I KNOW it's bad karma but I have been indulging in a fat bucket of schadenfreude* recently. I usually care so little about what the rich, famous or fatuous are doing that I would be more likely to be found doing housework than reading a gossip mag or watching a reality TV show. And if cleanliness really is next to godliness, then I am most definitely an atheist.
But there's something so compelling about the Rinehart family saga that it could be a 21st century Citizen Kane.
I have been devouring every little sue and counter sue and relishing in a way that I haven't enjoyed since my ever-diminishing attention span became distracted from the Murdoch family/company's woes.
The Rinehart soap opera reinforces my prejudices because it embodies my favourite moral: money doesn't buy you happiness.
Gina Rinehart represents everything I believe is wrong in Australia: a person who has become surreally wealthy quarrying natural resources and giving little to nothing back; who advocates for cheap imported labour and increased government spending to help out poor struggling minerals exporters in a state that grew rich off the back of exploiting Aboriginal workers.
She's a rich, imperialist bully who has been told 'no' many fewer times than she's been told 'that's a lovely hat'.
And yet, I feel sorry for her too.
What sort of deep unhappiness and ingrained psychological problems cause someone to want control over their adult children's lives to such an extent that their refusal to sign deeds would mean the entire family ends up in court?
I've fought with family members before and it's awful, but transitory. You apologise, take a deep breath, recognise that there are different ways of looking at things and you can't control anyone else's behaviour. You say 'sorry', behave better and move on.
And I think that's why I find the Pilbara Princess who would be Empress so compelling.
I, unlike Gina Rinehart, don't have billions of bucks, but I do have something immeasurably more valuable: family and friends with whom I'm privileged to share unconditional love.
My friends and family, like everyone, go through good and hard times.
But we support each other through all of it; we speak up when we see our loved ones about to do something stupid or damaging. We share in the joy of each other's successes.
We tell each other when we've done the wrong thing.
We listen and we talk.
We're mostly truthful and ethical - with the occasional bit of imperfect karma to work off tossed in.
And I wouldn't trade any one of my imperfect family or friends for a fortune the size of the Hope Downs Mine.
* Taking pleasure in others' misfortune.
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