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Friday, October 9, 2009

Didgeridoo's and Grass

We went for a trip to the Kakadu national park last week for the long weekend caused by labour day which is the first of October in Australia. It was quite interesting. Somewhat disturbingly it was the first time since arriving in this country I got to talk to Aboriginals.

We got to a place for lunch and it was really nice and warm and they also had a bar so I ordered a beer. There were a couple of Aboriginals sitting outside also enjoying some and we got to talking.

Europe? One of them said his grand father had travelled in Europe. He had met Paul McCartney and painted his jacket. He was an artist. He'd also been to the Netherlands yes. And Germany. Another guy turned out to be a mechanic and had been in that line of work for 62 years. He looked like he could be anywhere between 50 and 90.

They were living in a town a little down the road, about three hours drive. But the bar there would only open at 5:30, so they decided to come here to drink some. And not to get aggressive one of them added.

Now it was warm and sunny and my beer tasted pretty good. But you have to be pretty thirsty to drive three hours to be able to get a beer for lunch.

Aboriginals are not doing well on any measure in Australia. There twice as likely to be a victim of a crime and 11 times more likely to end up in prison. Life expectancy is 11 years less than other Australians. Alcoholism and the associated aggression and abuse are rife to the point where authorities limit how much, when and where you can buy alcohol (only light beer for take away was a rule somewhere else).

Making alcohol harder to get has let some people driven to petrol sniffing, which in turn let authorities to push for a low-aromatic petrol that doesn't work for sniffing. And so it goes.

Alcohol and poor people has been a problem as old as, well, alcohol or at least cheap alcohol. Work is curse of the drinking class, as Oscar Wilde would have it. They only way to really solve it is to solve the underlying poverty and other social ills. Pushing people away from beer to petrol sniffing and when that no longer is available to glue sniffing is hardly a road to sanity.

So here's my proposal: Marijuana. Medically much healthier than alcohol, petrol or glue and the associated high is nice and mellow. Tribal law is based on the dreaming so a little weed should fit in. And a string of aboriginal settlements with reggae and didgeridoo sounds would certainly be a great tourist attraction.
 
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