C’mon Aussie C’mon

(This post is repeated from the Bobby Dazzler Newsletter #55, which is about to be sent out. If you’d like to receive the Newsletter – which complements this blog – by email every two months or so, please let me know at brennan@bba.com.au . )

I’m writing this just a few days before Australia Day, January 26th.

Five years ago, way back in January, 2008 (Newsletter #27 – see BDN27), I wrote about my discomfort at Australia Day commemorating the arrival of the First Fleet from England in 1788, an event which many indigenous Australians refer to as “Invasion Day”, and regard it as the beginning of a very dark and difficult period in their history. I still feel that way, but would like this time to focus on a different aspect of the occasion.

The picture below was taken in Pilliga, a village in northern New South Wales best known for the nearby Pilliga Scrub, an area of some 3000 square kms of semi-arid woodlands. When I first saw this modest shed with the Aussie flag nailed up outside the door, I immediately thought what a nicely understated expression of Aussie-ness it was.

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When Australia Day comes around, we’re usually admonished to be “proud of our great nation” or something similar. I remember my late mother-in-law responding to someone who said to her, “You must be very proud of your three daughters.”

“No” she said, “I’m not proud. I’m grateful.”

And when you come to think about it, being told you’re proud is not usually a compliment. My dictionary says that “proud” means “feeling satisfaction over something conceived as highly honourable or creditable to oneself.” Indeed, pride is included in the list of the seven deadly sins. And as we all know, it “cometh before a fall”.

An expression not often heard these days is “proud flesh”, meaning tissue projecting up above the surrounding skin, as with healing wounds, etc. This brings out the original meaning of “proud” as “standing up above, being superior to”.

So no, I don’t feel proud about being an Australian. I don’t want to claim that we’re any better than any other nation. But I’m very glad to be an Australian and I do feel very grateful for some of the things we are able to enjoy. I was given a T-shirt which says on the front “I’m blessed”, and I wear it with pride thankfulness.

National days can give encouragement to jingoistic, chest-thumping, flag-worshipping excesses. Let’s just be grateful for the good things we’ve got, and resolve to do our bit to make our part of the world a better place.

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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6 Responses to C’mon Aussie C’mon

  1. Kev says:

    I’m with you ! GRATITUDE is a wonderful virtue….

  2. Lizzie says:

    How refreshing to read about your approach to Australia Day’ a helpful antidote to the cringeing reactions I have had over many years to increasing nationalism. Thanks to you and to your mother-in-law for planting gratitude in place of pride in our Aussie soil.

  3. Rev.Dr Susan Emeleus says:

    I agree with everyone about gratitude. That mother in law knew a thing or two.I feel blessed too. Sue

  4. dazzlerplus says:

    Raylene, who lives in the Outback, writes:

    I totally concur with your thoughts. The Aboriginal Community deserve to be shown far better recognition and respect as the first Australians – first by many thousands of years!

    I believe Australia Day should be ANZAC Day. That is really the day when people actually feel. It’s an intangible but very deep and definite sense of being an Australian. In history it is when Australia grew up.

    I don’t think it should have a name change. Just leave it as ANZAC Day. That means so much.

    I would love to see the Union Jack removed from the flag and a flowering wattle added to represent the missing green and gold.

    And I also loath the National Anthem. I have always loved Waltzing Matilda and don’t give a hoot that it is about a rascal. A good quality Australian is a bit of a rascal – it’s part of our makeup to be a larrikin.

    Aside from that, who doesn’t always sing Waltzing Matilda at events when it’s performed? Why is this? Good question… because everybody loves and accepts it as our song anywhere in the world.

  5. stephglaser says:

    When I lived in Australia for a year with my husband and two kids, I loved this attitude about not being better than anyone else. As an American, I cringe when I see my fellow Americans insisting “We’re number 1!” In fact, I remember our first Australia Day and we got all geared up in Australian T-shirts, hats and waved flags while we watched a pretty understated parade in Adelaide. I think we were more dressed up than anyone else because we were conditioned this way as Americans. The cool thing about the parade was that it was for new citizens and they waved the Australian flag as well as that of their own country’s. Very cool.

    Also, it was so important to learn the perspective of indigenous Australians as you have pointed out. I appreciated that side of the story as well and understand the discomfort of many Australians with Australia Day. Thanks for this post and thanks for stopping by Travel Oops! Cheers.

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Thanks for that, Steph! Of course, there are some Australians who would want to insist (seriously) that we’re number one. But our tendencies to use what can seem to outsiders to be an insult (“C’mon you Aussie bastards!”) or to knock down the “tall poppies” sometimes saves the day, and introduces a bit of humour into what can otherwise become too hand-on-heart serious. I hope we never become hand-on-heart people about our country. After all, a lot of us are descended from convicts.

      There are still lots of Aussie who’d like to have “Waltzing Matilda” as our national anthem — “Advance Australia Fair” can sometimes seem just a bit too pompous.

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