two sides to every story


A female teaching colleague has been diagnosed with cancer. As support, it was suggested that meals that could be frozen be gifted; or money to allow a cleaner to come in, once or twice, to help with the home, be donated.

We Flamingo Dancers, have been touched by more than one medical emergency over the years, and I lived through cervical cancer, as well as an eye tumour, so I guess I experienced instant empathy. I donated money towards a cleaner.

What surprised me was Minerva’s attitude. ” She earns big money, why should I give her anything!” Yes, she does earn a higher pay scale as an experienced senior teacher, and she may have income protection, but as I know, to suddenly go from a double income to a single income family can be devastating, plus medical costs are another burden.

As to the cleaner,  there is a husband and maybe the children are old enough to help out, but she needs emotional support and so do they. They are on a very exhausting journey with an unknown end; a little help, and it is “little”, is the least we can do. It is about all we can do, after all.

I think what shocked me most, is that it is an attitude that I would never have expected form Minerva, my erstwhile assistant, whom I would have tagged as “generous”, until now. Possibly, Minerva has more of an “us and them” attitude than I realised. To make a meal would cost less than $10, after all. People can be surprising, and always are when least expected!

To me, you give out to the world what you can and you often receive back. We are on a very tight budget as we are only a single income family these days, but I thought the $20 I gave; which let’s be honest will pay for about one hour of cleaning, was a tiny way of saying “we care” and more of a gift for me, than for our ill colleague.

I don’t believe in workplace gifts for birthdays or farewells. Have a morning tea, wish them well, but no crap clutter gifted please! Health issues are another matter.

Meals were donated to the family who lost their son to suicide and we received a very heartfelt letter of thanks from the Dad. In his words they were “blown away” by the caring, and the knowledge that we were there to support them, and their grieving sons for the long term.

Small things can mean a lot, and I repeat, often more of a gift for the giver than the receiver. I am sorry that Minerva hasn’t realised that, yet.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

Yet another interview, for a position where there is an incumbent already in the role. This time she has been doing the job for the entire year, and has applied for the job, of course.

Cruel and inhumane treatment, offering people interviews for a position that it is highly unlikely that they will be given equity. I could say more, but I am too much of a lady… I mean goddess. Goddess, damn you!

Today, I was told of a study that has shown that Norway, followed by Australia, are the most socially democratic countries in the world. America came in twentieth place.

The explanation for this appears to be that Norway and Australia have a deep and long standing belief across their societies of equal opportunity and that everyone deserves a fair go. In Australia, this is no doubt due to the enduring myth of mateship and that we view ourselves, rightly or wrongly, as a classless society.

I was not surprised that America rated so far down the scale, as it is obvious that there is no core belief in that everyone deserves a fair go, as the concept of equity does not appear to be a significant part of any public debate and that there are no real institutional arrangements to promote equity and equality, as is a part of Australia’s social democracy.

A search for a definition of ‘equity’ online, accessible to every free society, brought forth a line of economic definitions. It was a difficult task to find a social or cultural definition of the word ‘equity’ and that seems a sad indictment in our modern societies.

Additionally, this was interesting in the light of the recent public debates I have seen taking place in America attacking unions. I have to confess that I am a union member, and have been more than thankful to them working on my behalf, in the past. Unions safeguard rights. Unions mean that workers are no longer locked inside factories, to burn alive when fires start. Unions mean that we get annual leave. Unions mean that we have safe working environments. Unions safeguard our rights when we suffer work injuries. And yes, unions ensure we receive a fair days pay for a fair days work.

Once again, I have to offer gratitude that I was born into Australian society. It is not a utopia by any means, but compared to many other societies, it is. I can understand why people risk their lives for weeks at sea on leaky boats, to reach Australian shores. I am thankful that my German ancestors did the very same thing in the nineteenth century. I do not know if I would have the same courage, though if war or famine threatened my family, no doubt my lack of choice and desire for survival would shape my decision, if I was given the opportunity, legal or not.

Freedom from discrimination, freedom from the holders of abusive power, equity, social justice, and equal opportunities for all, including those with physical, mental or social disabilities have been hard won, and when a society does not honour and value unity and a sense of compassion for victims of injustice and inequality, but hand them to the owners of the means of production it is a time to stop, and think. Think about what it means to walk in those shoes, the shoes of those denied equity and social justice. It is just a step to the right.


Update from Snowy : Australia pips Norway .