The Great Levellers in Life

I often wonder at the rapid momentum of social change in society including political correctness which to me is blight on common sense and reason. Once you could welcome a mate with “Gidday black fella, been walkabout?” and receive a quick reply such as “Bloody convict, where’s your ball and chain?” It was a typical digger welcome and telling all that although from different backgrounds, both were proud to be as one. Cobbers who would share the same trench, seek warmth together under the only blanket, in turn sip the last of the water, confront the same dangers and risk their lives for each other. Who would claim such a salutation was racist?


There’s a story told of Captain Reg Saunders, the first aborigine to be commissioned into our army when during a fierce battle in Korea, a comrade shouted “This is no place for a white man.” Saunders retorted “Not for black fellas either” Even in extreme danger they could joke about their race and identify as being one. A further example is when a corporal found one of his soldiers, an aborigine, among the wounded and very pale from loss of blood and shock. Quick as flash, the corporal said “Mate, I told you we would make a white man out of you one day. ” Everyone laughed. Such was the humour and mateship bonding all warriors in yet another generation.


Today, litigation is a thriving business and has developed paranoia within our society. Not so long ago as children, we were prepared for the hard knocks of life and often was the chant “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” Better still was the mental strength developed with an ability to laugh at ourselves as opposed to sulking, complaining or seeking legal aid. It was one of the strong characteristics of Australians from yesterday.


Chiding in the military using much wit and humour was a great leveller for all. The scene could be the parade ground, the canteen, a cold mountain peak or around a campfire, even in circumstances determining life and death. Today, at military reunions, the wit and mischief delivered hasn’t changed. It seems military service developed immunity to political correctness and can still bring a comrade back down to earth, regardless of status, race or colour.  There were no exceptions. In those days the closest we got to political correctness was on voting day.


I recall a comment directed at me at a recent gathering “When I saw him, I thought he had to be the only bloke to walk back from Vietnam.“ I haven’t come up with an appropriate response for the bas..rd but I’m working on it and stuff political correctness when I do.

George Mansford © October 201


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