It's a pleasure to write from my homelands in the hills of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.. Life here is a forested-affair.
Squawking cockatoos, chittering fairy wrens, electronic-sounding whip birds, and far-reaching kookaburra calls. Ferns carpeting the mushroom-rich forest floor, under the towering tall gums.
Where I live is a thriving ecology. It's special to live amongst..
My forest home is a distinctly different to that experienced in Germany and Northern Europe over for 3 months over the previous Euro summer. There, I was predominantly in city-scapes with their own people-rich uniqueness.
I love to play in cities. And I love to marvel at the ecologies of humans who create amazing realities with their concentration of resources, crossed-paths, and magnetism to outsiders.
And Germany isn't all city living; there's plenty of country-side filled with quaint villages, rolling green hills, wind-turbines and solar panels.
But they've got nothing of the natural riches of the Australian continent.
While I'm in places like Europe, I contemplate, converse, question and explore how people got to be the way they are; both in Europe (where the bones of ancestors lay), and back in my heart-home of modern, and ancient, Australia.
A clear realisation/confirmation from these contemplations: humans are inherently shaped, defined, and framedby their topographical and geo-political landscapes i.e. the land where they live.
Germany has clearly made it's mark on the global scene (cars, renewable technology, head of the EU). It holds nine international borders and sits in the middle of a historically busy region. Coordinated defense systems have been paramount to the security of country borders, as had their preparation for the life-threatening chills of winter.
Germans are compliant, relatively well-educated, and tend to have a general understanding of systems – knowing how things work and building them to be hardy, efficient and effective.
Tradition, rules, authority and structure are a big part of German culture.
Australia, on the other hand, is spacious. The population per square kilometer compared to Germany is enough to illicit an involuntary giggle of amusement at just how few people live in the nation.
That space has meant we don’t have the same cross-pollination of different cultures and other humans, as many other nations do. In fact, Australia is pretty darn tight in controlling it’s borders to those of other cultures. That many Australians will purposefully sit a few seats away from another person on a public bus if they can (to give each other ‘space’ of course) is a classic example.
Most Australians live in a house with a backyard where the dog can run freely and we can do what we like, when we like without really have to interact with others. Germans, on-the-other-hand, are used to living in stacked boxes of apartment buildings, relying on nearby parks to walk their dogs where they naturally see and interact with other dog walkers. It’s a common thing to do.
Australians know how to live life without many people around. We’ve adapted to it and come to reinforce it where we can. We like doing what we want, without having to consider the needs of others.
Of course, yes, these are blatant stereotypes to which there are many exceptions. But hopefully the point is coming through. Space is a defining feature of life in Australia.
And there’s almost something we lack because we don’t have the pressure of population density pushing us forward. We can be apathetic and complacent – on certain things at least. “She’ll be right, mate” is an unofficial motto that has seeped into various levels of Australian life. Renewable energy is a good example – Germany excels in their renewable energy quota, where Australia lags sorely well behind despite our spaciousness and abundance of sun, wind, water.
Germans on the other hand tend to air on the side of the meticulous: getting everything in order and utter cleanliness – physically, emotionally, politically. (definitely a claim laden with stereotypes!)
In some ways it seems the muscle of Australian's for human dynamics are at a different level of maturity and perhaps not as toned as those in European lands. Perhaps we’re just … different. Perhaps it's all of the above.
That said, modern Australia has space to innovate, create, and live large. We haven’t the hierarchies of institutions and royal families so heavily on our soil to dictate how things happen here directly.
This has afforded us a little more free-range to develop and evolve in unique and inspiring ways. Much like the USA (the land of entrepreneurs), yet in a very different way, Australia has developed our own brazen boldness to be ourselves. The freedom of that is special, liberating and useful.
The invitation to modern Australia is to mature and develop with the aid of insights to other cultures and ways (which sit at our finger-tips more generously than ever before); growing more sophisticated cultural traits that honour and celebrate our spacious and ancient landscapes and people.
We’re hindered and blessed by our history, our land, and our connections with the rest of the world. I truly hope more Australians realise how life in the Lucky Country requires us to be engaged and informed citizens who demand our macro decision-makers to serve the people and our common unity of life on this continent with the intelligence and sophistication of those cultures we so greatly admire, that we are absolutely capable of living in our own special way.
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