A difference of cultures in crisis

Helping a community in crisis

 Hope Lives Here Video from the Courier Mail, featuring another former Aussie Expat, Jodie.

On the surface, Australia and America seem to be very similar. It’s only when you really spend some time in each place, you start to see some of the differences. Eventually, you get used to them. Neither culture is right or wrong, they’re just different.

This week, watching the flood footage coming through from Australia, I am reminded of some of those differences, and some of the similarites.

People always tell me, “Texas is just like Australia, right?” and I ask, “What part?” However, when it comes to the spirit of the people, Texans really are like Australians. Much more so than other parts of the US. Maybe that’s why I like it so much here.

When Hurricane Katrina and then Rita wiped New Orleans off the map, I couldn’t understand why they didn’t rebuild. Why even now, most parts are still uninhabitable. Mississippi and Alabama were equally devastated by the hurricanes. In many areas, even more so. They were however primarily middle class towns and people there, much like the people in Australia, and got on with it and rebuilt. Meanwhile, Texas offered as much assistance to it’s neighbours in Louisiana as possible. Texas took in thousands of “refugees”; many of whom have never left. The abandoned mall near my house was turned into a shelter. (It’s now the Rackspace building) Many businesses along that street closed down because of all the theft after the “refugees” arrived. When your local Target closes because of that reason, it’s pretty dramatic.

Years later, they still do documentaries on New Orleans. How it’s still a mess. How the Govt failed them, etc. I still get people begging me for money, saying they are “Katrina Victims”. Of course, nobody does any documentaries showing the people in Alabama and Mississippi and how they’ve managed just fine.

Then I see the footage from Floods in Australia. I see neighbours, friends, strangers, people from all walks of life, lending each other a hand. They’re out cleaning up the mess, the next day. They’re helping people they don’t know. They’re cleaning the dirt and mud before it turns to toxic mold. They’re getting the stuff out on the streets, and I’m sure the govt will do a great job cleaning up those streets.

If only we could teach our cousins in Louisiana about Mateship. Because that’s what it really is. That’s what most Aussie Expats miss the most. (Besides Vegemite and Bundy Rum) It’s the ability to turn to turn to a mate and have them lend you a hand, without you having to ask.

Australia and America were founded differently. America was pioneered on a loner spirit. People rushed out and grabbed land. They had to make do by themselves. Aussie’s on the other hand worked together  to get through the hard times. That legacy has carried on through the generations.  While Americans like those at the top, those that single themselves out and make something of themselves, Aussie’s still have tall poppy syndrome and will take the “Little Aussie Battler” over the big entrepreneur anyday. Both have their plusses and minuses. If you’re looking to really make something of yourself, you’re probably better off in the US. If you’re in a flood, you’re better off in Oz…

Now many States in the US are not like Louisiana. New Orleans has a very large poor population. Many people live on welfare. They live in Section 8 housing. (Like Housing Commission)They use food stamps. They have entitlement problems. They live generation to generation on welfare and don’t look for a way out. When the Hurricane happened, they didn’t bother to get out. They expected someone else to move them. Many people blame George W. Bush for Katrina. Actually, legally he couldn’t do anything until the Governor of Louisiana asked for help. The Govenor didn’t. Eventually, GWB stepped in and superseeced that ruling and helped out. That whole thing was a mess. Then, when people did get evacuated, there was many horror stories of how people were acting. A group of Australian tourists had to be escorted out under the care of the National Guard because of threats of sexual assault against them in the dome. Red Cross workers were treated badly. “Refugees” thought they were in a hotel, and the Red Cross workers were their maids. Looters were everywhere.  When people got their $2000 cards to get food and clothing, there were reports of people using them to buy Louis Vuitton handbags or getting lap dances at strip clubs… When people were provided trailers to live in, they sued the Govt because the trailers were “toxic”.

Everything about Katrina victims showed the absolute worst of American society.  The victim mentality, the entitlement issues, the bad management.

Hopefully, with the Floods in Australia, we will continue to see the Best of people in Australia. The banding together to help each other out. The mateship. The cleanup. The massive amounts of donations. The way people just get along with it and make it better instead of sitting around waiting for someone else to do it for them.

It’s in those moments that I’m so proud to be an Australian. I wish I could be over there with my gumboots on, broom in hand, helping you clean up.

I hope that next time something big happens over here, I’ll be able to spread a little of the Aussie spirit around, and make it better, the way we would in Oz.

If you can’t be there to help out a mate with the floods in Queensland, NSW and now Victoria, help out with a cash donation instead.



Donate to the Flood Relief Appeal

How to help those affected by the flooding in Australia

Donate Online 

With the flooding still to reach it’s peak in Brisbane and now more flooding forecast for NSW, many people are wondering how they can help out those who need it.

Australians are a generous lot. There are stories of people helping strangers, others taking in animals, people just being good people. When someone needs help, an Aussie will always be there to lend a hand. Whether it’s their mate, their neighbour or a stranger in a land far, far away.

Australians have raised billions of dollars over the years for people devasted by natural or man made disasters in other countries. Whether they are sending firemen to help in the California wildfires, sending people to help in the aftermath of a tsunami, or sending food and money to places like Africa or Haiti. Australians will always step up and lend a hand.

Now, in Australia’s time of need, will other countries help?  Unfortunately, Australia, being “the lucky country” is at the top of the food chain. Those at the top help those less fortunate. Will those other countries return the favour and help Australians now that they’re down on their luck?

Those within Australia raised over $30 million dollars during the televised relief appeal. That’s a huge amount, but it’s not going to be anywhere near enough. The US said it offered its sympathies and offered to help. I wonder if they actually will? The US military is well trained in natural disasters and could probably spare some helicopters and troops to help with the search and rescue effort. Some MRE’s would probably help too.

The British have asked Aussie’s to back them up for a couple hundred years. Here’s hoping since the Queen is still on our money, she’ll offer some cash to Australia.

I’m sure there’s some countries in Europe we’ve helped at some point. Now is the time to return the favour. Asia, same goes for you.

Now is the time to pay it forward. Please give something to help out your fellow man. We can’t all afford to donate thousands of dollars. But if everyone donated even $1, imagine how much money could be raised. Please don’t not donate because you think your small contribution won’t make a difference. It will. Every dollar counts.

You can donate online at http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html