We seem to be moving from common sense to fear as the national currency. If the Australia of our parents is truly dead, let’s spend our inheritance wiser.
There’s something afoot. Something with gnashing, rustled claws, howling through snarling mouth, runs long the through the night, wearing a necklace assembled from orphaned qwerty keys hanging low on his bulging neck. A monster with no form that prowls in the corridors of Canberra, and the darkest corners of ourselves. The number of the beast? Our own, as we’ve reached peak fear in this country.
Two years previous to this one, I was informed by a taxi driver with a deviated septum and the remnants of lunch on his collar, that the Americanisation of this country had not yet stopped, but would soon crust over our sunburnt carelessness. I pleasantly agreed and diverted my attention back out the window. But I did not heed the advice of that tubby, wizened sage.
For in AD 2016, something foul this way comes, pleasantly knocking our doors down in a forceful manner. Good ol’ fashioned American-made fear. But, it would be unfair to blame the man with the tangerine face for the current state of affairs, as “The world’s policeman” was a phrase coined by Harry S Truman, popularised/satirised by Trey Stone and Matt Parker, and ever since they’ve walked the beat, they’ve coloured the neighbourhoods they patrol. We seem to be living in Anytown, USA. The kitschy-plastic fly-catching ribbons we once hung over the door for protection, albeit in a jovial vibrant manner, seem to have been replaced in favour of a twice-locked door, as we hide under the window in the hope that whoever is a-knocking will leave without protest.
But what, I ask you, is won? Our opinions clash frequently, but no winner is crowned. Easier to build your predeterminations high enough that the truth, whatever it may be, cannot scale it.
There’s nothing wrong with America, mind, they’ve got their own problems to solve, but I contend that the problem we have is a five-alarm sense of denial. While we point witch’d fingers at the US election campaign, and chortle at the horror, a similar horror is walking here too. The insanity of proceedings here and abroad (be it Trump, or the return of Pauline) have goosed the bystander into action, as those who have never uttered political anythings suddenly have a well-thought-out, impulsive reaction to geopolitics. All of which has my face etched in a “say what?” portrait.
I’ll admit that in the world of politics, it’s been a particularly “entertaining” time of late, but there’s something deeper than that. Is the system truly that broken, or have we changed, all reaching for the remaining crumbs of the political cake we’ve devoured? Have we all taken the aphorism “we the people” and twisted it into the singular? Do we suddenly measure progress on a personal basis? Our vote has twisted from “ah, it doesn’t make a difference” to the sole that matters. All roads lead to our driveway.
I no longer feel that I’m crazy, which makes me feel like I’m crazy. The evidence to my (once) crackpot theory lies in our reaction to things. There’s a normalcy to sensationalism. People we don’t know are coming to kill us. Foreigners will bleed us or we should bleed those who detain them. Those who hold our views are deified, while those who purport the opposite are heretics, and verbally burned as such. The possibility of “the other” is stripped away in the towering bonfire of opinion as we dance ’round it, smearing likes on our Face(book)s. The middle-ground of discussion is now traipsed by no man.
A relevant example of this condition would be yesterday afternoon’s arrest of two 17-year-olds on suspicion of organising a terrorist attack. An action that will surely reanimate the corpse of predeterminations, the Frankenstein that lay dormant since the Minto “attack” or the attack on September 13. I can only presume that the Right will again scream the possibility of bloody murder, as the Left screams against the Right and the government forces which locked the cuffs. All of which will just enable thousandfold editorials as the hyperbole is ratcheted up to nuclear levels, aided and abetted by headlines where the unifying theme follows the steps of the graphic Paso Doble danced beforehand.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Constructive journalism: Turning away from the culture of reported fear
- Waleed’s Australia: A land girt by fear
But what, I ask you, is won? Our opinions clash frequently, but no winner is crowned. There is no hand held up as the bell rings, just a placard to number whatever infinite round of verbal fustigation we punch our way through.
Anger is draining. Having to repeatedly prove your point through whichever issue you attach it to is a trial upon itself. We might just be 24 million separate, furrowed, exasperated brows. It now seems that fear is the easier option; easier to not make waves, or to seek the opposite, better to build your predeterminations high enough that the truth, whatever it may be, cannot scale it.
If the Australia of my parents’ generation is dead, so be it. Maybe who we are now is who we are now: a concerned, suspicious, nervous, huddled mass. Or maybe it’s something that we’ve always been, an impulse born from being stuck in the middle of the Pacific. That may well be true, or complete hogwash, but there’s one thing that I don’t want us to lose sight of: our national currency; our common sense.
As a great mind (who was an American) said, “the only thing left to fear, is fear itself”. Which is true, when we choose fear, but, whatever our skin colour, we are blessed with an earnest knack of seeing the obvious. We call the spade the spade, no matter what its intention in our yard may be.
Surely we can impulsively splurge some of this sense before fear takes over as the primary currency we deal in.