Athenapallas's Blog

June 24, 2010

A MODERN ATHENA BECOMES PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA

 

Athena, the Warrior Goddess, can’t take credit for what has happened over the last 24 hours but she  did ask her father Zeus not to desert the mortals and it seems as if his lightning bolt has created

an unprecedented event in Austalian political life.

The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected by the people of this bright new democracy with such high hopes, has been  removed by his own party during his first term in office and such an event  has not occurred here in the last fifty years.

And his successor is Julia Gillard,  the first woman to become Prime Minister and  today she was sworn in by a female Governor General, another first.

The women of this country, whatever their political views, could be excused for cheering loudly.

ANCIENT DEMOCRACY

Democracy in the glory days of ancient Greece was  the pre-cursor to all modern democracies, and was a system of governance where the people could give

 ‘wise counsel to the state and where every man was free to speak out and be equal to the other’.

These principles still apply and much was spoken about them today, except in 2010 ‘the people’ include men and women, and no-one in this country is excluded from participating or indeed becoming the country’s leader.

LEADERSHIP

The ancient Greeks required of their leaders a  form of self-mastery that included  the Delphic  principles of Know thyself and Nothing in Excess. Knowing one’s self is fundamental to understanding others and communicating  effectively with them. And having the will and  the skills to do this is essential to learning  about oneself. Nothing in excess means aspiring  to have  balance in one’s work and personal life that is the opposite of,  for example, obsessive attention to detail or distrust of subordinates’ and colleagues’ ability.

COMMUNICATION and CONSULTATION

 Kevin’s communication style was ponderous  and sometimes impenetrable. Julia is a clear and concise communicator who can make sense of complex issues and who can use humour and self-deprecation to get out of sticky situations.

Kevin was exclusive  and  he alienated important allies by failing to consult and use the talents of his cabinet, the Caucus and his Parliamentary colleagues. 

Kevin dived obsessively  into the entrails of government, trying to be across every detail, failing to delegate where appropriate and thus creating a task for himself that even Heracles could not handle.Three hours sleep a night does not lead to coolness under pressure, and there is little time left over for the internal reflection so critical for clear thinking and powerful communication. It has been said that despite Kevin’s great intellect he did not acquire wisdom in his time as Prime Minister.

Julia has  made a  point of articulating this difference in leadership style her acceptance speech as Prime Minister, committing herself to inclusiveness, using all the talents of her colleagues, and consulting widely  before  important decisions are made, a style  honed  throughout her political life.  

Her first action as Prime Minister was to open the door to negotiations with the Mining Industry  and  to wide consultation with the community about an Emissions Trading Scheme which she vows will happen. She also demonstrated a  clarity of expression and a forceful consultative approach in her deft handling of barage of questions from the press.

During Kevin’s  final speech he began  to obsessively  list  all of  his achievements  which seemed to  be some sort of defence against the shock of what had happened, almost as if  he were saying,

‘I did all this and still it was not good enough?’

 And so for the first time his ever-present  smile disappeared      

 and we saw  frozen emotions trying to break through.

No-one who witnessed this it could fail to be moved.

 Here at last we could really see him and empathise with him and his family.

 

 

WARRIOR OF WORKING FAMILIES 

Now we have a new Prime Minister, a brand new modern powerful Athena, a brave and loyal woman, a weaver of relationships, a spinner of a new narrative in our political life who approaches her role as Prime Minister with ‘humility, resolve and enthusiasm’

Athena  the Warrior Goddess will watch over her and champion her cause both here and on Mt Olympus.

Julia will need the guile, wit, courage and endurance  of that other hero, the  mighty Odysseus, to overcome all the trials and obstacles she will meet along her way. The first  one will be convincing the people of the nation  of her commitment and ability so they can trust her to lead them into the future.

Zeus and all the Pantheon of Ancient Gods wish her well and counsel her to keep her faith  in herself strong

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June 17, 2010

HOW ATHENA CAME TO ASK A QUESTION ON NATIONAL TV

 

On Monday 14th June 2010 Athena was in the audience of the Australian TV show Q&A

‘the show where you get to ask the questions’.                                                                                                                                                      

DEMOCRACY IS FUN 

She was amongst the citizens  waiting outside the ABC Assembly being entertained by minstrels playing stringed instruments that she thought were large lutes. 

She watched the Messenger of the Gods, Tony ‘Hermes’ Jones arrive full of charm and enthusiasm as  he delivered his important message that Democracy is fun. 

As they waited the citizens watched a movie about a big new tax on the Finance Gods to benefit the poor and the planet, and then the crowd of young, middle-aged and ancient citizens were ushered in orderly groups into the Assembly. 

Athena, borrowing Hermes’ winged feet, flew ahead to place herself in the first row behind the camera where she could plan her attack.                                                                                                                       

Victorious Greek Charioteer

 

HOMER IN OZ                                                                                                                

A wandering long-haired Homer greeted the crowd and told stories of the recent disastrous national ball game defeat of Australia by Germany,  apparently so humiliating  as to rival the famous defeat by the Greeks  of the vast Persian forces at Marathon 2600 years ago. 

Soon five esteemed elders of the nation arrived to be fussed over by ABC slaves to ensure no speck of dirt or hair was visible on shoulders or heads. 

One government minister’s large naked head proved challenging and powder was needed to dull its shine. 

Homer kept the citizens and elders laughing so  that by the time countdown began the excitement was escalating as the Democratic Assembly was about to begin. 

Back and forth the well-formed questions and answers came. 

