A Saturday Perspective. Fave Beans and Protest.

I’m sitting at a small table in the dappled sunlight, shelling hundreds of broadbeans. Gentle music plays from behind the wire screen door, soft enough to barely enter my consciousness. There is a hint of movement on the verandah, a slight zephyr stirs the heads of the tall-growing lavender out along the fence line. This continual podding, the gentle gouging out with index finger, is a meditative business. Tiny beans fall from their white fur-lined capsules: the pile of discarded pods growing larger as little grey-green gems fall into another basket. Is this the good life? Sitting quietly in the sun, performing an ancient, repetitive task that brings a few vibrant green meals to the table? Or is it the calm before the storm?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A basket of broadbeans and some time to reflect.

Repetitive tasks enable the overloaded brain to sort out the events, conversations and news of the week. To put things into perspective. To discard the useless husks from the good, life giving nuggets. As America, the land that once was great, or so we were led to believe by the myth makers, accepts the shocking reality of Trump’s election, the crude facts of this result spread throughout the globe. American voters have willingly and consciously elected a racist, a misogynist, a climate change denier, a LGBT hater, a narcissistic billionaire braggart with extremely dangerous views of the world and of America’s place in it.  All this cheap talk about getting on with business as usual, and being positive seems a bit vacuous to me.

A nice task on a sunny morning
A nice task on a sunny morning. Two kilo of broadbeans, podded, steamed open and shelled, makes 350 grams. More beans wait for me in the garden below.

I’ve read enough and I’ve heard enough. I don’t believe we should sit back, wait and see, be nice to one another and be thankful that we don’t live in that country. I don’t believe that a navel gazing approach, a quiet meditation on the real things in life, the metaphorical shelling of fave beans, will get us very far. Time to join the revolution. Time, if you are a worker, to join a union and fight for the things you hold dear, time to pay subscription fees for our independent press so that the Murdochs and Trumps of this world won’t stamp out our ability to reason or to see events clearly. Time to join protest groups in the streets, to speak up loudly against racism and sexism when they occur closer to home, time to take action to reduce our own personal energy consumption while simultaneously pressuring our government to take climate change more seriously, especially here in Australia. Maintain your rage, speak out against injustice, inequality and hatred. And we can meditate and be nice to one another too.

All views are derivative and many of mine are too. These two articles inspired me this morning.

46 thoughts on “A Saturday Perspective. Fave Beans and Protest.”

  1. You are so right about the need to take action, Francesca. It is easy to wring our hands, but we won’t be able to make a positive impact on the world that way. We need to show the haters that they are the minority, and give succour to those who are feeling targeted.
    (And what delicious recipe will the brand beans end up in?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We can make a difference but we have to be heard. Well dear Anne, you can see that these broad beans are going somewhere too. Mostly into my freezer but I have made some ricotta gnocchi with broadbean and marjorum sauce….

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  2. To Francesca, My Blister Hi – I don’t like the man either eg his views on women and his bragging about how much money he has, but America owes about $12 Trillion Dollars mainly to the Chinese and somebody forceful has to make sure it is paid back – no good going on the way they were going as they were not paying back a penny. If they don’t pay the money back soon it will be the end of America. I think Trump has some good ideas as far as this goes, but true, he is scary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In the first of the two articles you cited was this: “It is a call to action to stay involved in the governance of our country, and to be inclusive of others. To be kind. To be hopeful. To listen to each other when we disagree. To speak truth to power.” It isn’t impossible to be kind and to still speak truth with positivity. I cannot join a union and I am not a demonstrator, but I do vote, and there are other ways I can stand for what I believe. We all have our own ways. The beans look delicious, you only get them like that if you grown them yourself, or you have a generous friend 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, we all have our own ways. I think I would like to encourage the youth, the able bodied and the politically conscious to be less complacent. I come from a radical political background, but not from my family, so my views are written in the context of this framework.
      The articles I cited expressed a variety of ideas. It is nice that we still have free press. One of the views I put forward is that we should consider contributing financially to this viable press.

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      1. The Guardian is a very good paper, too. My husband subscribes and often shows me articles he thinks I would like/benefit from. Most of the papers are dreck, and I don’t mean just Australian papers. Our local papers are so innacurate they are not worth reading.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh and by the way, Ardys, kindness is a given, a natural everyday thing, as mentioned in my little rant. I just think that we are being a bit complacent here. And yes, the fave are tasty and grow like weeds.

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  4. So true. Bullies get away with being bullies because polite, educated, well- mannered folks don’t stand up to them. On a lighter note, I planted my broad beans late, but they are growing beautifully. I find if I pick them young, the outer coat is soft and edible.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nice piece, Francesca…but I’m with Ardy in that I am not, nor can be, in a union nor am I a crowd demonstrator. But I think we can demonstrate our views and our disapproval by our own behaviour…and if enough of us do that, then we produce the biggest and most powerful demonstration possible. Broad beans make me think of summer so, at the moment, make me jealous:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I sometimes wonder if our niceness, our left wing, ‘small l liberal’ decent behaviour is enough though. I hark back to the Vietnam moratorium days, which were successful in this country in bringing about a change. Peaceful crowd protests have an impact here- and have an important part to play. Letters to the editor are powerful tools too, expressing our viewpoints in the best way that we can, ( at our age!) All are effective weapons against this creeping fascism.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. With a mailbox full of letters written by aghast, oft weeping US friends/expats and those from all parts of the world actually, I fully relate to what you are saying and so agree Roger : I also have never personally belonged to a union nor would be fit to wrestle with the police who have their job to do in public demonstrations. BUT methinks the silent majority can force a lot of issues and belonging to whichever country we do, each and every one of us has a moral obligation to fight the evil of ignorance and fear which has developed with every ounce of integrity and grit we possess. Since most papers truly are ‘dreck’ [:) ! Ardys] let us personally fight knowledgeably, let us fight honestly, let us fight with every bit of strength and power we can find . . . . God bless the hugely divided America, but God also bless all of us who may be in the way of a madman no longer playing ‘the Apprentice’ but able to push the button to destruction for the planet . . . . Oh, how certain world leaders must be laughing . . . but does Trumpster know the difference or this just another area he can flout his name . . . ?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Nice to hear from you Eha and very pleased that your email moratorium is over. Your contributions are most valuable. You mention the silent majority- that group who don’t often get involved in politics other than casting a vote. I think in a roundabout way that my post was an appeal to this group to do what you are suggesting- fighting evil or ignorance in the best way we know how. For some it might be through a union,for others it may be through peaceful demonstration at legitimate rallies, not those run by the extreme left or right. For many, as we age, it’s through the written word, or the teaching of our grandchildren, it’s being aware of history and the cyclic nature of movements. It is the moral obligation of which you speak, to guard against encroaching fascism. Thanks Eha.

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  6. We were talking today about the death of Cohen, the election of that dreadful man in the US and the protest songs of the 60s and 70s. We had the ability to influence government then, now only money holds sway. I believe that comfortable lives breeds complacency, sometimes contempt, that’s a mighty tough situation to change. Beautiful tiny young beans

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a week. One amazing, inspiring , spiritual and humble American dies- tears for Leonard- and another monster is born. Bring back protest songs, we’re on the eve of destruction! Complacency does come with comfort : I’d like to see our youth radicalised in a good way.

