Friday on my mind – Sidelining the Seer, Paddling Our Own Canoe

By Michael Barker

Now, that seer, the greatest of them all – can you believe it? – personally stamped his own credentials, with bees wax and a lead seal, and a liberal sprinkling of high-grade plutonium, last Friday, when he raised the spectre of good old-fashioned household disinfectant being the much sought after cure for covid.
What a guy, what an amazing guy. What a leader. What a man. No, WHAT A MAN!
And as for those know-nothing, fake medical researchers who have, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, failed to see it sitting there, staring them in the eye from the side bench in their laboratories – well, shame, no, SHAME on them. SHAME ON YOU FAKE RESEARCHERS. SHAM RESEARCHERS. CHARLATANS.
JHC. Truly, words fail me. (Just an expression, they don’t really!) Truly I wonder from where this leader of the free world has come. I have often wondered if we, in Australia, could have produced, could produce, someone like him. No doubt we could have, and could. Probably, (I’m trying hard not to be too controversial here) we already have a few who’d like to be seer-like. But so far, none have managed to achieve the highest, elected executive office in the land.
And to think the sealing of the seer’s credentials by the seer himself happened immediately before ANZAC Day! That’s the hardest hit to absorb. On the day we in Australia and New Zealand reflect on the ultimate sacrifice our forebears made at Gallipoli and in all the awful wars that followed, we have the seer pronouncing on things he knows nothing, SFA about in the time of the war on covid. (I’ve noticed writers have been putting uppercase letter sequences into their pieces lately, so I’ve decided to follow suit, choose a couple at random and throw them in. Not exactly sure what it’s all about, but I’m prepare to give things a go, see how it works.)
I am of that generation, at least of a mind, which seriously questions why our, Australia’s, primary alliance/allegiance should continue to be to the USA. The seer has me thinking hard again about the Why. I know this assumes we have such an alliance/allegiance. But ever since World War 2, when we were abandoned by the Brits after Singapore, and signed up with the US to fight in Asia and the Pacific, it has been that way. The ANZUS Treaty, the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, made in 1951, just after my birth, is the formal basis of this alliance/allegiance. And it seems no leading politician, of any stripe, in Australia questions the security ties, and the implicit political and cultural ties, that come with it.
Personally, I’m happy with the additional ties ANZUS give us to NZ, but increasingly less so to the US. The seers’ conduct simply highlights the causes of my concerns.
I’d be interested to know how many US citizens have heard of the Treaty, outside a few policy wonks in Washington DC, and a few post doc students studying international relations at a couple Ivy League campuses. Here in Australia I’d hazard a guess we’d find a far greater community awareness of the Treaty. Our security is said to depend on it. Our PMs and Defence Ministers routinely engage in acts of fealty during visits to DC to maintain the ties.
All this is a long preface in my getting around to saying that, rather than continue to be frustrated by and about the seer, we in Australia should do what one always tries to do with a persistently difficult child – ignore him/her (although to be gender fair, it’s mostly him). Don’t let him bother you. Get on with your own agenda. See what happens. At the least, your life is made a lot easier.
But more than that, I’m thinking it’s time to realise the ANZUS Treaty is getting towards its use by date, if it hasn’t actually passed it. (I’d put good money on there being a Ph D thesis by at least one of the aforementioned post doc students on this very topic, that agrees with me.) The Treaty was made coming up 70 years ago. (Now I hasten to interpolate that not everything that old needs be put down!) The geopolitical world has changed. Everything is in a state of flux. Pandemics have come, but not yet gone. The world is going to be a vastly different place once covid has, more or less, gone. After covid, we, all of us, will naturally look to reaffirm what we were used to, pre-covid, whether in business, trade, personal relations, daily life, national security, etc etc. There is a certain security (small s) in that. But things have changed, are changing and, daresay, will continue to change. Part of that has to involve how, post-covid, we, in Australia, with our cousins in NZ, contemplate our relations, dealings and ties, strategically, economically and culturally, with the rest of the world, the US included.
Let me get to my point. I think it’s time we recognised that the coming of the seer is, in fact, not an aberration – as limited as he is as a leader and as much as I’d like to think he is an aberration – but an epochal event, one pointed to in the stars and capable of being seen by those who know where to look, telling us that the US is no longer a society to which we should look for strategic, political, economic or cultural guidance, as interesting sociologically as it is, as fascinating as her/his peoples are, and as much as I like visiting the US and have friends there.
When I was about 10 or 11, I was given an Autograph Book – something the younger readers may need to have explained to them by their grandparents. One wag wrote in it, ‘She waltzed right in the ballroom door, her figure looked fantastic; She waltzed right out the ballroom door, never trust elastic!’ Haha. More pertinently, and more sagely, my late father wrote in it: ‘Love many, trust a few, but always paddle your own canoe’.
I’ve often reflected on my father’s sentiment. It has stuck with me. Something of a life’s directive. Anyway, I think it’s time for Australia fully to adopt it and, if not just cut the seer free, then try to ignore him as we do our best to ignore the persistently difficult child. But more than that, lets paddle our own Aussie canoe in these new fast-moving, post-covid international waters, and recalibrate our place in the new normal world for the remainder of this 21st century. I can’t help but think our society will be the better for it if we do.
Until next time …
(And – written in lemon juice – thank you, Donald Trump, for being my inspiration, or at least the source of my inspiration, on this occasion.)

* Written by Michael Barker, Editor Fremantle Shipping News

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