Our say | Hope still to be found in every dark story

HOPE LIVES: A few snaps I took at the inspiring "Reclaim the Night" event at Campbelltown Arts Centre on the weekend. As some people do their worst, all we can do as a community is hit back with our best.
HOPE LIVES: A few snaps I took at the inspiring "Reclaim the Night" event at Campbelltown Arts Centre on the weekend. As some people do their worst, all we can do as a community is hit back with our best.

It’s easy to get disheartened.

Almost everywhere we look is bad news, greed, bigotry, bad overdevelopment, unfairness, and gutless politicians being rewarded.

Dunno about you, but as I get older I’m getting corny – I want to be inspired, I want a bit of old-fashioned honour.

Quality, not quantity, in our housing estates. People judged on their character and words, not the way they were born. Nation-building by our PMs, not dog whistles.

I could go on and on…

In fact, I nearly did.

I was all set this week to pen another full column about the fiasco in Camden, where a sneaky plot by a gang of Liberals hoodwinked/sidelined other Liberals, to teflon-coat Peter Sidgreaves’ route to parliament without having to be troubled by a fair and open preselection against his party peers.

It epitomises why our major parties are held in such disgust, at a dangerous time of rising populist thugs, when we NEED our major parties to be at their best.

But you know what?

After my initial column last week, I was expecting a wave of trolling and ‘fake news’ attacks from the Libs.

Instead, I got lovely calls and emails of thanks from loyal local Libs, horrified by the shenanigans.

Then it was reported that Aaron Colley, president of Camden Young Libs, had also written to the government seeking a fairer process.

It gave me hope.

I started to ponder the strength of our ability, as a community, to fight back. To create hope when inspiration is lacking.

Cancer, for example, is the biggest bastard going. But it also showcases Macarthur at its finest, at the annual 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer.

Big business is screwing Australia dry, but small business is its lifeblood.

Our koalas are killed almost daily on the roads, but the marsupials are there in increasing numbers due to 30 years of our community fighting to protect their heritage from bulldozers, and the amazing carers trying their best to help the animals.

For almost every negative, there is an overwhelming positive.

We get mocked as bogans, but I reckon our incredible Macarthur area produces more creative artists, singers, and change-makers than almost any other region.

Barry O’Farrell – a rare Premier who actually kept his local promises and genuinely loved visiting Macarthur – hated the bogan sneer directed at us and once told me he wished he could “bottle” local community spirit and export it to every other community in NSW.

That really hit me on Saturday, when I popped down to Campbelltown Arts Centre to photograph the “Reclaim the Night” celebration.

Gutless cowards who commit violence against women create one of our most distressing crime stats.

But, yet again, that big fat negative was pushed back by a big positive, a really great night of talent, music and hope, as local women made it clear they deserve a world without fear and violence.

I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome, and enjoyed so many great conversations I almost forgot to take photos.

Among the crowd, dominated by passionate WILMA supporters, I caught up with my great mate, Mary Ellen Bland, a director of the Catholic Club (which has just won White Ribbon accreditation for it efforts against domestic violence).

Also in the crowd was Sonya Moulang of Bar Centrale, one of out great community-minded cafes which does so much for good causes, and also Dr Mike Freelander’s team volunteering their time to provide a barbecue.

As long as inspiring people outnumber uninspiring people, hope remains.