We humans are adaptable creatures, perhaps too adaptable for our own good. We immediately acclimatise to any new situation or challenge. Though we tend to fight the erosion of our basic rights, once they are gone we concede that it’s probably for good – we suffer fire and flood, rebuild and then are surprised when it comes again a decade later – we live so fast that we only passingly notice the climate changing, and then we forget with the passing of the season. Only now, on the point of crisis, are we maintaining the rage.
Much of this edition echoes a poignant question: How did we get here, and what other paths might once have been open to us?
In the years after WWII, Australia instituted an enviable social welfare system, build upon an egalitarian ideal. Despite the ebbs and flows of government, the trend has been to chip away at this safety net to reduce it to one of the meanest in the developed world. Why, when punishing the most unfortunate also punishes our economy, has this been the path of choice?
Nowhere is the pace of change, and the lack of choice, more obvious than with technology. Free-market neoliberalism rewards the first to market, with governments prioritising innovation over responsibility. We are told that the only way to stay ahead is to keep running forward as fast as we can… but who exactly is setting this direction? Zac Rogers returns to AQ with another deep dive on technology and what it is to be human.
When talking about people making decisions on others’ behalf, it is hard to ignore Native Title and the current fight between the W&J people and Adani. The ongoing battle underscores the long-known issues with Native Title law. With some considered debate and some generosity of spirit, Native Title could be something that we consciously improve upon, rather than chip away at - wouldn’t that be a legacy?
As the world gets faster and our lives more hectic, we risk losing ourselves if we can’t remember the importance of slow, considered thinking. Australia, more than ever, needs to understand where it has been and where it is going in this new decade - lest we find ourselves somewhere we don’t want to be.