December 09, 2003 | Peter

The Value of Mistakes

It comes as no surprise that the Coalition have targetted Mark Latham’s past, even comparing him unfavorably with ‘Boozer’ Bartlett. Latham has had an interesting time, and like most of us, he’s made mistakes. The less you experience of life, the fewer mistakes you’ll make. The trick is to learn from your mistakes and move on.
One of the things that worries me most about John Howard, Andrew Downer and Peter Costello (but not Tony Abbott!) is their wafer thin life experience. It makes it very easy for them to hammer life’s desperados like, say, the unemployed or refugees, from their safe, orderly, privileged situation.
Some leaders, like Gough Whitlam, can develop an inclusive world view through intellectual rigour, although Gough, like his generation, had gone through that singular experience, World War 2.
Real experience tells you that life is messy, can be very hard, and that sooner or later we all make mistakes. In mature personalities this breeds self-understanding and empathy for others.
The homogeneity of Labor pollies currently (ie mostly ex-political or union officials, often second generation) also bothers me, and in fact Latham is little better in this regard. But if he is honest with himself, his marriage breakdown and fistfights will have taught him a lot about how things can go wrong for any of us. And about how we need a social order that minimises these events, but that allows us to pick up the pieces and move on when they do happen.
Making mistakes is not a sin, but not learning from them is. However, you have to stick your toe in the water to find out it is cold. I suspect more Australians can relate to Latham’s imperfect past than the Coalition leaders suspect, but I also hope Latham has learned his lessons.

Posted by Peter at 12:20 pm | Comments (1) |
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1 Comment

  1. Ooops, I meant of course Alexander Downer, although, come to think of it, he does look more like an Andrew to me…

    Comment by peter mcmahon — December 9, 2003 @ 11:42 pm

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