Quilly's comment yesterday "Well, I'm very proud of ya'll. It's a hard thing to emigrate when you have a high paying job to go to, it's a whole nother thing when you're going to a new place to hard scrabble." brought me back to one of my oldest politically incorrect assertions: All humans are either settlers (emigrants) or the descendents of the same - or we'd be very crowded back in some little marshy valley back in Africa. That's what we as a species do (there are many other species who are the same -- many of whom are just as much of PITA as humans, if slightly less able to apply their minds to it). I'm not going to get into a whole philosophical debate about the rights and wrongs of it, because there are both, and I wrote a whole book on the subject already (Slow Train to Arcturus) -- just to say that having done this, I have a new-found understanding and respect for the settlers in strange lands, who moved from certainties to the unknown with - often - nothing more than a hatful of hope. Yep, they messed up at times. We humans do. We are unique in that we can recognise that we have done so, and none of us are untainted by it (while admitting this is not fashionable either, I hold it true).
The settlers also paid a high price at times, and it took all the courage and hard work they could muster just to survive too. And it surely wasn't all fun or exploiting anyone. It was just what you did, and it is strange to us now, because our world has changed. For a simple example of things still in living memory we can't imagine doing now... I read earlier today about a rural Australian life back in the 'good old days'- when bedsheets were still turned - cut in half when the middle got thin - and had seam down the middle to make them last a year or two longer, and soap was made with lye and sheep fat. Yes, they had enough to eat, and space to grow in. But not shoes... kids would run a rabbit trap-line for pocket money... Life has got easier as well as more complex.
"And some of them knew fortune, and some of them knew fame, but more of them knew hardship and died upon the plain." (Christie Moore - City of Chicago)
Yep, it's still hard scrabble for us, but it was easier than for my forefathers. There is communication and generally the earlier settlers here have been friendly :-).
If you'd like to criticise settlers or emigrants -- especially those who do it the hard way -- no benefits, no scrounging, no security, no family or friends to turn to, no well-paying secure job... why don't you try it? I think it's a fairly tough natural selection process.
I am deeply grateful to Australia for being a place that will let me in to scrabble, and to Australians for having us here, giving us what I felt South Africa wasn't and helping us along with settling in... Because I don't know if we'd have coped without that.
It's a fine country with some very fine people.
I liked it here from the start.
I am beginning to love it.