WHY AM I HERE?

One of the greatest story tellers in the history of the United States of America was MARK TWAIN, an author of legend.

He was also a spellbinding orator and superb raconteur.

Of all his great words, I regard these as his finest.

‘There are two memorable days in your life. The first is the day you are born. The second is when you ask yourself this question,

WHY AM I HERE?

Tragedy is that most people either avoid the question or feel unable to answer it.

I was reminded of Mark Twain this week when the Australian Government held a Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra that was attended by 150 of our nations most influential citizens and who were joined by a selection of powerful Members of Parliament.

Over 2 days, they made 36 recommendations to Government for action which I hope will be implemented quickly, skillfully and efficiently. It is a reasonable assessment to say that the Summit was a success.

Over and above this, the Summit conveyed a personal message to you and me. It challenged us to decide what we will do with our lives at work and play and as volunteers working to create a cohesive society.

The stage is now set for circumstances whereby there will be sufficient jobs available so we can choose, without pressure to work full or part time, no matter what our age or gender or status or wealth or ethnic heritage.

Interestingly, it is confidently expected that many people will now choose part time work in their quest to have a better quality of life.

Especially, older Australians will have the opportunity to return to the work force without losing part of their pension. Hopefully also, a decision will soon be made that will enable self funded retirees to work part time & put their pay in full into their superannuation fund.

Another hope is that volunteers will be given far more interesting challenges in charity work other than the boring task of preparing morning tea or driving cars.

Notably, the greatest thrust of the Summit was to help mothers get back into the paid workforce where they can show their worth and skill in ways they are currently denied (and also add to their superannuation which is currently far inferior to that of males).

Over and above all this are our personal aspirations for a life of fulfillment.

Along with the reforms of the Jobs and Skills Summit will come a flexibility of employment opportunities which will enable people to seek ways and means of achieving personal goals as the result of answering the Mark Twain question – WHY AM I HERE?

Every one of us, no matter what our age or financial position or state of health – or what we have already achieved in life – could have or may have or may think about having a fresh goal or goals in life. Indeed, I read the other day of a woman whose life circumstances had caused her to have only a very basic education. Yet, in her 90’s, she studied for and achieved a University Degree in Arts just to prove she could do it. She has arranged for the scroll that the University gave her to be placed in her coffin as an eternal symbol.

Many of us by force of events may have wound up in an occupation that was not our prime choice. Now, in retirement, why not give it a go, retrain and try to spend at least a decade enjoying your dream before your health gives out.

The opportunities are without limit. I can speak from experience as I have enjoyed 5 occupations fairly successfully over my 90 years – banker, accountant, fund raising consultant, company director, author. Its not all that hard to achieve.

A wonderful thing to do would be to form a business partnership with a young person in which you mentor one another as you work together to achieve a goal. The older person brings wisdom and experience and, hopefully a bit of financial capital. The younger one brings modern knowledge, computer skills, physical strength and vibrant enthusiasm. (I enjoy one such partnership. I do a weekly podcast with a young lawyer, James Morgan, who is 70 years my junior. We call it ‘Young James and Old Everald talk politics’)

So, a new world is opening up for every one of us to accept or reject.

Parliament appears to be getting its act together, showing some leadership and opening doors to opportunity.

We now can decide whether or not we walk through those doors and, if it has been unanswered up to this point in time, grab the future in both hands and say

I KNOW WHY I AM HERE.

From a fan of HUCKLEBERRY FINN and TOM SAWYER.

And who has Flynn of the Inland as his personal role model of achievement. (I wrote a book about him called THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES).

Everald

TRADITIONAL CHURCHES ARE DYING

Census 2022 reveals that only 44% of Australians believe in God.

Back in my school days, it was 90%

Even less identify with a mainline Church.

In particular, the Uniting Church, of which I am an Elder, has had a significant drop in membership, 22% since the previous Census in 2016, with most now being over 70 years of age.

This means that the death of the Church is about a decade away.

Looking at the short history of the Uniting Church, it reveals a performance which is nothing less than a disaster.

45 years ago, I was one of the team that worked nationally to organise a union of Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches and was present in Melbourne when all three Churches gathered to vote to create the Uniting Church of Australia.

We were able to announce that the new Church had 2.5 million members.

Census 2022 now reveals that the Uniting Church has only 670,000 members.

This means that 1.8 million members have been lost over a period of half a century even though the population of Australia increased by more than 25% during that time.

So it is that I regard my work in helping to create the new Church as being the greatest failure of my life and I cannot deny the fact that, as an active Elder for all of that time, I bear a share of the unavoidable responsibility for the disaster.

Why and how did it happen?

Many theories abound, but here are my thoughts on the main ones.

