I like to think of myself as a grumpy old sod. I’m a complaining old whinger, a cynic to the heart.
Being a cynic is great. It’s especially useful if you want to be a writer of humour, particularly with a satirical edge. How else can you catalogue all the stupidity and mean-spiritedness of the human race if you’re not already walking around with a mindset that focusses on all of that stupidity and mean-spiritedness.
In recent times, being a cynic has been simple. I only had to read the newspapers, and see what’s happening around the world, and all of my prejudices would be quickly reinforced. Divisive, hatred-filled politics. The dominance of trolling in social media. Tension seemingly rising all over the globe. How could you be anything but a cynic?
But then, every so often, things happen that test your cynicism.
I suppose it started nearly two years ago with Australia’s same-sex marriage referendum. Sure, the exercise in itself was a classic piece of cynicism – a political play if there ever was one. But the result – a resounding vote for the ‘yes’ side – was a big test for me. It seemed to show that maybe, just maybe, the great public collective was capable of making good and noble choices.
And so, thing rolled around to the latest Australian election. I don’t want to go too much into Australian politics. It’s brutal and messy enough, just like politics pretty much everywhere – enough to keep a cynic like me pretty happy and relaxed. Only this time things seemed a bit different. There actually seemed to be a choice between policies that served the greater good and policies that served the selfish and greedy. And all the evidence suggested that the former set of policies would be the victor. We Australians weren’t going to follow the path chosen by so many other countries. We would be bigger and better, leading the world with our goodness and niceness.
How was I supposed to deal with that? How was I supposed to be a great big grumpypants when the evidence was starting to suggest I had no reason to be? People could be selfless and noble. People could choose to see the bigger picture, rather than follow their own narrow interests. And maybe, just maybe, I would have to confront my own cynicism.
Well, we had the election, and guess what? Selfish and greedy won. And they did so with an extraordinary campaign of smears and lies.
This couldn’t be a better outcome as far as I’m concerned. No more will my demeanour of grumpiness be threatened. No more will I be forced to consider whether my cynicism is misplaced. I can cynic to my heart’s content, smug in the knowledge that we Aussies are no better than anybody else.
So let’s give a great big hooray for the human race. I tell you, I couldn’t possibly be happier.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as