Being a wimp

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr

I stepped into a teaching position at school that was recovering from a horrific bullying incident. Incident doesn’t quite do justice to this life-changing event; life-changing for the instigators and their families who faced court, certainly life-changing for the victim of the attack. A group of boys thought it would be … I don’t know … fun? … to abduct and torture a classmate, a peer, a fellow human being in bush-land near the school. For hours they tortured him, pissed on him, tied him up, made him dig his own grave, psychically assaulted him … He was a vulnerable kid – skinny and small for his age. They were taller, bigger, stronger and had a lot more friends.

I have found myself thinking about this event a lot over the last week or so – particularly in relation to the ridiculous language and downright disgusting behaviour of the so-called leaders of this country.

“You don’t want a wimp running border protection, you want someone who is strong, who is decent and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent.” Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Feb 21, 2014)

It is bad enough that our Prime Minister is using such juvenile, throwaway language better suited to a “jock” in a John Hughes film than serious humanitarian issues; it is incredibly disturbing when we consider the actions of Scott Morrison and the government.

So, what does it mean when Abbott makes such childish comments? If Morrison isn’t a wimp then what exactly is a wimp? Is a wimp someone who shows compassion? Someone who is not prejudiced? Someone who helps the vulnerable? Someone who tells the truth, is honest, is kind, is empathetic …

By Abbott’s standards I would much rather be a wimp.

In Abbott and Morrison’s world, a strong and decent person is one whom persecutes those who most need protection and support and assistance. By these standards, a strong and decent person is someone who is cruel.

What does this mean in the playground? I’m not even sure the word ‘wimp’ is still part of the colourful vocabulary of school-yard bullies but let’s imagine, if you will, that it is. “Don’t be a wimp” translates to don’t defend that kid who needs your help, stick with bullies, hurt him, he deserves it, he is the minority, he is different, he doesn’t deserve friendship / kindness / help …  No one wants to be a wimp because, clearly, it takes integrity, strength of character, compassion to be a wimp. It is difficult to be a wimp.

I wish there were more wimps in the school-yard. If there had been some wimps around on that life-changing day at that school by the bush then maybe a child would not have suffered. Maybe one of those bullies would have had enough wimp in him to stop his friends hurting an innocent, vulnerable kid.

If there were more wimps running this country then maybe Reza Barati would still be alive. Maybe we wouldn’t lock up the vulnerable who have turned to us for help not persecution. Maybe we wouldn’t be creating a country that is intolerant, cruel and selfish but a place that values equality, peace and compassion.

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3 thoughts on “Being a wimp

  1. While I don’t pretend to be familiar with your country’s political situation, I certainly agree with you, Ms Warner, in that your PM’s ‘neanderthalic’ public rhetoric was opined in very bad taste. However, this does have my ridiculousness wondering just a tad. If I were to wholly remove the ‘wimp’ aspect of his statement somehow, and so therefore leaving me only to have heard or read:

    “…border protection, you want someone who is strong, who is decent and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent.”

    what then might be implied or inferred as the antithesis or opposite of what your PM proclaims of Mr Morrison’s personal traits? In other words, what is the opposite of the qualities ‘strong’ and ‘decent’—qualities your PM is convinced Mr Morrison does not possess? After all, according to some drabby and dusty old thinkers and philosophers, the truth is known by its negative; by what it is not 😉 To answer that silly question I suppose then, that I should consider firstly how I interpret or understand those two qualities.

    What, for example, does he mean by ‘strong’? Perhaps he means to evoke the image of a person who is both courageous and noble—a man who would not relinquish his post lawfully even when the situation was the most dire and no one might criticize him if he had abandon his station; or perhaps, he means to illustrate the idea of a man of commanding and intimidating physical stature and not one of a lesser or weaker physical nature(the use of wimp no doubt forces this idea over the former—again though, this is a bit of hypothetical ludicrousness of mine with the idea that the concept of wimp had never been stated). There are numerous further ideas that the concept ‘strong’ might paint in my thoughts. Then there’s ‘decent’. Obviously this word has enormous variations to dwell upon as well. In effect, we form two concepts of what a word might mean: the positive nature of the word by contrasting it to the negative, or that which it is not.

    I guess, the silly point of all this, is to wonder just how much the modern way of communicating—whether through politics, or social networking, or TV dramas, or movies et al., in its attempt to bring everything to a short 149 character sound-byte and some musical affectation in the background to sway the emotions, is not producing more chaos and less harmony amid all the world. Is this then just solely the failure of your PM, or is it also a failure on the people at large to demand only short emotional vague sound quips and not something more of substance—longer to stay focused and pay attention towards and so requiring more ‘thought’ and less ‘mood’ to guide their decisions. I do not of course, pretend to know this answer.

    Language is, as you’ve shown expertly here, far more complex than it would at first appear. Words are but wonderful little symbols to represent concepts. But those concepts are not quite so little—as your wonderful and poignant essay on what the word wimp implies to your own thoughts.

    Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to express yourself so eloquently and passionately Ms Warner. I may be a dullish and long-winded fool, but even so, I’m never ungrateful towards someone that stirs my cup of thought so to speak. And you’ve prepared that perfectly here. 🙂

    • What an eloquent and considered response. Thank you so much for taking the the time, and interest, in this piece.

      We are living in the age of the sound-byte. In Australian politics it is all about the “three word slogan” which, in itself, is also a “three word slogan” and so it continues … There is no dialogue, no debate, no political discourse. We have a PM who reduces the Syrian civil war to “goodies” versus “baddies”.

      Anyway, I will step down from my high-horse for the moment so say thank you for your response and ideas!

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