Visiting Saint Petersburg has given me a theory. I think Australia needs it's own real proper royal family. Not the adopted, watered-down, nerfed royals like we have at the moment.. I'm talking about proper old-school heads of state. The ones that snap their fingers and make heads roll and make ridiculous demands that would shame Mariah Carey and Spinal Tap.
Look at the countries that had Kings, Queens, Emperors and Tsars like that... Now THEY knew how to get stuff done!
A jazzed up fortune teller told the Chinese Emperor he would be killed by a Mongolian, so the Emperor turns around and tells his dudes to go build a Great Wall that turns into one of the wonders or the world. That's some pretty hard-core ruling.
Some Tsar decides he's too good for Moscow and wants to build Russia a new capital. Bang! Saint Petersburg is born out of a swamp. No questions, no matter the cost, just get it done.
And don't even get me started on the Pyramids...
Is there anyone here who looks back at these great marvels and thinks they should never have been built? If the Great Wall or the Pyramids were never built then the lives of many thousands of people would have been saved... But it's too late to worry about that, they'd be dead by now anyway, right?
The point is, nearly all the cool stuff in the history of the world was built by the order of some royal nut-job or evil dictator. Not some do-good elected committee.
Democracy breeds mediocrity. What's the best a freely-elected government can give us these days? The Perth Bell tower? Kings Park? Barbagello Raceway?
That's ridiculous when you consider in today's modern age, a half-drunk bogan in a bobcat can achieve about as much in a day as 100 slaves could back in the time of Cleopatra. We've got no excuse. We should be churning out a new wonder of the world every week!
I think T-shirt hell sums it up best on one of their shirts featuring an image of the pyramids and the caption "slavery gets shit done". It's meant to be an offensive joke, but there's no denying the truth of it.
Seriously, so many of the most amazing things in the world came at a terrible human cost which is easy to ignore.
Here I am cruising around the world having the time of my life enjoying the fruits of centuries of slave labour. I need to remind myself of this from time to time to get some perspective I think.
Saint Petersburg is a city 300 years old. That might seem pretty old compared to Australian cities, but for a European city it's just a teenager. Looking around this city, it's incredible to see what's been achieved, even more incredible to think it was all built by hand before any modern machinery was available, and most incredible of all to think it was done in one of the coldest climates on the planet. I mean here I am in -26degC temperatures, the rivers are frozen up and winter hasn't even started yet.
What have we managed to achieve in the last 200-odd years since European settlement in Australia? Well, we did our best to destroy 50,000 years of the world's oldest living culture... hmm.. We invented the lamington, and we've put a lot of effort into producing some impressive athletes (while the rest of the population sets new records for obesity).
Ok, so that's a bit harsh. I actually love Australia and I know we have plenty to be proud of. There are things I miss about it every day while I'm away. But there are so many things we could learn from other cultures and ways to improve life for everyone. We really do live in the "Lucky Country", but sometimes it feels like we've got some of our priorities wrong as a society.
We need a King of Australia to grab the country by the scruff of the neck and kick the unskilled bogans out of their bobcats and send off to learn quality craftsmanship and design instead of just how to bulldoze more, faster. And while they're gone we should hand all the fatties a shovel and drill and tell them to get off their bums to start doing the hard labour required for a new Australian capital city. We need to learn to embrace high-density living, develop good public transport, reverse our tendency to prefer quantity over quality, and dismiss the "more = better" attitude we have about almost everything.
And anybody with a "Love it or Leave!", "F*ck off we're full" or even a Southern Cross sticker on the back of their vehicle should be made to live overseas for a year to gain an appreciation of a number of other cultures and just how little they have to complain about. It's time for a nation-wide reality check.
Of course as the instigator of the Australian New Royals, I would graciously accept a post as one of the "haves" rather than the "have nots". I don't think this kind of regime is quite as popular with the unwashed masses as it is with the lucky few at the top, so I'd rather just avoid being one of the plebs.
No matter that I might be both a fattie and a bogan, that I might live in a house with a backyard in the urban sprawl, drive several vehicles, and consume more than an entire African village.
When I say "we" need to change our attitudes, really I mean "everyone except me".
And therein lies the problem. Talk is cheap.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Saint Petersburg, Russia