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Monday, September 9, 2013

We Are So Bloody Lucky.

It’s been a big week for us Aussies. Political rants on Facebook, long lines at polling booths, tummy aches from too many sausage sizzles - and it’s really made me think. Whether this is the PM you wanted or not, whether you have a strong political stance or are as impressionable as I am, whether you are celebrating the result or suddenly looking at moving overseas, I hope you can see one thing as clearly as I can. We came, we saw, we voted.

We are so bloody lucky.

I will be entirely honest – when it comes to politics, I am shamefully ignorant. Note that I use the word ‘shamefully’. Political ignorance is not something I would ever brag about. I recognise that every Australian should have a well-informed opinion on who they want to run their country, as we are the ones affected by the governance. But like history, taxes and exercise, politics is just another topic that I am supposed to care about, and yet nod off whenever it is discussed. I know the outlines of policies and who’s who, I know who has achieved what and who will better support my industry, but any heavily in-depth discussions have a soporific effect on my attention span. Again, not proud of it. Some people give their lives to vote in less fortunate countries, so I will never waste my vote. I do a lot of my own research right before election day (hard, because googling ‘impartial politics’ actually leads you to a shit-tonne of extremely biased reports), and I form my own opinion based on what is important to me... but I generally leave it until the last few days to pay attention, because all the bitching and moaning and 'Blue Tie' crap bores me senseless.  And the fact that I can just throw that out here in a public forum makes me feel so bloody lucky.

Australia - Lucky the country is a lot better than the Baz Luhrmann film.

I have a few VIP's in my life who I will call when I’m election-week-confused, and they calmly and patiently chat to me about their well-informed (and differing) political views. They never make me feel dumb or clueless. I intentionally avoid the ranters who make me feel stupid for not knowing enough. I don’t like getting into arguments, so I find my approach to politics is the same as my approach to religion and Fight Club. You DO NOT talk about it. I will chat about it to people I trust (can you do that with Fight Club? Better check with Brad first*), because they make me feel safe that I won’t get attacked for having a wrong opinion. But my non-violent definition of getting ‘attacked’ for having a wrong political opinion (I am referring to verbal confrontation and name-calling by friends, not bludgeoning with bats or getting arrested) is just another example of our bloody luckiness. I want to mention one of my VIP’s, who hilariously told me that on election day, she was busily numbering all 110 candidates below the line, and in doing so, her House of Representatives ballot sheet disappeared down the crack of the cardboard polling booth. The staff were not legally allowed to give her another voting form, so she ripped open her polling booth to retrieve it, determined to have her say! She may have got some funny looks, but she didn't get arrested or shot or abused. Yet another reason why I feel lucky to be in a country where it is not only okay to rip open your carboard booth and vote, but it is more acceptable to do so than to not cast your vote at all. Not to mention, lucky that people like her exist.

Because I live in a country where I won’t get arrested for saying so, I will tell you that I did not vote for the winning party. But I am okay that they won, because not only did more than half of the country vote for them, people I desperately care about did  some of my VIP's who beautifully and patiently explained their Liberal views to me are thrilled with the result. Though it is not the one I went for, I am safe in the belief that our country is in safe hands – and I don’t mean the PM’s hands. I mean our hands. More than half of the country voted for this, and that’s the beauty of democracy. It may not have gone in the direction I voted for, but it did go in the direction that our majority voted for, and I can’t bring myself to be bitterly disappointed with that. Millions of Aussies voted for a government that they strongly (or mildly) felt would benefit their own lives and their children’s lives. You don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to accept that they too, in this beautiful democratic country of ours, are entitled to their opinion and their vote, and just because they didn’t vote the same way that you did, it doesn’t make them any less intelligent/caring/environmental/concerned/patriotic/pretty than you.

Despite my shameful ignorance, despite my relief that the election is over and news coverage will go back to baby Prince George**, this election campaign has made me feel grateful and blessed, as I so often do. Grateful for outspoken friends who will rant all over Facebook because they are so passionate about their political views (I can still be grateful without having read a single one, right?). Grateful that none of them got shot for ranting their political views, because our country is totally cool with it. Grateful for friends who will rip open carboard booths to cast their vote. Grateful that our country is so blessed in so many ways, that the media makes a big deal over things like budgie-smugglers and blue ties, because we are so peaceful and settled as a country that crap like that can actually be considered newsworthy. Grateful that the reason our country was split in their views is because neither party is plainly evil and corrupt, so it is not a black-and-white decision. It is possible that the new Government will not help Australia live up to its’ full potential. It is possible that I may be impacted negatively by the government, or that I may be furious at times with choices made by the new Prime Minister, or that I may partake in a few rallies for teaching staff or gay marriage, or that I may get my Facebook newsfeed flooded with complaints and outrage. But whatever happens, I will still feel lucky. To be in a country where I am, for the most part, safe, respected and encouraged to speak up. I am a lucky girl in a lucky country. 

Now, if you want to leave a comment below telling me how ignorant, naive, misinformed and deluded I am, please go ahead.

It’s a free country.

*Brad’s response most likely to be “I don’t know you, stop calling me and pretending we are in a club”.

**To be fair, I do have a personal interest in this, because he is my future nephew. Prince Harry is mine.

By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She's probably at the casino, feeling lucky.

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