Friday, 29 November 2013


by Dave Wheeler   
   It was sometime in 1999 my elderly parents had a dispute with a bloke who lived over the road from them I will call Robert; a tall skinny, balding bloke in his early thirties.   
   I won't go into details of their dispute other than to say I was of the firm opinion my parents were not at fault.
   The above photo is of Mount Majura, which is where I made the bad mistake I have described in this yarn. It is also the scene for the song "Goanna Oil," sung by Raymond Crooke, which can be listened to free of charge on youtube by clicking . It is also where we spread the ashes of my mate, the late Geoff Fitzgerald, as described in the story entitled "Fitz and Mount Majura," which is on page 190 of  "Takes of a Canberra Boy." The latter book can be downloaded free of charge by clicking on the appropriate button above. 
   It came to a head when my dad knocked on Robert's door after a certain event had occurred, which resulted in Robert screaming at my elderly cancer-stricken dad and physically assisting him off the property by pushing him. Had he not screamed or pushed him I would not have got involved, but because my dad's personal safety had been threatened, and was therefore still under threat, I felt morally obliged to become involved.      
   Getting assistance from the law would not have helped as it would have been difficult to prove my dad was pushed/assaulted because no injuries were made and there were no witnesses. The process would have also given my dad a lot of stress, which was something he did not need considering his age and condition. 
   How I would ensure it did not happen again was a challenge for me in several ways. I thought the problem could only be solved with physical violence or a threat of physical violence, be it from the law or elsewhere. 
   The universe operates as a result of physical violence, with superior forces always overpowering inferior forces, and it seemed to me human garbage like Robert would only change his cowardly ways if he thought his actions would result in his body being damaged or him being deprived of his liberty.       
   I find the idea of bullying abhorrent under most circumstances having been bullied myself as a kid. If however, I was to bully a bully like Robert, who I could tell was as weak as piss for a bloke his age, could it be morally justified?      
   When contemplating the morality behind using violence or threatening to use violence in certain situations I thought of the lobby groups who are strongly opposed to those who use violence as a form of control or to vent their wrath. These lobbyists recommend that violent people be dealt with severely with the full force of the law, particularly violent bullies, which is a blatant contradiction in their philosophy.    
    Don't get me wrong; I agree that violent people should be dealt with by the law. Where I differ from most of the lobbyists I refer to however, is that I am fully conscious of the fact that when the law is used to punish or control the violent a form of bullying violence is used to accomplish the task. I refer to when states, by way of police forces, use their superior force to overpower people, or threaten to overpower people, and/or lock them up; sometimes for very lengthy periods. Violence is violence is violence, whether it is committed by the state within the law by way of a police force or an army, or whether it is committed by an individual illegally.    
   It is up to us to decide when committing acts of violence can be morally justified, and in saying that I am referring to the morality of situations and am not encouraging anyone to do anything of an illegal nature.
  I worked on building sites in the Berra during my youth with many middle aged Germans, and almost all of them fought for Germany during WW2. These blokes were invariably very law-abiding and conservative and not at all violent in their day-to-day lives. Yet I wondered if they had learnt anything by the huge mistake they had made when they blindly followed the orders of the Fuhrer, their supreme authority figure during the war. 
   I don't know how many of the Canberra Germans were ex SS and actually performed atrocities on Jews, Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, communists, etc, but supposing they didn't, and supposing they just fought for Germany during the war under the rules of war, that alone in my mind meant they committed acts of violence which could not be morally justified.
   I am not having a go at the Germans per se; as I believe most Australians would have done the same thing under the same circumstances, because most humans are sheep-like in nature irrespective of their race, nationality or creed. Hitler knew people were subservient to authority and took advantage of it. He was quoted as saying "The masses are blind and stupid." 
   In or around 1971 a couple of mates of mine were thrown out of the German Club, here in the Berra. Of course there would have been many Germans there at the time who had fought under Hitler. My mates stood in the entrance and yelled out "We won the war! We won the war!" They then made machine gun sounds and pretended to fire upon the Germans inside.
    Okay, let's get back to where I was with Robert. I knew something had to be done about him and I knew the last thing I needed at the time was to get in trouble with the law while trying to solve the Robert problem. I was working for the ACT government in 1999 and I did not want to risk the sack. 
   So rather than confront Robert and launch straight into an act of violence or a threat of violence I decided to sit on the problem for a while, although I did not want to sit on it for too long. 
