Just the Ability to Choose
At times, I have flashes of gratitude in having liberties for which I have otherwise definitely taken for granted.
I visit my local butcher and get an astounding variety of meats to select from, including turkey, quail, kangaroo, lamb, pork, pheasant, crocodile and ostrich. No one stops me as to my preferred choice or avoidance of specific meats. The vibes in my society is that nobody else can impose their thoughts or preferences on me. If I am different from my neighbours, they happily respect my right in my preferences - because they also know that I would grant the same mutual respect to each of them in such decisions. I do not have to go to an under cover seller of a meat I want to cook for my kitchen - and I am not confronted with legislation for me not to have a particular meat of my choosing.
Public transport is of necessity to me living near a capital city which amazingly charges possibly the highest rates for vehicle parking. However my subconscious relies on the punctuality of the train, bus, tram, light rail or ferry system. The scheduled times do fail, there are muck ups and weather does play havoc - but for really important things I have adjusted to private transport or plan my schedule to allow a buffer. Public transport connections are okay and sometimes I have to wait at quiet platforms or walk along long pedestrian tunnels. Overall I am happy utilising less of my car and just go with a taxpayer funded network of transport mechanisms.
The markets here are varied. I can ignore the biggest two supermarket chains and support smaller but more competitive players. I can avoid the obvious commercialised products and spend my money at community venues which try to channel their produce directly from small farms and boutique arrangements.
I can select my kind of fauna pet and enjoy their company without fuss, unless they become a public nuisance and pose a threat to the vulnerable like the elderly or children whilst the pets are mine. Oh yes, I have to obtain the permission from my neighbours if I want to change the character of my dwelling or cut down a tree, but other than those matters, I am kept to my privacy and style of living. It is not in my character to create excessive noise after midnight as I do understand deeply the need of my neighbours - and myself - to have some quiet for restorative sleep. If I am moving things for long periods during a scheduled day, it is only polite to let the neighbours know.
It can be so rich as to the spectrum of car, motor cycle, boat and caravan models I have access to in this country. Maybe all of this can be excessive. All it requires is the ability to fund it cleverly and one can change models practically every three years. There was no financial penalty to use certain roads until the advent of privatised infrastructure and the increasing use of electronic tolls. Still there are thousands of kilometres of roads, especially in the Outback, where the saying that the best thing in life are free resonates with me. I use such roads to discover different lifestyles, cuisines, climate zones and cultures, all within my nation. If only there were more declared public holidays and long weekends to do all these.
The personal freedoms extended to me include to those of investment, religion, superannuation, diet, lifestyle and choice of abode. Liberty can show its two edged sword when choice is hijacked by commercialism, confusion and lack of civility. Perhaps moderation is the answer but it is better still on balance to be able to savour a rich cake than a tasteless dough.
I have access to native speakers of over two hundred languages - and they are my fellow citizens or residents of this same country. Even without learning their colourful and interesting linguistics, I can easily enjoy their cuisines and other aspects of their culture. This reminds me of when I was growing up in another multi-cultural nation, when tolerance was practised and appreciated. There is no need for officially sanctioned public holidays - every weekend means a significant cultural event for one of these varied groups who call Australia home. Here I can visit different houses of worship without constraint - and understand more of what it is to be a citizen of the world.
I can choose between the quiet of suburbia and country side as opposed to the din of capital city centres. I can be still picky about a slight increase in pollution and contamination to very high standards in the quality of the environment and its produce. I can rub shoulders and let my hair down at music gigs and still later have a refuge of generous personal space.
The concept of dual citizenship can be strictly a no-no in some countries but my country of adoption encourages me to embrace the world and be adventurous. Where ever I am , I can always call Australia home - literally, figuratively and emotionally. I have the liberty of expanding my horizons, my inner soul and sense of experience without my parent ship - Australia - disowning me. I can truly eventually return home.
Alas, but there is no perfect place on Earth. I am grateful that the governance fabric of my nation is not easily torn by war and conflict, but at the same time I have to acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by ordinary Johns and Janes fighting battles and extreme conditions overseas. One has to get used to accepting and tolerating distances when you come from Australia. The cost of living is by no means paradise, especially with the prices for properties, dining out, paying for basic utilities and even shopping. There are high taxes to be liable for in a country with a mature social security system. Alcoholism, gambling, increasing health costs and the diverging gap between rich and poor continue to blight this country.
We do have a higher degree of freedom and expression of speech. Such a base leads to more creativity, difference of opinion and feeding of the inner spirit. We are not machine cogs pounding exclusively at material wealth whilst ignoring other things in life - essentially we can maintain our human dignity more than most than those who live in most other countries. We are not at the centre of the World nor do we want to be. Our festivals may not be as boisterous as in some older civilisations but we borrow and take for our own the festivals from older cultures. Individuals here can be bogged down in the usual human afflictions of greed, racism, diversion and buggery, but the Australian national nature has a few big underlying characteristics that the rest of the world appreciates - our sense of humanity, humaneness and heart - that we are prepared to exercise and work on.