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November 27, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Uncertainty, Ukraine and The Cat Empire

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it was profoundly beautiful to stand in a sea of people and listen to thousands sing with the band… ‘Music is the language of us all’.

Right now there’s a lot of people doing it tough.  

I’m one of the lucky ones. I have a home. Owing to COVID and extreme weather, my partner lost income, I lost gigs and our daughter lost her school – but we’re okay. I don’t need much and I’m not a materialist. 

Many of our friends and community lost a lot more. It’s almost impossible to comprehend, even when you’ve been one of the helpers stacking the piles of broken belongings. It’s weird to say it, but I’ve found it really challenging at times. And it’s hard to talk about because I’m okay. I’m not on the phone for days to an insurer. Or online trying to navigate Service NSW support grants. 

Some call it ‘survivor’s guilt’, but I don’t think it’s that. It’s empathetic exhaustion. It’s the trauma of witnessing the trauma of another and wondering what the F you can do. I don’t feel guilty, I feel sad. I feel like I have to do more. I have what feels like FOMO, but it’s not fear of missing out on a party or a social outing, it’s about missing an opportunity to help someone, or an opportunity to make a difference. Even a very little difference.

After the last two years I don’t feel the same. Life’s changed. I’ve changed.

I worry about my kids. About all our kids. I worry that they will lose hope. That they’ll withdraw rather than expand. That they’ll dig into despondency and loss. That they’ll miss the opportunity of their own remarkable resilience and power to transform.

The other day I was wondering what happened to that easy life we used to have. Re-member that life? When you planned things and they happened. When you organised a birthday party or a wedding and it went ahead. When you said you’d see someone at Christmas time and you did. Now we make plans and have liquid paper on stand by. Disappointment is the fragrance of these times.

It’s one of the big impacts after the flood, after the COVID lockdowns; it’s the damage you can’t see. It’s the part of us that feels uncertain. That’s the one precious thing we’ve all had taken from us – our certainty – our blind faith. Without certainty, or at least a justified sense of certainty (in what is without a doubt an uncertain world), we are fragile. 

It takes a special kind of resoluteness to find a place of joy and hope. To be positive instead of negative. To be someone full of belief, rather than a jaded cynic shaking her head going ‘I knew it would all go to shit’. I don’t ever want to be that person. Every day I engage in what I call my certainty recovery program. The certainty is that there is none. That somewhere in there I still have to find hope. I have to find a way through the rubble. To replenish our precious and fragile humanity. 

Every day I start the day by reading updates of the war in Ukraine, and like many, find the suffering and the meaningless violence hard to take in. I watch families living underground in train stations because their homes are either gone or too risky to return to. I read of rape and devastation and death and sorrow. I marvel at their quiet courage. I can’t imagine living like that; where our worst fears have become certainty. They are in constant danger, and many will die. How do we, as a global community, continue to live beside this?

How do we pull the narrative threads of those lives we witness on the news, those lives we know are real, together with our life? How do we weave a sense of our place in this, in how we might evolve, and in how we would want this to unfold if we had the power to change it? And most importantly, how do we weave together who we are, and how we are in relationship with each other?

The other night I watched The Cat Empire play their last gig with their full line-up at Bluesfest. After years of not being able to gather in large groups it was profoundly beautiful to stand in a sea of people and listen to thousands sing with the band…
‘Music is the language of us all’.

Because, it kind of is.
Music is a unifier of hope, and poetry, that lands in our body and heart.

Sometimes it’s just in that moment – that’s all the certainty we have.

And it’s enough. Maybe, like the Cats sing, our weapons are our instruments.

We just have to learn to play them.


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28 COMMENTS

  1. You’re definitely a materialist. Leftists are devoid of any spirituality, they have to be to push the horrific agendas they push.

  2. The good old days when Obama would drone strike your wedding, or Israel would fire Hellfire missiles from their gunships, or the neighbouring African tribe would kill your guests with machetes.

    Julia Assange maybe executed for showing the Americans randomly killing any group of civilians that would gather. Why did he bother, they were not white.

    But I’m with you Mandy, we should only be Trumatised when it’s White people being killed, and just ignore everything that happens in the non-white parts of the world.

    You have a rest Mandy, your tactical empathy is exhausting to all of us.

    As for nature coming knocking at your door, now you know why we developed all this technology. It’s not greed, it survival. Nature will kill you given a chance. Notice the lack of Carnivorous Kangaroos, Sabre-tooth Tigers, Haast’s eagle, etc. Those man-made extinctions were our ancestors taming this planet for us. The Aboriginals kept mobile to avoid the non-stop fires, droughts, and floods. People were only effected because their stuff isn’t mobile enough to move out of the way when the nature of this place comes knocking.