*The prime activity of most UC members has been to keep their local churches alive and viable no matter what the cost. There has been negligible effort to take the Church and its message out to the community even though our historical mentor, John Wesley, had set a very clear example of spending minimal time in church buildings. The world has simply passed us by as our local churches are steadily closing despite our faithful efforts.

*The outreach of the Uniting Church through its hospitals, schools, aged care, Blue Nurses, Lifeline etc was once powered in service to the community by Christians giving their time and money in huge quantities. Sadly, their involvement has been phased out as more and more government funds became available. Now, very few Christians work in those institutions. It really is stretching the truth to claim that they are faith based.

*The theology of the Uniting Church is predominantly based on words spoken 2000 years ago and fails to acknowledge that God has constantly spoken in far more meaningful ways through the lives of great Christians ever since. Most people now believe that ancient theology is irrelevant to their lives whereas personal Christian example is powerful.

*All churches, not just the Uniting Church, have a negative image in society. They opposed Same Sex Marriage, Voluntary Assisted Dying and Abortion as well as having a hideous record of Child Abuse and its illegal cover up. The advocacy of the prosperity gospel also repels millions of decent people.

So it is that most marriages and funerals don’t happen in Churches anymore as too many people simply do not want to identify, nor do they want to involve ordained clergy.

So, what do we do about it? We cannot sit around doing nothing.

We can stop living by ancient creeds and dogmas and holy attitudes and spend quality time walking with Jesus of Nazareth to create a more compassionate society. Millions of people can be successfully challenged to have Jesus as their role model and live a life based on what they believe he would do in meeting their daily challenges.

They cant see any point is giving time and money to keep Church doors open , especially when Churches like Hillsong regularly present a less than honest and decent image.

But people do want a code of values and ethics and compassion that can be the cornerstone of life.

The so-called ‘happy clappy’ Churches are only a tiny percentage of the population and have a significant turnover of members as many stay for only five years, but they have missionary zeal and constantly go out to actively enlist new members, whereas traditional churches just put up a sign saying ‘You are welcome.’

So it is that, while I still attend the Aspley Uniting Church every Sunday and chair ACTS, its community service arm, I rarely identify myself by the title of Christian or Church member.

However, I do openly and regularly raise the basis of my faith in speeches by saying,

‘I am a Partner of Jesus of Nazareth. We work together to make the world a better place.’

I welcome your company along the pilgrim way.

Sincerely

Everald

My novel, A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET, sets out my personal theology in a positive manner, expressed through the life of a man who is terminally ill.

I am happy to talk about it if you invite me to your church or club.

You can buy a signed copy on my personal website

EVERALD@LARGE

or online from any major bookstore.

BRIGHTLY FADES ELIZABETH

The Platinum Jubilee of the longest reign in British History is over.

Despite the physical frailty of the Queen denying her the ability to attend most of its premier events, it has been a memorable success and the British people appear to have enjoyed it immensely.

Now, the monarchy will slowly fade away and in a few generations it will be no more, an historical memory of the grandeur of old England.

Indeed, the royals of all the nations who still have them will slide into obsolescence.

After all, why should the descendants of families who gained places of privilege centuries ago continue to hold a place of authority in any nation.

All leaders of whatever rank must always be chosen by the people. No one is entitled to inherit authority or entitlement.

Having said this, it would be unjust and ungracious to fail to acknowledge that Elizabeth is as fine a monarch as anyone is ever going to find in the long histories of the monarchies of the world.

She admirably represents justice, stability, decency and a total commitment to service.

Down the years, some of her family have acted like alley cats, but she coped with it with considerable grace.

But, much of her heritage is wrong.

Why should any monarch require four huge castles in which to live – Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham and Balmoral, plus several large income earning estates – when there are countless people in her nation who are homeless.

Why is she also be the spiritual head of the Church of England, when there should always be a clear separation between Church and State.

So there it is.

We can prepare for a world without Elizabeth (and her tribe).

Young 4 year old Prince Louis caught it all superbly well when the relentless media caught him yawning and groaning with boredom that most kids of his age do quite naturally. They roasted his parents for not exercising discipline. I am pleased they did not chastise him. Lois represented us all. He was thoroughly bored with all the nonsense and let the world know about it.

Your un-royal friend who gives Elizabeth a well earned cheer.

Everald.

PS. Order the book bargain of the year. Go to my website

EVERALD@LARGE

and click on books to get my 3 good reads

THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES

DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS

A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET

for the total bargain price of 50 dollars, plus 15 dollars postage and packaging.

A great birthday present for a friend. I will write their name in each book and sign them.

A BUSH HOLIDAY IS MOST EFFECTIVE VACCINE FOR COVID19

Heritage listed bridge
Heritage listed Dickabram Bridge over the Mary River

Helen and I decided to go bush last week for a change of scenery and an escape, mentally and physically, from COVID19.

