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Wednesday / June 19.
HomemitwocentsAs I See It: The Best Country in the World

As I See It: The Best Country in the World

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There is little argument that Australia is one of the best countries in the world to live. Although Norway has been judged to have “happier residents” and Sweden has a higher standard of living it must be tough not having sunshine, beaches and a 12 month outdoor lifestyle, even if they do produce the occasional decent tennis player and golfer.

In Lahore Pakistan there are security men with automatic weapons on the door of the supermarket, the traffic police covert their job because it is a means to make a living through the fines and bribes they collect. Everyone knows the drill when the highway patrol pulls you over. No RBT’s in a Muslim country but for a few hundred rupees to grease a palm you can be on your way in a jiffy and to your next speeding ‘fine’. Terror alerts are regular and road blocks a daily occurrence.

Australia is geographically isolated. To many this is seen as a disadvantage – 24 hour flights back to the mother land, 16 hours to the U.S. of A, we are on the stopover routes to…, well …. New Zealand or sometimes Antarctica, not high traffic areas.

Terrorists find it hard to operate efficiently with jet lag, even in the northern hemisphere in familiar time zones they struggle to blow up their own underwear.

Australians on the other hand are among the most generous in the world, even if we stay on the bottom side of the globe to donate our money, and the Optometry profession is a leader in community welfare.

The remoteness and daily boredom of our great southern land are good things. We live in a soft society. We can afford to expend our energies on greenhouse gas control and the standards of primary school students. In Pakistan they would be happy to have those issues, especially girls’ and women’s educational standards.

No one wants to go to Pakistan to play any sport. Cricket and Hockey Champions’ Trophies were abandoned, Cricket World Cup likewise. Australians in particular have led the retreat. Many will feel justified after the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore in March last year. Kumar Sangakarra, the Sri Lankan lawyer, wicket-keeper and captain said he would go back anytime to play cricket.

That is Pakistan, a country bordered by the volatile Afghanistan, Iran and the despised neighbour and elder cousin, India.

It is now India that is perceived by Australia’s sporting elite as having security issues. The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for New Delhi in October and Australian athletes are already questioning whether they will be safe, wondering whether security with masses of weapons and armoured vehicles will be surrounding them at all times.


The Perceived Threat

The threat was heightened in late January when a peripheral Hindu fundamentalist political party threatened some undisclosed action against Australian cricketers who might participate in the highly lucrative Indian Premier League cricket tournament. The threat related to the perceived racist attacks against Indian students in Australia, none of which were proven to be racially motivated. The inflammation by sections of the Indian media was both irresponsible and entirely unfounded, but it sells newspapers and There is little argument that Australia is one of the best countries in the world to live. Although Norway has been judged to have “happier residents” and Sweden has a higher standard of living it must be tough not having sunshine, beaches and a 12 month outdoor lifestyle, even if they do produce the occasional decent tennis player and golfer. The Best Country in the World web advertising and gives an ailing politician a moment more in the spotlight. Remarkably, Australia’s number one tennis player admitted that he only found out in the past few months that tennis was being played at the Games! He swiftly expressed fears with security although he had close to zero knowledge of the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Australian High Commission in Delhi.

The insularity, narrow focus and pampered world of these people could scarcely be contrasted more with daily living in India or Pakistan. I don’t know if Lleyton Hewitt has ever been to India, but the Commonwealth Games presents the perfect opportunity to learn about the second most populous country on the planet and perhaps gain two or 300 million fans with some brilliant tennis and gracious behaviour.

Security threats at major events have ranged from the Israeli tragedy of Munich to the threats by Basque separatists at Barcelona, small bomb at Atlanta, and human rights protests in Beijing. The FIFA World Cup soccer will be played partly in Johannesburg, which is listed as the “most dangerous city in the world”. Nothing is new on that front. What is disappointing are the Aussies who bury their heads in the sand and stay at home rather than look at the facts and take their world class skills to other cultures.


On The Other Hand

Australians on the other hand are among the most generous in the world, even if we stay on the bottom side of the globe to donate our money. The Optometry profession is a leader in community welfare.

It’s easy to procrastinate and put things off for another day, but for millions of people in the developing world, each day is an enormous struggle. An eye exam and a pair of glasses would literally transform their lives, enabling them to see the chalkboard at school or work and provide for their family.

Join me in helping to change the lives of 300,000 people through the development of 10 vision centres by Saying YEStoday and making a donation today to Optometry Giving Sight.