Narrow, inward focus maintained

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Last updated on August 8th, 2017 at 10:32 am

Despite evidence to the contrary, Hugh Mackay continues bitching about imagined Australian selfishness:

We couldn’t get enough TV programs about backyards and home renovations, because that’s where our heads were. Our narrow, inward focus excluded the things we half-knew needed our attention, ranging from our continuing involvement in Iraq to the anti-terrorism and industrial relations laws; from the rising tide of prejudice to the apparently intractable problems of poverty, drug abuse and the crisis in our public hospitals, schools and universities …

But now, for some reason, there’s a stirring. A restlessness. A gnawing sense that we’d better take another look at the big picture.

Those of us interested in tracking the mood of Australia have long wondered what might provoke this kind of re-engagement. A terrorist attack? A bird flu epidemic? A crash in commodity prices that would burst our economic bubble? A painful rise in interest rates?

The Left; always praying for disaster. Sadly for Mackay, none of these scenarios have occurred. He’s reduced to relying on global warming and “anti-Islam prejudice”:

Even the sceptics who see climate change as part of the inexorable swing of a global pendulum are starting to wonder whether this latest swing might have been accelerated by human activity. From water restrictions to car use, we are starting to engage with the idea that tough remedial action might be called for.

None of which will impact on wealthy Hugh; those “narrow, inward” Australians he writes about, however, may expect some unpleasant changes under a Mackay-approved remedial-action regime.

Deeper values-based questions are engaging our attention: have we become too materialistic for our own good? How can we lead more balanced lives? Can we revive our communities and our sense of belonging to them? Is the Australian way of life in danger of being hijacked by American values and culture?

Apparently “American values” aren’t a part of the multicultural diversity Hugh so adores. Following his unleashing of anti-US prejudice, Hugh writes:

Disturbing signs of ethnic tension – including the unleashing of anti-Islam prejudice – remind us that multiculturalism is a fragile edifice that requires commitment, goodwill and a healthy curiosity about our differences. To succeed, our bold experiment needs more diversity, not less.

More burkas, less burgers!

Kevin Rudd’s accession to the Opposition leadership adds another item to the list of things re-engaging us. Can Labor win in 2007? Who knows? But the question has suddenly become more interesting, the contest more lively.

It will be six months before we’ll know whether the electorate has emerged from its dreamy period.

If John Howard is re-elected, Australia remains “dreamy” and inward-looking; if Rudd is elected, we’re suddenly “re-engaged”. Mackay’s simplicity is verging on the single-celled.

(Via ann j, who emails: “I am tired of this. I am tired of the Hugh Mackays. I wish he and his ilk would have a meal or even mix with someone other than the ‘people like us’ mob.”)

Posted by Tim B. on 01/28/2007 at 09:53 AM
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