Sooty and I were driving around our old neighbourhood after visiting our elders on Sunday and I, peering sleepily from the passenger side of my own car, started to feel my blood boil.
What am I going on about? I’m talking about these monstrosities.
Fences. Fucking fences. Colorbond steel to be exact. By BlueScope. Available in 14 designer colours. And it’s killing our communities.
What happened to taking pride in workmanship? What happened to constructing something with your hands? What happened to popping down the local hardware store and organising some timber – an organic material – and putting up on the weekend yourself. Or creating local employment by getting a local tradesman to do it for you.
It doesn’t happen anymore. Instead we order these disgusting prefabricated pieces of metal that will never rust or wear or have any sort of character and get some bastard to install them. And their high. No more leaning over the fence to speak to your neighbour or borrow a cup of sugar, now we lock everyone out. Now, the people either side of us are strangers, we don’t know them, we don’t want to know them – we don’t speak to them, we don’t give them the spare key to our house incase we get locked out, we pretend we don’t see them when we’re walking down the street just incase we might have to engage in some neighbourly conversation. What is wrong with this country?
I remember as a kid when anyone used to go on family holidays, you would always make sure there was fresh milk and a loaf of bread in the cupboard for your neighbours when they got home. That was after you had collected their mail, brought their bins in and feed their dogs while they were away. What has happened to us all?
We erect these walls of armour around ourselves, our families, our homes; to protect anyone or anything from coming in. We disengage from the world, put roller shutters on our windows and security systems on our doors and in the process we are cutting ourselves off from the world. And each other. It’s so sad. We no longer know the person who bakes our bread – because they’re from a different country! We buy what’s cheap, we’ve substituted the quality that this country was once known for and sold our grandkids jobs out from under their feet before they’re even born. Our industries are falling down around us because the average Australian is trapped between a rock and a hard place – they don’t have the money to buy luxuries and still spend money that stays in Australia and pays the guy next door’s salary so he can feed his kid – it goes into the pockets of the big guys, like Coles and Woolies and the offshore investors, because our country is selling itself out. And it all is wrapped up in something as slight as a fence.
On a wider scale, it’s this senseless behaviour, giving way to keeping up with the joneses and being obsessed with buying suburban perfection that is killing our country, our industries and denying aussies their right to an honest days work.
Take Ford for example. For years it has been part of Australian history – you’re either a Ford or a Holden person in this country – and yet, it took over $100 million dollars of taxpayers money to bail them out and make them promise to stop job cuts but months later are predicted to soon leave Australian’s in the lurch. How does our country stand back and let this happen? How do the leaders of this country let their people be taken for such a ride? Oh that’s right, their gutless, visionless turkeys who would rather distract everyone with their squabbling than produce real policy and effective change in the middle of what will become known as the low of Australian history – the beginning of the end.
People are hurting in this country. I see them everyday, fresh out of a job because the fat cats have run out of options or they’ve taken the money and run. People are getting dumber because they’re not valuing education, kids are having kids and their growing up too fast. Working in a trade is a hard road because our government made everyone pay for it, then ripped out all the tradeschools, and have now tore the heart out of TAFE’s. I know firsthand how hard being a student is – university or otherwise. And after such a arduous journey, they come out of their further education with a piece of paper in hand and are confused.
“I’ve studied from the age of 5, battled through the turmoil that is high school, went on to further education – be it uni or tafe til I’m 25 and now there isn’t a job for me? What? I have to work my way up a company from the bottom and do menial work for a low wage? You mean, I’m not starting on $75K in my first serious employment? What??”
There really isn’t a work ethic anymore; at the risk of sounding like an old fogey, kids have a sense of entitlement that comes from not having to have experienced hardship before, for living a privileged life and taking that for granted. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with kids of all ages, of all periods of time, of all socioeconomic backgrounds and across this big land. We think we’re entitled to something. But not for long. Because there will be a moment when a very sobering reality will dawn on this so-called lucky country of ours. Hopefully it’s not so far away that we are powerless to do anything about it.
Just remember, I told you. It all starts with fences. In 14 designer colours.