By Jerome Irwin,
Andrew Taylor, a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald, has raised some pressing issues about out-of-control development in Sydney’s suburbs that should give everyone in the modern world cause to reflect upon, because the constant problems of traffic gridlock, lack of adequate parking, the overload and breakdown of public transit systems (buses, trains, ferries, ships, airplanes) could be said to be the flash point Achilles Heel of modern society’s constant implosion and ultimate self-destruction. It’s a continual crunching-numbers game. (“Dire Sign for Sydney as Rose Bay is Full”, SMH, Tuesday, 8th Feb, 2018).
First World problems of endless development, expansion, population explosion and constant myriad crises they’re causing in suburbs like Sydney’s Rose Bay are typical of what is going on everywhere in the New World, especially in places like Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. One could argue that such crises are comparable to those that first began between invading Western colonial powers and their occupying settler hordes who were pitted against the original ways of life and inherent rights of ownership of whatever aboriginal cultures and their inhabitants. The many divisive controversies that continue to fuel the debate between them around the issue of Reconciliation between their world views and the historic clash between each country’s invading colonial-settlers and indigenous peoples in the New World are symptomatic of the next critical stage in human development if its species is to survive and flourish.
Rose Bay’s crisis of: traffic congestion; parking; unaffordable housing and the original citizenry being priced-out or forced out of their own communities, call into question the Western World’s standards of a liveable, self-sustainable way of life; and how the descendant masses of the first colonists have ended up becoming as screwed and abused, politically and economically, as the aboriginal inhabitants who came before them. The resolution between these clashing world views should have happened hundreds of years ago at the moment of first contact. It represented a golden opportunity for the human race, if it was up for the challenge, which it wasn’t, to start afresh and bring about a golden renaissance in the human experience. It didn’t happen but it now absolutely must for the ultimate survival of the planet.
The bigger issues now facing the descendants of the original aboriginal and colonial inhabitants in-kind, in places like even Sydney’s much-feted inner harbour and surrounding areas, is where, if one is lucky enough to have the money, they can still find liveable locations with enough relative permanency to raise a family as well as maintain a stable, viable way of life. For The Moment!
Woollahra’s deputy mayor, Susan Wynne, sees, as one ultimate answer to future economic viability, the creation of more high-density car park developments as the means to establish a “good balance” between residents and quality commercial businesses while, at the same time, provide ample parking to accommodate the massive glut of traffic congestion, rising population and subsequent lack of adequate parking.
Deputy Mayor Wynne advocates hanging a sign on every entrance to Rose Bay that boldly declares not that “Rose Bay is Full”, but that “Rose Bay Welcomes All”. The problem is that Wynne’s philosophy sounds a lot like what the duly appointed representatives of every invading colonial power have repeatedly done to whatever new region and people it has invaded. That rankles those like Bruce Brand, vice-president of the Rose Bay Residents Association, who contends this philosophy, in the long run, will only make matters worse and exacerbate Rose Bay’s traffic congestion and infrastructure woes which will require suburbs like Rose Bay to pay for developments by developing still further higher, denser, ever-pricier commercial and residential complexes: A vicious cycle with an ultimately-fatal cultural downhill spiral! “There goes the neighbourhood!” as the saying goes.
Here’s an alternative thought, though. Perhaps communities like Rose Bay, and its neighbouring communities of Bellevue Hill, Vaucluse-Watson Bay and Woollahra, could instead consider setting an example for still other surrounding communities in the greater Sydney area to follow suit by putting up signs in all the entranceways to their communities that instead defiantly declare: “We Are Full Now”…”No Vacancies”…”No Space Left”…”Go Somewhere Else To Populate”…”Our Future Way of Life Already is Planned”.
The basic problem, however, that such signage presents to the Ms. Wynne’s of the world from ever daring to post them is that they’re never even remotely considered as options. City Planners, Developers and Politicians instead believe, as part of their academic conditioning, basic belief system and world view, that the only feasible answer ever possible is to passively accept the fact as a given that ever-greater, never-ending brutal commercial development and ever-increasing economic expansion, that unchecked population explosion ruthlessly creates, is simply one of those unpleasant constant realities in life.
So, from that perspective, the only answer is to passively accept the radical changes forever demanded by developments like at Rose Bay, or the nearby West Connex’s massive new highway project to connect Sydney’s ever-burgeoning Western suburbs with an ever more elaborate, sprawling new ‘Badgery Creek’ airport system, and the massive high-rise residential complexes that are springing up as a result in all the surrounding towns and cities and creating a feeding-frenzy and land grab on a colossal scale. Developments such as these will only continue to drive forward, unwanted or not, every cultural and societal way of life in modern civilization. The resulting uncaring, unfeeling changes ruled by the ledger’s bottom line, is the name of the game.
To pull off such mega-development schemes in Western countries like Australia, Canada or wherever, the powers-that-be behind them often have to invoke the little known legal proviso, written into the Western World’s parlance of every local, state and provincial government transaction, called compulsory acquisition, which in other circles would simply be called stealing, that allows the governing body of whatever ruling power the absolute sovereign right of the invader who, when and if they so choose to exercise it, can arbitrarily take what they want and destroy what they want, at a price dictated by their own choosing that may have nothing to do with fair market value.
