It’s a familiar story. “Rich kid squanders the accumulated wealth of previous generations because they failed to understand what it cost to acquire it in the first place”. Whether it’s the famous example of the Swiss kid who torched his Ferrari to ‘force’ his dad to buy a new one or the ancient example of the prodigal son – we know how it goes, because we’ve seen countless examples. We hold it as a self-evident truth that those who don’t work for something place too little value on it, and therefore often lose it.
Which brings me to Anzac Day. Oh, we’ll still say all the usual things about honouring their sacrifice this year, just like every other year. But our words will ring false, like the rich brat who says the right things to his father all the while planning how he’ll spend his next allowance trying to recover his losses with a punt on the horses.
The truth is that we didn’t value their sacrifice; over the last two years, we handed over that which they fought for with barely a murmur.
We were told not to see our families, and we agreed. We were told to get jabbed – three times – with something of unknown safety or effectiveness, and the vast majority of us agreed. We were told to shut down businesses and close our homes to friends, and we agreed. We were told not to leave our neighbourhoods, and we agreed. We were told not to breathe clear air – even when outside – and we agreed. We were told this was for our safety, and we agreed. We were told doctors who spoke out against these things were dangerous, and we agreed. We were told others who had objections were equally dangerous and should be silenced, and shot with rubber bullets, and we agreed.
We didn’t fight because we were told that fear was more virtuous than questioning. We watched them take everything from us, and like cowards who’d inherited our freedom rather than earned it, we agreed.
We did so because our conquerors wore white gowns and pinstriped suits rather than military uniforms, and because we were so infested with traitors that we couldn’t comprehend we were being had. So bad was the problem that many who betrayed us did so without even a shred of remorse, believing they were doing it for our good. They could no longer recognise the lie themselves. As the facts came to light, we were so beholden to the bamboozle that we refused to acknowledge it. And so we moved on, accepting a putrid precedent that has set the foundations for worse in coming years… with no word of apology to those whom we hurt, no demand for justice from those who misled us, and no awareness of what’s been lost.
The lesson for those in power is this: if you make us fearful enough, we’ll stop asking questions and we’ll abandon our principles. If you keep it up long enough, we’ll pour scorn on those who courageously push back. In short: we won’t resist any manner of tyranny you wish to implement, so long as you sell it to us correctly. We are yours for the taking because now we worship no god but safety.
Like the prodigal son who finally came to his senses, it may not be too late. If enough of us wake up, admit our error, and decide we’re willing to work for the inheritance of freedom we squandered, we may yet turn this thing around.
But until then, “Lest we forget” might better be reprised as “Damn, we forgot”.