S Sense

I like the car boot market in Lismore. I shouldnt really. For a start its situated under the shopping square, which is hardly the most beautiful of environments. But its very Lismore practical with little pretence or facade. Its shady. And rain poses no problem.

Underneath that recently enlarged consumer monstrosity, with its huge chain stores selling plastic dreams to people who live in the vain hope that a surround-sound home entertainment system may just give some meaning to their lives, is a peoples market where the profits dont go into the grubby hands of over-paid corporate CEOs. And the food is local.

Upstairs, bored young people with tattered workers rights and neat uniforms pass Brazilian oranges under electronic cash registers, while the huge air conditioning system sickens an already faltering atmosphere.

I get into the spirit of the market by buying something.

Now when Im in a buying mood I like to buy cheap religious icons.

On Sunday I bought a framed picture of the Madonna and Child. I dont know why Im fascinated by the Madonna. Unlike Joseph, I certainly wouldnt believe the old virgin birth rave from a pregnant girlfriend of mine. But these items give me something to shop for, so I dont feel left out.

Shopping, remember, is the glue that binds our modern society together. Unfortunately.

So with a $3 Madonna and Child under my arm, Im chatting to this older woman about the catastrophic state of the world. (As you do after a delicious breakfast from a guy in a van who always seems to be rushing, but is the slowest cook Ive ever come upon.)

Shes saying that many of her older friends are upset about the warming world but dont know what to do. Theyre withdrawing. Theyre beaten.

Well, I say. Let me tell you this dont let the bastards beat you!

She jumps a bit at my use of the B word.

We are not ruled by leaders but rather by followers. Corporate followers who are corrupted by a ethos of greed. An institutionalised greed that has become a social value, much to the dismay of the older folk who knew a more moral world.

Older people should fight, I tell the woman. They have a responsibility. And bugger-all to lose. And in one way it doesnt matter whether the battle is won or lost. (There are always battles) But being on the right side, the side of human justice, is its own reward. It gives you an aesthetic to live by right now. Not some sort of assumed profit in the future. Like with capitalism. Or religion.

Opposite that great shopping square is Lismore Park.

For over 100 years this has been community land. It has sporting fields and is a place to fly a kite or kick a ball with the kids. Its community land.

But not for long.

In the spirit of the times, Lismore City Council is moving towards reclassifying that land from community to operational. Why? Council wont say. (Commercial in confidence.)

When its classified operational the community loses control over this land. Council can get longer and more profitable leases from bigger and more powerful organisations. (Not puny little sporting associations.) It can even sell the land. It cant do that when its community land. Maybe the shopping square sees a carpark there.

Get those old people to fight them, I say to the woman.

Holding my picture of the Virgin and her Son (who would end up throwing the moneylenders out of the church), I whisper in her ear.

Save our park. Then the world.

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