We achieved this by signing up as travellers with NATURE BOUND AUSTRALIA, a unique bush touring operation that is very professionally owned and managed by our friends, John and Ros Thompson.

For a moderate fee covering their time and all costs, they take couples like us out into the country in their comfortable four-wheel drive for a highly personalised bush experience that is based on relaxed chats on heritage, history, environment, natural capital and good physical and mental health.

We chose how many days we wanted to go on tour with them and agreed on an itinerary after we had interesting advice from them about the many options that rural Australia offers. None of our chosen destinations had yet experienced COVID19.

Our itinerary took us on back roads through delightfully small communities and our accommodation was in bed and breakfast homes on farming and grazing properties, with other meals at wineries and quaint cafes in interesting places.

Creekbend B&B
Creekbend B&B

John and Ros are a huge source of knowledge about local history right back to the dreamtime of indigenous culture and spirituality, their deep attachment to the land and connecting it to the advent of European culture.

We looked at the impact of civilisation on the environment and the way in which we all consume our natural capital without being aware of it. A fascinating experience.

Occasionally, we got out of phone range, but always managed to connect with Wi-Fi regularly.

The end result of it all was a refreshed mind, more stored knowledge of our superb continent & a happy attitude towards preserving its wellbeing and our own.

We got our money’s worth and more.

Next year, we will line up again because we know that, in essence, a good bush holiday is all about reconnecting to nature and the guiding restorative power it has on our lives.

You can contact the Thompsons on their website natureboundaustralia.com. It will be one of your more productive contacts.

FULLY FRANKED MUST BE FRANK AND FAIR

It is beyond dispute that Bill Shorten is correct when he states that a cash refund of franking credits on investments should be claimed only by a taxpayer.

What is in dispute is the timing and manner in which he intends to legislate changes to current taxation laws on those credits.

His planned legislation must be changed to exempt all shares purchased prior to 30 June, 2019. This will give retirees the same privileges that he has stated that he will grant to those affected by his changes to taxation benefits relating to negative gearing and capital gains.

To deny this, will mean that he will be declaring that property developers are more worthy citizens than retirees and deserve privileges that are to be denied to retirees. Continue reading “FULLY FRANKED MUST BE FRANK AND FAIR”

THE YEAR THAT NEVER WAS

2018 has been the most pointless of my 87 years.

Nothing dreadful happened to me or Australia. It was just a boring time of decadent politics and absent ethics in which not one inspiring thing happened and there was much to lament.

There are many regrettable issues that deserve a mention, but I will talk about just three.

The Royal Commissions on Child Abuse and Aged Care.

The Royal Commission on Banking

The demise of Malcolm Turnbull.

I write, not as a lament, but in the hope of working out how we can make sure they are never repeated. There simply has to be a better way to run our country. Continue reading “THE YEAR THAT NEVER WAS”

LET’S KILL WELFARE

It is unfortunate that the word ‘welfare’, which used to mean well-being, now implies that recipients are unfortunate people who need to be propped up by the rest of society, much to the anger of an increasing majority who resent the sense of entitlement that many welfare beneficiaries seem to have adopted.

It’s time to remove it from our vocabulary and from our economic and social system, replacing it with a NATIONAL DIVIDEND that is paid to every Australian citizen every year.

This is not just another political idea, it is an unavoidable change that will be forced upon us when robots and their artificial intelligence take over the productivity of the nation leaving millions of us without employment while the Federal Treasury absorbs the revenue of a technology driven Australia.

So, it will be smart if we plan for it now instead of having it forced upon us in panic mode. Continue reading “LET’S KILL WELFARE”

ASSISTED DYING – A SIMPLE CHOICE

I am grateful for the gift of life that has been mine and I hope that I have managed to make a good contribution to the society in which I live.

This being so, I don’t want to live if a time arises when I have no quality of life. At this point, I want out immediately, and if there are no laws authorising Voluntary Euthanasia in Queensland where I live, then I fully intend to do everything I can to bring on a good heart attack.

I do not want to lie in bed like a vegetable and cause my family to make endless visits to my bedside to see someone who is simply not me, just an object of pity.

I want them to remember me as an active and happy achiever who enjoyed their company. Their last sight of me must not be awful.

And I want to save the nursing home fees so the money can be used to give my grandkids a great start in life.

Clearly, the best outcome is for the Queensland Government to make it legal for me to voluntarily take a tablet. Continue reading “ASSISTED DYING – A SIMPLE CHOICE”

WARPED WELFARE WAILING

Contrary to what we are told by politicians and the media, the cost of welfare is not a major element among the issues that we face in achieving and sustaining the financial viability of Australia.

