Growing up in Australia


Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to grow up in Australia. However, all my children grew up here and are very happy to live here. I ask myself, do people always love the place they grow up in? No, I do not think that is necessarily so. I for one was not happy with the educational opportunities that were open to me in postwar Germany. I was glad to leave Germany behind in 1959. I felt I did owe Germany no loyalty. In those postwar years a lot of Germans longed to live in America, the free country! I thought the next best thing would be to live in Australia.

These days I am glad that we were given the chance to migrate to Australia rather than to America. In Australia we felt straight away freer than in Germany. Peter started in a very low paid job. That meant, we were on an extremely low budget. Still we found life in Australia easy going. It took us only a couple of years to pay off a block of land! Somehow we managed the payments for the land by strictly buying only the most basic things. We spent little on clothes. Home cooked meals were not expensive. About once a week we could even afford to buy take-away fish and chips or a yummy take-away hamburger!

After the land had been paid for, a building society gave us a loan for a small house. We could never have achieved that in Germany! Our two babies were regarded as something precious in Australia. Whereas in Germany people’s attitude was something like: We young people with hardly any prospects for the future should not have any children. The question at the top of their minds was, how on earth could we dare to have children when we had no means to adequately provide for them?!

Over the years we raised four children in Australia. We soon owned our own home. I never had to go to work. Peter always earned sufficient to provide for his family. I chose to stay home with the children. Sure, our children were not spoiled with a lot of the things that todays children take for granted. But there was always a roof over their head, someone to look after them, enough food and clothes as well as the chance for a good education. I reckon Australia was the best place for children to grow up in. University education was free in those days. Even when the parents were on a low income level their children were given good opportunities to better themselves.

We came to Australia in 1959. A lot of things have changed since then. Maybe I feel a bit nostalgic as far as the 60s and 70s are concerned. Sure, a lot of progress has been made since then. Some technical progress has been enormous; e.g. with computers, mobile phones, digital TV etc. However, I reckon the growing gap between rich and poor has not been good. To my mind the difference between poor people and rich people has been growing to an unacceptable level. How can an enormously huge gap in assets and income level be good for society? I wonder whether any reforms are possible and whether the very rich could ever accept a somewhat lower standard of living so that the gap would not be quite as enormous?

I wrote the above about a year ago and came across it today in my files. Somehow it still makes sense to me today. How on earth can the excessive widening of the gap ever be stopped? Is it right for me to worry about it? I live in one of the richest countries in the world and personally I don’t suffer any hardship. Being seventy-seven years of age my life is nearing its end. Is it right for me to worry about what comes after me? Shouldn’t  I just count my blessings? Justice for all and the abolishment of poverty: It’s just a dream, isn’t it? Or maybe, just maybe it might become true one day!