Saluting The Warriors of 7 September
(Originally published 3 September 2013 on a personal blog, after a particularly long and tiring day of campaigning. Republished for the anniversary of the 2014 Federal Election, not for Fathers’ Day!)
Just after 6 pm on Saturday 7 September 2013, and in the couple of hours after that, many thousands of Australians will collapse, exhausted. Some will collapse elated, some will collapse distraught, some will collapse numb. A few will have been paid for their exhaustion; the vast majority, however, are volunteers, and some will have foregone income, just to collapse, exhausted.
Some will have been working 18 hours a day and more, paid or unpaid; some will have worked a full, busy day, perhaps managing a family, and then put in extra hours after that.
All know they will collapse, exhausted; while many hope for an elated collapse, most know they won’t get there, and are sure of disappointment. Yet still they toil.
Many of these soon-to-be-exhausted think my passions dishonest, dangerous or deluded, and some will think me evil: I reciprocate where appropriate, of course, but somewhat more kindly and nuanced I hope.
Whether to be elated, distraught or numb, while competing furiously one with the other, we’re also battling on the same side, though loathe to notice our common cause.
We’re, most of us, on the same side, though some know it not, when it comes to battling apathy and absence and distance and derision, the lazy and poisonous infection draining the capacity of democracy to live strong. As we take the field to defeat one another, we’re simultaneously battling the fake sophistication of “they’re all the same” and “they’re all out for themselves”, because we know they’re not all same and selfish.
That’s why I find more in common with, and more enthusiasm for, a passionate, activist right-winger, than someone who takes the easy course and rubbishes elections, politicians and our democracy. If these things are tawdry it’s because your absence makes them so. If they seem irrelevant to you it’s because you don’t care enough to make them relevant. If they seem shallow, you don’t care enough to help make them deeper.
It’s not someone else’s job – it’s yours. If you will leave democracy to others, you must stop complaining – you decided others should do the heavy lifting instead of you, and they will do it as best they can without you.
And with little regard for their politics, I salute those who make the effort to try to make the world a better place as they conceive it, who will collapse exhausted late on Saturday 7 September.