Australia suffered an election shock this past Saturday as the much-anticipated victory for Australia’s Labor Party dissolved, resulting in a win, and a third successive term for the Australian Liberal Party (for North American readers, that’s the conservative party). It was shocking because in the lead up to the election, Newspoll had Labor comfortably ahead and predicted a win. The crushing loss for Labor sent my social media into a tailspin with doom-impending gasbaggery akin to when Trump unexpectedly won in 2016. Unexpected for those who lost, but expected for those who won. But what else is new? Social media is a hotbed for post-election hysteria that becomes tiring very quick. Facebook and Twitter have become the screaming-into-your-pillow of the digital age except that everyone on your friends list, everyone that follows you, can hear you scream. I say this from an apolitical viewpoint because I understand that both sides of the aisle get angry. It’s ok to be angry, but honestly, tone it down, or at least find some focus in your rage.
The Australian election campaign is thankfully shorter than the US elections, so instead of a long campaign of putrid election sloganeering, fake smiles and empty promises, we get about two months. It isn’t to say Australian elections aren’t similar to the low-levels in which electioneering stoops to- far from it. Australia also has a multitude of unpleasant political caricatures. But anyone who has lived through an election almost anywhere around the globe will find that it is all very much the same. After the polls close and the results start to trickle in, social media is awash with panic, moral outrage, and virtue signaling. I’m sure it happens on both sides but because of recent elections swinging a certain way, we are often met with those absolutely outraged that people could possibly have viewpoints opposed to theirs- in an unpleasant manner.
“Good morning to everyone except for those who voted Liberal” and “delete me as a friend” are just some of the tamest of responses I saw all through Saturday night and Sunday. I cannot even print some of the hysterical commentary posted, not because their fears are not justified, but because the hysterical and often contradictory nature in which they present them nullifies any effect they have. On the flip side, there was very little from my friends who are of the more conservative nature, no gloating, no “I told you so”, no schadenfreude. For those who celebrated the election as a triumph of their beliefs, it is like any other day after an election.
Progressives often dismiss the concerns of baby boomers and conservatives as outdated and old. However, when they fail to acknowledge these concerns and instead focus their energies on solving only what they think are the problems at hand, they risk losing supporters. In the case of the 2019 elections, it may have been one of the reasons why it didn’t swing Labor’s way. It is clear that after this election, the silent voters of Australia still carry a big stick.
The day after the election, I spent a good portion of it at the local market, doing what many do on a Sunday. Shopping for groceries and planning for the week ahead. The market was teeming with people, all basking in the sun of a grateful Sunday where we are still enjoying the many wonderful things we have in Australia. As I worked my way through the busy crowds of people, dodging the rushing market goers itching for a good deal on this week’s meat and vegetables, I was reminded that most of these people voted in the elections- from all different colors of the political spectrum. Many of them are furious with what transpired I’m sure, and some, happy that their political party of choice remained in power. But most sat together in relative peace, with only the slow service of the market’s food court clearly troubling their day. It was a reminder that amongst all the social media hysterics, life goes on. It did after Tony Abbott was elected in Australia in 2013, and it did after Trump was elected in 2016.
Today is a new day. For those mired in dismay, the hope is that today ignites your fuel and passion to fight a better, smarter fight. It is like any day after an election.
Make Dodgeball Great Again
Dodgeball is not an ‘unethical tool of oppression’ and to label it so is both ludicrous and dangerous. Have we lost our minds?
I remember it as if it was yesterday. The recently completed gym floor was crisp, clean, and squeaked with almost every step of the overpriced sneakers that graced it. Battle lines had been drawn and there I was, locked and loaded in the far right corner of the gym. I had scanned the battlefield ahead, and saw that the opposition numbers were dwindling- falling like the cannon fodder they were. My fellow combatants were more than capable, some in fact, excelled like this game was art, like it was real battle.
Then I saw my target, arms to her side, nervously looking across from her side of diminishing numbers. Her eyes screamed ‘fear’ (or maybe indifference, but in my mind, it was fear) and I knew that there was only one thing to do. I gripped the foam of the ball with a vengeful firmness, loaded my arm with the fury of a Nolan Ryan fastball and let loose. My memory says the sound of the noisy gym was broken, and that all the fellow combatants and fallen brethren fell silent, stopped and followed this one moment as the ball left my hand to its intended destination. It was a glorious moment. Glorious because unlike most times, the ball flew through the air with unmatched grace. Unlike most times I threw the ball, there was no deviation, no broken flight plan. And unlike most times, where I’d luckily hit my target on the leg, or on the arm, it zeroed in with laser-like precision and exploded itself right in Annie’s* face. Bullseye. Like a bird exploding from a Randy Johnson fastball.
Did I revel in the glory of that standstill moment? Was the brazen destruction of a fellow combatant as cinematically award-winning as a Spielberg movie? The truth is, that wasn’t the case. Amongst the fleeting chaos of the game, no one saw. No one stopped and watched my moment, and that in reality, it was a split second that remains animated only in mind. I recoiled in shock, partly because it was not my intention to hit someone in the face, no matter how unintentionally glorious it was. But partly because my gut instinct was to slink away into the back of the pack to hide unseen- like a cowardly saboteur responsible for the wreckage, eager to hide from the blame. I didn’t even look back at what I had done.
I don’t remember who won this particular game (safe to say it wasn’t Annie), but it was all part and parcel to the wonderful school-time game of dodgeball.
One that has come under scrutiny, and under the threat, by the researchers discussed in this National Post article, who have labeled it an “unethical tool of oppression”. With such hyperbole, you’d think they were talking about a population who lived under a military dictatorship, or a segment of that population threatened during mass rioting. Not surprisingly, I lived through both of the latter, and no, dodgeball is nothing like either. They are talking about dodgeball- a mostly harmless game (unless you are Annie) played by children during recess and PE class.
The article goes on to say how dodgeball, along with other forms of games played during PE class are sports of “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation” and that dodgeball in particular, is “not just unhelpful to the development of kind and gentle children who will become decent citizens of a liberal democracy. It is actively harmful to this process.” Sounds like it was written by someone picked last in gym class.
We can argue endlessly about the participation-trophy culture that has permeated the discourse of children’s sports (they couldn’t even settle on a winner at the Spelling Bee). But the truth is, I fear greatly for the future of democracy if we equate the game of dodgeball to actual, real oppression. Sure, Annie probably doesn’t like dodgeball all that much, but I too was hit plenty on the dodgeball court. Like I was on the basketball court. But it’s all part of growing some thick skin in this very real world where people don’t throw soft, red balls at you. The truth is, most kids would probably benefit from getting hit in the face with a dodgeball a few times, it’ll be good for them in the long run. This I’m certain of.
I had a lot of fun playing dodgeball as a kid. It’s an absolute shame that there are “scholars” and “researchers” who equate it to very real life issues this world faces. Teaching kids that life isn’t fair from a young age is a good thing. Participation-trophy culture is not. I don’t need a Ph.D. to know so.
Dodgeball teaches you a great deal in a simple game. And if dodgeball supposedly teaches children lessons of democracy, then I sure as hell would want the future leaders of whatever world we venture towards to be able to dodge a wrench when someone throws one at their heads.
*Annie is not her real name. C’mon, how much of an asshole do you think I am?