Australia Day, 2014. Early morning at Donnelly River. Wanting to feel proud on our national day, but unable to connect with the stream of beer ads and shallowness that had ushered it in.  Two choices to start the day: wallow in a sense of personal exile, or make a list. The list seemed best.  Anything to add?

 

Things I want to celebrate on our National Day:

  1. That one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world continues to survive here.
  2. That, slowly, we are beginning to honour that culture; those cultures – even, possibly, in our constitution.
  3. That, increasingly, the custodians and descendants of our ancient land reach out their hand in friendship, leadership and strength.
  4. That we have been, continuously, a democracy since 1901 – far longer than most other nations on earth.
  5. That almost every adult is allowed to vote.
  6. That almost no-one thinks of changing government through violence.
  7. That we are free to question and challenge our leaders.
  8. That we are one, but we are many, and from all the lands on earth we come.
  9. That, in half a lifetime, we have moved from a White Australia to an extraordinarily harmonious multicultural nation.
  10. That we continue to take, and accommodate generously, tens of thousands of refugees a year.
  11. That we have, by world standards, good education and health.
  12. That we work, together, to ensure that no Australian dies from hunger, or preventable disease.
  13. That in person, face to face, and sober, we tend to be civil to each other. Very civil.
  14. That we really do have lovely beaches. (Even Melbourne).
  15. The colours – that eucalypt green; that red pindan and ochre; that endless, endless blue.
  16. That we invented Australian Rules Football.
  17. That we value fun.
  18. That we value mates.
  19. That we do good fireworks.

 

Things I don’t want to celebrate on our National Day

  1. That we’re full.
  2. That we get really drunk.
  3. That we’re the best.

 

Things I want to remember, and commit to repairing, on our National Day.

  1. That we took the land without asking, and without treaty.
  2. That many died, or were broken, through that taking.
  3. That much of our land was developed through slavery and forced labour.
  4. That only a tiny minority of us know the ancient creation stories, or even a word of the language for the place we live; for our local area.
  5. That we are unbearably cruel to many who seek refuge.
  6. That we are damaging the planet at a higher per-capita rate than any other nation.
  7. That while ‘sporting elite’ is generally a term of praise, ‘intellectual elite’ is too often a term of abuse.
  8. That we produced Rupert Murdoch.
  9. That personal tax cuts seem to garner more votes than serving the common good.
  10. That increasingly we put work before family and friends and the rich connected experience of being human together.
  11. That our leaders scoff at climate science, and put greed ahead of the needs of future generations.
  12. That our democracy is under threat from slogans, and calls to our demons of self-interest and greed and fear, rather than our angels of contribution and generosity and hope.

 

A few conversations I’d love to see on our National Day.

  1. What do we deeply value, as Australians, and as a Nation? What are these ‘Australian Values’ that we want others to adopt?
  2. With all our assets and strengths, what contributions can we, as Australians and as a Nation, make to our planet? How can we serve humanity, present and future?
  3. Given that neither human settlement (50,000 odd years ago), nor our Nation (January 1st, 1901) began on January 26th, what might be a better day to celebrate and commemorate this place that we so love to call home; to call Australia?