It’s pretty upsetting to see multiple friends on Facebook saddened by yet another approach of Australia Day. Deep within the Indigenous population, this sadness is understandable. For the rest, to be honest I am more than a little confused. But why are more and more Australians approaching Australia Day with a sense of dread and cringing at the thought of it?
Beyond calls for changing it to Citizen Day, trashy lamb ads and dick jokes, Australia Day has become…well, a day for people to worry about out of control drunkenness, thinly veiled racism and awkward mutterings about ‘bogans’.
By the looks of things, some of us are off to put flags around our shoulders and bleat about how wonderful it would be to be “Straylan”. That’s if all the bleeping, bleepity, bleepin’ <insert name of group everyone’s decided to hate this year> decided to leave, shut up or get with whatever programme it is they don’t apparently get.
Some others are pitching in with their own version of ‘pin the tail on the objectionable sub-culture’, as though their brand of intolerance is better than the other brand of intolerance because…well, as far as I can gather the first group base their hatred on physical differences and the second group base theirs on a mythical creature, the bogan.
Others still are well intended as they discuss Indigenous Australia and its impact and why it shouldn’t be celebrated. Part of me wonders if they’ve made that decision after talking to some Indigenous Australians and respecting their feelings, or some sense of pity and guilt. Without the conversation, is that pity and guilt is just another form of patronising and misunderstanding Indigenous Australia?
And whoever is left is quietly hoping it doesn’t get out of hand and feeling dreadfully uncomfortable.
What does it say about us if we can’t even own up to a national day? What does it say about how we view the sacrifice the first people made if we’re now dreading the day because it’s become a symbol of racism, bad behaviour and awkwardness?
It’s all a little bit too crazy
Police are bracing for extra drunken violence, racial tensions and general stupid behaviour. Faces are wincing at the mention of the words ‘Southern Cross’ and ‘tattoo’ in a sentence together. Ambulance officers are getting prepared for heat stroke and to face off with people so far out of their tree they think taking a swing at the very person trying to talk them down is a good idea. Facebook is filling up with fights over what to call it and parodies of the dreaded ‘bogan’. Extra lifeguards are at the ready to fish drunk, drug affected and weak swimmers at of the major beaches.
Australia Day only seems to bring happiness when viewed in terms of a long weekend, and the TripleJ Hottest 100, which some idiot decided in his infinite wisdom to ‘crack’.
Are we that screwed up that those of us who don’t want to punch on, racially vilify other human beings or get wasted to the point of kidney failure can’t look forward to Australia Day beyond hearing songs and having a day off? And if so, what the hell does it mean for the future?
I’m sick of hearing about how ‘pride’ and ‘Australian’ is a bad combination for a bunch of idiots who have hijacked it for an excuse to be drunken, racist and vile. From those who do the hijacking, and those who think that is what it all means now.
Instead of getting caught up in being a drunk, spoiling for a rumble (of the verbal or physical kind), or cringing inwardly, just look around you and look at your window. There should be enough there for you to appreciate being Australian.
And if there isn’t, instead of having a beer or having a BBQ (both of which are not Australian but somehow get dragged into our apparent ‘heritage’), why don’t you find someone who’s happy to be here as a recent migrant or refugee and ask them what it means, or sit down with an Indigenous Australian and ask them?
Or here’s a completely novel idea, why don’t we try transforming it into something that actually reflects the country and celebrate the fact we’re all pretty different- and enjoy that fact?