Wednesday, February 04, 2015

That Australian life - musings on the departure of a daughter

Tonight is normally my Australian life post. However, I played tennis with Clare, our first outing since eldest (Helen) left Sunday for a new job in Copenhagen. The photo was taken at the airport.

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.


Kert Springer said...

Speaking about on the edge of Asia - why doesn't the government do something about the impending executions of two Australians in Bali. And what's the difference between these executions and those committed by ISIS. The men in question didn't kill anyone, in fact they were taking drugs out of Bali. And what's the big deal about drugs. Indonesia takes pleasure in executing people over drugs and yet I was approached by a person offering to sell me drugs at a Kuta beach. The whole scenario was being watched by two policeman whom I am sure would have instantly arrested me if I had bought some. This particular scam is quite common and has happened to friends of mine. Why do we continue to pander to these barbaric regimes. If I was the government I would coordinate an effort for them to escape. Kerobokan prison is quite old and the guards are lazy and often asleep at night. I have been in Kerobokan myself and it wouldn't be hard for a crack team to get inside and mount a rescue mission. Half the security systems don't work and for the right amount of money some guards would turn a blind eye. We used to get a "pass" for Friday nights for around 2 million rupiah (AUD$200) and we would visit Warehouse 82 a popular night spot. I remember once running into the captain of the wing I was in one night at a disco. When he saw me he laughed and said to make sure I was back by morning muster.

And so whilst all this desperate diplomatic twaddle goes on two Australians are going to be executed when they could have quite easily been saved. And yes, this would of course create a major diplomatic episode, but so what who needs them.

Rummuser said...

In the global village that the world has become, guests from overseas either studying or working in one's homeland and one's family member/s studying or working overseas has become quite common. In India we have many such visitors now which includes some wonderful Australians as well. I have family and friends in Australia.

Jim Belshaw said...

My apologies for the slow response, Kert. Interesting. I think you underestimate the likely response from Indonesia!

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Ramana. Didn't know that you had family in Australia! That global village thing has certainly been true for Helen.

Rummuser said...

My first cousin, ie my father's younger brother's son has been living in Melbourne, Australia since 1985. We are very close to each other and I will be visiting him and a very dear friend who is almost family in Sydney, all going well, this year. I have every intention of meeting up with you too if I do.