How on earth can we ensure that 2019 is a more positive and constructive year than the last one? Australia is home – as this magazine perennially proves – to a plethora of excellent minds yet always seems to manage to ensure that the vital messages such brains deliver go largely unheeded. Watching what may well be the worst television in the world the other night it struck me that much more money and thought looks as though it goes into the production of commercial TV advertisements here than into the surrounding programs. Are we being dumbed down deliberately to a point of paralysis where political and educational madness – such as the widely adopted Safe Schools program – passes somehow or other now for everyday sense? Getting older is boring and often inconvenient I admit but does offer the advantage at least of being able to remember a largely sane and readily explicable world. Yet here we are sadly led by the nose by a generally third-rate but heavily politicised educational establishment and often unthinking media so that our vast continent seems to me to float now like some giant, intellectually-abandoned mattress at the nether end of our world.
Does anyone else on our planet give a damn now about what Australia thinks, says or does?
Yet the whole matter could have turned out so very differently even a few years ago were it not for various fatal interventions. By now Australia is certainly not the country I came to very happily nearly 25 years ago. That, in turn, is largely because the tentacles of post-modernism had not yet tightened their choke-hold back then on a nation which remains largely unaware it is being slowly and painfully strangled. Hordes of decent folk go to work here each day seemingly heedless of anything much other than the latter imperative. During a recent apocalyptic thunderstorm in Sydney our rather nervous dog jumped on to my wife’s lap, drenching her in the boiling drink she had just prepared but to their great credit emergency services were with us within minutes. Two brilliantly-trained and supremely sensible young men were so calm and efficient that they might well have dropped in from some other galaxy. With such excellent people around, why on earth is our country heading so sadly for me towards a moral and political cliff-edge from which there will be no easy return?
In short, while a whole raft of decent, sensible people go about their everyday lives with little or no regard for events happening in Canberra, say, or at the ABC, political cliques and elites pursue agendas which disregard such good people and their legitimate needs and concerns completely.
Australia, in my view, is lurching towards an increasingly totalitarian, left-wing future with little or no regard for any greater good. Within the next five years a frightening reality exists of waking up to an Australia which is barely recognisable any longer as a sympathetic place to live. Events which point in a contrary direction have become increasingly rare yet over Christmas I did meet a family from Bathurst, say, whose spokesman reminded me of a major factor which attracted me to Australia in the first place: our irreverent sense of humour. In answer to my question about the plague of fruit bats which had taken over the town’s beautiful central park, I was amazed to learn that these unwelcome incumbents had left suddenly and had not so far returned. To what did the town’s self-appointed spokesman attribute this happy turn of events?
‘The playing of bagpipes drove them off. It’s well-known bats can’t stand bagpipes – but then nor can most sensible people.’ Earlier today the morning gardening program on 2GB radio came up with a similar vocal gem. A listener was commenting on one of New South Wales’ twenty botanical gardens: ‘We went to look at one of the botanical gardens but gave it a bit of a swerve’. ‘Why was that?’ asked the interviewer. ‘It was a bit lively not just with plants but with hordes of snakes: in fact they stopped me from even glancing at the flowers’. Such approximately recorded comments reminded me of why I first bonded so strongly with some of the people of these shores. Perhaps we do not need after all to become a pale imitation of former Russia, Cambodia, Cuba or even of our present principal trading partner. Nor should any of us seek either to emulate the careers of former employees of Goldman Sachs. An infinitely better middle road exists but we need to grasp it now with both hands. Let’s be kind, generous, instinctively intelligent Australians and reject the nonsense with which we are now perennially bombarded by left-wing activists. About 20 years ago, a charming young woman asked my help in interpreting some of the fascinating pictures at an art gallery opening. After several minutes of earnest effort on my part she remarked: ‘That’s only your truth of course’. Having not taught in tertiary education for a while I had forgotten that recent students were no longer taught to distinguish truth from opinion. Singular truth for them simply didn’t exist. In short if I had been short, black, female and twenty years younger my ‘truth’ would have been quite different. Have we really sunk to that particular intellectual depth? In days when I still taught my answer would have been to point to the example of archaeology. In other words while all the world’s leading experts may believe a historic site lies buried in such and such a place they may all just possibly be wrong. In the meantime the buried site exists somewhere else entirely and even if no-one ever discovers it a truth evidently exists about the matter which is totally independent of human opinion. Fortunately or otherwise I have never taught philosophy but do still have a lifelong addiction to basic common sense. Happy New Year everyone.
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