So, today it is
day and I am extremely thankful to be living in a country of such beauty and diversity; Not just it’s landscape but in it’s people as well. Australia
I think that Australians are fiercely proud of this wonderful country. Traditionally though, it has been a deep seated pride, found running under the surface, filling hearts and minds with the belief, motivation and courage to accomplish great things in many fields such as wartime, sporting, medical, and scientific, just to name a few. It has never really been the ‘shout it from the rooftops and emblazon every surface with the flag’ kind of pride........
I have traveled to the
on several occasions, once a mere 2-weeks post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On each visit I was stunned and touched by the level of pride and patriotism shown in that country. The American flag, proudly flying from flagpoles and rooftops seemed to bring the people together, giving them a common purpose, sense of belonging, community and safety. USA
I was also in the
suburb of Cronulla, In January 2006, just after the ‘race riots’ of December 2005. Walking around the streets in the predominantly white Angelo Saxon suburb, our family was greeted with the site of an Australian flag hanging from almost every balcony, window or veranda. Many cars drove the streets with their flags cracking in the breeze, often honking and hollering! This should have made me feel proud. However it actually made me feel a little uneasy….The flags, and the prevailing feelings and attitude at the time seemed to represent more than nationalism, pride and patriotism. They seemed to represent something defensive, like an animal making its territory, or a call to arms. Sydney
Of course I think that Australian themed decorations for
Australia day parties and children is a fabulous and fun way to celebrate day. But, now, when I see cars driving around with those flags…again cracking in the breeze. I can’t help wondering what their motives are. If it is for patriotism, fun and celebration, then great!.....but is there something more? Australia
Interestingly, I read a recent article which suggested a higher percentage of drivers of cars that displayed the Australian flag, support the white
policy (as opposed to the percentage of drivers with no flags on their cars, that supported the White Australia policy). I wouldn't go as far as concluding that this research means that drivers of cars displaying flags are racist, but it is interesting nonetheless. Australia
Growing up in Country NSW, I have heard family members and their friends vocally ‘discussing’ such issues as the white
policy, immigration, refugees and boat people. I decline to participate in these discussions as some of the extreme viewpoints only end up making me feel sad and discouraged. The protagonists know that I agree to disagree. Australia
However, to feel positive and hopeful about the future of this great country, I only need to look at my children. I believe that they have been brought up in a family and school community mostly free of racial stereotypes. My daughters can sing the Australian National Anthem in an Aboriginal language, they are learning to speak conversational Indonesian, They have learnt about festivals, celebrations and traditions from other cultures including there own. All theses things have taught them the value and importance of cultures that are not there own.
.My children do not seem to categories people based on the color of their skin. In fact, they were curious about a conversation that was occurring over dinner about the refugee boat sinking in rough seas at
Christmas island causing much loss of life. When I explained to them the story, they showed compassion and sadness rather than fear and hostility.
My children also love the Australian flag and they love to fly it for
I know it is not just my children that have been bought up to think like this….this is why I celebrate
day, with the Australian flag. Australia
My motive for celebrating with the Australian flag is for the flag tosymbolizes hope. Hope for the acceptance of diversity. Hope for compassion, empathy and hope for the future.
For me, my feelings about Australia day are described beautifully in the song by the members of the Australian band the Seekers, that many, many children have learnt at school.
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and speak with one voice
I'm thankful to be living in such a beautiful and diverse country and I'm linking up with Kate from Kate Says Stuff. Pop on over and see what others are thankful for this Australia day!