Saturday, July 30, 2016
Moving to "Australia"
Its becoming almost a running gag. Seems that everyone (except the politicians -- hey, wouldn't that be a better answer?) is saying that if "so and so" is elected they are going to flee over the border to some imaginary sanctuary,
In an email this past week one friend jokingly told me where his sanctuary country is going to be. Saying something to the affect of "if things continue like this we could always move to Australia."
My answer was that in a real sense I already had. That I'd moved some years ago to my "Australia." And it was (and is) New Hampshire. And in that I really wasn't kidding.
What is it that encourages people to think this way? Yes, it is only a "joke." -Even to those who are saying it passionately, not with mirth. But still, wasn't it just a couple of generations ago that their own people had not jokingly said such about moving here, to the USA? And then moved? And aren't many even now, today, making such a move?
Yes and yes.
The common answer to what was and is driving such is found in one word: "Change." For both the nation -- our nation -- and the time -- our times -- are (to quote the song) "a changin." And not for the better.
Younger people -- the so-called "millenniums"-- cannot see this. They turn on an old TV show from the fifties and see a world that they think, indeed, that they have been told, was a complete fiction. One where families sit down to a meal together and the children bring their simple little problems to dad because "father knows best." And where those children do so so after having spent their day out with their friends on their bicycles, roaming about freely, unsupervised, and completely unafraid.
After dinner the children in those imaginary families went upstairs to do their homework. After, of course, they had completed their "chores."
Their bicycles were left in the driveway. No, no one stole them. Doors were left unlocked.
Hah! Hah1 Hah!
But such was the world many of my generation grew up in. And then, over time, the world became something else. This. What our world is today. And along with that change came the feeling that it -- our world -- is getting worse, and worse and worse.
I need not describe every detail of that reality here. We all experience it daily. -The fear that exists that makes parents not only see the need to lock their doors, but to lock their kids inside behind those doors so that they can be "safe." But where even keeping them "in" really isn't "safe" because what is "out there" creeps in -- the very worst of it -- on the internet, in "tweets" and via a hundred different routes that most older people can't even accurately name or describe.
A world where schools are no longer primarily places of learning --- at least not in the old sense where that meant things like reading -- not just the skills, but the end purpose of those skills -- exposure to great ideas and great literature. And knowledge of history as it actually unfolded -- not the neat false stories passed off as history to teach "lessons."
A world where "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was a question with a million wonderful possibilities. None of which required taking on a pile of debt or living in the family's basement.
And now, instead of all of this, we have our heads filled with a false narrative. One where our best future is dependent on some government program. Our present likewise. And even our past is falsely painted to have been the same. Where the "we" of people voluntarily acting together out of a common cause has been reshaped into the same -- meaning a regulated government program overseen by people who view themselves as our masters.
Yes, we older people know what has been lost. And no, not just here in the USA, but in countries across the Atlantic. Countries where the older people, too -- those who actually saw and experienced the world of the past -- are voting to leave what those self-appointed masters have created. And where the younger people -- those with no knowledge of much of anything apart from what they have been fed -- feel in some cases angered because the older people, by taking away their security blanket, are in their eyes stealing their future. (And so they, too, now are feeling afraid.)
And meanwhile the barbarians are at the gate. Being welcomed in by the door-keepers. In some cases bringing darkness and mayhem and every other vestige of the worst in humanity's past with them; in others just ignorance and want.
So where can we go? To a place that exists only in our dreams.
My fiend suggested Australia. But another friend, who actually lives there, emails me almost daily with similar stories of woe. Of a government seemingly gone mad, ignoring the will of the people, and inviting in the darkness.
But to me this was not just a dream, a mental exercise of escape. For some fifteen years ago I moved to my "Australia" -- New Hampshire. The state with the rather hard to believe motto "Live free or die." And not just to that state, but to a piece of it rather off the beaten path. Connected to the world at large by not a single four lane highway. And, further, there to some property quite literally designed for life in what to me seems a more civilized time. A time when "art" meant art. "Books" meant literature. And the world meant trees and wildlife, not some virtual reality snaking in via wireless or a cable.
But in truth what so many today are looking for is not a place -- not a literal "state" or nation -- but a state of mind. A place where they can feel secure. A place with a future.
Part, but only part, of that is a re-grasping of the past. Because in the past, too, people were fleeing. In the past, too, the future beckoned. But what was yearned for then was that thing that today has come to be seen as myth: A brighter future. One with greater peace. Greater freedom. Greater opportunity. Where even the common myths were myths of hope, not of past wrongs.
So yes, I have found my "Australia." I moved here some 15 or so years ago. And I could do so, in part, because I knew what I was looking for. And I knew that because I knew what had been lost.
My "Australia" may not be yours. There is not a single dream, but as many as there are people.
Maybe the fact that so many speak of moving here or there these days is a good thing. Maybe it means, if nothing else, that many have come to realize that something has been lost. Something worth searching for. Striving for.
A better life "somewhere."
May all such seekers find.