Aussies can’t help America in ‘gruesome’ groundhog day
WALKING in the winter sunshine of a perfect Gold Coast day, with the ocean on one side and the Burleigh BBQ competition on the other - it seemed like the perfect mix of American and Australian culture.
The stunning view of our seaside city combined with the flavour and aroma of some low-and-slow cooked meat - it was a sensory delight.
But coming just hours after the news of yet another mass shooting in the States, this time in my home state of Texas, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.
Another day, another massacre in America. In fact, later that afternoon came news of yet another shooting, in Ohio.
Where do you start? Where does it end?
It's a gruesome groundhog day. There is nothing new that could ever be said to change the minds of those who prize the right to bear arms. As former NRA president and actor Charlton Heston once said: "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."
It doesn't matter that within a day of the Christchurch massacre that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed gun laws would change - and then made good on that promise.
It doesn't matter how many times we tell Americans how effective our own gun laws have been since our own mass shooting tragedy in Port Arthur (not perfect, but overwhelmingly, inarguably effective).
The sad fact is that America will never enforce effective gun control. They just won't. I honestly believe there would be a civil war if anyone really tried.
I grew up in Texas. I grew up knowing the damage that guns could do. A neighbour was shot and killed by his brother, another neighbour was shot in the mall parking lot, my brother and sister (who went to the same high school as the El Paso shooter) attended a university infamous for a campus shooting from a clock tower way back in 1966. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, but nobody wants to read it.
So, as Australians, we need to step away.
There is no denying that America and Australia share a deep bond. In fact, there are few experiences more delightful than being an Aussie in America - they love us. And we love them.
But we need to create some distance before we adopt some of their bad habits.
No, we're not going to follow in their footsteps and celebrate guns (despite One Nation's best efforts). But we certainly have been indulging in some of their oppositional political behaviour, with a nasty development of "us" and "them" occurring on our own home soil.
It's that very attitude that many say lead to the shooting in Texas, with the 21-year-old white gunman believed to have posted an online document calling the attack a response to "the Hispanic invasion of Texas".
After years of President Trump's hyperbole about "building a wall and making Mexico pay", after countless criticisms of "illegals" taking jobs and causing crimes, it's not ridiculous to draw a line between political talk and horrific civilian action.
In fact, Trump has already deleted all of his tweets which referred to immigrants as "invaders", while decrying that "hate has no place" in America. But actions speak louder than words.
And the truth is that you reap what you sow.
So what are we sowing?
Already we created a mass shooter, who unleashed his hate on Christchurch - a terrorist act allegedly celebrated by the El Paso shooter.
This is the country of mateship and a fair go, and I firmly believe that person was the exception to the rule. We are better than that.
I'll always love both Australia and America. The people, the places … the food.
But sometimes you just have to admit there is a problem that cannot - or will not - be solved.
It breaks my heart that one of my countries is in such crisis. Even worse, I just don't think we can help them.
But we can help ourselves.