PC #97 – Politics & Religion

My mother told me I should never talk about politics and religion in polite company.

Is this blog polite company? Ha ha – sometimes I wonder!

Tonight in this country we’ll soon know who has won the next Federal election. At this stage, before polling closes, it looks like there will be a change of Government – from the Labour Party (social democrats) to the Liberal Coalition – the conservatives.

I don’t wish to discuss politics as such – but I have to say I am dismayed at the lack of personal integrity of all our major heads of state. I’m not sure if I’ve become too cynical with my shifting from being a young person to an old person (having just turned 60), however I see time and again politicians of all persuasions openly tell lies to gain and hold onto power.

Am I being too naive to expect honesty and integrity from the people we vote to lead us?

Who is there now for young people to respect?

Our sporting heroes get drunk, rape women, and set fire to dwarves. Our business leaders pay 1% tax and use clever highly paid accountants to find tax havens to avoid their responsibilities, while nine-to-five workers have to pay 40% tax and more. Our church leaders protect pedophiles.

Who is there to respect?

There is a small political party here in Australia called The Greens. The Greens advocate the protection of the environment, and embrace policies that are based on ethics and morals. The press and media laugh at them. They call them Marxists on bicycles.

They got my vote.

Greens-Logo images images-1



42 thoughts on “PC #97 – Politics & Religion

  1. I too – living in Canada, was dismayed to hear the election results from Australia.
    I too like the Green Party here – we have one member in Parliament, and I heard her on the radio this morning, speaking about an issue, and echoing my views. When I hear our PM, a conservative – Steven Harper – I have to hold my tongue, or I would go rabid with anger and disgust at his attitudes toward anyone who is not as privileged as he is.
    Sigh – I prefer the head in the sand approach most of the time, because it is so hard to listen to people whose perspective I can’t embrace.
    That’s one of the reasons I love pilgrims, and surround myself with them even at home. We focus on a larger issue – our hopes and dreams for the Camino, and living our best lives in the meantime.



    • Hi Darlene,

      Is this the first time you’ve written in the blog? If so, welcome! If you’ve written here before though, please excuse my failing memory. I recently turned 60 and everything’s been downhill ever since!


      Yes, I’ve woken up to a conservative government here in Australia. A substantial mandate. I’m not sure if I’m being cynical when I say this, but I feel there’s not much difference in the politcal parties anymore.

      The social democrats seem to adopt conservative policies, and the conservatives seem to adopt social democratic policies. There seems to have been a blurring of the political spectrum, and parties aren’t defined so much by their ideologies anymore – but on platforms that will get them elected dictated by the latest opinion polls.

      People tell me I waste my vote when I vote for the Greens, because they can’t affect any change – they are not a major political party. However I noticed one Greens candidate got elected into the lower house with a swing of 10% towards him, in the seat of Melbourne, and the Greens might hold the balance of power in the Senate.

      Anyway, at least I feel I voted for a party that has a strong ideology, and that makes me feel good.


      • Thanks for responding – I posted while you were walking, hoping that you would stay at Refugio Guacelmo, where I worked as a volunteer from Sept 15 to Oct 1 last year. My blog is http://www.caminowanderings.blogspot.ca
        I read all your posts, but time on the computer is limited, and I find my views often expressed by other of your readers.
        Keep stirring the pot – I am a vicarious pilgrim at the moment, but will return next spring.


  2. Oi, mate! Ever consider that one of these days you’re going to “throw a bomb” so big that you cannot get out of the damage zone?

    I think it was Mark Twain who wrote something to the effect that if voting did any good it would be illegal. Mencken mirrored this with a comment that any decent person is embarrassed by his government. These fellows were making these observations a century ago, more or less.

    No argument here with your assessment of the moral/intellectual character of our “leaders”. There appears to be a standard level of psychopathy across the governments of the entire world and that is the truly scary part. When the mathematically insupportable past promises come due, it hard to see what other result can come about but serial implosions of economies. (Name me a single Western country that is not actually bankrupt.)

