Dear Sydney, it’s time to stop living with your mother
As published by the Sydney Morning Herald…
I’ve returned to you after several years abroad, and have some confessions.
I met many others in my travels. I danced the salsa with Cartagena in Colombia. Ate the most delicious watermelon with Urumqi in China. Watched the Atlantic pummel against the old fort walls with Essaouira in Morocco. And drank red wine from ancient wooden cups with Tbilisi in Georgia.
I fell in love in almost every country I went, but deep down I knew I would always return to you. We’ve been together again now for many months. I hoped the magic would return. It hasn’t. Whilst making new friends with cities across the world, I learnt things. I grew through experiences. I learnt life skills to survive independently. Without anyone telling me how to live my life. Unimaginable freedom. But then there’s you.
You’re still living with your mother. You’re 227 years old now, Sydney. It’s embarrassing. I don’t know what you did Sydney, but how can an adult continue his relationship with a city that has this 1.30am bedtime? Perhaps I’ll excuse you living with your mum – property prices after all have become outrageous. But the problem with your bed time is a deal breaker. What happened to your voice, Sydney? Your mother is there to nurture you, not to rule and destroy you.
She tells me the problem is late-night violence on your streets. I don’t like to get involved with family politics, but I feel someone needs to speak up. Rather than introducing your curfew, why did she not improve the police presence on your streets, or have the initiative to treat the issue at its roots?
Is she saying that because of late-night violence where a few people are tragically killed each year, we have had too much freedom? In cities across the world, people die fighting FOR their civil liberties. Yet with you – we continually introduce new laws and regulations that repress the personal freedoms that make this country so blessed.
The police now boast that the lockout laws are a success because assaults on the streets are down 40 per cent. This is akin to banning driving on the road after dark and celebrating a reduction in the night time road toll. Meanwhile businesses are closing down, and alcohol fuelled domestic violence continues.
I’m unsure about you Sydney, but I like the ability to make my own choices. I don’t want someone telling me what to do, and when to do it. We are no longer children.
Perhaps I was spoilt not needing to worry about any curfews as I discovered the enchanting ruin bars with Budapest in Hungary, not needing to fear being fined by a policeman as I drank green wine on the polished stone footpaths with Lisbon in romantic Portugal, and with the freedom to savour the local flavours as I wandered the tapas bars for late night dinners with Granada in Spain.
But it has given me perspective. We need to permit ourselves freedoms to encourage a sense of belonging in this community, to allow our personality to develop naturally. Australia will not advance its cultural identity in a society under the tight control of those who feel they know what’s best for us.
Risks are a part of life, and for many – what makes life exciting. We must stop mitigating risks through authoritarian decision making. How far do we keep pushing the line? Will this obsession with safety continue until we are all locked up in cages for our own protection?
We’re heading in the wrong direction. Sydney, I beg for you to voice your opinion, to regain your independence and sense of excitement, because at night – your streets have become soulless.
This article was first published by the S.M.H on 28th May 2015