Thursday, March 03, 2016

Remembering what it was like to be Australian


Let me indulge in a little plagiarism by borrowing a well known phrase and bringing it up to date.

There are those whose glass is half full, those whose glass is half empty and regrettably, those who have no glass at all.”

I am a proud Australian by choice, not accident of birth having emigrated here in 1950 at the age of four. Australia was a land of opportunity with a national character that believed in ‘giving it a go’. We were encouraged to be innovative, to tear apart mountains building the base blocks and opportunities for future generations. No challenge went unaddressed and failure meant rolling up the sleeves, tightening the belt and trying harder. That attitude, community spirit and work ethic built this great nation of ours.

Could we say the same today?

Between populist politics, politically correct speech, a desire to be recognised, to be liked, a fear of failure, of change, even success, our national character has atrophied.

The parameters have changed. You don’t have to be tall at all to be a victim of the tall poppy syndrome. Put forward an idea today and it attracts more knockers and negativity than support. That negativity and criticism comes under the guise of community concern and protection of the environment or future generations. Vexatious claims are the order of the day and objectivity is lost in an avalanche of misdirection, speculation and dare I say it, outright lies. 

Critics pour out of the woodwork making broad sweeping statements based on philosophies rather than substance and a hungry media gobbles it up in a social environment where controversy is high entertainment. Just look at the so called reality shows that dominate our television screens as an example. These manufactured dramas, even in cooking shows demonstrate how much our society has changed.

Even the simplest political decisions are relegated to an overflowing too hard basket. Heaven forbid that our political representatives offend anybody and with that mentality, please nobody. Backed by a growing number of advisors whose main concern is to protect the reputation and image of their bosses and not necessarily the welfare of the community, is it any wonder we get the over cautious and decision adverse representation we have. There is so much control over what is said or done that considered movement in any direction becomes a major hurdle.

Of course, we have the knee-jerk reaction, an ill considered statement or position taken under immediate pressure. Sadly, under reflection and the nature of politics such a decision is difficult to reverse no matter how beneficial the outcome. While some would consider it good governance and a sign that the politician is human and prepared to maturely and rationally address an error in judgement, others would call it a back flip which brings us back to a choice between community representation and saving personal face. 

From my perspective, as sworn to do, it is far better to redress a wrong and be respected for representing the community rather than to be liked. Not all so called back flips have negative repercussions.

We are all too busy with our lives to look too closely, to question or simply leave it to others to do so, consequently, the silent majority is subjugated by a vocal minority and a stifling political landscape. Mind you, like a breath of fresh air, there are exceptions but sadly not enough to break the malaise.

Deep within us that spirit of ‘giving it a go’ still resides. To build a better future for our children and theirs, that spirit must be awakened if we are to give them the opportunities we were given by those who came before us. Rather than give in to the knockers and negativity, challenge their assertions, become objective, become involved, speak out publicly and become the vocal majority to take this nation, its people back to the future we were meant to have. Our silence is our downfall, our voice is our redemption.

© 2016 Bob Janssen |

No comments:

Post a Comment