    The interesting question is whether the knock-on is “Mad Max” or self-organizing communities of inter-dependent and respectful contributors. Perhaps our common Camino experience suggests that, despite our individual flaws, we have a high capacity to genuinely care for and look out for each other – – no “leaders”, “initiatives” or “programs” required. So I am betting on the brighter outcome after some period of pain.

    In the meantime, why waste time, energy and expectations on an undeserving system?

    Start the world you wish to live in right where you are. Get some control over the food that you eat. Look to your own health. Be of service to those you know rather than via some “known” charity with high overhead.

    And, if someone asks “What the hell is the matter with you?” you can tell them that you are practicing gentle radicalism.



    • Hey Brendan,

      Haha – I like to live dangerously, as is no doubt apparent to some here!

      I was feeling a little dark last night when I wrote that post.

      Of course not all political leaders operate from a position of self interest, not all corporate heads are tax avoiders, not all footballers are drunken rapists (and dwarf burners), and not all church leaders try to protect miscreants within their ranks.

      But I stand by the thrust of my statement – it’s hard to find someone to respect anymore.

      That’s why I love the Camino. I respect anyone who walks it. And I respect anyone who TRIES to walk it too.



      • Dear Bill,

        Okay… I’m a little bit high from paint thinner fumes as I am working on painting and winterizing at the moment but I believe that I am still capable of deconstructing your comments. (The dear people who have found this site may decide that I should have waited a bit before replying… I am always happy of reproof or constructive criticism.)

        Your comment – “Of course not all political leaders operate from a position of self interest, not all corporate heads are tax avoiders, not all footballers are drunken rapists (and dwarf burners), and not all church leaders try to protect miscreants within their ranks.”

        True! While I would not wish to paint all with a wide brush there is truth in an old joke about 99% of a certain profession giving the rest a bad name. The fact remains that observed behavior in our “leaders” is objectively shameful – – at best.

        Further, as dismal my perception of the human condition for a long time now, the active among us has registered discontent peacefully and emphatically against the direction being taken – in economics, in civil liberties, the power of banks and the makings of war.

        A vote made in conscience is NOT wasted – – it is YOUR vote and YOUR voice. But, sad to say, you cannot expect too much from it.

        It is not that you are opposed by an electorate of a different mindset, it is simply that you have been outbid by the moneyed interests who care less for how much they have than the fact that you should have nothing. (That is actually the key to understanding psychopaths, I think – their emptiness gnaws at them and so they must gnaw on the rest of us. There is no such thing as “enough” for them.)

        You have written of the power of words. Here are some dangerous ones: “Right”, “Left”, “Conservative”, “Liberal”, and for the American readers, “Democrat” vs “Republican”.

        They are just labels – – constructed to make one mindset actively and reflexively oppositional to another. I would be happy to hear from anyone who can provide objective evidence that our “Mr. O” is somehow objectively different that “Shrub” (Dubya, the minor Bush) – in civil liberties, transparency of policies/operation, war-like mindset (despite a Nobel Peace Prize) or ability to function without a teleprompter. (Okay, that was a bit mean… I did note the fact that paint thinner was involved, no?)

        By virtue of their power to polarize people who could and would much rather gather in communal effort – – to swap products of their skills, stories, dreams or just to break bread together to understand and enjoy one another on a visceral basis – – the powerful retain their potentates.

        The game, in their view, is to keep us at each others’ throat. “Divide and conquer.” This obscures the real game which is to keep our attention elsewhere whilst they pick our pockets for ready cash, put us into debt bondage to supply their future earnings and pass “laws” that none of us voted on to steal our retirement savings. (Witness Argentina in the last decade, Cyprus not too long ago and Poland just this past Friday. And… I believe, it will be coming to a country near you and all readers’… and soon.) Recognize that they have us tear at each other for their amusement.

        Your comment – “But I stand by the thrust of my statement – it’s hard to find someone to respect anymore. That’s why I love the Camino. I respect anyone who walks it. And I respect anyone who TRIES to walk it too.”

        Agreed! And why should we look to the external “name world” for anyone to respect? Because there is power in anyone who believes in their self – – and it is the most supreme power – – the willingness to take personal responsibility for their actions, the fortitude to move ahead despite reasonable objections and doubts, the wisdom to recognize when to change their mind to accommodate new information and the equanimity to rest their anxieties in the knowledge that “I did the best that I could.”

