We are standing on sacred ground; on the ground of the ancestors, of 40,000 years. We were.
This has changed. Nothing is sacred, now. Everything is owned. We are simply standing and that is now.
The memories of old are extinguished. The past has collapsed into the dust on which we stand. The rocks and pebbles that had so much substance, shape and weight – they have ground themselves to powder as the past and future collide and grind our weightlessness to nothing.
Geological compression takes time – a very long time – to crush rotting trees and detritus to coal and then to diamonds. That was then.
This is now.
The compression of our histories, our memories and our must-bes is occurring quicker by the day. By the hour. By the minute. This acceleration of collapse is beyond our awareness … well, sort of …
We know we’re more stressed, now, as we pore over the black and white photos of our youth. Oh, how simple and free it was back then! We worked hard but it was uncomplicated. Men went out to work and women stayed home. Men mowed the lawn and fixed the car while women cleaned the house and cooked. The picket-fence certainty of roles and rules is enchanting, as we look back.
We told racist and sexist jokes but not any more. We are all offended by everything. We’re too scared to say what’s in our hearts. We have gagged ourselves.
A building permit cost $100, was issued on the spot and we never saw an inspector. Those houses are still standing, smiling solidly 60 years later. A friend told me, yesterday, his building permit has taken 4½ years to date and is still not approved.
A driving licence cost $8, was 5 verbal questions and a 5-minute drive around the block. We’d be given a truck and motorbike licence – without test – along with our car licence. It now takes years to get a car licence and it costs as much as our first car.
We didn’t need permission to dig a well, renovate our houses, cut down trees, use a chainsaw or a gun. We just did it.
Then, in those short 60 years – less than a lifetime – they’ve gone for us. They’ve steadily chipped away at every freedom we owned.
We set up our own phone lines and electrical supply. We grew our own crops, harvested the seed and replanted it over and over.
We disciplined our own children and we accepted responsibility for our actions. We built our own playgrounds and swimming pools.
That has changed.
We must now buy water, power, seed and the advice of building inspectors who can’t lift a hammer. People without children tell us how to raise our own. People without conscience charge us for natural resources that aren’t theirs.
We sell our water to foreigners who never step on our shores while animals and people die in the drought.
I mean not to complain but to simply explain. To remind.
Our lives have become compressed, regulated and supervised. Google knows more about you than your neighbours and family, while the police know your every move, even when your phone’s off … which is seldom, thanks to our desperation for connection.
We have become frightened, distant, distrustful and careful … oh, so careful. Too frightened to offend, too frightened to take a risk, too frightened to buck the system. Some say justifiably so and I say, “At what cost?”
In earlier years our misdemeanours were local and forgotten. Or they became the stuff of local legends. Today’s misadventures are recorded digitally, universally, and we don’t know who’s watching. We’ve shrunk ourselves into obedient fools with no perspective.
We accept that we must spend thousands on a swimming pool fence while we live right next door to an unfenced river or ocean.
We complain when “idiots” burn down 5G towers because the authorities are upset. The anonymous authorities. Though the burning of these towers is saving lives, we cringe because our lives have become less valuable than obedience to the unknowable ones.
We have chosen to give these nameless ones power over our every move, word and thought and we haven’t complained. Like obedient cows, we complicity bear the whip and the barking dog. We follow other cows up the narrow, muddy path to be tied and milked of our goodness. Then we’re told which paddock we must graze in, never testing the one-wire fence that keeps us from something so delicious and unsprayed, we’d orgasm with delight. But, no, we can’t have the abundance up the road, round the corner, for these nameless ones said we shouldn’t … or that we must pay what we cannot afford to have it. We smile or maybe we daren’t smile – and accept the limitations the insane impose on us.
How did it come to this? Slowly. Grinding slowly. We didn’t notice as, each day, one more little rule, one more can’t-say-that, one more penalty, one more tightening of the screw, crept into our lives.
Bullshit! We did notice! We grimaced as we received a $140 fine for driving with our elbow out the window. We complained to our neighbour and they, good and obedient citizens, castigated us for endangering some unknown creature. So we doubted ourselves.
We objected when the sawdust – that kept our children safe at the playground – was taken away while abrasive plastic was installed. A free and effective resource was replaced by an expensive one and the neighbours applauded that the council cared. No one took note of the higher count of bloody knees and hands and we doubted ourselves again.
In so many ways we objected – often dumbly inside our head lest anyone be offended – and we then doubted ourselves. That, my friends, is how we have come to this narrow, muddy path, today, offering ourselves to be milked of more of our goodness.
No one did this to us. We did it. We knew. We noticed. We objected and then said, “Yeah, whatever!”
So, if we got us into what we don’t like, who might be able to get us out, I wonder … maybe that one-wire fence isn’t as stout and fearsome as we imagine. Maybe, just maybe, we could do a little leaning – slowly, relentlessly, small action after small action … in just the same way we got in, we could get out. Just an idea …