The Kangaroo of the Pyramids

Yesterday was Remembrance day.

It was about World War 1, where we threw ourselves into a meat grinder for no good reason. I say we, I wasn’t there. But it’s part of the national character in how we look at that war and what we talk about as pertains to it. It’s a war in which we were drafted by an empire upon which we were relying (because we couldn’t live here to the standards we assumed without their support), and which was exploiting us, into a military engagement with a military force they didn’t care about, in order to relieve pressure on another military so they could redouble efforts on another military in order to aid the empire. It’s an interesting metaphor about the interconnectedness of all things, a rube goldberg machine of pressure systems and it’s very interesting as long as you forget this was all being done by kings of empires and the designs were drawn in barrels of blood.

Anyway, I don’t think about World War I much. But I think about it more ever since I saw this picture.

This is a shot of soldiers in a camp where they were being trained and quartered before they were transported to Gallipolli to fight the Turks. And look, there is nothing remarkable about humans being near the Pyramids. The Pyramids have watched humans for longer than they were Pyramids — since they were works in progress, being made by people who were doing a job, even if it was at the behest of someone who could afford to pay them to do something so vast.

But there is something remarkable about a kangaroo being present before the pyramids. That kangaroo handles a world different to the Egyptian desert. If you dig down in the desert, you’re probably not going to find cool clay like the kangaroo uses to cool their bodies. If you go bounding off in another direction to look for grass, you probably won’t find it, since you’re in the middle of a great big city.

This picture messes me up because how would you explain a kangaroo to the pyramids and how would you explain the pyramids to the kangaroo? We are blessed by knowing that they don’t need to know what they’re seeing. They don’t need to know the monuments of two empires rest against one another in this position, the mightiest kings of an ancient civilisation that loom over, eyelessly watching the moving bodies of breathing cargo brought from Australia to Turkey to kill, fight, and die, for no good reason.

Recently, there’s been some fuss from Americans about movement of US boats in our area, which has led to some truly galling things being said by Americans, confused and horrified as to what they’re doing, why they’re spending resources over here. And that’s a good reminder that empires are never your friend. It doesn’t matter that we got involved in World War 1 because Britain wanted us, or World War 2 because Britain and then America wanted us, or Korea and Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq and Afghanistan and Iraq because America, again, wanted us there. It doesn’t matter. They don’t realise we have been there, we have worked with them, we have done our best and laid down our lives for their goals just in the name of being Good Allies.

Our loyalty to the Empires is pick-me nonsense, and what we always wind up out of it is another notch of cultural trauma and a reminder that whatever nobility we shape and extract from answering these calls, these calls are almost always at the behest of Empire.

As good a cause as killing Nazis is, there’s no getting around the fact that Australia was a part of the empire being turned to the task of maintaining that empire. These doleful wars were about the reallocation of dead bodies in the name of ensuring that the Queen of England ultimately had to give up as few pies as possible.

And the Pyramids watch us.

And they do not care.

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