How did we get here from there?

March 20th, 2020 in Behaviour. Tags: , , ,

Last post I talked about how we seem to be living in a toxic world these days. Events in the two or three weeks since then have underlined this conclusion.

Toilet paper and the apocalypse

I suppose I hardly need to tell you Australia’s shameful non-secret. While the world struggles to deal with coronavirus, suburban Aussies began hoarding, of all things, toilet paper. Some argued and even came to blows in the supermarket aisles.

Shelves were soon bare of other more realistic essentials – pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, some meats. There isn’t a shortage, but many people feel like there is one, and so the supermarkets can’t keep up with the demand, and have had to introduce limits, and special early morning times for older customers to get access to stock.

We did our normal Thursday morning shop yesterday, joining all the other “seniors”, but as we headed for the bread, milk and other foods, the focused older generation headed in droves to the toilet paper shelf.

Our Prime Minister pleaded with people not to over-buy and hoard, denying others what they need.

It didn’t use to be like that

Maybe I’m guilty of romancing the past, but I don’t think it used to be like that. Not so much, anyway.

The Australia I grew up in seemed to have more shared values, a sense of community. There were inequalities and evils, but they weren’t so much on display.

So how did we get here from there?

If you can’t beat ’em, pick on someone else

Apparently there was an article in a Melbourne newspaper about bus loads of city people descending on little country towns and stripping them of their supplies, leading someone to ask:

“At what point did Australia turn into a bunch of greedy scabs?”

This led to a comment on Facebook. It says it all.

When did this country become selfish and greedy?

The day this country started bashing the unemployed as dole bludgers who didn’t want to work for a living.

The day this country started demonizing asylum seekers as “queue jumpers” trying to get into Australia “illegally” and take all our social benefits.

The day this country gave hundreds of millions of dollars to property speculators, high net worth individuals and high net worth private schools, whilst taxing working families to death and claiming Australia was a land of the fair go.

The day this country told people unable to afford a home that it was their fault prices had gone up x10+ previous price levels due to tax breaks to property speculators. People were blamed for allegedly eating too much smashed avo for breakfast.

The day this country demonized Muslims as an existential threat to this country and normalised hatred under the banner of free speech.

The day this country refused to say sorry to Indigenous Australians because “I personally did nothing wrong”.

The day this country started calling looking after your neighbour an evil and pernicious “socialism” which threatened to undermine capitalism and private enterprise.

It’s all interconnected. Once you start dehumanizing and unfairly blaming others, community spirit disintegrates and we become a collection of selfish greedy individuals instead of a society.

We are now reaping what we so richly and utterly deserve collectively as a nation. Our of ugliness is finally reflected back upon us and we can no longer escape our own reflection by blaming others. This is Australia and we can no longer deny it.

Pause for reflection

This makes me think! Have christians become so wedded to personal peace and affluence and so inoculated against the teachings of Jesus, that we have been part of this change in Australian values?

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

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  1. I think we have to accept that in a growing multicultural society a lesser proportion of our population shares “traditional Australian” values that have been built up through the pioneer days, two world wars, the Depression and natural disasters.
    I also accept that this view is not a pleasant one for some people to cope with or acknowledge, so I’ll leave that one there.
    I also agree that the “survival of the fittest” approach of conservative governments has contributed to the “toxicity” of our current society. The “more you have the more you get” approach is certainly revealed in private school funding and franking credit rebates going to millionaires, both demonstrably unfair government policies.

  2. Yes, “traditional Aussie values” can be a bit of a cliche as well as an overly rosy view of our past. But I think we have lost some community values that I think many immigrants also shared.
    And yes, we are agreed about this government’s support for greed and the wealthy.

  3. Also almost 70 years of a relatively comfortable lifestyle have left us unprepared for adversity.
    Is this another “recession we had to have” ?

  4. I’ve long thought I have lived in the best place in the world at the best time in history. It couldn’t stay that way. WE have indeed grown comfortable, with unreasonable expectations.

  5. I would say America is even worse than Australia in terms of hoarding, but then again, I don’t live in Australia.

  6. Hi Liam, I am only guessing too, but I think you started off slower and we started panic buying quickly. But government and supermarket chains worked hard to reassure people and get stock on shelves, and I think the panic has eased a lot. Now the reality of strong social isolation is starting to hit (cafes and other non-essential services are now required to be closed), I think people are trying to shop less often, and that is making things a little easier.
    I hope you are keeping well and non-infectious!

  7. I wouldn’t say I have a hoard, but enough for defense against toilet paper thieves. 🙂

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