Reality of the Aussie Dream

Our Global Adventure

I recently watched a YouTube clip of an interview with Australian, Tim Costello by ABC Radio. The clip was from 2012 and Rev. Costello was being interviewed about his book about ‘Hope’ that had recently been released. Tim Costello is absolutely one of my Australian heroes. I’ve never seen an interview with,  or read an article written by this man that didn’t cause me to pause and reflect on his words long after the interview was finished. I love that about a speaker. Rev. Tim Costello is a well known speaker on social justice issues, leadership and ethics, he is also the CEO of World Vision Australia.

In the interview Tim Costello was expressing that Australia is becoming a ‘grumpy’ nation.

 “…that the prolonged global financial crisis, plunging consumer confidence, job losses, price rises and the tense political environment have led many Australians to lose their sense of optimism…”

Is he right? Have Australian’s gotten ‘grumpy’? Have we forgotten all that there is to be grateful for in our beautiful country? And, if so, what has happened to the great Australian dream? Now don’t get me wrong, I know that Tim wasn’t speaking about the average Aussie’s pursuit to own their own home, but there is a link here. Post war Australia has done nothing but strive to own a home full of the latest gadgets, and all of those things, the GFC, the price rises, the job market, can make or break that dream. Since the 1950’s we’ve had it good. Our economy has soared (there was that recession in the 80’s), jobs were plentiful, and home ownership and homes got bigger and bigger. But when things get a little uncomfortable, are we so precious that the nation starts to sulk? Or is it just not enough anymore?

At the end of the interview, Rev. Costello ended with a quote. He said “where you sit determines what you see” a derivation of one by the theologian Robert McAffe Brown, and I think he is absolutely right. Happiness is about perspective, and of course gratitude. That’s why I think that experiences, relationships and understanding, more than material wealth and consumerism, are so important. For the past 60 years Australians have been chasing a dream of owning our own bit of the lucky country. But when will it be enough? Our ‘bits’ keep getting bigger and bigger, the toys inside them more and more fantastic, but has it made us happier?

There is ‘Hope’ Mr. Costello, yes there is. As humans surely we are learning that there is more to life than the constant pursuit for personal material wealth, because as another great quote says, “you can’t take it with you when you go”.

2 thoughts on “Reality of the Aussie Dream

  1. “Is he right? Have Australians got grumpy?”. I can’t resist this (probably rhetorical) one! While I don’t know what he really said, or whether it was right or not, it got me thinking about how often I have been challenged by the rat race to think “am I really happy?” I’ve concluded that all questions about “happiness” ultimately relate back to a key demand of the rat race, i.e. the “pursuit of happiness”. How?

    American constitution is founded on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Its economy revolves around the idea that life and liberty (whatever form you live it) isn’t enough. No we also need “happiness” , or rather the “right” to “pursue happiness”. Not “happiness” itself, but a rat race chase after it. This pursuit drives the economy. Across the world advertizers basically tell us that what we haven’t isn’t good enough and our lives would be better, happier, easier etc. if we had something else. So it goes on. It is the “saleperson pattern”. Asking about happiness, getting the audience to wonder if they really are happy, suggesting something else might be better seems to be a popular way to “hook” the audience onto your product; or attempt to change them by making them want something they think they don’t have.

    Sadly I also see this pattern in religious circles. Recently the “salesperson” pattern came up in a children’s outreach initiative. The kids were challenged again and again “have you ever felt unhappy? hopeless? unloved? etc”. Trying to suggest that they all felt really down and negative led on to the assertion that this is why we need God, to put our “messed up” lives straight. Same pattern “you are unhappy; try xxx to relieve this feeling”. I don’t think many kids present did relate to the audience “hook”. It is used on adults too (not sure it works for them either). Maybe this pattern isn’t everybody’s experience but it certainly is mine. Jesus came to bring life and to set us free. Nothing about pursuing happiness or even enjoying happiness. I wish they would just tell the kids the facts and leave it there!

    Have Australians got grumpy? The rat race encourages us to think of life in these terms, constantly evaluating it and driving us to pursue something more than what we already have. (I think people get divorced so easily because they are searching for “happiness” and the rat race encourages this evaluation and pursuit of something “better” even in relationships). It’s not so much about house and mortgage versus alternative lifestyles, as the culture that is ingrained with “pursuit”, one that disturbs inner contentment and peace at where we are. Whatever you’re doing, where ever you are at, it can stop you enjoying life. And it is very sad when the “saleperson pattern” is used on kids for anything.

    • Thank you for your comments Gee, it’s always interesting to hear different perspectives. I agree, the ‘sales pitch’ is often, what else do we need to be happy? But I think that there is a possibility that anyone who has achieved true happiness would tell us that we don’t ‘need’ anything at all. Happiness comes from within, and I think it is important to do something that you love.

It's your turn! Please leave a comment or question.