Thursday, 27 May 2010

Yes, The ALP Can Help Cure My Personal Problems Too!

I am prone to bold premature declarations, but I believe I may well be past the troubles that have dogged me over the past couple of months. With the help of friends old and new, I believe that I have reached the acceptance stage of my grieving process. Even better though I have not come out of the process bitter and twisted as I have done on previous occasions. Norms have been maintained although with new perspectives. This claim remains untested though, and I shall see if it holds merit the first time I confront my demons, whenever they decide to pop up again. I have a feeling it may be sooner rather than later. Unlike last time, I hope they come quickly and it is not long and drawn out. At least then I’ll know where I’ll… ‘ahem’…sit.

I think the catalyst was a trip to an ALP fundraiser on Saturday with Bill Shorten in Brisbane. For the first time in ages I had fun without thinking about my problems. Part of this was the freedom I felt, the burden part way cleared, but the larger part was hanging out with some really nice, interesting people. Not that my current/other friends aren’t, but as I’ve mentioned before, I sometimes feel isolated. Living in a conservative heartland in the ‘geriatric capital of the world’ means that you don’t get too many Young Labor people on the Sunshine Coast, (unless I recruit them from my uni) so it was nice to talk to people my age about music AND targeted campaigning in the same conversation. Sometimes being young in the ALP on the Sunshine Coast is like being a blue whale in a bathtub.

I was having a conversation about online campaigning at the function, speaking in highly technical political terms (as we do). An old lady interrupts and approaches:

Old Lady: Can I sit down with you? You seem like a nice fellow?
Me: …um sure?
OL: Ya know my brother worked for the Endeavour Foundation? (a charity that works for intellectually disabled people) You people are just as smart as we are.
It is at this point my conversation partner, a friend and political sparing partner, starts turning purple with rage
Friend: You know he is studying a PhD in political science?
OL: Oh and you people are so nice, lovely, kind, and often you can be smarter than us too, we just don’t realise it!
F: He’s an academic too you know!?!
OL: Oh there’s Bill (Shorten) (points to Friend) can you take a photo of me and Bill?
Old lady rushes off to chase after Shorten

While most people would be horrified at this story, I just find it hilarious funny. It happens 99% of the time I meet someone new. The irony was not lost on us, this old lady was chasing after the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, who not five minutes later would preach tolerance and acceptance for people with disabilities. What made it for me though was my friend’s reaction. It’s hard to explain, but her indignation coupled with her responses was simultaneously hilarious and empowering. The fact that she was so shocked at the old lady’s attitude towards me signals just how far I’ve come in the ALP in terms of respect. I no longer have to prove myself, and in an environment surrounded by my intellectual peers I now figure that it is not worth worrying about my various neuroses as long as I have done everything in my power to choose my own pathways. Sure, I heard a story about an old ALP warhorse on the way home (who I don’t particularly like) telling his factional colleagues ‘…that cripple is only President of the Kawana Branch to ingratiate himself to the rest of us on behalf of… (His rival)’, but do I really give a fuck? Nope because in 20 years I’ll be ALP National Secretary, he’ll be six feet under and I’ll still be conversing with my indignant friend all the while.

Sure, my troubles had nothing to do with cantankerous old people in the ALP, but they have unintentionally taught me something. Sure there will be people who won’t like me on my journey towards greatness, and there will be people that won’t share my wildest dreams, biggest goals and deepest aspirations, but fuck them. I won’t stop until I achieve them. Along the way I will find people who share my common values and we’ll have a great time changing the world. As for the rest, well in the words of a woman I once knew ‘…fuck it…’

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