Wednesday, February 04, 2015
That Australian life - musings on the departure of a daughter
We will miss her, of course. Clare and I have locked Wednesday night in. One Wednesday we will play tennis or do something else together, the second Wednesday we will skype Helen.
Thinking about it, this post is about Australian life. The high proportion of overseas born in the Australian community means that many have left home and country to come here. Less well recognised is the very large number of Australian born who have gone overseas to work, many of whom never return beyond periodic visits.
I often write about the things that I see as wrong in this country. In doing so, I focus on what (as I see it) needs to be fixed. However, I never forget what is right. Australia remains a remarkably lucky country.
I am not just talking economics. Our systems still work, if sometimes imperfectly. There is a diversity and depth in Australia that is not always recognised in this country, even less so outside Australia. This can be hard to explain. There is also a tolerance, a tradition of manners, that makes for a civil society.
Australia is a nation in transformation, constantly reinventing itself. At the end of the Second World War we chose to embrace mass migration, in so doing reinventing the nation. Later, we broadened the mix to include people from all creeds, races and cultures, again starting a process of reinvention.
We are not alone in this. Canada and New Zealand share the tradition. But very few other countries do. In a way, I suppose, we have had no choice. At each point in the nation's history we have had to make choices. Once that choice has been made, it dictates future events far into the future.
That is what I mean by having no choice. The choices we made in the past were determined by events at the time, by our relative isolation and fears. We could have chosen differently, but those making the choices perceived that we must do certain things that then determined later choices. Frightened about our survival as a European society on the edge of Asia, we chose to be open.We didn't see it that way at the time, almost certainly just as well, but that's what happened.
Well, I'm to bed. As I write, Prime Minister Abbott's future seems increasingly uncertain. It's interesting, but I'm not sure that it actually matters very much.
Of more importance is the state funeral held today for Tom Uren. I was opposed to Mr Uren's views, but I greatly respected him as a man, as a person who was trying to do new things.