggin’ lazers to obliterate the enemy, unlike the crappy cannons they original castle had.
Look around you. Everyone around you will have a broken soul. Everyone carries around disappointments, brokenness, hurts and pain. Everyone, including you, needs the lego model of a soul re-built.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to use your words, your actions and your intent to break someones soul, or are you going to be one that sees the brokeness in others and looks to help put some pieces back? Are you going to use your words and your actions to add friggin’ lazers to their castle, or are you going to pull the tires off their broken wheels?
There was a lot of hoo-haa last week after Julie Bishop’s Press Club address where she declared that she wasn’t a feminist. A (predictable) chorus of feminist voices went on the attack against Bishop, venting their anger that she was a feminist, she wasn’t a feminist, she isn’t a real woman, she only got where she is because she does not have kids blah blah blah.
A similar voice has been heard recently in America with the mid-term elections, where at least two (that I know of) black Republican senators were voted into power in traditionally ‘white’ or ‘Southern’ electorates. When quizzed about how they felt about being voted in as ‘black’ senators, they both responded that their electorates did not vote them in because of their colour. They were voted in because of policy, hard work and pragmatism. I’m sure pundits could argue both ways on those claims – the interesting thing is how both these candidates focused on a Martin Luther approach, rather than the vouge affirmative action approach.
Julie Bishop, Mia Love and Tim Scott (the latter two were the abovementioned senators) all have detractors seeming to sing from the same songbook. Whilst Bishop does not sing from the Feminist songbook, or Love and Scott aren’t promoting the politics of race, their detractors argue that they are still feminist and benefiting from affirmative action, because of all the hard work that feminists and race politics have done before them.
I don’t want to detract from the inarguable fact that, and quoting Luther King, all men (and women!) are created equal. I’m not hear to argue that men or women or blacks or Asians or Arabs or Jews or Aussies or anyone can or can’t do a particular job, follow a particular role or identify how they wish. Hard work, discipline and nous is the key to success.
What I am saying is we have all benefited from the hard work the suffragettes did. Why women didn’t have the vote earlier is anyone’s guess. We are all better off from early Australian migration (and the abolition of the White Australia Policy), which saw an influx of New Australians, eager build this great nation of ours. Does it mean I identify as a feminist, because I have benefitted from early feminist victories?
If we follow this logic, as applied by these critics of Bishop, we should all be Christians. And Socialists. And Capitalists. And Constitutional Monarchists. I could go on. Why? I have benefitted from subsidised health care and education, but I’m not a socialist. We have benefited from the Westminster system, even if you loathe the British monarchy. We have benefitted from a Judeo-Christian heritage (despite many rumblings), even though many do not identify as a Christian.
We’ve all benefitted from something in our past that we really have no control over – wealthy parents, where we were born, the country we live in, a stable democracy. We have also been disadvantaged buy things out of our control – war, monetary policy, natural disasters. We don’t go around calling ourselves a GFC or a flood, even though we’ve been affected by it.
Like I said above, I’m no feminist, even though I’ve benefitted from some of the early wins feminists have fought for. Guess what women – working a full week can be pretty crapola, right? But you wanted it and you’ve got it.
So if someone does not want to identify according to your pre-set mould of them, leave them alone. No one likes being put into a box or defined by a set of rules. As Luther King so amazingly said “Let us not be defined by the colour of our skin, but by the content of our character”.
Surely that trumps any ‘ism’ any day.
I was going to write about the perils of mixed-race neighbourhoods, but my Facebook friends implored me to write about something more light-hearted.
So here it is.
The Vidins Guide to IKEA.
So your wife suggests a trip and a browse through IKEA, just to get ideas. ‘How bad can it be’ you hear yourself say.
Well you cruise down the highway in your moderately priced yet safe family car and manage to miss the turnoff, driving right past the ghastly yellow and blue temple of capitalism. You lie to your wife about knowing the right way and you eventually make it.
Then you battle the carpark. So many cars. So many people pushing those oversized trolleys with oversized flat-packs. So many women in high-heels trying to navigate a heavy trolley through the carpark. ‘Suckers’ you say to yourself.
So you wait patiently for the Volvo driver to do a 500 point turn out of his car-park. Looking at the pylon, you mentally note your in carpark aisle ZZZ. Pretty much the furthest away from the door, but it does not matter, ’cause you’re just there to browse and you won’t be trying to push any of those trolleys to your car.
It turns out you forgot the pram and your youngest suddenly gets a case of IKEAitis, where tantrums in the middle of the road seem like a great idea. You get stroppy at your youngest. Your wife gets stroppy at you. You get stroppy at everyone. At least you won’t need to buy anything. Just a quick walk through, 5 minutes tops.
