Talking sex, religion and politics with Bob Brown
Bob Brown is a Fuckgiver if you ever saw one.
Despite being in the middle of writing two books and an upcoming election - Bob made time to sit with us to talk 3 taboo topics - sex religion and politics - because life’s too short for rules and superficial chit chat.
Bob is the Godfather of the Australian environmental movement and was giving a fuck long before it was cool. He is the founding member of of the Australian Greens Party (as well as a doctor, a photographer and the first openly gay member of the Australian parliament - in other words #bobisbadass.)
He is often given credit for spearheading the saving of the Franklin River - although he won’t take kudos for that - rather he credits the power of the people, or in his own words:
“We couldn’t win the Franklin river here (in Tasmania), it was won in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth. And when we had a blockade people came from all over the country”
And, unfortunately, or fortunately, for our community of Fuckgiver's that's the playbook of how we need to win the great environmental battles of our time. Less online petition clicking, and more action.
Bob believes “democracy is the best system we have to collective govern”. However, it only works when people are actively engaged and exercise their power. Otherwise those fuelled by greed and golden handshakes will continue promoting their own agendas.
As Bob reflected on the lessons learnt in his 25+ years in politics (1987-2012); “Politicians rarely act on what they think is right; they act on what will get them elected.”
This is where we, the people, come into play. We need to force issues we give a fuck about onto our politicians agenda; otherwise it's just too easy for them to pose for the cameras and collect their next campaign cheques from those with thick wallets, but often shallow hearts.
We've been manipulated into thinking we can, and deserve to have it all. We constantly bombarded with messages encouraging us to satisfy our every whim and desire. As strange as it sounds; consumerism really is a new form of religion.
The next purchase will make me happy right? And isn't happiness the name of the game?
We've been tricked into believing our needs are more important than those of our fellow man, the natural world, and the needs of our future generations. As long as we keep believing this narrative then we will continue to use more than our fair share of planetary resources.
As Bob reflected, "I remember in my speeches I used to quote that our consumption was “1.1 planets, then it was 1.2, then 1.3 and now all these years later we're at 1.7 planets."
I don't need to spell it out for you, but the trend is pretty simple. If we want to play fair, and live within our means (1 planet), then we need to start calling bullshit on the priests of this materialist religion.
The essence of all religion is about connecting to something bigger than us - so how do we find purpose in life and create genuine connection, community and consciousness decoupled from consumption?
Ok, maybe we didn’t talk about sex per se - but Bob’s tone noticeably changed as he spoke of companionship and the vital support and strength he gets from his partner Paul. We reflected hard about the importance of being connected to something - whether that’s another person, a community, nature, music, or projects - we need this for our own resilience and self care.
As we already mentioned, too many of us are finding connection through buying shit - because part of being human is craving connection, but we need to find the right kinds of connection that fill us with the fuckgiving fuel we need, so we don’t burnout - which seems like a funny paradox in our somewhat superficially hyper-connected world doesn’t it?
So WTF can we do with all of this?
At fuckgiving we love getting to why these legends do the amazing work they do. So we asked Bob and he said he could have been an activist for gay rights and/or indigenous rights, but he choose the environment - Because that was the thing that set his soul on fire.
What simple and awesome advice - do the thing that gets you fired up; that’s the cause we need you fighting for.
And as Bob likes to say “get active - because if you don’t you will get angry, and then you will get depressed”.
WTF is the Tarkine and why is bob getting active about it?
Bob is currently on a mission to get as many people as possible to give a fuck about the Tarkine. The Tarkine is Australia's largest temperate rainforest and one of the LAST great wilderness locations ON THE PLANET.
In places, this wilderness is a primeval, isolated wonder unmatched anywhere in the world. Its temperate rainforests emerged 60 million years ago, its caves and escarpments hosting human life stretching back 35,000 years.
It’s home to over 60 rare, threatened and endangered species of flora and fauna and the world's largest, and most unusually beautiful, blue crayfish. Check him out:
Bob has fought this battle before and initially succeeded in getting around 80% of the Tarkine classified within conservation reserves.
Sadly, the Tasmanian State Government recently changed legislation to allow logging to occur in the majority of those conservation reserves. These ancient forests are now currently being smashed into pieces and sold as products such as wood chips by a foreign company, that despite $45m in government subsidies, has no viable business model.
The forestry wars in Tasmania have been fought for decades. However, as long as we sit on the sidelines, our elected politicians will continue to cater to the logging lobby, and the last wild forests will continue to disappear.
These ancient forests are eligible for World Heritage listing, but they are being destroyed before they get the chance to be recognised and protected.
This is all happening under the watch of our leaders. Leaders who work for us, not offshore millionaires.
We need to ask ourselves, before it’s too late, are we prepared to give up this priceless treasure for a quick buck? Are we going to send 300 year old trees (high value) to the wood chipper, to make paper and plywood (low value)?
Now get ready to fall in love, and check out this sexy forest.
She’s bloody beautiful isn’t she?
Scarily, before sitting with Bob we had not even heard about the Tarkine.
But now we are on a mission to collectively put it on the map. It's an Australian wonder worth World Heritage status, and just as special as the Daintree Forest or the Amazon.
It’s time to start talking about the Tarkine! It’s ancient, wild, and threatened, and it’s in our hands.
And lastly, there was this really beautiful thing that happened while hanging with Bob, that we wanted to share:
Bob kept talking about how he is doing this for the grandchildren - but he doesn’t have kids, in fact, he is a dude, who is into dudes. On the walk home from our hang, the penny really dropped - he sees ALL of us as his grandkids - and how beautiful is that?
So heres to Fuckgiver Bob who walks the talk, truly gives a shit about future generations, who's still fighting for us and empowering us to pick up the fuckgiving reins from his life's work.
Thank you Bob ❤️
The post-Materialism poet Drew Dellinger poem, “Hieroglyphic Stairway”:
it’s 3.23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
What did you do when the earth was unravelling?
Surely you did something
When the seasons started failing?
As the mammals, reptiles and birds were all dying?
Did you fill the streets with protest
When democracy was stolen?
What did you do
Article written by Andrew Bakonyi & Sara Rickards