I visited Sydney , Australia last week and while I was there, I had an opportunity to attend an event at Town Hall featuring an interview with David Suzuki, the environmentalist.
Before the event began, on my way into the hall, I was verbally attacked by an anti-war protestor for no other reason than I am an American. He was quite upset by U.S. policies and decided to let me know it. Despite the fact that I happened to agree wholeheartedly with his positions, I am surprised at the rage he unloaded on me. Upon first reflection, I was also surprised to realize that his rage is so much greater than my own–after all it is our government that does these things in our name.
The event was terrific and included an open Questions & Answer session.
The folks I was with were all Australian and were glancing to see my reaction each time the commentator or Suzuki himself referred to the United States negatively and the crowd applauded. Things got only worse for the U.S. during the Q&A as each question highlighted yet another misguided U.S. position.
Americans are hated here–what a change since the days following 9/11.
Then I thought about it a bit, and grew angry too. What a cop out. How dare they! There I sat 100 yards from a huge shopping cornocopia in downdown Sydney, surrounded by goods from all over the world at rock-bottom prices, on a continent that has been ravaged by european immigrants who plundered the native people and who just re-elected a war-supporting, environment and labor degrading government, I realized something. America is easy to hate because we now visably represent the dark side of all of this consumerism and disconnection from the natural world. The world now considers us a misguided, mislead and clueless citizenry. The era of “I like Americans but dislike their government” is over. There are now, apparently, many who dislike Americans, period.
Why is Bush doing what he is doing? Because he can. Was he even elected by a majority of Americans? who knows? The media is controlled, the vote counting machines are hidden, the citizenry is docile, and the world (including Australia mind you) is not finding a way to hold anyone here accountable.
Blame America. But until most people stop buying all this crap, someone will be going to war for oil. Politicians in the U.S. haven’t been telling people the truth–why? Because they won’t get elected. Everyone wants their cars and DVDs and toaster ovens and computers and its all made in China or India, egads, soon they will be wanting it too. And we all feel so powerless to stop this machine that is feeding on the ecosystems of the planet. If Australia or England or any other country thinks they are immune from this disease, then they are kidding themselves. We are all infected.
What can any one person do? Protest, sure. But perhaps the more important and radical thing is to valliantly try to change one’s view of the world. Buying one more thing will NOT make us happier, in fact it’s likely that the reverse is true. Local community, local economies are vital. Local soul and connection to place are the antidotes to this madness.
So, Australia, remove the log from your own eye, would you please? We all have work to do.