words by Gerard Oosterman
All our communal town-houses were originally planted with gardens which included the Virginia creeper, shown in the above photo. This creeper grows very fast, mainly at night when everyone is sound asleep or, if not sleeping, at least inside their dormitories. Originally, our townhouses had a united garden which included the Virginia creeper. Sadly though, all Virginia creepers were taken out with the excuse that they are known to be destructive. A falsehood was spread that those fast-growing climbers would, by assaulting and climbing over everything, strangle brick walls and block our much-revered and beloved guttering.
We, against all advice and scorn of neighbours, held onto our Virginia for dear life, and even if it succeeds in strangling us and our townhouse, so be it. It is amazing how gardening is so often seen as OK or mere tolerable as long as it doesn’t take over or threaten our homes (or ‘investment’, as one of our neighbours once uttered).
With last night’s defeat in Australia of the Labor Party to the Liberals against all odds, and the best of News Polls, and predictions, this contemplation of the Virginia creeper might just have to sustain us for the near future. The near future is not to be taken in vain or too lightly. Perhaps a better phrase might be ‘our twilight years’ as both of us are nearing the eighties and for some things, time is becoming more of the essence. It would have been so nice to have witnessed an Australia finally coming of an age where change, for the better, would override the endless ennui of more of the same. How much longer can we look forward each morning to an Australia where Taxation cuts, Border Controls, sticking to contemplating the past, and Queen Victorian Gunboat diplomacy has to sustain us?
Just think how it now must feel to have for another three years a Scott Morrison as Prime Minister. A man who has on numerous occasions highlighted his belief in Christian faith but at the same time was almost manically keen on locking up for indefinite detention thousands of people who have done no wrong except for trying to escape from wars and bloodshed and look for a safe refuge in Australia. I wonder how those refugees on Manus and Nauru, now well into their sixth year of detention, are feeling today, hearing how their tormenter has been chosen as leader of Australia for another three years?
So much hope was invested in a change of leadership that would finally allow Australia to progress to a more just and fairer society. A society that would be leading in climate change and care for the environment. Today is a day where we celebrate the standing still of Australia. When will we ever learn, that change ought to be embraced even if change might at times fail? It is always better to have tried than not at all. Why is Australia often celebrating the fondness for looking back and clinging to the past? My parents who came here from Holland in 1956 would not be proud today of Australia. They wanted a better future for their children. My wife, from a very progressive Finland, and I with Dutch genes, are almost tempted to book a return to Holland.
We don’t have to look to Holland or Finland for examples of progressive countries. Just look a bit to the side and look to New Zealand. They have a leader that seems to thrive on progress, especially on a social level. Why don’t we look to our Eastern neighbours instead of our much beloved Western US, a nation that is being headed by a morally bereft President, heading his country knee-deep into a moral morass?
It has been New Zealand who offered several times to take the refugees from Nauru and Manus. Our Australian Prime Minister, with his Christian Faith held high on Pharisees’ sullied sleeves, heartlessly refused each time. We will just go outside and look at our Virginia creeper. It will have to sustain us till the next time.
My poor country, Australia.
See more of Gerard’s work at his blog, Oosterman Treats.