I posted this on ANZAC Day 2020, less than a month into lockdowns in Victoria. Having read Vikki’s contribution last night, and being 17 months further into it, with even tighter restrictions on some individuals and families, with even more ‘exempt’ people and occupations coming out of the woodwork, I am posting it again.
From Vikki’s article:
“Based on Labor’s logic, all politicians must do as those in the most impoverished situation because some others are going through it.”
When that impoverishment is the direct result of the ill-conceived decisions made by said politicians, the answer is ‘Yes, they absolutely should’. It’s a healthy state of affairs.
A Symbol of Servitude
“The Officer Epaulettes on his uniform is a sign of servitude; servitude to his men.”
It’s a long-standing, yet unwritten rule, that Army Officers are the last to be fed in any meal line. The reasons behind this are twofold. Firstly, in theory, the Officer has the authority to demand more food be provided for his men, and by being last, he’s in the ideal position to judge the shortfall accurately and remedy the problem. Secondly, and more importantly, it is so that he shares, and is seen to share, the discomfort of his most deprived subordinates. The ‘most deprived’, in this instance, being the last man in line.
Far from being limited to the meal line, Officers are expected to be the first out of the plane when parachuting, use the same sub-standard equipment and share the same sleep deprivations. The list of expectations of an Officer is extensive and varied, but the intent is singular and obvious. If an Officer must do what he asks of his men, self-interest has a moderating effect on his decisions and encourages a more thoughtful approach to any activity or mission. The old adage of ‘Leading from the Front’ has a similar effect. Officers don’t like getting shot, stabbed or blown up, any more than the next bloke. Being all in it together is a healthy state of affairs, for everyone.
I write this today, on ANZAC day, because of the stark difference between the leaders of those whom we traditionally gather to remember, and today’s leaders who, quite unjustifiably, like to take the prime seating and centre stage at said ceremonies. I have seen myself, a state politician take umbrage (and express it verbally) at being relegated to the second row of seating, in favour of actual veterans who had a talking part in the ANZAC service. I’ll add that many attendees (and veterans) stand at the back, unable to see the proceedings, and barely able to hear it. Do the politicians up the front know this? I doubt it. It seems that the sharing of deprivation will remain in the military leadership realm. Forgive me if I am cynical about our current political leadership and their understanding of the needs, problems and dilemmas of all sections of our community. Our civilian leaders seem extremely comfortable to roll around in their privilege, adulation and favoured status (like pigs in the proverbial) without suffering the sacrifice that traditionally comes with leadership. Lining up behind the plebs, and sharing their suffering, seems not to be to their tastes. As a start, if I were to have my way, I would commence any ANZAC service with the call: “All politicians to the rear!” (in my finest RSM voice).
Perhaps a little more sharing of the misery, caused by their decisions, would be a good thing for both our politicians and us as a country. After all, is there any aspect that they share with those whom they ostensibly lead? Thinks Pensions, Superannuation Schemes, Wage cases, etc. The COVID-19 world has bought this to the fore, like never before. Moderation, balance, proportion and nuance, have been sadly lacking. They are the Gamemasters, but they have no real skin in the game itself. “They can get voted out”, I hear you say. Ok, then what? A fat, non-means-tested pension and residual benefits (regardless of age), a seat on a couple of boards, a place on the talking circuit and some paid lobbying. Can’t others lose their jobs, too? The last three weeks seems an apt example. Disconnected is the kindest word I can muster, and it shows.
Many ‘officiate’ at ANZAC services, without the slightest idea of what it really means (or should mean) to people in positions of responsibility. They really should be ashamed, but that would require self-awareness. Student politics doesn’t seem to teach that.