Posts Tagged With: Reflections

Why are we doing this?

Hetty Stok

The following is a post by my wife after observing parliament this week.

At a time when our society is becoming a place where rules are up for negotiation at best and completely ignored at worst, the federal election produced a Prime Minister who promises to go back to the parliamentary standards of the past. Less of the adversarial politics. No more shouty Question Time. Politicians held accountable. Integrity.

It’s probable that the PM himself will have trouble holding to his standards but at least he has voiced them; he has put the parliament on notice.

But our world no longer works like that. No wonder then that when a young new politician arrives in the chamber minus the regulation tie, there is a hew and cry. Just a small hew and cry from a fellow MP pointing out the error, followed by a louder Media hew and cry questioning why this archaic rule still exists. 

Another young, new politician is asked to give the pledge of allegiance before taking her seat in the Senate. She proceeds to make up her own pledge, elevating herself to Sovereign, and then insulting the Queen. The Media’s reaction? Headlines announcing that it’s time to change the pledge and ditch the monarchy.

Has this become the way we tackle the many ‘laws’ of life? When a father tells his child to eat breakfast and then get ready for school, should the child tell her father that breakfast is not to her taste and “Who made you the boss of me, anyway?” Well, yes. Modern parenting says that response is perfectly fine. Any wonder then that school children are allowed to stamp their feet and shout ‘no!’ That young people are encouraged to belligerently demand ‘why?’ And that our leaders, caught in a lie or a corruption, calmly tell us “Move on, nothing to see here.” Or, worse still, they call for a change to the archaic rules or the restrictive system.

Perversely, when we are confronted with people who don’t behave in a way our new society has deemed to be correct, we want politicians to make a law to force right behaviour. And punishment for those who disobey. Yet we have created a perfect environment that encourages disobedience and non-compliance.

Perhaps the real issue comes back to the young new politician who proclaimed she was ‘Sovereign’. Don’t we all like to think we are the ruler of our own world? Isn’t it time we realised that the title ‘Sovereign’ implies care for others, responsibility, sacrifice, dedication, and most of all, unselfish behaviour?

Categories: Hetty's Devotions | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

An Anniversary

Today is the 28th anniversary of my father’s death (July 14th) and as anniversaries often do, it caused me to reflect on the influence of my father – especially as I am a couple of years away from the age at which he died.

Dad and his violin

My Dad wasn’t perfect. A tradition I have faithfully carried on. He had a quick temper and could be stubborn. Traits that I dutifully learned as a young boy. But there are many qualities that I should have learned but was slow to grasp. He was a generous man: generous with his time, possessions and the little money he had. He was a man who took a keen interest in people’s lives and tried to help them as best he could.

Maarten, my Dad, was uneducated and this was largely due to the time in which he grew up – in the midst of economic depression, and later, war. But he was intelligent and astute. He saw through pomposity and bravado. On the other hand, he saw the best in people. When I might have been dismissive of someone, he would respond and tell me I didn’t understand the hardship and trials that this person had been through and which had, in turn, shaped their lives and attitudes.

He had that sense of responsibility that characterised many of his generation. Responsibility towards his family, his church, his customers and neighbours.

Also, he had a wicked sense of humour, liked a glass of wine or a cold beer on a blistering hot Aussie day, and loved his music – particularly Bach.

Looking back, I give thanks to God for having this dad as my father. He encouraged, at times bullied, me into making the most of my learning – one that he never had the opportunity to experience. He passed on beliefs and values for which I will be eternally grateful.

Twenty-eight years dead but still very much alive!

Categories: Family, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

One of Those Days

I have had one of those days today. Yes one of those days! I had to write an email on the

moderntimes

Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times

Principal’s behalf. It turned out to be a great letter. It was punchy, pointed and passionate. I wrote it, reflected on it, reread it and finally sent it. No, it didn’t go to the wrong recipient and I didn’t say anything inappropriate (as has occasionally happens) but it was completely on the wrong topic. It wasn’t a bad letter but just not the one I was supposed to write. Now I have to write another email to explain everything. Humiliating!

Then I had to do a little background reading. I typed in the website I was supposed to look for. It had an easy acronym in its title. The website looked good. The acronym was splashed across the top of the page. There was a pleasant photo and an inspiring motto. “I am at the right place” – I thought. However, it took me a while to realise that instead of looking at the Australian Association of Christian Schools I was actually looking at the Australian Association of (good so far) Convenience Stores. The neurons were slow to fire today. We are coming to the end of a long year. Maybe it is time to go back to bed.

Categories: Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The Hill

On a swing at "The Hill"

When I was younger, much younger, summer meant going for a few weeks to “The Hill”, a farm run by two wonderful women, Ola and Beth Anderson. They were glorious weeks of freedom and activities out of the normal routine of Ocean Grove. I remember the two square cypress hedges at the gate, the rumble of the cattle grid and the hundred metre drive to the front gate next to the windmill and water tanks. To the left and down the hill was the Dairy and farm sheds. The shed contained an Aladdin’s cave of treasures: gas masks, wagons, farm implements and other wonders to open the eyes of a young boy.

The Hill was a small farm in Mepunga West, east of Warrnambool.  I would get up and “help” the sisters with the milking; walking in the cool of the summer morning and calling the cows in. I would help clean the udders and put the cups on. I remember watching the milk go though the pipes, via a glass bulb above the cow along a pipe to cooling system. The milk cascaded down a rippled cooling apparatus to a tray below where it was channelled into a 10 gallon can. The chugging of the milking machine was steady and mesmerising. The dairy cats waited patiently for their share.

We would take the cans to a depot; really just a platform on 4 large stumps, on the back of a old converted army jeep. If the jeep didn’t start we would have to harness the jinker. I always felt special when we needed to use the horse and jinker.

Ola and I on Old Con

The horse, Old Con, was also the horse I could ride during the day. He had a patient and steady temperament. That, too, was really special for a town kid. I remember playing in the haystacks and making cubbies with a friend. The smell of the dry grass, which gives me hay-fever today, was glorious then! I learned to play tennis on the asphalt court over the road. They dressed me up in a Davy Crocket outfit (that is another story)!

Other memories include, home-made ice cream, learning how to use knife and fork “Aussie style” and lavish afternoon teas before the second milking. I also remember the infinite patience of Ola and the finite patience of Beth. I was often meeting new members of what seemed like an unending stream of Anderson family members. Every so often we would meet these members on their farms – each one different and unique. All very Australian.

Another clear memory was going to the Post Office at the Croft’s farm. This was a little office behind the house and it also doubled up as the telephone exchange – I am talking about the late 1950s and early 60s.

Two of the nephews and me

The house at The Hill was made up of addition upon addition and closed in verandas. I remember the insects banging against the ceiling and walls on a hot summer’s evening. The antique Singer was still used as was the piano for sing-a-longs on an evening when people had gathered together. My dad, who played by ear, had to improvise when there was no music. And there were the black and white and sepia photos of  family members present and past. Here I learned that men had gone to war and never came back.

Dad and my Uncle Adrian at the farm shed

There were picnics at Childers Cove and a trip to Lake Gillear, places like Nirranda and Nullawarre. If I close my eyes and allow my mind to wander, my heart goes back to those great days and wonderful experiences. To a measurable degree I am the person I am today because of the influence of these amazing people.

Categories: Family, History, Reflections | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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