When I was back in school in what seems like a lifetime ago, I realise I should have paid more attention.
Because for some odd reason, we were taught more about American and English history than that of out own country, Australia.
WE cannot use the excuse that we haven’t been around all that long, because we have, something like 1770, which led to settlement by the English in 1788 or so, but the first landing was in 1606 by a Dutchman.
Of course, these are vague memories of a social studies lesson that briefly touched on our origins, but only to re-affirm our allegiances to Britain. While it wasn’t the Empire when I was in school, it was the Commonwealth, and our atlases still had the ‘wherever the map is red is where the British claimed as theirs’, and there were quite a lot red countries.
But, hey, that pales into insignificance the stuff we learned about England, from the time of William the Conqueror in 1066 through to the modern day. I could at one stage of my life relate from memory all of the kings and queens of England.
I know all about the industrial revolution, travel between Australia and England from the days of sail, right through to the Airbus A380.
It’s why I have a preference reading the English classics of Jane Austen and others of that golden era, and watching period TV, recreated so lavishly by the BBC and ITV in England.
And of course, we were brought up on a steady diet of American TV shows, and films, like out country never existed, and was notorious for producing laughable TV shows of the poorest quality, despite the actors who tried very hard to make it seem believable.
I could not name one Australian prime minister, and have trouble telling who is the current prime minister. Well maybe not, this Covid thing has had his face on the TV every day for nearly a year, but he’s the first. I couldn’t tell you who he took over from, nor who the leader of the opposition is.
It’s probably the reason why over the years people have often said we should become one of the states of the US.
Nowadays we’re trying to put a wall between us and them so China might not see us as an outpost of the US, and come in an attack us. The trouble is 28 million people versus 1.6 billion doesn’t give us any leverage. Come to think of it, the 360 million Americans wouldn’t stand a chance against an invasion of 1.6 billion either.
I’m not sure why it matters any more, because we’ll soon be back to the heady heights of the cold war days in the 50s and 60s, where the only deterrant to perceived enemies was the threat of nuclear annihilation.
It’s the one option where 360 million people could defeat an enemy of 16. billion.
But … there’s only one small problem …
We’ll all be dead.
AS horrifying as that might sound, there is one other problem than might just do the same but not destroy any infrastructure. A pandemic. A virus that can’t be cured, a virus that can mutate and adapt so there is not effective vaccine.
Dystopian? It’s sure a great idea for a story. There’s been a few, but those always have a few survivors, ready willing an able to get along and rebuild the world having learned the lessons of past failures.
This time? I don’t think the next story will have a happy ending. In it though, the aggressors are not going to be better off than the rest, because they forget to build in a fail safe, or couldn’t. Or it just got out before they finished perfecting it, and synthesizing an antidote.
That’s something else we learned a lot about. Nuclear holocausts, and their effect. It reminds me of the day our class was taken to see a movie about the effects of a nuclear war. Was it to scare us, or prepare us? Back then, a nuclear war was more likely than a change of government in this country.
If it was to educate my generation of people who are now the in the government and positions of power, they failed.
So, if I had my time over, I would insist on leaning about my country, the people who have inhabited for tens of thousands of years, without the need for cars, houses, cigarettes and booze, and definitely without the need for nuclear weapons and ideals of aggression towards other countries.
Now, where’s that pesky time machine…