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  7. Lovely photos, Francesca, they reminded me of shelling peas with my grandmother in a long-ago kitchen on the Kent coast in England. Having just returned from visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Pennsylvania in the US and viewed the Presidential campaign from that side of the world, there is nothing I would dispute in what you have said about Trump and the prospect of his Presidency. My sister-in-law was heavily involved in the Democratic campaign and they, and their family, are dismayed and depressed by the outcome and its implications for the ordinary people of America and of being represented to the world by President Trump. The most chilling reason I heard for voting for Trump was that “he’s telling me what I want to hear” and also the chant of “take back America” – they clearly hadn’t thought that one out! It almost seemed as if they viewed him as a leader of a Cargo Cult – all that he told them would be delivered once he was their leader. In fact, I was reminded of the philosopher who said that “most people would rather die than think, and most people do”. I wonder, too whether this man Trump will be able to contain and control what he has released from Pandora’s Box, whether he is capable of understanding what his worshippers expect of him. His ignorance and vulgarity is staggering. It’s very tempting to avert ones gaze and look the other way, but I agree that we should sound the call to arms, as it were. We have our own champion of Trump’s views, and the politics of grievance, in Pauline Hanson. I worry very much about the social media led “information” that masquerades as truth – paradoxically in this information rich society we are more information poor – and it seems, wilfully so. But a sign I saw in a University in Vancouver sticks in my mind – it said, “get out there” and the credo was “start an evolution”. Perhaps that comes back to, I think, Ghandi’s call to “be the change you want to see”. I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to shun communications with a tyrant, better to know – or keep the tyrant close – than refuse to join in dialogue/diplomacy. However, I cannot agree with joining a Union. In my working life I had a rather too close and personal view of the officials within the BLF (CFMEU). Their verbal thuggery and implications of physical violence; their open flaunting of their ability to control who had the right to work on a particular construction site and who didn’t as well as their obvious belief that they were untouchable and could do as they pleased was very disturbing. I do agree that I should pay to support independent journalism and that I should speak up, respectfully, even if I lose friends – although that will be sad – I will do my darndest to be the change I’d like to see. Thank you for the links to the two articles – they were interesting and thought provoking.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Well that’s Ying & Yang in a nutshell! I was enjoying the tale of the little beans and then wham, the big bad wolf appears. We are all in mourning over here. I just cannot believe this has occurred, I kept thinking someone was going to say “April Fool”. Your description of DT matches pretty much exactly words I used to a friend who said “Just give him a go, he’ll probably be ok”. One of our sons is gay and also highly politically involved, he is just devastated and becoming more vociferous every day. So discussion of compulsory voting in the USA might now be on the agenda? I agree about voicing our opinions, we can’t complain if we don’t express our views. Sadly though, I do often have a sense of “whats the point”, but hope has to prevail. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was that kind of feeling- the April Fool’s syndrome, thinking all afternoon, ‘surely not’, there must be a mistake. And I think this is why being politically active and vigilant and involved is now more important than ever. Because we were taken unaware. Because we really believed that evil, in the form of DT, could never gain power. And we were wrong. I admire your son and his commitment and involvement. He is at an age where he can devote his energies to this cause and more, as some of us, including me, lose hope and fall back in a heap and say ‘Whats the point’.

      Thanks Maree.

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  9. I can only agree with your need for contemplation at this time, and mine comes through gardening. I won’t forget the immense satisfaction I found in destroying the weeds in my veggie patch after the appalling result of the American election. My Pied Butcher Bird family were in seventh heaven as they followed me, scooping up worms and escaping insects. And they sang their thanks which further soothed me.
    I have been surprised at the amount of reflection that this election has prompted, and take comfort that I’m not alone in this.
    Trump is everything you have described so eloquently. Lets also not forget that whilst a state Governor, the Vice President elect attempted to bring in legislation requiring women who have a termination to hold a funeral for the fetus!
    I’m in my sixties now, and like many others, seem to have spent most of my life fighting – the anti Vietnam war movement in the 1970s; the fights for accessible and affordable Womens health; no fault divorce; occupational health; support for people with disabilities; public health services rather than private … . I was so fortunate to have parents (they belonged to no political party , religious organisation or union) who stressed community involvement and the obligation for a shared responsibility for that community. And we are a community rather than an economy as the Trumps of this world would have us believe.
    I know women who, by law in NSW in the 1960s, had to leave their paid employment as soon as they married. One of my friends died as the result of a backyard abortion. In the 1970s my mother couldn’t get a loan as a woman without the permission of a man. I was fortunate in knowing a fabulous woman who helped to found the Typists Union in NSW during the First World War – they were paid by the page, and it was considered an acceptable occupation for a woman as they sat in an elegant position similar to playing a piano. Seriously! I remember my 28 year old jaw hitting the floor when she told me that.
    Changes in these areas have only occurred because committed (OK, sometimes bloody minded) people took a stand and participated, even in small ways, in changing our community. Most of those people considered themselves to be ordinary. That’s the magic.
    Never, ever underestimate the critical importance of kindness. Trump and his ilk have none. Nor do they have compassion. Nor do they respect others. They fear diversity whereas we need to embrace it. Without these basic attributes no society can be called civilized. This is what we need to share with others.
    Oh, and I love your blog.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. Thanks Jackie for your contribution to this discussion. You and I have been travelling through these decades, fighting for the changes that we, as a community, now enjoy. Like you, I am in my 60s and spent my formative years, ( 18 plus) marching in the Vietnam Moratorium marches which brought about a change to conscription, and through a change of government, ended our involvement in the Vietnam war. Staying politicised, and appreciating the value of public expression, we continued with the movement against uranium mining, with street marches and suburban strategic groups. Other battles continued, for the legal right to abortion and many other women’s and community rights along the way as well as environmental ones ( saving the The Franklin River ) .

