They Do It Better In…

Generally we’re told that they do it better in wherever the speaker has been that you haven’t. If they are from an Old Country, the streets there were quieter, the people were smarter, and the bacon was crisper. It doesn’t matter which old country – just as long as the speaker isn’t there any more and they can’t extradite him.

The wise emigrant is a little cannier these days before beginning the brag. Once upon a time the local Australian listener was unlikely to have ever been in Lodz or Barcelona or Poughkeepsie and every place overseas could potentially be talked up as Faeryland. Nowadays cheap air travel may well have sent our locals through the very place that is being extolled and they have seen the fact that the streets were quieter because of the parked army tanks on the corners – or that the locals are smarter because the eugenic police have weeded out all the rest. And it is hard to brag about the bacon in Mecca…

To be fair, there are certainly places that do things better than here in Australia. We might learn from them sometimes…but we need to have all the facts about the supposed wonderland, and not just selected examples of glowing results at the end. We need to see the whole economic, cultural, and political picture before declaring it a paradise.

As a person who has not been shelled, gassed, taxed, mugged, or evicted recently – who can vote and read freely – who can afford food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, and transport – well, I am pretty well satisfied with the portion of Australia I live in. If I cannot visit 500-year-old churches I shall not grieve – the attitudes and practices of the worshippers in those churches may also be 500 years old. If I am denied cobblestone streets and cramped cities I will make do with my own quarter acre of space and sunshine. And I need no political bragging at all – my own parliaments are as open to me as I need them to be. Without army tanks on the street corners.




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