As you all know, I am shamelessly very specific about speaking directly in the space of rural Australian that includes my peers, professionals, executives, corporates, etc., whether it be in the form of agriculture, grazing, rural business or whatever.
Why? Because I have lived it and known it for my entire life. Simple, really. I get it, know it, understand it.
I was reflecting the other day with a mate and just shaking my head, saying that I wonder if young, clueless, privileged me could've looked into a crystal ball and seen what was coming ... what I would have done?
Ye Gods... probably would've moved to Mars.
I was reflecting on the crazy few years it's been. How that's included standing up and addressing a room full of VIP's at Parliament House; starting over from scratch, or sitting in a hospital holding the head of somebody violently vomiting their way through detox while they watched their privileged life and reputation collapse in pieces.
What I have learned through much of these experiences is that ''priveleged'' rural Australia is a demographic that can be the most misguided and intentionally oblique of all. And cruel with it on occasions.
There's nothing like old-money, old-school snobbery and elitism to show the true meaning of the double-standards strolling amongst us in well-shod feet driving the latest SUV.
Let me illustrate: have you ever witnessed a group of the well-to-do sipping expensive red wine while having dramatic whispered discussions about the 'drEADful state of affairs with the meth addiction sweeping across rural Australia...'' for example?
No? Well, it's a thing. This kind of attitude is rampant in rural Australia.
... there's this kind of 'perceived' superiority from the landed-gentry where some can talk themselves into thinking wealth and prestige equates to immunity from pesky, awkward and unpleasant things such as addiction.
Well - I put to you that this is something we need to address and get real with.
Because dwelling in our prettiest houses amongst our nicest A-List suburbs are some of the sickest people of all. Pretending they're not. For years. And while ever the perception remains that alcohol isn't a deadly drug (albeit prettily packaged and splendidly marketed) remains: so does the divide.
In reality, the only thing separating a well-shod high-functioning 'successful' alcoholic from a ''low-life'' meth addict is a paycheck and the packaging. Yet - the illusion and the immense social divide remains.
I saw that this week another rave-styled party took the lives of two young kids.
Pollies were sad and hysterical. Understandably. It's tragic.
People called for the lynching of those low-life drug dealers! And yet, still, NONE of these public comments from people in power or politics seem to ever address the fact that alcohol-related deaths, accidents or illness makes drug-related death literally pale into insignifigance or comparison. Here in Australia, and globally.
Why? I can only guess it's because alcohol is the go-to drug of choice for the elite. Right?
(Along with cocaine, of course. But the prestigious won't actually admit to that one publicly. Alcohol, on the other hand. Well: bombs away.)
While ever we continue to see brilliantly packaged-and-marketed wines for ''busy Mummies'' and gold-label scotch for 'exhausted important executives' at airports - none of this will change.
Because we still aren't calling it for what it IS when it comes to those who are sick, addicted, and living in extreme denial. Because it is VERY uncomfortable. Because we like to think we are DIFFERENT. We'd really rather not be labelled in the same way we label the hoi polloi.
I think it is simply because of stupid, ancient and out-dated beliefs that ''we don't talk about our problems or ask for help'' or that many among this demographic sincerely hold tight to the belief that pedigrees or education and inheritences equates to immunity from addiciton.
Honestly these last few years of walking this road have shocked me again and again. I've also seen the so-called ''elite'' among us behave worst of all in terms of judgement or condemnation. People who see somebody fall by the wayside and chant from the sidelines 'you're just an alcho - you're not welcome here anyway ...' and kick a man when he's down. The same man they stood beside not much earlier in the story getting fall-down-drunk with in public. With fake camaraderie and back-slapping.
But that's fine - becuase that was a special occasion, and everybody was pissed. Right?
And the thing that makes me saddest of all is to watch these folks walking among us pretending to be all about ''inclusivity'' and tolerance.
It's all good and well to say you're 'about' those things - but we all know that true integrity happens when we behave a certain way regardless of our audience.
What I would love to say and convey is that we are all walking this earth on borrowed time. And that at the end of the day, whether we are the King, the Bishop, the Knight or the Pawn - when the game is over - we will all end up in the same box.
I will always be immensely grateful that my life took me to the bottom. Humility is the greatest gift of all. And I would rather sit with the broken than stand with who society tells us is 'great' - because that's where life is real and raw.