As the state of Victoria goes back into lockdown with a new outbreak of coronavirus, Australians are considering their place in the world.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recently said he believes the post-COVID world will be “poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly.” To reflect that concern, he has just committed $270 billion— an increase to 2 per cent of the GDP— to defense spending over the next decade.
This will be unnerving for most of us, but at least it is a change from the virtue-signaling about colonialism and racism that we have been force-fed through the media over the past month or so. Instead of being sent to the naughty corner to reflect on how bad our country has been, we are invited to look on it as a home worth defending. That would be a silver lining to the cloud of doom hanging over us.
I for one think that a renewed love of country, based on an understanding of its history, is just what the doctor ordered. And I don’t mean the sanitized version delivered by the national curriculum or through the political lens. I mean the first-hand accounts of resilient and courageous people who originated in this land, or else arrived by free will or by force to make a new life on these shores.
We’ve had dark times in our history, but these need to be balanced by a celebration of our moments of light. Light and shade add depth to a picture.
As citizens of this country, we should remember the mateship of the ANZACS, and sporting greats like Donald Bradman and Cathy Freeman who have earned their places in a history now in danger of being obliterated.
We ought to pay tribute to the generations of farmers who’ve shown admirable hardiness against drought, flood and bushfire. To the exquisite indigenous art of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and impressionist art of Frederick McCubbin. And we can’t forget the incredible voices of Joan Sutherland and Gurrumul.
But now, all eyes are on the future. Forward-looking has always entailed uncertainties and some fears, but now, with our experience of Covid 19, we are more awake to these. But my hope is that these fears and sense of insecurity do not outweigh our aspirations for this country.
It is possible that, with the Left in its perpetual funk over something or other, the general populace will tire of it and turn instead to a more affirmative vision of our nation and its peoples. The need to believe in the goodness of humanity has become more urgent.
For myself, I hope to see patriotism – defined by Merriam Webster as love for or devotion to one’s country – become fashionable again. If it takes threats to our national security to achieve this, that will do. On the other hand, I would rather it came from gratitude to those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives last century defending principles dear to Australians.
Until recently, we have been selling off our country piecemeal to foreign— largely Chinese—investment. It can only be a good development for our government to readjust policies that allow this, and ensure that our land is entrusted to those who hold it dear – not for mercenary reasons, but for itself.
Our future as Australians looks pretty grim if all you have to go by are the newspapers. But here, perhaps, is a bit more silver lining. Aussies, including myself, have shown a great aptitude for cramming their schedules. I wonder if the experiences of lockdown will precipitate a shift into simpler, slower living.
We Gen Y-ers have been told we will not be as wealthy as our parents were. Yet, the persistent unaffordability of housing aside, a few of us are muttering, “Maybe simpler living will be blessed relief.”
We have been told to brace ourselves for a more uncertain world. Might that not help us turn to our family and our friends, with the intention of creating more meaningful bonds?
If lockdown has taught us anything, it is that society before Coronavirus had become less family-friendly. During lockdown, however, parents I met in the park and around the neighbourhood who have been navigating working from home and remote learning, were realizing how little time they spent with their kids before.
I am tempted to hope that the housing market crash that seems imminent does eventuate, as it may be the only chance many young families have to afford to buy on a single income. That used to be the norm. Yet for my generation, it has been more or less a fantasy.
My dream is about young Australian families being able to buy “a home among the gumtrees”. Here, we may begin to live simpler lives together as a family, with a renewed appreciation for this great country we’re lucky to call home.
That would be the mother of silver linings.