After finding the actual entrance, which is about a kilometre away from your car, you notice the lines. The people. So many people. Why are there so many people? Why are they all lining up?
Sensory overload hits quickly. Why do all the staff look like jockeys with those yellow-and-blue striped shirts? And have you noticed that even the slimmest IKEA girl seems to have a fat bottom in those IKEA blue pants? That’s totally just a casual observation, not an admission of perving.
So many people. What are they looking at? People, just looking at things. It’s all furniture. Just looking at things. Using those Keno pencils. What are they writing? Maybe ‘if I’m found, I’m lost. Please call (number)’.
You hear music. It sounds like rap music. Or is it ‘Sound of Music’? And that kid who keeps on crying. Where are the parents? Why is that kid crying? It seems to go wherever you go. Where are the parents? So noisy. You realise it’s your kid. It could be you, actually.
Yellow signs everywhere. Red tags. Furniture. Every room looks like the last one. Why do all the rooms fit into a 50m2 house? I don’t have a 50m2 shoebox house. I have a family house. I don’t need the kitchen to be a laundry and the dining table to convert into a bedroom with space-saving innovative ideas and retro-inspired yet functional décor. So many yellow signs. What are those people writing down with those little pencils?
Boys holding hands with boys. Girls holding hands with girls. Yellow signs. Are they playing Outcast again? I thought Scandinavians were white. Why are they playing black man music? So confusing. Oh that guy over there looks terrible. He’s got some screaming kid on his shoulders. I think his eardrum is bleeding. Why is that kid screaming? You realise you are looking into a mirror.
Why is that 50 year old guy wearing Chucks? Isn’t he too old for those shoes? Why are there arrows on the floor? Am I being herded into some type of human sorting yard? Haven’t I just seen those cabinets? Am I walking around in circles? Where’s the exit? Why does that sign in the sky say ‘shortcut’? Shortcut to where? The seventh circle of hell?
“What do you mean, good value?” you question your wife. Why is she writing something on that paper? Why all those numbers? You already have your wife’s number. What is she asking that slim-yet-fat-bottomed IKEA girl? “What will fit in well with what?” you ask your wife.
It’s so bright. There are so many people. Things. Arrows on the floor. Little pencils. Will you get out alive?
Why are you suddenly pushing a trolley? Why are you helping that lady get those flat packs off the rack? Why is she smiling at you? Everyone seems smiling. Except the dads. They don’t seem to happy. You realise the lady you are helping with the flat packs is your wife. Why do you have all these boxes?
Something catches your eye. Hot dogs for $1. Hungry. You get three ‘dollar dogs’ to eat and two more for the road. So much hot dog. Why does the sauce dispenser look like a penis? Why are all the boys holding boys hands smiling at me when I squeeze the sauce? I just want a couple o’ hot dogs. I’d never get this in Bunnings. They’d never let that type in. You can have a sausage roll in peace there. Now I know how girls feel when they’ve been perved on. I felt cheap. Over hot-dogs. Is it too much to ask for some peace while I eat a couple o’ dollar dogs? The sauce comes out too quickly. Did I pour the sauce too quickly? Did I squeeze the penis-shaped sauce bottle too hard? It’s all so confusing. Bright lights. Yellow signs.
The car-park is on an angle. Who designs car-parks like this? The trolley wants to move with gravity. I thought IKEA was all about convenience. Maybe Asians designed the car-park. So difficult. Your trolley seems to be diametrically opposed to going forward. ‘Just wedge it in there’ your wife beacons you to ‘wedge’ the trolley in-between your car and the pylon.
‘Just angle it more’ she says, pointing to the flat-pack you are trying to fit into your car.
The nice man in the Volvo politely beeps his horn and encourages you to hurry up and reverse your car. Why has the car-park gotten so much smaller? You can’t see out your rear-view mirror cause it’s chocked full of flat-packs. Why is that guy beeping? So many cars. So many people. Girls pushing heavy trolleys, trying to get big flat-packs into small cars. So confusing.
‘What’s wrong?’ your wife asks. Now you know how those guys feel at Guantanamo Bay. Bamboozled. So many people. You realise she’s beaming. Why is she beaming?
You get home. You realise you have to make the flat-pack furniture. You realise that five dollar dogs perhaps wasn’t a good idea. Why are there so many flat-packs?
Image from http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&docid=WAEP_FORt9CyvM&tbnid=uMdiXm14nKsqSM:&ved=0CAEQjxw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bse.com.au%2Fprojects%2Fikea%2F&ei=Hx-5U6W_Ms2JkQXGh4HgBw&bvm=bv.70138588,d.dGI&psig=AFQjCNEr-rU1Q69JV9wClbthEpftkQ0AFg&ust=1404727442481264