        And that’s where I have to leave it, Bill, because I feel a bit guilty for hogging so much of your bandwidth. Back to painting!



  3. If we all started with making our “patch” a more liveable, peaceful place, free from selfishness, criticism, judgement, guilt, bigotry, distrust, waste etc…, what a world it would be! With an open heart and an open mind, we could go just one step closer to where we are called to be.
    Please pray for our new leaders and leaders everywhere, that they govern with wisdom, intelligence and a finely tuned moral compass.
    I could go on much further but my mum also advised me to never discuss religion and politics in public!


    • Dear brendan –

      what a terrific and well articulated piece! (but would we expect any less from you?)

      I think you and I are saying the same thing – that if you think of the political spectrum as being like a visible light spectrum, going from white to black, with all the colour in between, then in our country Labour is red (social democrats) and Liberals are Blue. (conservatives) The Greens are green. I guess what I’m saying is that there is a smudging of colours on the spectrum, because it seems that the policies are almost interchangeable –

      Here in our country our policies on immigrant asylum seekers were arguably more humanitarian under the conservatives. (It’s a huge issue here, and it’s a big vote catcher.) We had a female Labour Party prime minister that wanted to put children into prisons in Malaysia, prisons that weren’t sanctioned by the United National humanitarian accords.

      I will not comment on your politics there, only to say that I note that Mr. Obama still hasn’t closed Guantanamo, which is what he promised when he first took power. And Mr Snowden has shown that the NSA is monitoring US citizens’ emails and phone conversations without their knowledge. With mr. Obama’s sanction. You could imagine that happening under Mr. Bush too. Enough said. I’ve said too much. It’s not for me to comment on other nations’ politics.

      But I only cite those things to say that to my thinking, there is not that much difference between political parties anymore, because the ideology underpinning the foundation of those parties has been eroded by the need to stay in office, and to appeal to voting trends, as indicated by polling and focus groups.

      By the way Brendan, you can take up as much of my bandwidth as you like! It’s always a delight to get your posts.

      Hope the painting and winterising is going well. Where do you live?



      • Dear Bill,

        Try to imagine the parties in a democracy as being positioned not on a linear spectrum but as on a circle. At the “O degree point” there’s just ‘us folks’ – the ones who get up in the morning, kiss the family goodbye for the day and work to be productive in the intervening hours by adding value. We work out our differences and get on with life.

        At 90 degrees either side you have the “right” and “left”. In their best expression, they represent the median of “us folks” by virtue of having to work to the same compromises that we do.

        However, past a certain stage of development, special interests take over the machinery of government (happens EVERY time) and the “parties”/”factions” become the kabuki theatre of politics to keep the citizenry divided. Sooner or later, they have to invent enemies, state security becomes an ongoing priority – – all to remind us WHY we need them.

        The left heads toward communism, the right tends to fascism. But they all meet at the obliteration of personal freedom…. At the “180 degree point” of totalitarianism.

        It’s just an idea – a working concept, if you will – but I think it fits what has been commonly expressed here.

        Oh, my location? Take a look at Susan S.’s map from the forum. (she lives in Richland, WA as I remember.) Northwest of her is Yakima. I live outside of town. From a review of Mudgee, it seems like similar biome but you have gum trees and more greenery. Generally, the agriculture strikes me as the same in our locations.



        • Hi Brendan,

          What you’re talking about in colorimetric terms is the “color wheel,” which you now see commonly on imaging software.

          Instead of a linear color spectrum it’s a wheel. Now that would be cool!

          I’ve only ever been to Seattle, and that was on a film “junket,” what they call a whirlwind publicity tour one time. I would love to explore that region – that’s near where Twin Peaks was shot, wasn’t it?

          One of these days I want to hop into a car and drive from Seattle all up through Washington State and Oregon up to Vancouver, which I’ve been to previously, then head over to the north east to see all the trees in the fall.

          One of these days…




          • Yeah, forgot you are an old guy now.

            Took a 65 mile trip today with my sister on the bike to an old historic city in northeast Texas. Dates back to about 1845 I think, which is old and historic here, not like on the Camino. We were still fighting indians then and holding up stagecoaches.


