Our place in the sun

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

IT’S not up to me, and prob­a­bly just as well, but if I could give Aus­tralia a motto to put on the coat of arms it would be: “Swim be­tween the flags”.

Sim­ple, prac­ti­cal, and so em­blem­atic of the easy­go­ing and re­laxed na­ture of our democ­racy: our na­tional pas­sion, the beach – where ev­ery­one is an equal, hav­ing fun, re­laxed. In a coun­try ob­sessed with land and house prices the most ex­pen­sive stuff is ac­tu­ally sand (or as near to it as you can get).

Other nations should be so lucky to en­joy such a lux­ury where con­cerns of civil strife are so far away, and safety at the sea­side is the sim­ple mes­sage that seems most rel­e­vant some days.

In­stead, nations com­pa­ra­ble to ours – and there aren’t many – have an­thems roiled up about rul­ing the waves, or rockets ex­plod­ing in air, and storm­ing the walls of the Bastille. We cel­e­brate Aus­tralia Day at the grass­roots level, first and fore­most, be­cause that’s where its gen­tle heart is and where it be­longs.

All those lit­tle cer­e­monies in lo­cal parks; a sausage siz­zle or a BBQ in pub­lic places and in mil­lions of pri­vate back­yards. No demon­stra­tions of mil­i­tary fire­power and might rum­bling through the streets.

And there’s Aus­tralian of The Year. If they’re a dud we’ll get over it be­cause we know there’s an­other one next year.

The lucky coun­try got lucky twice. It’s an is­land, a big one. Coun­tries that share bor­ders tend to have re­cur­rent prob­lems. And sec­ond, its mod­ern so­ci­ety is built on strong and wor­thy in­sti­tu­tions, the rule of law and a civic no­tion of fair­ness. Peo­ple have done a lot to pro­tect these very things over a steadily length­en­ing time that is start­ing to add up to some­thing. None of it is to be taken for granted. The gift to us of these at­tributes is that, re­ally, when all is said and done, we don’t have much other to worry about than not get­ting caught in the rip. What a bless­ing.

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