The Karma of Culture – Excerpts

Chapter 1 Be True To Thine Self
There is a tide in the affairs of men
which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
– Shakespeare

I am an integral part of a nation founded in fear. It lives in fear. While it struts the world stage – for example, as a “wannabe” mediator between two nations with nuclear warheads, or as an effusive preacher on human rights to any Asian or Pacific nation which might listen – it continues to be a little fearful.

Chapter 2 Unity In Diversity
She tried to found a salon
but only succeeded in opening
a restaurant
– Oscar Wilde

My relatives and friends, whether living in South East Asia, the USA, Britain, or Australia, speak a lot of English at home and in their ethnic community relations. Some have given away the Hindu religious taboo against beef. Some ignore the social taboo against pork. Yet, in almost every way, their life in their countries of residence is governed by their social customs and cultural traditions.

Chapter 3 A Silent Slippage
People will not look forward
to posterity, who never look
backward to their ancestors.
– Edmund Burke

Anyone brought up surrounded by what is known as Asian values, in that escalating culture war between East and West, will be quietly despondent about the deterioration in Australian families. What are the changes which have emerged, like a slowly rising volcano from the deep seas of a violently disrupted ocean? When and how did these changes come about? What impacts of these changes are manifest, and what are their consequences?

Chapter 4 Keeping The Bastards Honest
All animals are equal
but some animals are
more equal than others
– George Orwell

A colonial subject dreams of the day when the hated, arrogant, oppressor has gone. His people will be free to rule themselves. But, before his reluctant departure, the coloniser sets up a new form of government. In doing so, he is quite certain that the people are not yet ready to govern themselves. Has he not been preparing them for that great day when they are able to rule themselves in an acceptable manner? (I was told that this was taught to children in British schools.)

Chapter 5 Here Comes The Neighbourhood
Her frocks are built in Paris,
but she wears them with an English accent
– Saki

For more than half a century, I have watched with amazement (and some embarrassment) at the way the official Australian, his media acolyte, and many ordinary citizens, hold so assiduously onto that antiquated “whitefella” view of the neighbourhood beyond the nation’s shores.

Chapter 6 We are one
“The whistle shrilled and, in a moment, I was chugging out of Grand Central’s
dreaming spires, followed only by the anguished cries of relatives who would
have to go to work. I had chugged only a few feet when I realized that I had
left without the train, so I had to run back and wait for it to start – – – -S.J.Perelman

In spite of some quibbles and a few strong criticisms, I do aver that Australia is a wonderful nation. It is indeed the nation of the future. We, the people, are a mix of diverse origins living together amicably. As one of the very large influx of post war immigrants, I can say that most of us work very hard to improve ourselves and thus have a positive impact on the nation. Both by choice and by opportunity, I myself have made a small contribution to the direction taken by my nation over the last half century.

(I have extracted the opening paragraphs of each chapter of ‘The Karma of Culture’ to indicate to the reader something of the thrust of each chapter. However, the contents are much deeper, and offer thoughts to interest the thinking reader.

Some of my writing has been described as provocative. But that is the role of an author.)