In times of strife, seek beauty

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Many years ago, I read in The Age this letter: Friends allow me to share some thoughts I had while travelling recently, ″⁣fix your thoughts on what is true and honourable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise″⁣. I can’t remember what was happening at that time, but the letter moved me, so I cut it out. With the news so dreadful now, I think we need something to lift our thoughts, just for a bit. Jan Hasnie, Doncaster

Transfer subs’ money to better causes
With a bit of luck, the US Congress will not pass the AUKUS-related legislation thus freeing up the $368billion submarine purchase to do some much needed useful things in this country. This money would allow a large fleet of water-bombing aircraft to attack bushfires before they got out of hand. Hospitals, schools and welfare agencies could also function properly. Don Owen, Hawthorn

Let’s hope sanity prevails
The wars in Gaza and Ukraine, not to mention other parts of the world, are killing thousands and mutilating many more. Families are broken as loved ones cease to exist. Property becomes rubble and purpose all but ceases to exist. In 2021 the world’s arms industry exceeded $2 trillion (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). We have attempted for thousands of years to batter our opponents into submission and promote our particular versions of ″⁣the good life″⁣. These efforts have failed miserably in the long term. Now, with weapons of obscene mass destruction in the mix, prospects of peace are sadly diminishing. Let’s hope a wave of new and saner thought can prevail and see a better, safer world emerge.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

In the end, there will be only losers
The murder of 1400 Israelis and the taking of hundreds of hostages by Hamas were acts rightly condemned by the international community. Sympathies were appropriately directed to all Jewish people. Unfortunately, the aerial bombardment of Gaza, the ground assault resulting in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians will ultimately, if not already, negate the justification for Israeli retaliation, namely ridding Israel of the Hamas threat. Israel risks engendering further hatred, which will inevitably lead in turn to terrorists, other than Hamas, seeking their own forms of retaliation, resulting in collateral damage to the wider world community. There will only be losers in this conflict. Edward Combes, Wheelers Hill

The conflicts not making the headlines
Given the dire situation in Gaza it is hardly surprising that all eyes are focused on the Hamas-Israel war. Yet just over a month ago, as the climax of decades of conflict, more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians were expelled from Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijani forces. Hundreds of Armenians remain in Azerbaijani prisons, effectively held hostage. The Armenians, themselves victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottomans during WWI, have been in Nagorno-Karabakh since the second century. Their expulsion a monstrous crime, in many ways comparable to the expulsion of the Palestinians from what is now Israel in 1948. Despite this, there have been no demonstrations, no opinion pieces or no calls for justice from the Australian or international community in support of the Armenians. Our sense of outrage appears highly selective. Peter Hogg, North Melbourne

Drawing comfort from many sources
Columnist Barney Zwartz offers a message about enduring suffering (Faith, 29/10) and cites the Psalms, in particular, as a source of comfort. But his offerings are also to be found in Stoic philosophy, and even in Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon: ″⁣If it doesn’t end well, it is not the end.″⁣ There is not one ″⁣owner″⁣ of these comforting ideas, we can draw on them from many sources. John Massie, Middle Park


Wonderful nature
Your correspondent (Letters, 30/10) is right in calling on Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to put an end to seismic blasting off the Victorian coast.
Conserving wildlife and the environment should not be a matter of economic equations. It should be enough to argue that we should preserve our precious environment and biodiversity because it is wonderful.
No higher justification should be needed.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West

Shock to the system
Last Friday night I watched the film Southern Blast made by the Surfrider Foundation on proposed seismic drilling in our southern waters. As a person who cares about the environment, I was shocked to watch the damage that is done with this practice. I did not realise how dangerous it is.
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek must do something positive to protect our southern oceans and all our marine environment. How are we to live on this planet if it is constantly under threat?
I urge the community to study the dangerous practice of seismic drilling. You will be surprised what a terrible practice it is.
Nola Cormick, Albert Park

Labor’s failure
Your correspondent’s letter regarding the RBA (29/10) raises many concerns. The Albanese government appears to be more focused on international matters rather than the financial shock being experienced by people with mortgages and by businesses. Fiscal policy is a government responsibility and the federal government seems oblivious to the devastation caused by unnecessary rises in interest rates, which continue to fill bank vaults while moving people towards being homeless. Domestic issues were a key part of the Labor elections strategy. So far, they have failed from housing to job creation. Albanese needs to get a grip of the financial chaos and show leadership, otherwise his tenure as PM will be short-lived.
Ian Jaggard-Hawkins, Yarram

Test for colour
Thanks to Nick Calacouras (Comment, 30/10) for raising awareness of colour vision deficiency. The impact and incidence of colour vision deficiency is often overlooked in Australia – especially in education. It is more prevalent than many realise (eg. 8 per cent of males and 0.4 per cent of females are red-green colour blind).
Statistically, there is one such person in every co-educational classroom, and about 170,000 schoolchildren are affected Australia-wide. Colour-blind people can have difficulty seeing text on digital devices or whiteboards and distinguishing colours on graphs, sporting teams etc.
Text written in red or green is invisible for some. Undiagnosed colour-blind students can be labelled with poor academic performance, poor behaviour and lack of participation in class, when the real problem is that they cannot see the writing on the screen.
There are reliable colour vision screening tests for young children. However, unlike some other countries, there is no official screening program here. There is also no nationwide awareness program, and no system of equipping educators with simple strategies to accommodate colour vision deficiency in the classroom.
Many Australian children struggle throughout school, unaware that they have colour vision problems. A simple test, awareness and strategies in the classroom could make all the difference.
Geraldine de Fina, Brighton

