Here is an extract from my book, MELAND published in 2013. It not only explains changes to our western culture, but also the trends in politics. Look at the cover (below). It says it all. Who do you think is waving the ME flag now?
The Me-Me mindset swamped mainstream culture when political parties abandoned trying to build a better society in favour of ‘building a better you’. In his article, ‘Blahspeak’ in the London Review of Books , Stefan Collini commented, ‘Politicians of all parties are committed to giving the aspirational society more of what it is thought to aspire to’. Today, just over 50 years after JFK’s Ask-Not-What-Your-Country-Can-Do-For-You 1961 inaugural address, politicians seduce voters with the What-We-(if-elected)-Will-Do-for-You! Promises. Moreover, voters expect fiscal lerv to be spread their way with every election, every budget, every bailout, and every cutback.
Why should I care if some in our culture choose to believe they are ‘the most significant Pole Star in their own universe’? I care because their egocentric ways are having a significant impact on me and mine, you and yours and on our culture. The first 12-year-old to turn up at a Grade 6 Graduation wearing make up, a designer frock and professionally-styled hair in a chauffeur-driven stretch limo with snakeskin seat covers puts pressure on all parents of Grade 6 students. At first we are shocked by the crass ostentation of it all and then we get used to it. This is Ostentation Creep and I strongly object to our culture turning into a mindless Look-at-Me Fest. I more-than strongly object to the Hollywoodification of our culture and the Red Carpet Strutting Celebration of Mediocrity (Grade 6 students don’t even have to know their times tables to graduate):
Now I shout it from the highest hill,
I am truly over this ego overkill!!
(These lines could be sung to the tune of Secret Love performed by Doris Day in Calamity Jane, 1954.)
The problem with MeLanders is there is no WE in their vocabulary. No country. No community. No neighbourhood. Parents, who provide stretch limos for their 12-year-olds aren’t thinking about other–perhaps, less fortunate–parents of students at the school whose income can’t stretch to limos. MeLanders don’t think about anyone else. They don’t acknowledge anyone sitting beside them in a theatre or near them in a restaurant. They park on pedestrian crossings; they talk on their mobile phones doing one-handed U-turns from kerbside parking spaces; they don’t even believe anyone has the right to drive a car at the speed limit in front of them in traffic; they tailgate the car ahead. ‘Get outa my way! I’m in a hurry.’
The concept of co-operative living (or driving) has hardly been embraced in the West. I could tut-tut and point the finger-of-scorn at our contempt for the extended family, the high divorce rates and the increasing number of us choosing to live alone, but co-operative living barely exists within the family itself these days. Spread around the house in their own rooms with their own TVs and computers and eating meals at different times, family members lead separate parallel lives, each isolated in their own Me-World.
Read more here. Yeah! Yeah! It’s Amazon. Authors are funny like that.
The streets we walk, the food we eat, the people we know and lives we lead become so familiar, so assumed, we hardly notice them at all. So I have travelled halfway across the world at great cost and inconvenience to bring home something vital for a writer namely a yardstick to measure our own culture.
I’m in Italy oohing and ahing over an extraordinary Italian icon, a thing of such beauty it wraps you in total sensory bliss. It is a tomato.
There are lots of tomatoes in Italy and each one of them, it seems, is a culinary temptress. This red beauty isn’t the supermodel of tomland, all fiddled with, half-starved and fake. It is an earthy, fleshy, full-bodied and ripe tomato and it floods my mind with memories of tomatoes from my childhood. The taste is warm, rich and sweet. Its smell recalls my mother shredding the lettuce and whipping up some mayonnaise from, of all things, sweetened condensed milk, vinegar and mustard. But the women’s mag mayo couldn’t kill the taste of the tomatoes. They were real tomatoes.
Read Canberra Times article here: Pomodori by Kerry Cue
Photo source: josiesjuice blog