Flat White

A grey beard isn’t everything in politics

15 January 2017

9:04 AM

15 January 2017

9:04 AM

henry-parkesChange is the only constant. Ultimately, that is the only truth there is, and anything else you hear is more likely a fallacy or the remnants of a bitter pill.  

Adjusting to change can be bothersome and its consequences can be unpredictable. Hence, I agree somewhat with Spectator regular Terry Barnes’ warning in The Herald Sun about the cult of youth in politics and the inexperienced politicians it is producing. Young people lack in much and their political debut is indeed risqué. But, do you know what? Some older people lack in much also. The fact is that some people as a whole lack in much, and age is not necessarily a factor. Categorising young people as a group bereft in life experience whilst insinuating that older people must therefore automatically be wiser is a fallacy as false as any.  

I am in my late twenties, and I laughed at Mr Barnes’ assumption that young people have not cared for elderly parents, speak emoji as a second language, and are strangers to ‘personal loss, grief, and failure’. I may not have as yet cared for an elderly parent, but I spent my entire youth caring for a younger sibling whilst my single, immigrant parent went to work every day to support the family. I am certain other young people have been in similarly precarious positions. I may be adept at emojis dear Mr Barnes, but so is our good friend the Foreign Minister, so please do not judge me too harshly based on this endeavour as I seem to be in good company.  

As for personal loss, grief, and failure – young people have had their fair share. Youth unemployment in country Victoria is currently at crisis point, with one in five young people unable to find work. The woman challenging the member for Narracan, whom Mr Barnes decided to excoriate for her youth, is a hard working and independent person who is making a decisive attempt to improve the situation in her hometown. What is to criticise about that? Would Mr Barnes prefer it if she gave up and did nothing? At least she is motivated enough to try when many have given up.  

As for myself, I understand personal loss; I lost a father when I was four and I know that others have experienced similar grave losses. There is no defining age to death. Loss, painful experiences and mental illness do not discriminate, they can occur to anyone.  

The presumption that only with age comes failure and loss is a dangerous one.  Many friends who I attended school with have experienced or are still experiencing the trauma of depression, failed business ventures, failed relationships, neglectful families, gambling and alcohol addictions and so on.  

During the Global Financial Crisis, I was a university graduate who was struggling for a long time to find work just like anyone else. Is that failure enough for you? I spent many sleepless nights perplexed over unpaid bills, credit card debts and loans. Currently, I am struggling with a mortgage. So are a lot of young people that I know. Dear Mr Barnes, tell me again, how people in their twenties, are unaware of life’s complexities?  

Judging political candidates by their age is a shallow and superficial method of absolving oneself of the great responsibility of voting for a candidate in an election. We do not vote for the oldest and most experienced person on the day. We vote for the best person on the day. 

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