Aren’t we the luckiest people, living in Australia? Just think of all the things we take for granted here, which people in some less fortunate countries don’t even know exist!
Something utterly mundane to start off with, the flush toilet. Can you imagine living without one, except in the most extreme situations? And yet, in some parts of the world, you’d have to dig a hole for yourself every morning, (or worse in some cases)! And you can add to that the convenience we have, of a roll of toilet paper too, rather than having to pick a handful of leaves for the purpose. If you took some people into an Australian toilet and left them there, without explanation, I doubt if they’d ever figure out what it was they were looking at, or how to use it.
Electricity provides us with virtually all the comforts we enjoy: washing machines, television, radio, computers, vacuum cleaners, cookers and many other freely available home appliances, all of which we take for granted. But where are we when the power fails for some reason – ironically I guess in a situation like that, (and thank goodness it’s rare), the people with nothing score over us because they are accustomed to living without this convenience. They wash clothes in a river, entertain themselves with singing and dancing, and cook over a fire. They are skilled in living the way everyone did, until we became ‘civilized’.
We complain frequently about the education system here, but even though there is obviously room for improvement, we still have a population which is better educated than most other countries. Despite our population size, we box well above our weight when it comes to producing great scientists, intellectuals, actors and sportspeople, nearly all of them the result of our education system!
Our architects and builders produce some of the most exciting structures in the world, our engineers knocked up a little project known as ‘The Snowy Mountain Scheme’, a system of vast tunnels, taking water from one side of a mountain to the other, to be used in the production of electricity. Australian medical researchers are in the forefront of world research, developing cures for more and more diseases, some of them, until recently considered to be incurable.
Even our political system, although we love to complain about it, works pretty well, despite the attempts by some politicians to throw sand in the wheels of government. Imagine how different life here would be if someone like a Hitler or an Idi Amin managed to get into power – I think it would be somewhat worse than the world described in George Orwell’s ‘1984’, and that seemed pretty bad when it was first published!
We also enjoy all the benefits of efficient waste disposal, good major roads, (though some minor, dirt country roads could do with some help), great shopping facilities and immense entertainment venues, both for theatre and for pleasure, plus plenty of wide open spaces, filled with intoxicating fresh air!
And yet, like so many societies that have virtually everything, we still manage to find things to complain about. The trouble is, the natural reaction to all this wealth is to want more; whatever we have, it’s never quite enough. Perhaps it’s time for us all to take a step back and take a really hard look at ourselves, our environment and our attitudes towards other people.
I remember the phrase coined in England, not long after the last war, when the country was well on the road to full recovery. It was ‘We’ve never had it so good!’ and while perhaps it wasn’t entirely true, it did give most people a sense of achievement, something to build on, into the future. Here in Australia we have it pretty good too, helped along by our wonderful climate, great beaches and clean and busy cities. Because of this, I and my family are extremely grateful for the fact that we have been allowed to live in this wonderful place – there really isn’t another country in the world that can compare!
image: Ian Britton