Haters won’t be satisfied
Another year, another attempt by the phony virtuous to make Australia Day the scapegoat for indigenous ills
The controversy and increasing busyness of Australia Day, with its photo opportunities for politicians and protests for virtue-signalling apologists, has obscured every good citizen’s key duty on this, our only mass day of civil celebration, which is to do as little as possible.
The day itself is perfectly placed for such inactivity.
The relatives have left after the annual Christmas reunion.
The Test series, which needs to be followed at least casually if one is to participate in half the conversations in the nation during December and early January, is over, and has been replaced by the Big Bash and one-day series, which can, for the moment, be safely ignored without compromising one’s patriotism.
Likewise, the forced activity of backyard cricket has been abandoned, the bat and ball returned to the cupboard in the garage for another year.
The kids have not yet returned to school or university.
The shock of the early hot days of summer has given way to a languid, familiar affection for hot mornings and balmy nights, just as the skin of even the most sun-shy person has acquired an attractive tanned glow.
Most of those who have returned to work have done so without fully shaking off the torpor of the season.
Australia Day, for most of us, is the last chance to embrace this national period of glorious downtime before the new working year begins.
The date, of course, commemorates the raising of the flag by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788, which was delayed by a few days while he waited at Botany Bay for the slower ships in the fleet to arrive, then worked out that a more suitable place on which to found what would become the most prosperous, most free penal colony in history would be the spectacular natural harbour a few miles north, later to be called Sydney Harbour.
These few historical accidents conspired to push the date that marks the end of our holiday season out to the end of January, and for this we should all be eternally grateful.
Can you imagine the confusion it would cause if Phillip had raised the flag on, say, January 4, forcing us to celebrate our national day before the Sydney Test has even begun and some people are still scooping empties from the pool after the New Year’s Eve party?
It would be conspicuously inappropriate, not to mention too hectic.
Had Phillip raised the flag two weeks earlier, I suspect most of us would by now have abandoned it and perhaps settled on Anzac Day as a better, albeit more solemn, day for collective contemplation.
Unlike the politicians and protesters who compete to mark the day as ostentatiously as possible, the civic duty of ordinary citizens is to celebrate Australia Day with friends, occasionally pausing while turning the snags or taking another stubby from the Esky to appreciate our good fortune.
Thanks to Phillip’s exquisite timing, Australia Day also gives us the opportunity to idly reflect on the challenges of the year ahead.
Writers and philosophers have for centuries espoused the productive insights achieved when the ephemeral stresses of life are stripped away.
Australia Day could not be more perfectly timed for this.
It’s not just those taking an annual break from the burdens of work who can use the day to quietly contemplate.
Those whose primary contribution to society is in harping on about “white privilege” and colonialism might also care to pause and reflect.
Would changing the date of Australia Day or renaming it “Invasion Day” really achieve your objectives? Is there any direct causal relationship between the commemoration and celebration of January 26 and the fact that the descendants of our continent’s original inhabitants are not enjoying the prosperity they surely deserve?
If you answered yes, then perhaps you should take another week off before returning to the barricades of the culture wars.
Better still, take the whole year off. Go on, you’ve earned it!
But if you are beginning to realise that the argument over indigenous disadvantage has become an unedifying contest to out-woke the wokest, then let 2019 be the year you focus instead on real, positive change.
Yes, the arrival of a flotilla of British rejects in 1788 altered the lives of this continent’s original inhabitants forever.
But those changes are what makes your life the envy of the world.
We owe it to our indigenous people to recognise and honour their culture, and appreciate the qualities they have added to our national character, but we also owe them the opportunity to participate in and enjoy life as thoroughly as the rest of us do.
As federal indigenous envoy Tony Abbott says, the best way to do this is through education.
Punishing Australians for the original sin of “colonisation” by trashing Australia Day is not going to make us a more virtuous nation.
Instead, it will wind up destroying the common civic bonds that keep us inclusive and prevent racists from thriving.
Would changing the date of Australia Day or renaming it “Invasion Day” really achieve your objectives? … If you answered yes, then perhaps you should take another week off before returning to the barricades of the culture wars.