Category Archives: the butterfly effect

Someone’s son

dawn service

In the early morning darkness, on the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, my friend leaned across and whispered with teary eyes “It just hit me that all these boys, were about your boy’s age.”

And I stood there feeling a whole new wave of cold.

somebody's sons

They were someone’s son.

Every one.

Someone’s son.

My beautiful boy’s age.


flowers and boer war memorial

“…They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow…”

fallen leaves

fallen leaves

Steady and aglow.

poppies and courthouse

In 1934 Atatürk wrote a tribute to the Anzacs killed at Gallipoli:

Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours …
You, the mothers
who sent their sons from faraway countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well.

We remember Gallipoli. The Turks remember Çannakale.

The mothers just remember their boys.

Then. As now.

Their beautiful boys.

Steady and aglow.



This changes everything …

Over the years we’ve chosen to pick our battles with the kids. Hair colours, piercings, clothes – we’ve pretty much let those slip through to the keeper. They’re superficial things. Easily changed. Easily grown out of.

No, the things we’ve gone toe to toe about are those deep seated values of respect, honesty and trust.

I’ve realised this week I need to adopt the same approach to life and the issues we find ourselves surrounded by. I can’t keep across it all. I’m not going to try anymore.

I need to pick my battle.

In 2015 it’s going to be the environment.


Because if we don’t start stepping up, we’re going to get stepped on.

the 2015 politicians' to do list

I read an interesting statistic during the week on the Mother Jones site.

“Globally, the total amount of clean energy investment jumped 16 percent in 2014, to $310 billion …(and so it went on till the last dispiriting paragraph … ) There was one darker patch in the numbers: Australia, where the government is trying to slash the country’s Renewable Energy Target, a policy that creates mandates for the amount of clean energy in the electricity mix. Bucking the global trend, investments there fell by 35 percent.”

She groaned.

Out loud.

Nearing the end of my six week hiatus I’ve just finished reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, a book that has taken five years to research and write.

I had a sense, but I realise now, I had no true understanding of just how powerful the fossil fuel industry is throughout the world.

It is pervasive. It is fighting for its very existence. And it will go to any lengths to keep breathing and keep turning a profit. Whether that’s by funding political campaigns or funding green groups themselves. Don’t laugh, it’s absolutely true.

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University and has twice been voted Australia’s leading public intellectual and in this excellent review of This Changes Everything for The Monthly he concludes by saying :

“Like all those engaged in this struggle, Klein admits that she cannot free herself entirely from the threat of “inertia or even despair”. Neither she nor I nor anyone else knows whether humankind will rise to the challenge of climate change; or, if we do, whether it will be too late; or, if it is not too late, what the new, non–fossil fuel energy mix will be; or how this new mix will be transferred from the developed to the less developed world; or what the world that has transcended neoliberalism and unfettered capitalism will look like. Of only one thing can we be sure. None of this will happen without a revolution in the way we think about our relations with the Earth and with our fellow human beings. Naomi Klein understands all this as clearly as any contemporary thinker, which is why I regard This Changes Everything as among the most brilliant and important books of recent times.”

I grew up in a Liberal family. My parents ran their own businesses. They worked hard and they saved all their lives. They were self-funded retirees and didn’t believe in being a burden to anyone, including their own children in their final years.

If you lean towards the right and think all of this is bullshit, I would beseech you to give this book a go. It isn’t anti-business. It’s not even anti-extractivism. But it’s very much about exposing an extractive mindset that callously puts profits before and at the expense of everything else.

So here is my personal takeaway…

(from Klein) … “In 2009, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and Mark A. Delucchi, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, authored a groundbreaking, detailed road map for “how 100 percent of the world’s energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030.” 

Whether that’s 100 percent true or not, the fact is, change – full blown, renewable, clean, change – is absolutely possible.

Ask yourself why it’s not happening.

Because all roads lead back to the immensely rich fossil fuel families, foundations and corporations that are oiling the wheels of the extractive industries and governments.

I don’t want to live in “the one darker patch” in a clean energy world. I want Australia to be a bright light in a renewable future. I want our political representatives to get their heads out of the fossil fuel lobby’s lap and think beyond the next election.

I’m with Robert Manne on this one. This Changes Everything is “among the most brilliant and important books of recent times.”

If any local friends want to borrow it sing out. It’ll blow your mind.



A greengrocer’s granddaughter


I feel like my life is at a tipping point.


Lately the universe has been sending me signals that things have got to change.

I have a friend who has what we call spotlight attention syndrome. What I mean by that is that you can be talking away to him and know full well that he’s only half listening and then, BANG!, like a spotlight, he turns and laser beams in on your words, your face, and you know you have his complete and full attention.

I feel that I’ve been half-listening to the messages about our environment, about eating local, about the western world’s love affair with the shiny and new, the biggest and best.

I saw this quote from the beautiful Lisa Chiodo at Renovating Italy this morning in the comment section on Whole Larder Love.

“… I have no doubt at all that the life we are creating for our children (and ourselves) is the right move, out of the suburbs of Queensland to the wild mountains of Italy.

We now live on so much less and get so much more, and I especially see this for our son Luca who has high functioning autism. All of a sudden he is blossoming, he is in a tiny village school which is high on hugs and praise, previously he was always going to be ‘not good enough’ and unable to ‘keep up with his peers’…at last he is learning to read (aged nine). We only need a small amount to live well here, our kids are learning in the school of life xx

I have never seen life and death the way I do here, it’s right in your face, we were invited to make the salami, butcher the pig, see the feathers of the chickens killed for that nights dinner, get eggs fresh from our chickens, growing rabbits for the pot, eating veggies from our own garden, it’s wonderful, not a hardship at all in fact the reverse. If I’d have known this I would have done it years ago, and as you say even in the city it’s possible to grow something, join a community garden, buy food from local markets, buy less and live more. …”

Buy less and live more.

Am I in your spotlight?

Buy less and live more.

Ghandi once didn’t say … “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

He actually said something like this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”

The spotlight is pointing over into the wings. It’s up on the ceiling.

But we need to throw a spotlight on ourselves, especially those of us who find ourselves, as privileged individuals in a western world.

Everytime I go to the checkout and realise I’ve forgotten my fabric bags now I feel like I’ve let myself and the community down. I’m embarrassed now to walk to the car carrying plastic bags. I kick myself when I realise I’ve missed catching our local whole food co-op when it’s open, when I have to throw out food I’ve let rot in the fridge.

Imagine a world where the western world’s symbols of success actually became symbols of excess. I mean I know they carry that to some degree now, but imagine they actually became a symbol that says “Look at me, I’m letting my planet down.”

It’s a hard reality.

We need homes. We need cars. We need food. But we don’t need more than our fair share of what the planet has to give us.

I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning after the boys had left and I had this sudden memory that my grandfather used to have a greengrocer’s store in Oakleigh, a suburb of Melbourne. I was very little when Mum used to take me down to visit each year, but I can still remember the pride he took with his produce which at that time would have all been sourced locally. I think there were moments during her life when mum might have been a little bit embarrassed that she was a greengrocer’s daughter – especially when they were mixing in more swishy company. But as I sat there this morning, smiling at the memory, thinking about what our individual choices do to the planet, I couldn’t be more proud that Grandpa made his living providing his community with beautiful locally sourced fruit and veg. I think in the world we’re living in now, Mum would be too.

Buy less.

Live more.

Spotlight fades to black.

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