    When I married in the late 60s, I was stripped of my teaching bursary- a small weekly wage. Fortunately I could fall back on a commonwealth scholarship to pay my Uni fees but this didn’t come with a stipend. At least the fees were paid. This meant that we started our life with very little money, a baby, in a one roomed flat with very little food and so on. Men in the same boat did not lose theirs. The effects were long lasting. By the time I began teaching ( 4 years later), equal pay had arrived but length of service and annual pay increases were affected for my whole career.
    The teaching union was the most important political body I belonged to for thirty or so years. The union agitated and took strike action for pay increases but also for better class sizes and teacher conditions. And still teachers struggle for a decent wage. The union, not the community, was the body that enabled teachers to improve their lot. The same may be said for nurses.
    One of the huge public marches in recent years, and one I couldn’t attend due to a prior engagement, was the Sydney Road Street March in honour of Jill Meagher, the young Irish woman who was raped and murdered in Brunswick, Victoria. My son went along, as did 30, 000 others, marching in memory of Jill, showing support to her family but also demonstrating against violence towards women. This well attended peace rally directly assisted in bringing about changes to the Victorian parole system: now, Victorian rapists have a much harder time being released on parole.
    I don’t discount the value of human kindness. I believe very much in compassion and acting on one’s beliefs through kindness, though we should not really speak of these acts or expect pats on the back- they should be ingrained, automatic and natural.
    Gardening is hugely therapeutic in these times. I am so glad you like the blog, it makes it all worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a bad time for women at work in the 60’s and 70’s. I worked for the Board of Works in Melbourne and in the 70’s we had to resign upon marriage and be re-appointed at the pleasure of the Board – that’s how it was expressed! Most women were not re-appointed. The men did not have to resign. We also had to wear uniforms whereas the men did not. There was much protest and trouble at the time over these issues and we were able to change them due to publicity in newspapers. The Board was forced to change as they were definitely out-of-step with the way things were advancing in Melbourne. It was around the time or just before The Dismissal and times were turbulant. Despite these changes women’s pay and promotion in the Board was vastly inferior to men’s. There was also a lot of sexist talk around openly joking by men that if a woman wanted something changed it must have been her time of the month. I can remember bottom pinching all the time too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great comment Chris. It was Dick Hamer who was responsible for changes to women’s equality and pay here in Victoria. He also was responsible for abortion rights changes to divorce, conservation to name a few of his small l liberal contributions to our state. We owe a lot to Rupert (Dick) Hamer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes he was a very good Premier – one of the few. I met his deputy, Lindsay Thompson (shook his hand) when I was Alan Croxford’s secretary. I’ve also met Bob Hawke. We had to have beautiful bunches of flowers arranged in vases on the top floor for the executives. Later on (about 25 years later) I worked on that same floor in that same building for the Traffic Camera Office. It felt weird and kinda like deja vu – the ghosts of the past came flooding back.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Cannot get away from yours posts/replies in spite of a busy day . . . . Life brought me to be on a Commonwealth Scholarship and a university bursary at the Sydney University almost ten years ahead of you. Perhaps being more insecure ’cause I was a migrant gal from a country noone knew existed 🙂 ! I SO remember sitting across the width of Parramatta Road protesting a number of times in those days . . . afraid of what my hardworking immigrant parents would say if I ended up in the pokey 🙂 ! My high-ranking military lawyer father was cutting soles for Dunlop tennis shoes to put me thru’ uni!! I am verily the same person . . . now: to play my part . . .

