I hope I am wrong but I do believe that the people of Australia will vote against legalising same sex marriage if a plebiscite is held. One of the reasons I believe this will happen is because we have an ageing population that grew up in fear of this.
I was born in England during WW2. We were the Silent Generation, a sub group of the Greatest Generation. We were followed by the Baby Boomers.
Our generation has been subjected to phenomenal change and it hasn’t always been easy to accept and adapt to it. Young children today are dumbfounded when they discover that their grandfathers didn’t have a mobile phone when they themselves were only a child. I would have been about 7 or 8 years old before we got electricity into our house. We didn’t have a television but we had a radio that was driven by acid batteries. We didn’t have a car. If we needed to go somewhere, we went by public transport, or we rode our bikes – if we had one, or we walked.
The Internet, personal computers, mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on – not even a dream on the horizon. Thank God we didn’t have Social Media as we know it today.
We didn’t have a telephone in our house. If we needed to ring someone, we walked to the nearest telephone box on a street corner and made the call from there.
I have come a long way since those days. I completed my schooling, served in the military, spending time in Hong Kong and Singapore, including active service in Borneo, migrated to Australia and become an Australian citizen. I have had two careers – first as a translator in military intelligence and second in the world of Information Technology. But I am still a product of the Silent Generation, a generation of battlers who had to fight for survival after a terrible war. We were on rationing for many years. I recall as a young boy at primary school receiving a food parcel from Australia brought in by Don Bradman’s Australian cricket team in 1948.
Life wasn’t easy but we survived. I sometimes wonder how much easier it would have been if we had the technology then that we have today. But if I could turn the clock back, I wouldn’t change anything. Life may have been difficult but it was uncomplicated. We grew up in a different world, a world where most people rented their houses; where a man expected to work for the same company for life; a world where homosexuality was a crime punishable by a jail term. Although it was fairly safe to go to a public toilet, I was trapped in one on one occasion by a pervert. I was also sexually assaulted on another occasion by a staff member at my local YMCA. We formed a set of values that were relevant to those days. But times have changed and we have moved on.
Today’s young people have their own set of values and opinions and I accept that they are entitled to that. After all, it is their time. We have had our time. But I ask today’s young people to fully understand our situation and learn from it. We have had incredible change forced on as we have grown older. We have become wiser and we have modified our views. In some cases, we have had to accept things we don’t really agree with but we know it is all part of progress. When you are brought up in a world where homosexuality is a crime punishable by a jail term, and same sex marriage is taboo, and you yourself have been assaulted by a homosexual, it is very hard to later on accept that both are acceptable. I do acknowledge that homosexuality and same sex marriage are acceptable but I still have some far reaching feelings about both. I have come a long way in accepting this and all I ask of today’s generation is to understand and respect the enormous change we have had to go through.
Although life in 1945 was a lot less traumatic than today, there were times then when we thought that George Bernard Shaw was right – life wasn’t meant to be easy! After all, didn’t some of our ancestors have it easier with carrier pigeons and smoke signals?