Boy, is this one going to be a ramble, I can just tell! 🙂 But I thought, seeing as Australia Day is upon us, I might give it a go. I was watching the ABC News 24 channel the other day (cultured amn’t I! 🙂 ) and there was a guy on talking about what it means to be Australian. Basically what he was saying was that what we claim as ‘Australian’ is simply just part of being a decent human being. And to be honest it really struck a chord with me. The floods on the east coast have brought out a really great response from people but I have to admit that I’m not comfortable with some of the commentary that has been going with it. Just about every official who has ended up in front of a camera has talked about how ‘Australian’ the response is and there was even one guy who said that no other country in the world would respond like we have. Honestly, I just don’t get it. Well, I do to some extent, tribalism is probably something in our genes and I think it is natural to want to belong to something. But I’d have thought that tribalism like this was more appropriate when there was an enemy to be dealt with. Or maybe that is the point, the floods are an enemy and the constant references to how ‘Australian’ the response is serves to mobilise and motivate people against it.
I’m not totally sure why I’m uncomfortable with it actually. There are times I’m proud to be Australian but there are times I’m not proud to be Australian. I think Australia is a pretty damn good place to live but there are a lot of other great countries in the world. I guess I just don’t feel I need to constantly express my pride. And I guess what worries me is that when we talk about how ‘Australian’ something is we then open ourselves up for the use of ‘un-Australian’, which seems to be used any time someone has done something that someone else hasn’t liked. To be honest they both just seem to be lazy, ill-defined terms. And they seem exclusionary as well…if something is un-Australian then it is something someone else would do…like someone living in Australia who isn’t Australian.
Am I making any sense at all? I mean, why isn’t what the people who have pitched in the flood have done just ‘great’, or ‘amazing’? Why does it have to be ‘Australian’? And why isn’t something ‘un-Australian’ just ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ or whatever?
I guess I’m just worried that love for your country can turn into jingoism (look it up 😛 )…and to me that is very definitely ‘un-Australian’! 🙂