Allan Takes Aim Blog

Death is more important than politics

Posted on: 30 June 2010

First PublishedThe Chronicle 22 June  

This week I felt like death and found it difficult to think of a subject for this week’s column. Although it is easy to write about politicians the fact is, I doubt my adding to the reams of rubbish already written about them (and I’m to blame for writing some of it) would be of any great benefit either to readers or voters.

Occasionally, however, readers/voters take an interest in politicians, particularly those who, with what seems deep sincerity, say they are telling the truth. This is because telling the truth is a habit that seems unfamiliar to many politicians. Fortunately for politicians, voters are optimists even if lack of truth leads some of them with the feeling that being compelled to vote is unfortunate. On the other hand it might comfort to them to know that voting is not compulsory. But what is compulsory is not showing up at a polling station and being marked off the electoral role. However, once marked off, whether or not they vote is up to them.

That apart, even if voting was compulsory, it could be argued that first past the post voting is preferable to being forced to cast a vote for people you cannot respect, a practice common in less than democratic countries. It could be argued also, that being forced to vote for people we think dishonest seems contrary to Australia’s claim of being an exemplar of a liberal democracy, particularly when such compulsion results in election to Parliament of people more criminally minded than community minded.

I am not being cynical Sadly, it has to be said that, over recent months, and years, many criminal and corrupt politicians have left voters scandalised when their criminality and corruption was exposed for all to see. 

Not that criminally corrupt politicians are particular to Australia: indeed, one would be hard put to find any country, whether a democracy or a country ruled by an individual dictator or a dictatorship of the proletariat, that did not have corrupt politicians. In the ACT we should count ourselves fortunate and take comfort from the fact that, as yet, the Assembly remains untainted: long may it stay that way.

Let me now move from talking about politicians to something more important: death – my own in particular. Let me make it clear that I have no intention of shuffling off this mortal coil any time soon, unless an angry reader takes exception to something I’ve written and thinks it would benefit Canberra and readers of The Chronicle if they despatched me to eternity, whatever that might be.

Much as I enjoy life however, as I grow older I find the fight against death tougher than any fight about politicians. What helps make it tougher is the plethora of television adverts spruiking to older people the value of insuring against being interred either in a pauper’s grave or visiting the cost of their despatch to eternity on their nearest and dearest. 

The adverts I’m talking about are those with unctuous phrases, designed to make older people rush to take out insurance, because they infer that not leaving enough money for grieving relatives to despatch you in the fashion they think suitable is almost an act of bastardry. More annoyingly, these adverts imply you should be thinking about death even when you’re only fifty years old.

Such codswallop is hard to take. With life span increasing daily, fifty is a young age. People are getting married later in life and women are also bearing children later in life. That apart, it seems to me that not only might this kind of advertising cause more vulnerable older people to focus on death rather than on life but also make them think that paying in anticipation of death is more important than spending their money enjoying life.       

So let me say to people approaching fifty that while fifty is older, it is not old. Indeed Boadicea and I celebrated fifty years of married life earlier this year and on the basis of family longevity, plus the fact that medical care is already prolonging life we both expect to live for a long time yet.

So put death off. Keep enjoying life.

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday 


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