It’s Aus­tralia Day – so en­joy, re­lax

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Dur­ing Aus­tralia Day the av­er­age Aussie will wake up singing the na­tional an­them, unfurl the flag, reach into the wardrobe for the gar­ish cos­tume fea­tur­ing the na­tional colours and pre­pare to march, dance and sing amid a glo­ri­ous na­tion­al­is­tic fan­fare. Or per­haps not! In fact, we sus­pect many Aus­tralians will ca­su­ally ac­knowl­edge the oc­ca­sion and per­haps even at­tend a civic cer­e­mony to pat high achiev­ers on the back, wel­come mi­grants into our bo­som or give a child a lit­tle plas­tic flag to wave.

For oth­ers it might sim­ply be a chance to en­joy a sum­mer pub­lic hol­i­day – an op­por­tu­nity to gather with friends and fam­ily for a stress-free bar­be­cue, din­ner or party.

For me, the la­conic way many of us recog­nise Aus­tralia Day re­flects one of the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ences be­tween Amer­i­cans and us.

Overt pa­tri­o­tism, sim­ply for pa­tri­o­tism’s sake, doesn’t sit well with many of us, yet it doesn’t mean we aren’t pa­tri­otic or don’t have a love for our coun­try and cul­ture.

We will fight and bar­rack as hard as any­one, per­haps even harder when ap­pro­pri­ate and there might even be some who, in a rare mo­ment, de­cide to up­set their mum by get­ting a South­ern Cross tat­too.

Aus­tralia Day is worth cel­e­brat­ing. We’d like to think we have a great coun­try and like any great coun­try we’ve had to and con­tinue to deal with is­sues of jus­tice, right and wrong, growth and de­vel­op­ment, se­cu­rity and crit­i­cally, iden­tity.

We are an evolv­ing hu­man mish­mash where the good and bad that have hap­pened in the past shape the sen­si­bil­i­ties of to­day.

While na­tional cul­ture and how we want it to move for­ward will al­ways be sub­ject of anal­y­sis, we look for­ward to the day when the is­sue of some­one’s race is ban­ished to the ir­rel­e­vance bin.

Re­gard­less of the ar­gu­ments, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter on what date we cel­e­brate Aus­tralia Day, as long as we have one, prefer­ably in sum­mer when we can best ex­ploit what’s great about be­ing Aus­tralian.

Was Aus­tralia in­vaded? Yes, pos­si­bly sev­eral times over thou­sands let alone hun­dreds of years depend­ing on your un­der­stand­ing of the word.

The English ar­rival cer­tainly wasn’t like the Nor­mans storm­ing a Bri­tish beach – per­haps more like find­ing some­where to use as a dump­ing ground for per­ceived hu­man trash.

In truth, it might be that we have such a laid-back at­ti­tude to na­tional pride be­cause, per­haps sub­con­sciously, we know how good we have it when com­pared with many other coun­tries around the globe.

It might well be that the more ca­sual we are about na­tion­al­ism, the more com­fort­able we feel about our lot.

It is good to be Aus­tralian and by hav­ing a right to high lev­els of free­dom and op­por­tu­nity by sim­ply be­ing born or nat­u­ralised in this coun­try is some­thing we cel­e­brate, in many cases without be­ing aware of it, ev­ery day.

• Grampians, Wim­mera and Mallee com­mu­ni­ties will come to­gether across the re­gion to cel­e­brate Aus­tralia Day.

Coun­cils and other or­gan­i­sa­tions have ar­ranged a wide range of events across the re­gion’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

For a list of some of the fes­tiv­i­ties on of­fer, see page 16.

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