   I'd been running up Mount Majura regularly (I still do today intermittently as it gives me great pleasure, even though due to my more advanced years I now run at glacial speed) and I thought I'd seen Robert up there on several occasions. I therefore also thought that maybe the opportunity to confront him may arise when there was nobody on the mountain but the two of us. 
   I had also learnt through experience that sometimes one's brain can solve problems if it is allowed to work on them over time non-consciously, and I was hoping an answer to how I would deal with the Robert problem would "come to me." 
   Not long after making my decision to not make an immediate decision on the matter I was running up Mount Majura by myself and I saw in the distance a bloke I took to be Robert walking towards me by himself. I was about three quarters of the way up the mountain whereas he had been to the top and was walking back.
    I was placed in the sort of situation people are often placed in when they try to give up smoking or drinking or eating garbage food. They see the positives and negatives of each course of action or non-action and can feel a sort of cognitive dissonance if they cannot decide immediately in a single-minded manner the choice they should make.
    I could have suffered in that way had I have not known how to handle such situations, as I had to balance the welfare of my dad and the welfare of myself. I had no wish to see my dad bullied again and I had no wish to be locked up and/or sacked from my job for committing an act of violence. 
    I was also aware however, that because we do not have contra causal free will Robert was not responsible for his actions in the absolute sense, which meant I did not feel as much animosity towards him as I would have had I have not been aware of him being no more than a collection of cells that had been involuntarily manipulated by the forces of the universe. This however, did not diminish a partial urge I had to slap him around and threaten him, as my paramount concern was my dad's welfare. Fortunately I am able to ensure I never suffer that sort of cognitive dissonance and am always able to make the sorts of decisions I was referring to in a single-minded manner. 
   My philosophy as described in the book I wrote entitled "A Rationalist's Guide to Life" which describes how one can overcome the sort of cognitive dissonance described in the previous paragraphs is beyond the capacity of most people to understand. I shake my head when I see people paying good money to attend "boot camps" to make themselves exercise or when I see "give up" groups dedicated to assisting people give up smoking or overeating. They need an understanding of how the decision-making process works and how one is able to ensure one can make decisions in a single-minded manner and as such devoid of cognitive dissonance. 
   This resulted in my approaching my quarry with no set plan. How I reacted would depend on how he reacted. 
I had the option of slapping him around a bit and applying a partial sleeper to his neck, making him think I was going to murder him at the time. I could then release him, then let him know what he was in for if he ever dealt with my dad the way he had again. But, as I have indicated, how I would react would depend on how he reacted, and I would make sure that whatever I did I could not be in trouble with the law. 
   So, while allowing the reptilian part of my brain to operate for a while I approached him. As I did my hands began tingling and I began to silently laugh to myself. I said to him in an appropriate tone of voice, “How’s it going mate?” Aren’t you the bloke who lives over the road from my dad?”
   In a shaking voice he said, “I think you’re mistaking me for someone else.”
   I asked him if he lived in Watson and when he told me he did not it struck me he seemed too well-spoken for the inbred I had presumed he was. It also struck me that the sort of person who exercises regularly does not usually fall into the inbred/bogan category, which was the category Robert fell right into. 
    On top of all that I became conscious of the fact that I have become a bit short-sighted as I aged, and for that reason I realised I may have made a dreadful mistake by thinking someone who looked like Robert was Robert.
    A sinking feeling hit me after a couple more seconds as I became fully aware of the fact that the bloke I had approached on Mount Majura was not the same bloke who had bullied my dad.
  I felt like crawling under a rock, and that feeling could have continued had I let it. After I sincerely apologised to the bloke for mistaking him for someone else he did not say much and instead of continuing his walk he ran off. I have not seen him on Mount Majura since. 
    I immediately continued my run up Mount Majura and did my best to savour the here-and-now rather than focus on the terrible mistake I had made. I focused on my breath, the wind in my face, the sun on my skin and the sound of the birds. Why people use drugs to sooth their troubled minds when such superior options are available is beyond me.
   Within a week of finishing my run I had a good close look at the real Robert and I could see the physical differences between him and the bloke I had confronted on the mountain, but the differences were not great. Through sheer bad luck on my part they had very similar ages, physiques and degrees of baldness. 
   The mistake I made occurred because I was not sufficiently conscious of the fact that some people do have near doubles and my eyesight could no longer be relied upon for viewing things at a distance.
   After the Mount Majura episode I made sure another event occurred which resulted in the real Robert being motivated to stay away from my dad for the rest of my dad's life. My dad had another 7 Robert-free years before his death at the age of 84.