 THE ELDERS 

The political elders, Coonan and Garrett vied for attention with too many words but were well restrained by Hermes Jones. Minister Garrett maintained a calm dignity throughout despite some difficult questions. Senator Coonan only became interesting when discussing her  Golden Retrievers’ ears. 

The Aussie Philosopher Singer, was popular, erudite and without guile. 

The Commentator and Biographer Marr was eloquent and cheeky. 

The Psychiatrist and Professor Kulkarni was forceful and elegant. 

CITIZEN POWER 

Citizens all over the country watched and sent their comments and questions via a strange tweeting mechanism. Amazingly citizens were concerned not only for themselves but for the wretched poor all over the world, the health of the planet and even the well-being of domesticated and wild animals. 

WHOSE PATCH IS IT? 

The debate around what was permissable to report about the nation’s leaders was strong with the Psychiatrist Kulkarni declaring that diagnosis of their character was her patch and not the province of a biographer or political commentator.  Biographer Marr took issue and the citizens agreed that  they were all curious about the character of their leaders. 

ANCIENT DEMOCRACY                                                                          

Athena remembered how such things were only discussed outside the Assembly in Athens in  400 BC. 

At every such Assembly the herald would summon  the people from the city streets to take part in the government, with the words: 

‘Who here will give wise counsel to the state? When every man is free to speak or not, and equal to each other. 

THE QUESTION 

 In 2010  the concept of a free and equal ‘man’ includes all people although it was still noticable that the majority of questioners here were men. 

Athena was determined to rectify that, but there was no other way except to hold her spear high in the air and stare down Hermes until he took pity on her and finally said: 

‘There’s a woman over here who has been patiently waiting to ask a question for a long time.’ 

He had  no idea she was not just any woman but was the immortal Pallas Athena Goddess of Justice, Weaving and Spinning.  At last Athena had the opportunity to ask her question: 

‘Professor Kulkarni, how can we the citizens decently assess our leaders and in particular our Prime Minister Rudd?’ 

THE ANSWER 

Kulkarni replied in part: ‘ We are all voters and we want to be able to vote in an informed way about which party has policies that make sense, strategies to get them to fruition, and to be able to trust people to do that. What I have a problem with is bringing things up that are very personal and then somehow putting this into the political system….’ 

THE MEANING 

 Athena  knew that the Greek concept of freedom from which all democracies have sprung was expressed by the ancient Greek word sophrosune which means self-control or self-mastery. It was the spirit behind the two great Delphic sayings: 

‘Know thyself’ and ‘Nothing in Excess’.          

The Oracle at Delphi

 

She understood that Professor Kulkarni, a modern oracle in the art/science of knowing thyself, was wisely cautioning the citizens against the modern excess of voyeurism and prurient gossip. 

But no-one can stop the citizens demanding of their leaders this ancient quality of self-control and self-mastery. And when their leaders display the opposite, it is the right of the citizens to know this, and then to decide such leaders’ suitability to lead the nation. 

THE RESULT 

Athena was pleased to have participated in this modern democratic assembly and urges all citizens of this new laid back democracy to do the same either here on Q &A. or in the many others forums for discussion and voting that are freely open to all. 

Maybe the mortals are not doomed and she might be able to persuade her mighty father Zeus, to save them and their dying world.

June 4, 2010

WHY I NEVER DESTROY A SPIDER’S WEB

Filed under: Athena's musings — athenapallas @ 3:03 pm
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There are not many episodes in my history that I truly regret, even the skinning of the giant Pallas to make my aegis, or the killing of the Trojans when I fought beside Achilles and Odysseus.

None of these acts of naked aggression, regrettable though they were, sit as heavily on my heart as my treatment of Arachne.

Some mischief-making nymphs came to tell me about a wonderful weaver, a peasant girl in Lydia who was considered my rival since I was also the Goddess of weaving and spinning.

I disguised myself as an old woman and went to investigate their claims. I was amazed by the vastness and intricacy of her weaves and I realised I was in the presence of a true artist.  I hung around admiring her work and listening to the praise that was heaped upon her.

You are the best weaver of all time, you have excelled you teacher Athena, were some of the exaggerated tags which she accepted so willingly. I wanted to immediately transform and thrust my spear into her heart. But I did not, after all I was a discerning and usually compassionate goddess in peacetime.

Instead I counselled her to behave with more modesty.

‘Old woman,’ she replied, ‘ how can I help it if my talent is so recognised, I have worked long and hard at my art.’

‘But surely there is no weaver who does not owe their talent to Athena ? I replied.

‘Not I, dear crone, I alone have achieved this great feat.’

With that I threw off my disguise and the contest began. She created a masterful tapestry depicting the more salacious love affairs of the Gods. I answered this with one that showed all the Olympian Gods defeating  the mortals who dared to defy them.

 She looked at me with those innocent blue eyes as if she had no idea of the extent of my wrath.  Soon she was to find out. I hit her with the shuttle of my loom and then I destroyed all of her vast gallery of unique tapestries.

Later I heard on the nymph line that Arachne had hanged herself, distraught that she would never weave such tapestries again. I was so smitten with remorse that I resurrected her as a spider so she could forever weave the most beautiful webs in the world. Some would say this was part of my revenge, and it is that judgment which haunts me to this day.

Now when I walk down the front path to my gate, I always make sure I do not disturb the spider webs, and I caution visitors to do the same.

For these webs are the examples of the most skilful weaves in the whole of nature and the are also a reminder of the never-ending consequences of pride and envy.

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