His legacy is beyond words. Even today, after decades of conservative politics ripping at the heart of Australia, we see his influence. Aboriginal women, children and men, live on their own lands thanks to his initiatives. Hundreds of thousands of state funded university educated Australians owe him a debt. Our international relationships were fostered by him. Universal healthcare and improved social security came from his actions. The introduction of no-fault divorce, the end of conscription and the end of Australia’s participation in the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Margaret (who died in 2012) were also tirelessly supportive of the Australian arts and protections for the environment.
Not only will he live on in memory, but also within a near universal admiration and willingness to see him as a greater-than-life figure, to focus on his successes and acknowledge, though never condone, his failures (like East Timor). Gough continues to inspire generations of Australians who were never directly affected by his time in politics. This is the mark of a great human being.
Gough will become a political ancestor and we Pagan and magic folk understand how that works.
The memory, the life, the personality of great people become the focal point for universal forces to move through and interact with the world. By offering to their memories, their legacy and lives, their triumphs and continuing presence in the world, we grow and strengthen the ancestor. So they become able to continue to influence the world and be the mediation of the inner forces of truth, harmony and justice that inspired their lives while on earth.
Lee Morgan of My Craft and Sullen Art fame suggested this morning on Facebook we consciously create a ‘Multiple tradition political ancestor cult’ to honour Gough’s memory. She has created a Facebook page to this end, ‘Gough Whitlam Ancestor Cult’. Have a look. Tonight we will hold a ceremony and meal in his honour. You are invited to participate in whatever way you wish.
Know this: Gough is not actually dead.
I saw him this morning with a sick girl at the doctors.
I see him in every woman who earns as much as her male counterpart.
I see him every hour in the lives of divorcees and the educated.
I hear his voice in the songs of indigenous Australians who now live on their own land.
I see him in the wonder expressed by the thousands who visit the National Gallery.
I see him in those who marvel at the Barrier Reef and the environmentally protected National Parks.