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      1. We don’t really change much over the years, do we. When I look back on those years, I do some with a sense of nostalgia, for our youth seemed far more politicised than today. No time wasting with facebook, phone fiddling and trivial distraction. It was heads down and long hours of study in libraries, with political engagement as the other important subject that came with campus life. ( ah, showing me age here). As Sandra pointed out, complacency comes with comfort and security. Your parents made huge sacrifices for your education- they would be happy to know that you will play your part, I am sure.

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  11. Hi Francesca. I am one of the millions of devastated people. How has it come to this? I believe it is time for a revolution but it won’t happen in Australia because we are all too well off and comfortable. Revolutions only come about from hardship and despair. Give it time… I believe the left has much to answer for. They used to represent the poor, the working class and the disenfranchised but have left them behind in the race for government and the middle ground. Neither Labor nor the Greens truly represent these people anymore so they have turned to populist politicians – like Trump who, ironically, is a billionaire. I was heartened to hear Shorten speak today – I think he may be beginning to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The left has definitely turned their back on the poor in this country and that’s probably true for America and Britain too. Many were hoping that the Greens might become the essential new party that many need, but now the Greens also speak to the urban middle class. Yes, Malcolm is also another billionaire politician whose hands are tied by the presence of the ultra right of his party. Although he might not speak for the poor and disenfranchised, I consider him to be moderate in his language and his personal beliefs and rather weak in his leadership.
    As days go by, and we find out more about those appointed to the Trump leadership, we may begin to see global Climate change initiatives go down the drain, legal abortion rights lost in the USA. Trump’s new chief of staff is noted for his anti- semitism, and extreme white nationalism. One of Banon’s quotes about women: “These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative. That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement – that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools.”

    Let’s hope these attitudes don’t float across the ocean and are adopted by out right wingers in government, the Pauline Hansons and the Cory Bernadis. Bill Shorten or whoever else better get cracking. Many women I know now wish to raise their complacent comfortable voices. Protest takes many forms. A group of women in their 60s and 70s recently made a youtube video in one of our nearby suburbs- Eltham- a town that is about to take in 100 or so Syrian refugees. It is a message of welcome and an attack against the nasty racism that has emerged in recent times. Their video is about action and having a voice.- it did the rounds of facebook.

    Thanks Glenda for your interesting comment. F

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  13. Since I have spent the past few two hours ‘fighting’ the changes of the new ‘Telstra Mail’ . . . got to this late. I so appreciate your comments re Malcolm Turnbull who IS a ‘gentleman lost’ in many ways owing to his debts to the extreme right wing and does use ‘moderate language’ and sadly is ‘rather weak in his leadership’ Nice guy actually!!! A very odd comment to end: was born in Estonia, N Europe, about the time of WWII – legal abortion was ‘legal’ THEN !! If your income or state of marriage or other did not include addition to the family, you were entitled to a termination for the sake of yourself and the community! Surely sensible . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Hello everyone, I cannot say how much the comments on this post have meant to me. I watched this election with absolute horror and disbelief. As the mother of a transgender young adult, I am fearful of the future. How could this happen? It seems like I have been anxious for months and now I am angry. Angry that this monster could ever have come to power. And angry for the complacency about our democracy. Most of my friends are angry as well, not only women but their caring men folk. Thank you all.

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    1. Thanks for your interest Liz. It must be deeply disturbing for you and your family, friends and son. Angry is an appropriate reaction.. because no one thought this could happen. Everyday now we read about the rise of the extreme right wing, white racists and more and i wonder where its all heading.

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  15. Just catching up on some reading as I too have been busy doing the manual, repetitive tasks I have been removing the last of the grass and weeds from our backyard which was scorched earth after the builders vacated. I am making a wild grasses garden so I am spending a lot of time on my bum weeding and thinking, weeding and thinking. I am going to the US ANS Mexico next year so will be interested to see the zeitgeist when we are there.

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