Another Australia Day, another bout of ambivalence.
I’ve never felt that comfortable around excessive patriotism. Flag-brandishing chest-beaters outright disgust me: oh wow, you were lucky enough to be born here rather than somewhere else. Woop-de-freaking-do, mate. That’s something to feel grateful for, not proud of. Save up your pride for an actual achievement rather than something you had absolutely no control over. Also? If you care about the flag so much, stop dragging it around on the ground. That is seriously disrespectful towards all these ideals you apparently hold so dear.
I’ve also never felt that comfortable about unquestioningly celebrating the date the First Fleet arrived. Given all the atrocities in Australia’s past with regards to Indigenous relations it doesn’t sit right that this day also marks the date that the land started being forcibly taken away from the people who had lived off it for tens of thousands of years. We either need to get our shit together with the reconciliation process or change the date to Federation Day (aka the actual birth date of Australia as a nation in its own right rather than a loose conglomeration of colonies). Sure, it’s on 1st January but that would just mean an extra public holiday on 2nd Jan – and who on earth would complain about that?!
I am grateful that I live in a country as beautiful and free as Australia. I am grateful that we can publicly criticise and discuss the failings of our government and culture without fear of reprisal. I am not so grateful that our current PM is such a tool, but I am grateful that more and more people are getting angry at him, and making that anger felt. I am grateful that we have reasonable welfare systems in place to genuinely give everyone a fair crack at a good life regardless of class or family support. I am grateful that we are taking baby steps towards proper reconciliation with our First Peoples and may even see a treaty in my lifetime. I am grateful that my girls are growing up in a world where their biggest gripes are that I restrict how much they can watch on YouTube and won’t let them eat lollies for breakfast (I know, I’m such a monster!).
So Happy Arrival/Invasion/Survival Day, Australia. I know I can be overly cynical and laconic around such matters, but I do love living in you and having you live in me. There are FAR worse places in the world to call home.
You’re alright, Australia.
(And thanks for turning down the heat in Sydney today! Much appreciated)