Happiness is a personal right; let's not spoil it for others

Saturday 14 April 2012

I woke up this morning…isn’t that funny.  Of COURSE I woke up this morning otherwise I doubt I’d be writing this…but what I was really referring to was ‘waking up to a realization that I needed to write about ‘happiness’.

And here I must acknowledge my source.  One of the last things I read before I fell asleep last night was a news item about the resignation of Senator Bob Brown, Leader (until yesterday) of the Australian Greens.  And that led me to an excellent Post on Marian Dalton’s Blog  ‘The Conscience Vote’ http://consciencevote.wordpress.com  

Basically, Marian was pointing out the difference in generosity-of-spirit by those who wrote about the man…particularly the difference between the sentiments expressed by the two leaders of our Federal Parliament; our Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Now unlike Marian, I am not a political observer…my responses to most things are largely emotional with, I hope a modicum of common sense and my Blog is certainly not politically motivated. Nevertheless a political source led me to think about generosity-of-spirit (or lack of it) - the application of which can add or detract from another person’s personal happiness. It is right that this source be acknowledged and quoted to support the thoughts I express here.

Take these sections for example:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, in characteristic style, gave his opinion on Brown’s time in Parliament. You couldn’t exactly call it a tribute:
‘The deal with the Greens has been an enormous problem for Julia Gillard. I think all too often Bob Brown has looked like the real Prime Minister of this country. I think that Bob Brown has been a very strong force in Australian politics in recent years … I would say too strong a force in Australian politics.’ (my italics)
Pure Abbott. Even a backhanded compliment comparing Brown to Australian Democrats founder Don Chipp didn’t soften his statement, especially as Abbott immediately followed that up with a confident prediction that ‘turbulent times’ lay ahead for the Greens.

We’re not talking about a leader who was turfed out by his own party. We’re not seeing a political career end in disgrace and controversy. Brown’s resignation is a dignified exit from politics at a point when the Greens are at their strongest, accomplished with integrity. In the words of Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim, Brown ‘carried his bat’.

Compare Abbott’s words to those of Prime Minister Julia Gillard: she thanked Brown for ‘his remarkable contribution to state & federal politics over 3 decades’, and noted his contributions on the Franklin Dam, carbon pricing and how he ‘bravely used his own experience’ to work towards gay rights.
She went on to describe him as ‘a figure of integrity with a deep love for this country and its environment’, his career ‘driven by passion’.
No nasty little digs, no pronouncements of doom, and – most importantly – no mean-spirited opportunism.

Strong stuff indeed!

Here is a man, Bob Brown who through decades of dedicated work has done so much for his country and has yet had to bear great suffering because of his honesty about his personal life-preferences.

Let me tell you a little story.

Many years ago I conducted a series of Creative Drama Workshops for young children.  I was a trained actor but the content of the Workshops was developed largely from lessons of life learnt in my miraculous healing of paraplegia.

The Workshops consisted of two parts: Creative play where the child’s freedom-of-expression could be released, and Tactile play where those individual expressions could be manifested in some form or other.

I used two rooms. One had a piano where my dear (and now sadly departed) friend and extraordinary musician Nehama Patkin sat; the other was filled with crayons, paints, clay, paper, glue, blackboards, small piano keyboard, typewriter (we’re talking 60s remember) and anything else I could find for creative expression.

One day, a little boy ‘Norman’ was brought to the Workshop by his rather fiercely-intense mother who wanted to know if she could have her money back if ‘Norman’ failed.  “He fails at most things” she informed me.

Norman was one of the most physically beautiful children I’d ever seen. He had delicate features with enormous eyes…but the troubling thing was that those enormous eyes were filled with sadness.

I watched ‘Norman’ carefully through the ‘creative play session’ as he didn’t join in, at least not by any outward appearance. He hung back, watching his peers intently.

But when we entered the ‘materials’ room, ‘Norman’ came alive. He quickly scanned the room to see what was available, then raced to the table covered in clay. 

Picking up a huge dollop of clay ‘Norman’ started to thump it up and down on the table, pounding it with his little fists as hard as he could go until he was spent. He flung his arms out, embracing the clay and sobbed his heart out.

When I went to him, ‘Norman’ looked up at me and quietly said, ‘That was my mother!’

I was fighting the tears and had no words at that point, so I didn’t attempt to discuss this with ‘Norman’ but I didn’t need to;  he’d started fashioning something out of the clay…and as I watched, mesmerized there appeared the most beautiful figure of an Angel.

When ‘Norman’s mum came to pick him up I couldn’t wait to show her the extraordinary figure he’d carved with his hands. She looked at it and burst into tears…then finally said; ‘Oh Nancy, I’m SO afraid he’s gay.’

‘Norman’ is one of the luckier of such children.  His mother was able to express her fears, largely gained from society’s disapproval. She sought guidance and support and very soon turned her fear around to intense maternal pride.

‘Norman’ is now one of the world’s most distinguished artists.


Let us think carefully when we deprive another of our generosity-of-spirit.
Why should a man or a woman have to show COURAGE in order to declare a personal preference?  Who are we to spoil another person’s potential for happiness through personal criticism?  Why are we so afraid of difference?  Are we so insecure in that which we believe that we must denigrate those who do not share our views?

We all have the potential and the right to personal happiness.  Some of us have it in abundance, others do not…so the least we can do is pour some of our own…into another’s pocket.


  1. You have obviously touched Norman's life, ignited his passion and he lived his passion beautifully. I hope I can chance upon his Art one day. I know then when I look at his works, I see yours too. Woven amongst the spirit of this creation.

  2. When you see his art I am sure you will recognise it, Kerry...because you have the ability to see into people's hearts. Thank you for your continuing support and invaluable feed-back.