While I always knew that there were homeless people in Sydney, I never really thought of that as poverty. When I was thinking about my topic for this Blog Action Day, I thought I would keep it close to home but I couldn't work out if it was considered poverty. Of course it is. Where there are homeless, there is poverty. Where there are low income earners barely covering their costs, there is poverty.
I know that there are a lot of feaux homeless people in Sydney who like to beg (and make a bloody good living doing it) and I think my distrust of these individuals clouds my judgement. I am the first person to offer anything I can to people who legitimately need my help but when these beggars have a fresh pack of cigarettes and arn't that dirty then I'm pretty sure they don't need my help. Maybe this is why I don't see Sydney as having levels of poverty.
Photo By Kate Geraghty
I was surprised last week to see a story about the death of a homeless man grace the pages of our prestigious Sydney Morning Herald. This man, John O'Connor was barely 45 when he died on a street in Kings Cross. It wasn't his death that surprised me, or the fact that the Herald ran the story. It was that he died not 500 metres from where I share a building with ex Prime Ministers and NSW Premiers, on William St.
How is it, that we can have true homeless individuals dying on the streets of one of the wealthiest cities in the world? We have one of the best welfare systems on the planet and we do a lot for our less fortunate, but why were we unable to step up and actually change something? I understand that if somebody does not want to be helped then there is simply nothing you can do, but there are other cases, I'm sure, of individuals like John, who try to reach out and get nothing back.
The problem is that there is too big a gap between our high income earners and our low income earners. For instance, the ex-CEO of the company I work for, Simon Baker, was paid over $800,000 as a 'termination payout' for leaving REA. That is obscene. If that was his termination payout, any guesses about his salary would probably put you about $500,000 and that's before you consider his shares in REA. Tell me, what does anybody need that amount of money for? Apparently people do need that much money. A house in Sydney sold recently for $47 million dollars. And yet, people like John O'Connor in the same city can die, alone on a street.
If you think this might be an isolated occurrence. Think again. And while these facts exist, charities like Mission Beat have to ask for a new van. In a city that has this much money, they still require more funding.
The kicker in this story is that there were about 70 people at Johns funeral. This guy had friends. He may have even had family. He was well known enough to have at least 4 separate stories about him in the Sydney Morning Herald. The system failed him and it continues to fail for every day that people are paid ridiculous money while others die of hunger and disease. And all this in Australia. I haven't even mentioned Africa, South America, Burma and everywhere else where human life is treated so poorly.
Wake up Australia. Stop living for yourself only.
Why is it, that as a 28 year old ‘grown up’ guy, I can still get choked up when I reminisce about the past?
I recently added an old boss of mine as a friend on Facebook. Now, I am not a big facebooker but I like seeing what people are up to these days. I haven’t seen this guy in 5 years or so, probably more actually. He meant a lot to me in my old work and was hugely supporting of me when I was going through some rough times. He means a lot to me and we just lost touch. When he accepted my friendship request and I looked over his profile, I got a bit funny. I realise now how much he meant to me and I never really recognised that. The worst part is that I work now about 200M from his old place. I didnt know it was his 'old place until I looked at his profile today. He is actually now in another state (Melbourne) and this upsets me a bit because I thought that I could see him at some stage and go and have a drink. We are extremely different people, for the most part, completely opposite, but I always felt a common understanding and connection with him.
This phenomena has got me thinking about how it doesnt take much for me to reminisce to the point of being depressed. When I think of how things ‘used to be’. Whether they are good, bad, ugly, regrets, whatever. I just constantly feel like I have wasted a lot and I have done and seen things that I either want to do or see again, or change somehow. I cant move on because there are so many things that I focus on that are in the past.
A few years ago, I drove past the house I grew up in. The house was sold under bad circumstances (ripped away from myself and my mum, basically and there are a LOT of good and bad – very bad, memories in that house) and I have been unable to even look at it for a long time. The sheer thought of going there fills me with panic and I get all sweaty. Its so odd as I cannot put my finger on what it is about that place that freaks me out. I just know that everything in my being is telling me to ‘STAY THE FUCK AWAY!’.
So, how does one, seemingly grown up, guy move on and let these things go? Why, when something from my past draws my attention to it, do I just drop to a low, want to listen to 80’s music and drink myself to sleep? Ergh, they didnt teach you any of this crap in school… Not that I was there long enough to learn it anyway.
Thats my emotional rant of the day…. Actually, I’ll try to keep these to a minimum, maybe thats my rant of the month.
I am incredibly saddened by this news. Jane and Glenn McGrath founded the McGrath foundation which continually endeavors to place breast-care nurses in more hospitals (particularly in rural areas). If nothing else, she was just another lovely woman brought down by this disease (My mother died of complications surrounding cancer when I was 18).
My thoughts go to Glenn and their two children.
There is a bunch of things in life I dont understand.
- I dont understand how a human can mistreat an animal
- I dont understand how and why a human feels it necesary to hurt or kill another human
- I dont understand how many humans feel that global and environmental issues are not their responsibility
- I dont understand why people find money so important and let it control their lives and actions.
But the main thing I dont understand is the mentality of working. I am 28 years old, I have a mortgage and a daughter and I am the sole breadwinner in my house. I have at least 20 years of work ahead of me before I can contemplate retiring. I get up at 6am, I leave at 6:25am, I get to work a little before 8 and I stay there until 5. I get home around 6:30 and I have about 3 hours before I go to bed so that I can start it all again. And I do this FIVE TIMES A WEEK!
So, over the course of a week, I spend 5 x 3hrs travelling (15hrs), I spend 5 x 9hrs at work (45hrs) and 7 x 8hrs sleeping (56hrs) which leaves me with 47hrs a week of spare time. 15 of that I am too tired to do anything anyway.
I currently live for the weekends, so I can sleep in and spend time with my family. I spend the whole week wishing it was friday afternoon. I have panic attacks when I think of how many more years I have to go before I am in a financially stable enough position to do away with work, because by then all my children will have grown up and I wont be the young virile, agile person I am now (..kinda).
Dont get me wrong. I love my job, I love the company I work for and the people I work with. But I just cant help but think that this is seriously retarded (and by 'retarded', I mean slowed down, backwards - the true sense of the word).
I keep having to ask myself 'whats the point?'. I know what the point is. The point is that we live in a unit near the beach. We eat good food. We have a nice(ish) car. Could we do it all and work half the time? Absolutely not. To live and work half the time, we would need to make incredible sacrifices which we dont want to make. But why should we need to make sacrifices to live a healthy and prosperous life without working all week? It just doesnt make sense to me. Thinking about it makes me get hot flushes and panicky...
I have always been a non-conformist. I dont follow the crowd. I dont make it a habit to do this, it just tends to happen naturally. I always ask 'why?' instead of just saying 'yes'. But I feel like I am losing this battle. Maybe its time to conform. To say 'yes' and to not question what god-knows-how-many billions of other people do each and every day. Why should I be different?
If you have any ideas on an alternative life, I'd love to hear about them.