25 January, 2011

Australia Day

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your country, just as there is nothing wrong with taking pride in your family.  However, it should be recognised that both are accidents of birth.  As with family, there are aspects of our country that we love, aspects that make us cringe, and aspects we want nothing to do with.  It does not mean we love our country or our family any less to acknowledge the other two.  Also, it doesn’t mean we love our country or family any more if we go lauding it just because it is there.  As with family, we tend to defend our country from criticism from outsiders, even when we’re inclined to agree with that criticism on some levels.  Brothers may fight between themselves, but if you attack either one, they will immediately unite to kick the crap out of you, and then go right back to fighting with each other.  People who develop foreign policy would do well to remember this.

Celebrating your birthday, or a family member’s, doesn’t mean you’re better than anyone else.  It doesn’t mean everything you’ve done is good and it doesn’t mean everything you’ve done is bad.  You get to have a party and indulge a bit, but if you overdo it and start acting like the sun shines out of your arse, people are still going to think you’re a tool, birthday or not. 

January 26th is modern Australia’s birthday, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that.  We’ve done some good stuff and we’ve done some bad stuff.  Some will celebrate quietly.  Some will make tools of themselves.  Some will ignore it, which is fair enough.  Some will make a conspicuous point of ignoring it in ways that are almost as vulgar as those who use the day as an excuse to be flag-waving idiots.

There’s a pretty wide line between national pride and moronic jingoism.  Perhaps if we had less of the latter, there would be less opposition to Australia Day.  Observing an anniversary doesn’t mean we have to be blind to the darker side of our history and equally, acknowledging that darker side doesn’t mean we should be forbidden from celebrating what’s good.  If you attend a birthday celebration for your grandfather, you know full well he couldn’t get to such an age without having done a few things worth being ashamed of.  It doesn’t mean you love him any less, and it doesn’t mean you’re pretending he has always been pure if you celebrate his birthday.  However, you would be doing him a disservice to act like he is the greatest thing ever and that you are better than the next person simply for being part of his family.

Patriotism is not the last refuge of a scoundrel.  It’s usually the first.


How not to show pride in your country

4 comments:

  1. I know you are a good product of Australia...and I am happy that you are taking pride to be an Aussie by heart, coz i know Australia should be also proud of you....

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  2. Not everybody lives where they were born. Some of us chose to be where we are. But I don't see any reason why you can't be proud of your country either way.

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  3. It's just a question of keeping things in perspective.

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