The State of New South Wales goes to the polls today. I live in another state, but it shapes as an interesting contest that may lead to some intriguing results.
Mens Sana in Corpore Sano
I’ve been thinking lately about the Latin phrase mens sana in corpore sano as a means of analysing politics (among other things). It seems to me that every non-criminal government will ensure that its citizens remain alive; it is only the best that will offer them conditions that really make them live. Some of the smaller parties contending today, however, can be said to have made that their starting point.
I received an email from the Arts Party yesterday (which is what prompted this post). The capacity of the arts to challenge people, and therefore change and enrich them, should not be underestimated. Hence, a grouping like this is an encouraging thing.
Australian Cyclists Party
I recently joined the Cyclists Party because it seemed to be the closest to my core interest of running: after all, cyclists and runners use much the same infrastructure (like rail-trails) and have a common interest in promoting fitness-oriented policies (as it happens, I subsequently also bought a bicycle). Like the arts, a dedication to fitness has an incredible power to change people and show them their own strengths. This, surely, is to be encouraged.
Shooters and Fishers Party
It might seem incongruous to include a reference to the Shooters and Fishers Party after the preceding two. I do not think this is so. Aside from the obvious benefits of having to be outside to both hunt and fish, I think there are benefits from both as regards mental wellbeing. For one thing, both activities connect the present with the people of the past: not for nothing is a French political party with similar aims named “Chasse, pêche, nature, traditions” (“Hunting, Fishing, Nature, Traditions”). For another, the task of killing either animal or fish compels the hunter or fisher to consider (if only fleetingly) some of the bigger questions of existence: as Hemingway said, “Because [the Spanish] have common sense they are interested in death and do not spend their lives avoiding the thought of it and hoping it does not exist only to discover it when they come to die”(1).
Outdoor Recreation Party
The Outdoor Recreation Party hints that, in the future, the liberal and libertarian schools of thought may find that a common love for the natural world gives them more in common than what divides them. Being outdoors – being in nature – is rejuvenative and touches people at a fundamental level. Camus said that “the great shout of stone that Djemila hurls between the mountains , the sky , and the silence – well do I know its poetry: lucidity, indifference, the true signs of beauty or despair” (2).
There are many important questions in politics. But whichever way you vote today, I hope you vote for whatever you think will help may you most whole in body and mind.
(1) Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon (1932), ch. 19
(2) Albert Camus, ‘The Wind at Djemila’ (trans. Ellen Kennedy), in Philip Thody (ed.), Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970), p.79