          • I’d love to go exploring around Texas too.

            I’ve been watching a series here on telly called Jamie Oliver’s American Roadtrip –

            he goes all over America, looking at the country through it’s food and eating habits. I’ve seen a fair bit of America – lived in LA for about 9 months, lived in NY for about 4 months, lived in New Orleans for 6 months, lived in Nova Scotia for 7 months (through winter!), been all up through Maine and Vermont and Rhode Island, down to Maryland and Baltimore, been to Chicago several times (love it!) San Francisco several times (love it too!), Seattle, San Diego, Boston, Washington DC, Santa Fe, driven from Santa Fe to LA through Arizona, driven up the coast road from LA to San Francisco several times, and of course Las Vegas too, which I regard as one gigantic theme park without any soul.

            My favourite places? NY, Chicago, New Orleans, and Boston. I’m a Red Sox fan. And I do feel comfortable in LA – but it took me a long time to feel that way.



          • I’ve been all over the west, and southeast, but not much in the northeast, and never as far as Main or New Hampshire. That is where I want to head to next summer, and then back across Canada or vice versa. Lived in New Orleans and Santa Fe both. Better to visit than to live.


          • I shot a thriller in New Orleans, prior to Katrina, and it was an extraordinary time there.

            I lived in Francis Ford Coppola’s townhouse in the French Quarter. Met the little bugger too. (he’s short!) (but powerful!!)



          • When you get to the end of your northest road, Bill, (remembering that the prairies don’t have the type of trees that produce bright fall colours) head along to me in Westport. Ill show you the most incredible indigo blue water with banks of bright orange,deep scarlet and mustard yellow sugar maple leaves -every year I think :”How can my eyes take in so much colour!”Bring your camera and I’ll show you some of the breathtaking beauty of an Ontario fall.


          • There are a few trees with the odd cluster of red tips, but weather depending,as in how soon frost comes, its usually most spectacular from the end of September through October.


          • They’ve been a lot warmer lately. Green Christmasses -hate them! Sometimes hardly any snow, which is rough on agriculture. Last winter was better, but I miss real Canadian cold.


          • I was in Nova Scotia from early January through to July.

            I couldn’t believe the change of seasons. We just don’t get that kind of variation here in Australia.



          • That’s one of the things I love most about this country. Four distinct seasons,every year. I don’t think Id be happy in a place that was pretty much the same year round.


      • Dear Bill,

        Cannot help you on the color wheel analogy. It’s been too long since I developed and printed Kodacolor. I see the zero degree point as “white” and 180 degrees as pure black.

        We’re on the dry side of the Cascades, Seattle on the “wet”. Unless one irrigates here, it is impossible to get anything to grow.

        I have heard of ‘Twin Peaks’ but never saw an episode. However, it seems to me that Kyle McLachlan was in that series, no? I seem to remember that he is a Yakima, WA native.



    • haha – Anne – yes, I started off that blog with the same credo – best not to discuss politics and religion in public!!

      But what you say is wonderful – it would be Utopian to have such a society, led by statesmen and women with integrity and courage.



  4. Just a few comments.

    Lack of integrity in heads of state seems to be rampant on a world wide basis. Our politicians can’t seem to get anything done and I don’t believe any of them represent me or my views. Though there might be a few with integrity, as a system, there is no integrity. I think Washington is run by the money and the money comes from the major corporations. Lobbying is rampant.
    There seems to be minimal moral integrity in Washington and no fiscal integrity. We vote new blood into office and the first thing that happens is that the lobbyists run in to help the newbie with his campaign debt, thus he is sucked into the system of go along to get along.

    We have congressmen who have been in office about 60 years. What connection do they have with the real world? But, their constitutents keep electing them. Most of these folks are running for reelection 24/7, and no one is really running the government.

    To me, a simple solution would be “term limits”, so that someone could serve their public service and then go home to live with the laws they helped enact.

    We worship sports heroes and movie stars. Our newscasters are celebrities in their own right and are paid as such. We worship money and those who make it to excess.