    Your denial of the nature of nature is an obnoxious insult to the sacrifices of generations of our ancestors that fought to get us to where we are.

    • First Nation community is represented at twice the number of non – indigenous in climate impacts- its not a white issue

      • That everyone, is called strawmaning. I mentioned white bias in my section on war. The separate section on climate alarmism I mentioned OUR ancestors extincting Carnivorous Kangaroos and Haast’s eagle (New Zealand if you didn’t know) so I was clearly including the indigenous of Australia and New Zealand in the climate section.

        Being unable to mount a rebuttal to either, Mandy took white bias from part one, Climate from part two, created an imaginary part three in her head, and poorly attacked that.

        So let me ask you a deadly serious question Mandy. While everyone is opining over a few civilians, you must have noticed that India is suddenly trading with Russia in Rubles via China’s new settlement system using this border skirmish as a distraction.

        Now that half the world’s population are poised to dump the Swift system, if you somehow become Prime Minister shortly, what are you going to do to prevent Australia getting sucked under with the United States when the inevitable financial tsunami rebounds on to our shores?

        • I am not sure what you are talking about. I think you are overthinking it.
          I am pleased though you got so much from what was intended only to be an emotive piece speaking to the moment. Thanks for the deep dive into my sinister motivations! It’s creative and intriguing !

      • Hate to burst your bubble barrow but I’m a tribe member myself, it just doesn’t seem to have “that effect” on me.
        I do do a lot of wood working so maybe that helps. I like to work with my hands, it’s honest

    • Andrea I totally agree. Communism totally works.
      If it hadn’t killed off 250 million people last century, imagine all the carbon they and their billion descendants would be creating now.
      If you wondering what they instituted, go look at the 10 planks of the communist manifesto.
      It all sound good on paper, but if you try to implement these things, one thing leads to another and before you know it you just have to have a purge to reduce the population.
      But I’m sure this time it will be completely different to all those other times.

  3. BASQUE LINGUISTICS Stefanie Bennett

    It has a name, that gift
    of forbearance
    like a necklace
    made of Prussian Blue
    buck-shot
    against
    a corn yellow sky; but
    the aquiline
    Mason’s mark,
    ‘relinquished separatism’,
    fell upon a depression
    our irrational
    betters
    shrank to vilify.

  4. another powerful piece Mandy, thank you so much…you so often put your finger right on the spot or the feeling that I’m having and put it so eloquently, that you help me understand my own feelings. thank you again, your insight is priceless…

  5. Ffs – I would have thought that expressing some empathy for flood and war victims would be fairly uncontroversial. Nooo we have to have the usual suspects finding some excuse for offence, for attributing questionable motives and assailing us with all the supercilious sneering of the relevance deprived.

  6. The Budda said ( apparently)
    .. …”all of life is suffering”…

    unfortunately I can never remember what he said next

  7. life is suffering: what is the origin of suffering : how to stop the suffering: and the path that leads to the end of suffering. Very few are on the path.

    • Big difference in pointless suffering and suffering for a cause. Buddhism has lead many into Nihilism from them missing that point.
      It’s not suffering, it’s meeting challenges to over come them. That’s what we are designed to do and we suffer when we have no challenges that we are designed to overcome.

  8. Chris does relish the mere sound of his own voice because he’s
    addicted to it; simple as that. I’d say – that I would prefer to hear
    Mandy’s ongoing support for First Nations ‘Statement From The
    Heart’ in parliament, loud & clear! Forget the ‘play-on-word junk.’
    We’ll all drop dead of boredom due to repeats. Humanity is worth
    far more than the ‘look at me’ struggle.

  9. You could help by putting up some of the people devastated by the floods Mandy – glad you enjoyed the blues fest, while trying to shame the people who had booked accommodation two years ahead into staying in tents. Your “emotive” piece doesn’t ring true – just another politician trying to appear caring, but failing miserably. In fact it’s a little bit nauseous. If you want to “do more” – put some people up at your place.

  10. essam, how many people have you put up, clothed, lent & given money to – helped in rebuilding,
    looked after & donated to appeals! One size may not fit all but being there certainly counts.

  11. As it happens, quite a few Stefanie. These days I make donations straight to the source, after donating to online charities during the bushfires, only to discover that the charities kept most of the money aside “for future catastrophes”. I think I have clothed many many people.

    The only way to make sure these people ever see the money is to give it straight to them.

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