Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Australia Day" 2017 Part ONE

I acknowledge the Awabakal People who share a unique relationship with the land on which I live and work. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and being formed for the future.

I could tell Australia Day was coming in the week that's just passed by:
- The crappy merchandise and [made in Bangladesh] swimwear is in the shops
- Reindeer antlers have given way to car window flags often accompanied by xenophobic stickers
- Fear of difference brings unhelpful perspectives on the burqa and the hijab
- Social media includes people's mixed feelings about indigenous history and the 26th January

There will be some diverse celebrations in places like Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and indigenous culture will be included but it could be so much more. Not enough people have the empathy to even consider the issues. Is our sense of identity so fragile?

I believe we are 'the lucky country' and any travel I've been fortunate enough to undertake reinforces our climate, landscape, opportunities, broader values, blue sky, urban and rural settings and how great a place we live in. Being Australian to me is bigger than jingoism and more important than stereotypes. I choose to prioritise the values I hold that flow from my faith and where that and patriotism or nationalism are in conflict, being Australian comes second. It's far from a thoughtless or ungrateful attitude, quite the opposite. Even in sport it's great to have a team or competitor that "punches above our weight" but that's no reason to celebrate poor behaviour...

The Triple J Hottest 100 and Festivals like the 'Big Day Out,' the ODI cricket in Adelaide and the Australian of the Year Awards celebrate some aspects of our creativity. I for one will be buying some lamb for the BBQ this year [inspired by some of the the nonsensical responses to the clever TV advert].

One SBS TV and NITV contribution to the conversation here
Listen to inspired music "Under the Motherland's Flag" from Jim Moginie here

Here's a small re-write of my 2011 poem the stanzas of which may sound familiar:

My Country 2017 [inspired by Dorothea Mackeller]
The love of field and pruning
Of green tree shaded lanes
Of pommie woods and gardens
Is the backpackers domain
Putting up with grey-blue distance
Brown streams and that low sky
Is nice to sometimes visit
But we could pass it by

I love a sunburnt country
Across the great western plains
Of bushwalkers mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love our far horizons
I love the Bar Beach sea
The beauty and the terror
The wide brown land for me

A stark white ring-barked forest
The loggers lop in tune
Three Sisters and Blue Mountains
The midday sun breaks through
Annoying spikey shrubs
Lantana and pesky weeds
A bunch of 50 dollar natives
With a protea is all you need

Core of our soul, our country
Land of storylines told
For flood and fire and famine
Our payback comes threefold
Farms and backyards dampen
Rain thunders on the tin roof
And green tinges reappear
The steady soaking rain

Core of their soul, their country
Land of the Rainbow snake
Flood and fire and famine
The dreaming stories make
Sand through the hand is poured
Lingiari was his name
The greenness will return
When they the land can claim

An opal-hearted country
A willful, lavish land
It isn't love or leave us
fear of difference holds us back
Our diversity is richness
first or second to arrive
We owe it to this brown country
To at least give hope a try

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