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Letters from Downunder

Balloons and resolutions

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

Cynic: A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eye to improve his vision. - Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic’s Word Boo

(1/2018) Welcome to another New Year and the good news. The doomsayers are wrong. Civilization will survive, mankind will remain dominant, parties will continue, technology will race ahead, politicians will stay duplicitous, minorities remain ignored, the sea will rise no more than two meters, and money will continue to rule. The fact that we may no longer live in the same shaped country or democracy won’t matter, because we’ll be glad to have simply survived.

As you freeze and we roast we will continue to ignore reality. It’s just too depressing, and only 80% certain. I’ve already released my balloons into the atmosphere, carrying away my worries into outer space, never to return. I feel so much better knowing that President Trump will not use an atomic missile on North Korea today, that the Arabs will ignore the Jews for at least an hour, and that crypto currency speculators will continue to bask in their delusions.

Gone is climate change, the millions of refugees, lives being digitally controlled, big pharma and their lies, and even the terrified faces of the few intelligent alt-right folk who smell change and their come-uppance. Things like Puerto Rico, Baja California, the Spratley islands, Antarctic melt and Greenland being green for the first time will no longer disturb my sleep.

Above all my New Year’s Resolutions are firmly in place.

Top of the list is to learn Mandarin and be competent in it by years end. That should be time enough to understand what China is really saying; I might be even halfway to mastering that forsaken ideographic language so I’ll be able to read the people’s daily, understand the rules of assembly and know how to apply for the position of floor sweeper.

Second is to wear my VR goggles every other day. That’s for when the news is a tidal wave of suffocation; when I need them for obliterating images of child abuse, violence against women, the incarceration of innocents, ethnic cleansing, and, if I lived in your great country, to deal with the scourge of uncontrolled gun use.

Third is to gatecrash all the parties I can. Rallies are out, protest meetings passé, anti-something marches no longer interesting. Being determined to no longer be miserable alone, I intend to trade my gloom for the carefree life of small talk and gossip.

Fourth is go and live in New Zealand. This is to remind me that one or two areas of relative sanity still exist in the world, where hum-drum is commended, the biggest worry is earthquakes, and the Chinese won’t bother to take it over.

Fifth is to pick a team to barrack for. The sport is immaterial, provided the followers are prepared to get bloody in their one-eyedness. I want to wave a banner, shout incomprehensibilities, throw a pie at the opposition, even to rush onto the ground to berate the umpire. It can be distant, as I’ll be taken there by another idiot.

Sixth is to back into the future. This is one of the Chinese’ best philosophies: You can examine the past, while the future is only possibilities. The past is fixed, but the future cannot be seen clearly, meaning we can make plans only based on what has already happened. They have refurbished this idea recently, and are getting ready to demand world fealty. Back in the 15th century they sent the fleet to every corner of the globe. They demanded that envoys from each country bring tributes to honour the Emperor; those that refused were quietly dispatched. At that time honour was all that was required. Now it includes power and dominance, and all their energy is going into achieving that. Our western ideas, on the other hand, are based on peering into what will come next, taking options on the future while squinting into the past. It’s the basis of western style capitalism, and in today’s democracies the future is ‘jobs and growth, jobs and growth’ while ignoring history and its lessons.

Seventh is to continue to honour and enjoy the wonderful community in which I live. Innately friendly, mostly courteous, very curious about most things, layback and often brilliant. Suffering from political stupidity, but less corrupt than most. Come and try it; anti-clamour, pro-peace, only moderately cynical, and apart from your childish sense of humour you’d fit right in. You speak a version of the language, I’m told you find it nostalgic, and we are just less get up and go. Just that bit slower. Far fewer problems of race. The food is much better, and most stomachs are well proportioned. No fundamentalists, please.

Eighth is to see more of this incredible country. The driest, 70% of it mostly uninhabitable, and the oldest land on earth with the oldest continuous society in existence. Phlegmatic in the face of tourism, we have striven hard to loose our ties from Britain, and are now doing the same to you. Yes, Donald, we don’t trust you any more.

Ninth is to watch us try to walk the tightrope of international politics and at the same time sigh cynically about the belief of our leaders that we are more than a pimple on the arse of the big boys. We may be seen to punch above our weight thanks to some judicious brown nosing, and we are by nature brave and daring, insubordinate and larrikin, but we love our country and so should you.

Tenth is to say ‘Happy New Year’ to you all, don’t let them wear you down, look at all the truly marvelous things you have done. Take pleasure in your friends, be tolerant, be careful and keep reading this paper.

And stop worrying about the future. It’ll be here soon enough.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker