Coming Home

It has been almost a year since I returned to live in Australia after close to ten years abroad. In coming back to Australia I find myself feeling somewhat like Odysseus arriving home after his eventful journey from Troy. I find my home occupied by people abusing the hospitality they were given and many watching too weak or powerless to do anything about it. Where it differs from the Epic is of course, I am no great adventurer nor was I away doing battle and making a name for myself. Odysseus was not as I recall subject to any treachery within his own household either.

I had been making fairly regular trips back to the country year to year for short amounts of time. During these times I did notice changes such as the clientele at a shopping mall I frequented growing up changing completely. But it is nothing like what I have experienced just living here the last year.

In Australia it is compulsory for citizens residing in the country to vote, so this year will be the first federal election I’ve had to participate in since 2007. I have progressively stopped following politics in Australia and only have a vague idea day to day, who is in charge and what the media has decided is important. Last night I spent some time making sure I was enrolled (I don’t want a fine), and checking up on who my local member is. From appearances, it is a very safe seat so my participation outside of the Senate at least, will matter for little. Not that it matters since neither major party, nor really any of the minor ones offer anything that someone of my political outlook could support. As has been experienced over the years, most recently by state-mandated ceremonial sodomy, evil will get its way eventually – though only for the short term. So I will vote because it is cheaper than a fine.

I could write at length about immigration from here but this was actually the one thing I was expecting to see the worst of coming back. I don’t want to dwell too much on this but I do have some observations. One is that growing up with some Italian and Greek immigrants as I did, makes me long for the immigration issues we had following the second world war. The differences between these cultures seem totally trivial to what we have now though they certainly made their mark. In my line of work, being able to directly observe people from completely non-Western backgrounds has been quite an experience. Having not witnessed or suffered from the violence, something that really stands out is garbage and the sheer wastefulness. The amount of garbage I see thrown on the ground, the amount of junk food consumed and the enormous amount of waste has totally disgusted me. I really wasn’t prepared for it. This is not the kind of thing that gets reported on the news but people do notice it. But to be fair, this is hardly limited to non-Westerners anymore.

In fact, this is what compelled me to write this. The things that have actually disgusted me the most are the things I’ve seen from people of all walks of life and aren’t at all limited to one group. So allow me to rant about a few that I’ve noticed.

When I was growing up and I’m pretty sure around the time I left; tattoos weren’t all that common and usually indicated someone was criminal or didn’t have the most pleasant home life. Now, I see tattoos almost everywhere I see bare skin. And what’s more, the tattoos are often atrocious even compared to the few I used to see. Though I might dislike them, I can appreciate that many would look nice on a canvass but this is certainly not the case with what I see around me daily. They are now almost like something you’re expected to have and I almost want to congratulate the occasional young woman I see who has kept her skin clean of them. One can observe their increasing prevalence as evidence to a return to barbarism, which I certainly won’t deny but I think they’re more indicative of very short time-preferences as well. I have to wonder if there are mandatory signs in tattoo parlours reminding patrons of their permanency?

Legislated statements of the obvious leads right into the next observation – The Nanny State. Australia was already quite under nanny’s thumb before I left but it is even more ridiculous now. What bothers me is not so much the laws but the way Australians have so easily cowered to them. I want to snort with disgust when Australians try to go on about our larrikin rule-bending ways. Such a culture no more exists here than good manners exist in our mother country. There are echoes of the past, but that is all.

I got told off by my previous boss for standing on a very stable platform to put something on a wall when I should have got the “approved” stepladder wherever that happened to be. Never-mind that I couldn’t have properly reached the area I wanted to with that.  The same boss also once instructed staff to help move furniture for a garbage pick-up though stressing that we shouldn’t lift anything “too heavy” making nonsense of us being any help at all. I could point out that this boss was a woman, but I would expect no less from the kind of men that get promoted to the same positions now either. And the blame doesn’t lie only with the boss – who is just following rules that they too are subject to. It is really a collective cultural problem with our total willingness to submit ourselves to busy-bodies who speak in legalese and acronyms.

Yoga pants, as I understand are quite commonly seen in the US as well as Australia though I’m not sure about other countries. I also hear this clothing called active-ware though G.K. Chesterton would quickly observe the paradox that the person generally seen wearing them obviously isn’t very active and that they leave so little to the imagination that they’re hardly worth wearing in the first place. He would have put it better. On a day to day basis, I have seen far too many giant deformed apricots with synthetic black material stretched uncomfortably over them. I don’t quite no whether the clothing or the posterior is more uncomfortable. Some people wearing them do seem to use them for their purpose as I also see people wearing this clothing who actually work in fitness though they often quite plainly are not fit. I even saw someone who worked for the ‘Australian Institute of Fitness’ wearing this clothing despite being overweight, heavily-pierced, (probably) covered in tattoos and with the kind of haircut that indicated some mental illness. In no sense of the word could they outwardly be described as “fit” though I’ll allow I could possibly be proven wrong if I spoke to them.

It is much easier to notice differences when your visits are spread out. If you’re living in a home for fifteen years, you won’t notice the change as starkly as someone who goes five years between visits. This has given me a perspective that I think many don’t have but I still can’t imagine myself not noticing had I been here the whole time. It’s no wonder that so much is going wrong when so many just don’t seem to care about anything important. Whether its their nation, their appearance, their laws – none of this matters.

I’m rambled out.

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