Currently, the crippling costs to the economy are –

Corporate handouts and concessions.

Tax Avoidance, particularly by multi-national corporations.

Negative Gearing.

The costs of Direct Action on the environment which should be paid by a tax on polluters.

Gross waste and inefficiency with Defence.

Superannuation tax havens.

A hugely bloated Public Service.

Enormous duplication costs between Federal, State and Local Governments.

The totally unnecessary costs of perpetuating racism at Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island

Added to these will be the proposed tax cuts which are based on the blatant lie that the benefits will trickle down from the rich to the poor. It never has and it never will.

Nevertheless, too many politicians have always believed that there are lots of votes to be won by belting citizens who are old, handicapped, unemployed or homeless. So, they commit perjury every day as they blatantly dig deep to reach the darkest elements of the voting public. Continue reading “WARPED WELFARE WAILING”

Rating Malcolm

Australia has had 29 Prime Ministers – some excellent, a few worthy of special mention, many mediocre, some shockers.

I thought that I would rate them while enjoying a wee dram of superb single malt scotch whisky – Lagavulin from the Isle of Islay – as it expands my mind to a splendid level of generosity.

The result is that I rank Malcolm Turnbull at No 19, ahead of Abbott, Rudd and McMahon who shared the wooden spoon.

My reasoning is simple. He has the capacity to become a great PM, but he is a long way short of realising his potential. Continue reading “Rating Malcolm”

THE POLITICAL DISCONNECT

On election eve, I have belatedly come to the reluctant conclusion that politicians and voters actually live in totally different worlds which are light years apart.

In reality, the gap between people and the political establishment is huge, so much so that few will disagree with me when I say that politicians appear to be dwelling on a remote planet that has no affinity to the rest of us.

Even more glaringly obvious is the fact that, despite a seemingly endless campaign, neither Turnbull nor Shorten has hit the trigger that switches on voters. Indeed, they have actually switched us off with their childish fear tactics and patronising policies that are designed to buy our loyalty.

Independents and Minor Parties are in closer contact with voters mainly because they are not burdened with outdated ideology or a born to rule mentality, but they too have a way to go to bridge a yawning gap that is a national disgrace.

So, there will be a revolt on Saturday as voters exercise the only power they possess – the treasured democratic privilege of taking revenge on underperforming politicians who weigh down both the Coalition and Labor. Continue reading “THE POLITICAL DISCONNECT”

D-DAY FOR THE AGE PENSION

It is an indisputable fact that pensioners in Australia have been underpaid for more than a century. Nevertheless, little mention of it is being made in the Australian Election of 2016. In truth, there is a defining silence surrounding it for reasons that totally escape me.

Be this as it may, the time has come to correct this huge blot on the humanitarian record of our nation, particularly as a UN Report has stated that 50% of Australian Pensioners live on or below the poverty line. This is intolerable in a prosperous nation. Continue reading “D-DAY FOR THE AGE PENSION”

EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT

We are two weeks into the 2016 Australian Election and I have waited in vain to hear any policies of vision and conviction from either the Coalition, the Opposition or the Greens that will stir my passion as a proud Australian who wants to build and expand the quality of our nation.

Sadly, I have stared at a barren waste.

Our politicians have missed the heart beat of the nation. They are talking to the old fashioned electorate of yesteryear that no long exists. Continue reading “EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT”

The Remains of a Year of Tumult

I have been around for 84 years, none of them ever boring, but 2015 has been a corker.

Happily, the two most incompetent political leaders of my era were removed from power – Tony Abbott in Canberra and Campbell Newman in Brisbane. Continue reading “The Remains of a Year of Tumult”

Century of Age Pension guessing

Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin met at the Melbourne Club for lunch in 1908 to agree on legislation that would give Australians an Age Pension for the first time. The figure that they chose for the initial pension was the amount they reckoned the government could afford, not what pensioners actually needed.

Since then, every government has calculated the pension the same way. Its time for us to work out what it should actually be. The best way to do it will be to establish an independent Age Pension Authority and do it with a unanimous bipartisan vote of Parliament. Continue reading “Century of Age Pension guessing”

TONY ABBOTT AND THE LONG SEARCH FOR YESTERDAY

Whenever our nation is in crisis we yearn for the good old days when threats like this did not happen. Whenever we avoid a crisis we say it is because we honoured old traditions that were certain to keep us safe. Of course, as we all know, there has never been any such things as good old days, nor could we revive them even if there were. We just enjoy a bit of nostalgia here and there. Continue reading “TONY ABBOTT AND THE LONG SEARCH FOR YESTERDAY”

AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING

When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister he made an extraordinary decision not to appoint a Minister for Ageing even though the entire planet faces a huge crisis in which the population is ageing faster than at any time in the history of humanity. Continue reading “AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING”