Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dinna fash yersel

Dinna fash yersel(f) is a Scots' phrase meaning don't get annoyed, don't worry yourself. A rough Australian equivalent is not to worry. I'm not sure when I first came across the Scots' phrase, Certainly it was quite early in my life. I liked it and have used it from time to time.

I used it again the other day in a conversation, and this time took it to heart a little myself in regard to some of the discussion on current political and social issues.

Growing up, we were told that we should be interested in current affairs. Indeed, the Adult Education Department at Sydney University had a publication called Current Affairs Bulletin that was intended to help us to do just that. Then there was limited information around about current events. A good citizen, it was argued, should be aware of what is happening in the world and that required reading and awareness.

I don't have a problem with that. It's just now that we are awash with information to the point that people simply tune out for the sake of their own sanity. The problem is not to be aware, but to actually identify what it is that we should be aware of and, more importantly, why!

As a citizen, I have a responsibility to be aware of what Governments (local, state and federal) are doing. In most cases I can't affect what they do,  In most cases, it doesn't matter in a long term sense, although it may greatly affect particular individuals or groups. Broadly speaking, the Australian system of Government works despite all the discussion to the contrary. In particular, we have the capacity to change governments.  

As a parent, too, I am concerned about the implications for my daughters and broader family of events. Eldest, for example, is presently working in the EU and has a Danish partner..That means that I am far more interested in the EU than I was and am very conscious of Australian changes such as changes to citizenship and entry arrangements that may affect her.

As a person, I am affected by events such as the recent London fire or the London terrorist attacks. I was more worried by the fire rather than the terrorist attacks because of a recurrent fear of fire in tall buildings. I am not worried by the risk of terrorist attacks, although I might be if I lived in Kenya or Mali.

I visited London during the height of the IRA bombings, I remember the Red Brigade in Europe, but the chances of me being killed today are less than the risk I take in my daily walks to the local shops. I support most security requirements on aircraft because they are sensible, but worry about many government imposed restrictions linked to terrorism because they infringe long term liberties for very little obvious return.      

I used to be a political and current affairs junky. To a degree I still am because it is just so interesting, but there a limits. Take Gonski 2.0, the latest Australian Government school funding package that has just passed the Senate. To my mind, the most significant feature is that it has reinforced needs based funding. The political posturing around it is neither here nor there, although the split created in the Greens as a consequence may be of longer term political term significance. If, as seems likely at the moment, Labor wins the next election, they will no doubt make some changes, probably glad that the Coalition has blunted the fangs of the Catholic school lobby. But in the meantime, life goes on.  

All this is not to say that I won't continue to try to make my views known on particular current events, thus adding to the cacophony. I do so for two reasons. It helps me clarify my thinking, something that is important to me. And then, there is the hope that in combination with others, it may have impact at the margin.

Meantime, I remind myself dinna fash yersel.

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