    Major corporations avoid a lot of tax, not because they hire highly paid accountants to find tax havens, which they do, but because politicians created those tax havens and it is a corporations objective to maximize the return to shareholders to the extent the law allows. Change the tax laws and less loopholes will exist to be exploited. Why don’t they get changed? Because the moneyed interests hire high priced lobbyists to “buy” votes in their favor. Don’t like the lobbyist, then change the laws to get big money out of big government. Again, the politicians would have to change the laws, but that would eliminate a lot of their cushy perks, so it ain’t gonna happen. Every law or tax that is on the books; every agency that has been created; every government expenditure that is made; every lobbyist that exists, has been approved by our politicians. None of them came about spontaneously. None could exist outside of our political framework. The problem is and has always been within the hands of the politicians.

    I won’t even get into my views of much of organized religion, and my father was a very devout Methodist minister who ministered to his congregations and quietly lived his religion. But things have changed in many ways, and probably in many ways have remained the same. Organzied religion has been created by man, not by God. At least that is my take.

    I don’t care much for either political party because they are both polarized and unwilling to meet and compromise for the good of the people.

    I know this sounds like a radical rant, but I am not a radical. I just see what is going on in this country and would love to see it change, but I am not so optimistic that it will. I have, as Brendan and Bill stated, painted with a wide brush, and of course I know that is extreme, but I painting the overall picture as I see it in my mind. Wish I had the articulating talents of these two brothers.

    Having said all of this, I am proud to be an American and I am proud to be a Texan. I do not have a doomsday outlook. I believe in the resilience of the American people, but I personally would be happier if we paid more attention to the problems in this country and not so much the problems in others. I am not sure our efforts are effective or rewarded.

    I am not a historian and the foregoing are simply my personal observational views and anyone can feel free to disagree. I won’t get into a debate about the merits.



    • Wow Steve –

      it’s just after 5:30am here – I’ve just woken up and read your comments – and all I can say is I don’t need a coffee now!

      Your comments have well and truly cleared out the cobwebs.

      A couple of things – you are just as articulate as Brendan and me. Your words pack a punch because they are simple, clear, direct, and heartfelt.

      In saying your words are simple though, this isn’t saying your thoughts are in any way simple – it’s just that you have here, and in other posts too, managed to express sophisticated thoughts in a straightforward manner, and that is a skill.

      I struggle to do that all the time.

      Very few politicians represent their electorates anymore. They represent their parties, and they follow party lines. And they represent their own self- interest above all else. That’s where HOUSE OF CARDS was so powerful, and so truthful.

      In Australia it’s compulsory to vote – which I believe is a good thing. You can’t just dodge the whole thing by not turning up.

      We’re talking about idealism in a practical world. Is that being naive? It might be, but what’s wrong with that!



      • Thanks Bill. Glad to have been of service. But for a two cup guy to pass his coffee is a little much……………You were figuratively speaking as you sipped the coffee.


        • Actually, this morning it was three cups.

          Still can’t get over 1) the Swannies getting beaten in the first final, damn, and 2) Tony Abbott getting into power.

          I needed something to pick me up after those two things on the weekend!



    • Dear Steve,

      Remember sometime back in the last week that, if you were interested in a take on materialism, we should swap e-mails? Well, one of my stumbling blocks in putting together a meaningful and yet relatively inoffensive piece is exactly related to organized religion. I believe that you rightly opine that maybe some things have changed while seemingly staying the same.

      I only bring this up because of some insights garnered on the Camino. My religion is a spiritual home for me, and yet, the “organized” part of it would really prefer that I sleep on the porch. Apparently, I ask too many questions! So, your “take” sniffs right to me.

      Please do not worry about being “radical”. The root of the word is ‘radix’ from the Latin – so you’re going to the root of things.

      As far as your writing style goes, please don’t change unless you really want to do so. As I read your posts, it is like listening to the guy at the next bar stool. Direct, sure. More importantly, very authentic – your message is clearly heartfelt.



  5. Still catching up here because of that election (I worked an 11 hour ‘day’ but I did get paid!) and I’m chuckling my way though you boys, Steve, Brendan and Bill, bonding over words 🙂 Would be proud and happy to sit on the next bar stool to listen to you all at any given time!


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