There are certain traditions, in the absence of ritualised faith, which our family observes, and has observed, ever since we moved into this area when the kids were still toddlers. One of them was to go to the Easter Sale at our local Community Hall. The other was to go to the Baptist Parish Fete, at about this time every year.
We always made our best efforts to be first in line too! So we could race to get to the best of the bargains. Or so we deluded ourselves as we dashed in and headed somewhere, anywhere, hoping that, when we got there the holy grail was waiting there for us for the grand sum of $1!
Sometimes the thrill of the chase is half the fun though, isn’t it? To the point that, when you get the stuff home you get this sinking feeling that goes along with the realisation that you now have to find a space for it all in your finite space at home, or else chuck something else to the wayside, which may no longer hold the place in your affections it once did, when it was your latest sparkly new bauble filled with potential to bring you joy. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way to make it work. Space is found.
And then you start the process all over again, building up your expectations about what gems you might find next year. Or, at least I do.
So much so that it has become one of those family rituals, as I said, and we would feel the loss for missing out on doing it.
Though it wasn’t a ritual born of a need for an entertaining diversion. It was instead, initially, born of necessity. As a young family, who had just lost our family home & business in ‘The Recession We Had To Have’, conjoined with, ‘The Business Sharks Who Preyed On the Naive and Gullible That We Didn’t Need To Make the Acquaintance Of Really’, and so had given up on our dream of ‘Having It All’, then having a family, we came back to NSW from WA with nothing much more than the clothes on our backs. It being too expensive to bring back our worldly possessions with us. So we had a Monster Garage Sale in WA & used the proceeds, after we flew back, to buy a car and set up in rented accommodation in NSW. Back to square 1 we went. Still it could have been worse.
Well, it sort of was, as neither I, nor my husband were able to work. He because he had broken his back in a car accident with a drunk driver, and me, because I was looking after him and two young children, one of whom was in and out of hospital 18 times in his first 24 months. So, goodbye Pharmacy. I was not able to reliably commit to it.
However, we still had our smarts and we could smell at that time, about 1996, how big the computer phenomenon was going to be & knew how important it would be for our children to be a part of the digital future. Hence our identification of the fetes, Easter Sales & garage sales, as a way of picking our way into that future via the cheapest means possible. Luckily we live in an affluent area where people update their tech regularly, so we could afford to be just a step or two behind the pace. Which was enough when we combined that with judicious purchases of new components and a do-it-yourself attitude.
Now, by this time, I bet you’re wondering what all that has to do with the subject of the post?
Well, it’s all because of that word, ‘Context’. Bear with me.
You see, it’s my eldest son’s birthday in a couple of weeks, and without enough money to buy him something magnificent, I always try and find him something the equivalent thereof at the Baptist fete, and it never fails to deliver! So it turned out again this year when, in the headlong rush when the doors opened I ran madly into the hall and came face to face with an as-new telescope, which would normally have cost a few hundred dollars. I looked at the price and it was hard to read but I believe it said $60. I knew I couldn’t afford this so I tried my standard trick & asked one of the Baptists who were manning the tables & taking the $, could they please tell me how much it was? And this was where the term ‘Christian Charity’ came into it’s own, not the faux sort that ‘Believers’ like the Prosperity Gospel Greed Is Good’ Evangelicals like Scott Morrison practice, but the genuine kind, came into play as the man whom I asked took one look at me and knew somehow, in an instant, that I was asking because I hoped he would say a price I could afford. Which he did. He said $15, and so it was that I came away with a very special present for my son.
However, what this random act of kindness did, was get me to thinking about that community of people, with their unostentatious faith, whom I had been observing since early morning happily setting up their fete for the local community. For the community. To enrich the community. Not to enrich themselves particularly, though, of course the money raised helps to sustain them and their congregation for another year.
Now, being political and not particularly religious, though a small ‘c’ Christian by deed and not overt Faith tied to one religion or another, I looked at these people and I thought to myself, “These people are the antithesis of Liberal Party values & the so-called ‘Christians’ who seem, increasingly, to be taking over that party. These people, setting up and running the fete, with their conspicuous happiness and generosity towards each other and to complete strangers like me, are exactly the sort of people Labor is trying to appeal to with it’s policies and by it’s actions. Actions similar, in a macro sense, to that microscopically small action that one person did for another today. To me. Plus, may I obviously add, actions very similar to those that Jesus himself would have done or approved of.
Yet I had to admit that these people were also very conservative, as devout practicing Christians tend to be. Nice and conservative. Happy in their community, but conservative. Therefore, more likely than not, to vote for a conservative party.
Even though they behave more like people with Labor values. Of care and concern for the least of us and a willingness to share what they have amongst everyone.
Now, as it appears that our society is seeing an upsurge in the growth of discrete communities, of Faith, like this one and others, as well as fracturing into sporting communities, or communities of interest based around hobbies, but not so much around politics as their religion (hence the decline in numbers of members of political parties), except as a community of interest in politics exists here on this blog, and in other forums online. I wondered, therefore, what the Labor Party could do to win these good people back to supporting a party with values very similar to their own essentially?
For as I see it roughly, the Conservative vote is made up of the philosophical ideologues of the Right, plus those good-hearted, but small ‘c’ conservative people who identify with conservative values generally, but not the extreme philosophies of the Reactionary Conservatives that we see writ large every day in our Conservative Party, going by the misnomer of the Liberal Party.
We know Labor is the home of the Progressive(and, dare I say it, the Pragmatic) Left, however, I contend that it also needs to become the home of the small ‘c’ conservative Left, like those I saw today. Not that they should be the focus of Labor’s attentions but that they should be accommodated in our tent.
I do think we have some of them, such as the Catholics unlike Tony Abbott, and the Uniting Church, plus the Anglican laity, not the hierarchy, to a large extent. Good people, who practice what is preached to them.
I’d just like these others, who still believe their home is in the Coalition, come election time and time to vote, to see that it isn’t really. Really, it’s with Labor.
Now, how to get them to see that?