Lest we forget the cost of war / Northern Rivers Echo, 23rd April 2015
Anzac Day is important. It’s important because it gives Australia a chance to come to terms with the terrible cost of war. This cost, we now know, is not financial in nature so much as physical or emotional – yet it leaves a deficit nonetheless that lasts a long time.
One hundred years on from the landings at Gallipoli, Australians still struggle with this tragedy – a disaster that cost the lives of many thousands on both sides.
Some of us exhibit a misplaced pride in a relative who served, trying desperately to find a positive side to their death. They were brave and daring. They were loyal to an ideal, even though that ideal seems ridiculous now.
So overwhelming is their sense of loss and sadness that some Australians reach for whatever offers comfort – whatever gives meaning to the insanity of war. But war is insane and its result is always outweighed a thousandfold by the pain it inflicts.
In their desire to support the memory of a loved one, some Australians risk making war a noble cause. They believe the Anzac tradition should inspire military service, as if following in the footsteps of our forebears will somehow make amends. As if by mythologising our history, that war will somehow make sense.
But it doesn’t.
The pain of war is our lesson. It is the thing we are meant NOT to forget. It is the mistake we are meant NOT to repeat.
The lesson of war is that life is the greatest sacrifice – the sacrifice of all we might have been and all we might have given to others had we placed a greater value on peace.
R J Poole
The human spirit shows its strength / Northern Rivers Echo, November 6th 2014
Refreshing Rally / Nimbin Good Times, November 2014
In my darker moments, I imagine fear is stronger than love. I imagine greed will always triumph over generosity and compassion. Yet thankfully, something always reinvigorates my faith in the human spirit.
On Saturday 1st November I attended the public rally in Lismore to keep our region free of invasive gas mining. The hollow of Riverside Park was filled to overflowing with people who care enough about our environment to mass in great numbers. People who feel they have to shout to be heard!
Looking out across the crowd, I wondered – ‘how big does something have to be, how many people have to gather and how passionately must we express ourselves before our political representatives do just that – represent us?
The popular opposition to invasive gas mining has exposed a number of things. One of which is a corrupt political system that is indistinguishable from the large industrial forces it represents. Our politicians are interchangeable with big business because they are commonly the same person!
Yet, the opposition to the mining industry has also revealed something of the wider Australian community. Deep in our collective hearts we love this land. Inside of us lives an attachment to this place that is real and palpable. And we are overwhelmingly opposed to invasive gas mining.
Standing at the rally in Lismore, I saw a lot of people who don’t want their health, or the health of their children to be exchanged for profit. I saw the human spirit moving and knew that love will triumph.
R J Poole
Keep up with the world / Northern Rivers Echo, November 20th 2014
We live in strange times. The big picture is changing. It always has been of course and yet presently, it seems to be slipping a little more noticeably.
The world’s climate is moving into one of its grand historic cycles, only this time it is balancing seven billion humans. The impact of human activity on this planet has been a problem for centuries and while we argue over the extent of this impact, the same problem continues unabated.
Countries across the globe are turning increasingly to renewable energy sources. Alternatives are being sort to the tradition of burning fossil fuels. Whatever the extent of climate change, there’s a move towards something smarter, more sustainable.
Generating your own power rather than burning vast quantities of coal makes sense. This is precisely what China, India, Germany and many others are moving towards. So where does this leave Australia’s reliance on coal for both our power and a source of income?
Failing to see the writing on the wall about renewables, could be one of those grand historic clangers that has Australia choosing Beta instead of VHS, or hydrogen filled airships in preference to aircraft. Or trashing our environment for a gas export that no-one will want!
It’s ironic that a sunburnt country looks to the ground for answers, rather than the sky above, but I did say we live in strange times!
R J Poole
Net sum of knowledge / Northern Rivers Echo, November 27th 2014
Never underestimate the power of denial.
The Information Age has delivered many benefits. It’s provided access to previously unimaginable amounts of information. It’s given anyone with an internet connection a useful reference to almost any subject.
Yet the information boom has a down side.
Having a wealth of information at their fingertips has encouraged some to imagine that everything they Google is completely accurate. Unfortunately, the increase in information has been accompanied by a disproportionate increase in misinformation. Sites and blogs written by people with no formal training or experience in the subjects they discuss, have spawned a sub-culture of armchair experts.
This sub-culture believes they know as much, or more than anyone else because the internet provides this knowledge. Believing they know ‘the’ truth appears to provide many with a sense of empowerment that helps balance a deep mistrust of authority – including the science community. Consequently, opinions and images are circulated with no regard for their origin or veracity to create a virtual world within a world.
We all need emotional security and a sense of empowerment. Yet imagining the web provides a substitute for a lived experience, or a life-long career in science would be a mistake. Our need to feel empowered should never blind us to this, or cause us to deny the collective understanding science offers.
As much as we want to believe in ourselves and our ability to achieve anything, true wisdom is about owning what we can and cannot learn through a phone line.
R J Poole