Sitting at my computer in early January, I caught a report by the US news media: “Australia is on fire!”
“Whoa! I am going on a trip there in 2 weeks!” I thought. My wife and I were getting set to pack, prepping ourselves for a long flight and anticipating our coming adventure.
BUT, Australia is on fire!
I googled information about the fires. My worst fears were confirmed by a shocking satellite photo of the continent in flames. I grabbed my cell phone and shot a worried text to our travel agent.
“Should we cancel? I bought trip insurance . . .”
After doing some due diligence, she came back the next day with good news. Her cohorts on the ground there confirmed all our tours and plans were good to go. All was well.
They were right. The satellite photo was a fake. There were a lot of brush fires but, as is the typically the case, the national US new media was exaggerating. Significantly. So, off we went.
Along the way, we had a number of interesting conversations that reflected many of the same good and bad trends we see here in America.
Immigration: The French Waitress
Out one night to dinner in Sydney, we spoke with our young French waitress who wants nothing more than to be a citizen of Australia. The issue for her, however, is that Australia apparently has a restrictive immigration policy. They, apparently, would like to have a say in who calls Australia home.
Her government-mandated journey to earn Australian citizenship has, so far, included working in fields picking fruit, sleeping for weeks in a friend’s van and finding refuge as a part-time student to get another year in country. It’s all very expensive, she reported, and she is not sure what fate holds for her. The clock is ticking and she has more government hoops to jump through and more bureaucratic boxes to check.
Maybe the Australian media was too distracted by the brush fire story but I saw no coverage or discussion, as we see routinely in America, about how their immigration policy is racist and hate-motivated. It seems other countries feel their sovereignty is important and they do have a right to watch their borders, a lesson many in America could learn.
Politics and Fires: Dane The Wine Country Tour Guide
As if you needed another reason to visit Australia, the Aussies make good wine! So, one day we took a tour of their wine country north of Sydney. Our 2-hour drive took us right into one of the fire hot spots and we had an interesting conversation along the way.
“What do you think of our politics?” My wife inquired to Dane, our tour guide.
“It’s difficult for me to be critical of your politics,” replied Dane, “when our’s is so dysfunctional. For example, the government didn’t do much to address the fires until they had burned for weeks!”
What? You mean to say global warming is not the single most important factor contributing to the fires? Government incompetence also had a hand?
This perspective was interesting to say the least. Listening to US media would lead you to believe that the fires spontaneously burst on to the scene, were instantly uncontrollable and caused by global warming. We have heard no thoughtful analysis of the government response. No discussion of what damage could have been avoided if the government were more fleet-of-foot.
As for the fires themselves, the second my nose took in the air of wine country, I recognized a familiar smell. One that many Coloradans would instantly place: the smell of a brush fire, something that has been a regular occurrence here in the mountain west for years.
Australia is not on fire. There are fires but they are also open for business and thriving. Too bad my wife and I had to travel beyond the international dateline to learn this truth. Wishing, at this point, our media was more thoughtful and less careless in pursuit of their global warming/climate change agenda.
Donald Trump & America: Stephen the Cabbie
After years of hearing of the overseas “ugly American”, we Americans have a tendency to assume the rest of the world are not fans of ours, our way of life and, most certainly, not our current President. On the drive to the Airport in Sydney, our driver Stephen posed the question to us.
“What do you think of Trump?”
Turns out, that was one of those questions which was really not intended to elicit a return response to start a conversation but rather a self-initiated invitation to inform us of his opinion. After I replied, Stephen began his dissertation.
“I like him. I think most Australians like him. He’s doing good for America. Better than Obama. He’s opened up the door to North Korea.” Stephen also appreciates and understands the President’s desire to renegotiate trade deals with the Chinese and is not put off by his apparent lack of moral compass.
Stephen hardly supplies us with a definitive statement of Australian public opinion but it was refreshing to hear a foreigner’s perspective of Trump not riddled with the emotive lunacy of the American and European left.
“Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!”: Australia Day 2020
January 26th is Australia Day. This was the day that the first English settlers ventured into what is today Sydney Harbor and set on with building a country. Many of us are familiar with the story of Australian settlement. The British needed a place to transfer prisoners due to overcrowded jails on their home island. So, they picked Australia. They picked Australia, that is, after the pesky American revolution.
On a tour of the historic Rocks District in Sydney, we were informed of a bit of American history not taught in our schools. Apparently, the British initially sent their unwanted prisoners to our shores. Estimates range from 50,000 – 200,000 convicts were shipped to the American colonies prior to our independence. That flow stopped, however, upon the publication of the Declaration of Independence and the proceeding war for our independence. The British then redirected their forced prisoner transfer program to Australia.
So in that way, the Aussies are our brothers and sisters in British manipulation. We have a common bond with them. I knew I liked those folks.
There is a shadow cast over Australia Day, however, which sharply resembles the shaming American elites are trying to drive into our history. The Aussie elites almost hang their head in disgrace at the tragic history of the Australian native people. Programming on the weekend of Australia Day was wrought with guilt-laden content almost belittling the modern-day Australian identity. Today’s Australians, it seems, are being made to pay for the sins of yesteryear.
Bearing a sharp resemblance to American-style social justice, virtue-signaling was rampant that weekend. The shaming was thick. It is understood that past sins were significant and that scars are apparent. Guilt and shame, however, are destructive and may facilitate “justice” at the expense of a genuinely good trend in Australia.
It is a great country and the people there seem to be doing good things. One not-so-insignificant observation: they are growing rapidly. The skylines of Sydney and Melbourne feature almost 20 large-scale cranes busily working on skyscraper after skyscraper.
For a nation of only 25 million people, they have made themselves into a noted international player and destination for others, even our French waitress.
Our observations lead us to believe Australia has similarities to the US:
- A multi-racial society with bustling but organized cities.
- Somewhat dysfunctional politicians who share the blame for the scope of their troubles (fires).
- Heavily left-ward leaning and politically correct dominated media who ridicule women if they chose to find their value from supporting their families while virtue signaling their apparent compassion for others.
- A bit further down the road than us in full-boar support of the “truthfulness” of global climate change without any thoughtful debate.
- Engaged in a growing effort to shame the people of today for the sins of past generations at the expense of their own national identity.
The moral of the story: Aside from driving on the left side of the road from the right, front seat, America and Australia are very similar. Similar in both good and potentially not-so-good ways.