Map plea
I’m one of those rare red-green colour-blind females and the questions I am asked include, “How do you see the correct traffic light?” Try by brightness, contrast and the position of the lights.
While I have learnt in my 80 years to ask in shops if in doubt about an item’s colour, I am continually bushed by colour-coded maps such as those for transport. The Paris Metro is the worst, closely followed by London’s Underground.
Please think of us when deciding to colour-code an important map, guide or instruction.
Dr Robin Burns,

Calculating inequality
If Australia spends less than other OECD countries on universities, and most definitely spends a lot less than other OECD countries on aged care, both of which are areas that affect a large proportion of its people, it would be useful to compare all other areas of Australia’s spending with OECD countries.
As wealth inequality in Australia increases, studying how money is apportioned as compared with other OECD countries would be useful for working out what our nation’s real values currently are, and in what ways our values are changing.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

The wrong tax
Mia Schlicht’s comments on the imprisonment of Russell Northe (Comment, 30/10) correctly highlight the financial burden of ineffectual incarceration on the state. Prison stamps many nonviolent people with a criminal record that locks them out of employment and other social activities, in some cases for life. This in part is a driver for the high rates of recidivism (more than 50per cent of prisoners reoffend within two years of release).
Schlicht’s arguments waver, however, on reality of life post-release. The limited support, housing issues, family issues, pre-existing financial issues and other challenges will only be exacerbated by taxing those few prisoners who, amid all these challenges, manage to secure employment. Taxing two-thirds of what is often a low income will disincentivise work while equally incentivising furtive and likely criminal means of income generation.
Dave Taylor, Oakleigh East

Vote a tragedy
I have just returned from the Northern Territory. A few conversations I had up there about the referendum are worth sharing. There was the pilot who voted No who had two suggestions: get rid of all the levels of bureaucracy between Indigenous people and Canberra, and teach them all to be entrepreneurs. The forklift driver said she didn’t really understand the issues so she didn’t vote. The woman from Washington said it was a ″⁣no-brainer″⁣ and of course she would have voted Yes. The New Zealand couple would have voted No, referencing the Waitangi Treaty. But the response that shocked me came from an Indigenous river guide. When, in an attempt to show my sympathy, I said it was a sad outcome, he said, ″⁣No!″⁣ I was shocked at his palpable anger. He then went on to say, ″⁣It was not sad, it was a tragedy for my people.″⁣
It made me realise that even the most well-meaning of us non-Indigenous have no real understanding of the hurt caused by the referendum result for those most affected.
Sue Tuckerman, Kew

Develop imagination
In response to the article ″⁣Dream to fix rail eyesore shelved″⁣ (29/10), yes, the rail yards are an eyesore, but they don’t have to be that way, and Lord Mayor Sally Capp doesn’t need developers to come to the rescue.
Ribbons or patches of land could be identified within the existing patterns of rail, and succulents planted there. Succulents have beautiful flowers when in bloom and could survive the Death Valley conditions there.
A project for a local horticultural college? Less developers and more imagination please.
Fred Colla, Ivanhoe

Assault on health
Too much salt, bad for you; likewise too much sugar. Most insidious are those snack and other ″⁣foods″⁣ that perplexingly contain salt and sugar.
David Johnston,

Farming harmony?
Can someone explain why farming and solar farms can’t coexist? Surely if the panels are put in high enough off the ground, sheep at the very least could graze around them, so we’re not losing thousands of hectares of arable farming land?
Dale Young, Alexandra

Primal streams
Underlying most wars are primal them-and-us hostilities, power struggles, and battles over land, because land ownership equals power. Neither religious nor atheist beliefs extinguish these traits and they can too easily lead to finger-pointing rather than resolution. It is through human agency that some hope lies: the capacity to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and do what we can to rise above our primal selves.
Emma Borghesi, Rye

A fairer rate
Imagine if the government, in managing inflation, used the income tax rates in the same way the Reserve Bank uses the cash rate. When demand grew too rapidly, just increase the tax rates in order to dampen that demand. Then decrease the rates again when demand flattened. Instead of home buyers unfairly bearing most of the pain, the pain would be more evenly spread and we would all eventually reap the gain from a government with more money to provide much needed services.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood

Those were the days
Re teacher housing circa 1960s – a chip bath heater and a wood fire stove and an outside dunny?
The bank manager at least got carpet and a golf club subscription.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale


Peace is not possible without justice.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill

Never was this observation more apt: ″⁣Violence does not spring from a vacuum. It’s born out of other men’s violence. It gets nurtured and it grows in a soil of prejudice and of hate and of bigotry.″⁣ – Rod Serling
Russell Kidd, Carnegie

Benjamin Netanyahu says the Hamas war is a ″⁣do-or-die″⁣ fight. At this stage, we know who is applying the most “do” and who is suffering the most “die”.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

War crimes are war crimes. One does not excuse another.
Bryan Lewis, St Helena

Australia abstained in the vote at the UN for a ceasefire. The only thing that happens when you sit on the fence is you get a sore behind.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Peter Dutton, there’s nothing worse than a backseat driver.
Ross Byrne, Pakenham

Nick Enfield (Comment, 30/10) noted that philosopher Karl Popper emphasised that the goal of a debate is not to win, but to learn. Obviously Peter Dutton has never studied philosophy.
Tom Stafford, Wheelers Hill

It has been suggested that a more appropriate term for wind farms is “wind factories”. Given the metallic nature of these structures, it does seem a more honest appellation.
Deborah Morrison, Malvern East

I can’t conceive having a hip replaced and being sent home from hospital the same day as being beneficial for the patient.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

A black day for the All Blacks, losing in the rugby World Cup final, and the Black Caps, who lost to Australia in the ODI World Cup.
Graham Cadd, Dromana

You will never see a pumpkin voting for Halloween.
Paul Custance, Highett

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