A significant other used to often say: “Nothing good ever comes from being negative, but something good can happen if you are positive.” I used to shrug off these words as just another mindless cliché—the bain of writers trying to improve their work for publication. True, I went through some dark periods in my past; there have probably been as many negative phases than positive in my life up to this point.
Then one day it all changed. It didn’t happen overnight; being a Scorpio type, I felt I had to go deeper than most. There was a midlife crisis in the eighties when my children were young. But not long after that I knew it was time for change. I became positive. I started to appreciate the good things in life and to brush over the bad. Coming from a non-religious family, it was important for me to see that this was something I’d come to through personal experiences, so I felt I was on solid ground.
I began to get more and more in touch with my feelings and intuition. I started to meditate. I became “Trusting Tom” instead of “Doubting Thomas”. Yes, I even took the plunge and began to see that there was a great deal more to the spiritual aspect of life on earth than ever meets the eye. Shakespeare said it via the mouthpiece of Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”. Shakespeare also spoke about how to live a good life and stay true to yourself. Mum often quoted the message from Polonius to his son Laertes, who was leaving home for the first time:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Then something really interesting started to happen in my life: positive, helpful people entered my life. And I was able to recognise those who were negative more easily. Lots of positive things happened and I felt that I could deal with anything that eventuated. That’s when I knew something significant had changed. I’d developed faith. What I believed in was less important than the fact of believing. As Socrates said millennia ago: “I’m more intelligent than most people around today because I know I know nothing.”
I have become less and less patient with snobbery and arrogance. I am pleased to be part of a multicultural society here in Australia, where successive governments have encouraged tolerance towards those of other races, ethnic groups and religions. The Anti Discrimination Law was introduced thirty years ago, and since then, anti-vilification laws have been brought in. The Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 states that It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people, and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group.
In 2001, vilification on religious grounds was added to the 1975 Act.
My mother’s favourite poem, when she was alive, was “If” by Rudyard Kipling. She was not an educated woman in the traditional sense, but she always tried to be tolerant of others, and this poem’s message is also about staying true to yourself.