This legal ‘divine right’, reserved for the conqueror to rule as they see fit, whether it be over the original aboriginal inhabitants, colonial-settlers and their descendants alike, goes all the way back to the time of the ‘Great Clearances’ in the United Kingdom, later to be transplanted throughout the New World and the America’s. This clause has been exercised many times ever since, although sparingly so as not to unduly incite too much riot and dissension among the masses. It nevertheless remains on the books as one of those brutal reminders that most try not to think too much about lest it inflame their violent emotions. That is until the reality of events like West Connex hits them smack in the face as a reminder of their place in the scheme of things, and the fact that no matter what one’s acquired station in life may be, we, the people are still essentially powerless serfs, as it were, beholden to do the bidding of a whole host of powerful lords who hold sway.
In the case of West Connex in New South Wales, Australia, those unfortunate residents, home owners and business people who happened one day to find themselves, their families, their homes, businesses and entire way of life caught in the path of ever-hungrier wrecking balls and bulldozer behemoths, immediately were able to know and feel, on a visceral level, the abject pains that aboriginal, indigenous peoples have long since experienced wherever they’ve come in contact with the Western World and the White Man’s unstoppable juggernaut. Like the aboriginal inhabitants removed before them by others, those who continue to do the removing today also think little and care even less, about the dire consequences of their actions and the enormous losses they are party to, of whatever way of life it is that they have a hand in causing to disappear forever.
But the surrounding, unaffected populace hesitate to give too much critical thought to the plight of those unfortunate ones around them who’ve lost everything, lest it one day happen to them and their community, as well. It’s called the, I‘m Alright Jack reflex until, at some point of time, it surely must happen to them, too, in the chaotic world as it now is.
The upshot of all of this is that, in the course of time, the cultures and societies of all those original displaced native inhabitants, colonial-settlers and their descendants gradually become ever more scattered and dissipated, replaced by a polyglot of yet other dispossessed, displaced natives from some other distant land who won’t find it as easy to identify with their new-found place or relate to those other dispossessed natives who came before them and why they were dispossessed in the first place. No strong core culture with the same substance and depth will replace what all has been compulsorily removed. Since nothing is ever sacred among those who do the removal, save for money, power and the greed that feeds them both, life everywhere gradually becomes more and more hollowed-out, superficial, transitional and hard-edged. Its life perpetually lived in constant imbalance and free-fall.
But the Big Boys Love Things Just as They Are and Where They’re Going! They’re realist’s whose bottom-line begins and ends with how to maximize, in the shortest possible time frame, their excessive profits and vast realty acquisitions. Constant, incessant development, whether in Rose Bay or wherever else in the world can only but eventually lead to horrendously-ruthless development projects like Sydney’s West Connex. The once calmer, peaceful, tranquil, liveable ways of life they unceremoniously supplant, that all their former resident’s fathers, mothers, forefathers and foremothers once intimately knew, only become all but forgotten distant memories of the past, meaningful to but a few, never to return again. AND SO IT GOES…
What at first may seem like a long digression from the immediate issue of Rose Bay, Australia’s high-density car park developments isn’t really once one begins to connect all the dots that lead back to the same basic three questions.
Today, the same dynamics throughout the world are causing these three questions to be posed time and again because everyone is in the same boat, as it were, which is our mutual welfare in the only Planet Earth Star ship we all have to continue to safely take us throughout a tumultuous universe to whatever our ultimate intended destination.
The first question on the lips of many – raised but never ultimately answered on any deep, meaningful political, economic, cultural, societal, religious or spiritual level – is how to fundamentally begin to change the mindset of the Western World mentality that so willingly accepts the constant out-of-control development that is virtually destroying the fabric of every human culture and society being over-run and overcome by unchecked population explosion.
The second always hotly-debated question is how does every political, governmental system come up with a pragmatic and acceptable formulaic ‘glass ceiling’ solution to cap what all is going on, so as to enable every human environment and natural ecosystem to perpetually sustain its established way of life, like the Aboriginal peoples of Australia and other indigenous peoples around the world, have done for millennia, without constantly stripping the earth of all its finite natural resources or polluting and poisoning all of the earth’s waters and lands?
The third question and perhaps the most knotty of all is how does the human race finally, meaningfully, curb its own seven vices, chief among them being human greed, in all its compulsive forms, that is being allowed to perpetually rent asunder and exacerbate the two previous questions?
All three questions are monumental ones that no one person, society, government or religion in the West or East has yet been able to solve. At stake, of course, just happens to be the very continued survival of human and natural life, as it has been known for eons. Whatever resolution happens obviously will take something greater than the sum total of the planet’s singular minds and societies to come up with the answer for a new planetary ethos.
Perhaps, though, the simplest way to everywhere begin such a lofty undertaking is to compare it to the issue of Reconciliation now going on in countries like Canada and Australia who continue to explore what it means to find some balance between the Western colonial-settler mind and much more ancient indigenous mind in its midst everywhere in the New World. This is the best of all ways to truly close the gap between them. However, some colonial-settler societies haven’t even yet evolved or progressed to the stage where they’re even prepared to make such an official apology for what all they’ve done to aboriginal, indigenous people and their once sacred lands.
In the case of Australia and its current national reconciliation project with its aboriginal peoples, if it intends to lead the way for the world to follow, and at the same time maintain its image of itself as The Lucky Country, it must progress far beyond what its current critics pathetically still decry as a mere “sap to the left and the Greenies”, or nothing more than an extension of the “Racial Wedge” argument.
Jerome Irwin, is a freelance writer and the one-time founding president of his own Lower Capilano Residents Association in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada who doggedly continues to call attention to their own share of similar problems of excessive development traffic gridlock, loss of single family neighbourhoods and related environmental-spiritual issues and concerns between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. His most recent penned article, entitled “Canada’s North Shore Traffic Congestion: A Cataclysmically-Frayed Survival Rope”, has since been picked up by various international news agencies like Countercurrents.org., Big News Network and Pressenza International News Agency