Stepping out for lunch some minutes ago, I came across some children of our clientele here for an assessment interview. The kids were rough-housing in the lift area. One twelve-year old was hauling up his laughing younger brother and hanging him upside down, and I realised again how long it has been since I've been in that position, head to the ground, feet above. As you grow older the opportunities to be upside down decrease alarmingly. I will definitely set time apart tonight to catch up on being inverted, although if I had courage of my convictions I should hang upside down right now, knees bent over the top of the office partition, waving to my colleagues as my head engorges with blood.
When I was a kid, I used to spin around very fast and then flop on to the ground and watch the floor seem to rise over me in a wave - recreational mind-altering, entirely drug-free. Adults have no idea how to have fun. Down in the food court, people were hunched over their lunches, watching green-tinged combat footage on the television monitors dotted about the area. Why green? Why not red, or aqua, or plain old black and white? It's a false colour image, anyway, why not amuse yourselves?
(Incidentally, when did television broadcasts become an acceptable form of muzak? Isn't muzak supposed to be anodyne and buyer-friendly? Or is that next? "We now return you to our coverage of the war in Iraq, as performed by Sergio Mendes.")
That's my segue into the war-talk. So - we're only on day three and already the friendly fire and fragging have begun. The Herald
claims in its headline that the US now fears a "hard, bloody war". That's bad news - I am now resigned to the fact that the only way this war will end soon is if the coalition forces achieve a speedy victory; and the only way the US will withdraw without victory is if the war turns into a god-awful blood-midden. Recent polls, if they're to be believed, show a decline in opposition to the war here in Australia (we peaceniks still have a plurality - 47% anti, 45% pro last I heard
); while, in Britain, Tony Blair's approval ratings are also up in relation to his handling of the Iraq "crisis". And if the Greens wanted Saturday's state election to be a referendum on the war, it was a referendum they lost, to my mind. Sure, the Greens' vote tripled and the anti-war voters could have just as easily chosen Labor, technically also against the war, and they
won comfortably - but it wasn't quite the conflagration I'd been banking on.
Sunday's anti-war rally wasn't a patch on February's - thirty thousand according to the ABC. I was there but even while marching I was finding it harder and harder to see the point. We know the Yanks won't withdraw unless the situation starts to fall apart; and if it falls apart Iraqi non-combatants will suffer worst. I guess this doesn't quite translate into an endorsement of continuing the war; but I grow tired of calling for the troops to come home when I know that won't happen unless things go very well, or very, very badly. The latter might put Bush & co and their lickspittle deputies back in the box, but is that worth the carnage? Maintaining opposition to the war while hoping we win quickly is as tiring on my feeble uni-directional brain as opposing the war while supporting the troops, as the more mainstream critics of the government fatuously exhort.
I can therefore partly understand the swing of opinion. Polls are bludgeon-like methods of discerning opinion, after all, requiring an off-the-rack selection of positions from the limited options presented by the pollster. "Support the war" could mean anything from "Let's get it over with before we kill more civilians" to "Americaaa, the beeauuutiful blah blah blah blah blah BLAH". And it's enervating to stand with majority opinion only to be ignored by a man who at any other time is the most craven of push-button populists. If Howard rides it out, as he undoubtedly imagines he will, and the majority end up pro-this-war-now-it's-safely-over, the natural order will have been restored, and those with Howard can pat themselves on the back for being the "silent majority" while we in the "vocal minority" can get on with the job of giving a damn when no-one else will. Everybody's happy, no danger of impact or change.
But I'll keep marching, if only for the exercise. Howard and his ilk need to be reminded that - if the war ends soon - just because he muddled through and there was no catastrophe, yet, that we know about
, does not mean that he was right when he chose to take us into this madness, excused with infantile reasoning and shonky evidence, backed with flag-waving cant and fear-mongering lies. He's thrown too much away for us ever to forget we told him not to take us here.