I am sitting here in Ichinoseki as the snow falls down outside. We’ve had some decent temperatures this weekend, it’s been over zero you see, but it seems that is in the past. Reputedly this is the coldest two weeks of the year for Japan. The forecast is not looking too awful – Thursday night was seriously cold, minus 13 or something – When I arrived at school it was still minus 11. Believe me, it may not be Canada-cold but it’s cold enough for me!
And here I am blogging about the bloody weather, when it’s Australia Day back home. The 26th of January is a date that commemorates when the first fleet arrived on Sydney Cove and British rule began in Australia to be changed for Federation in 1901 when we got our own parliament and Prime Minister. My plan, after the somewhat political nature of last year’s obligatory blog post, was to get very upbeat and positive this year. But after reading what people are posting on Facebook and the like, I feel a bit less inclined to go that way.
BUT… you know Australia IS a great country in so many respects. And I’m not going to be all down on the politics of Australia today, or our ‘Prime Minister’… yes I was using inverted commas deliberately. It is a great country because we are so lucky. We are lucky not only to have such a beautiful place to live, with space and good weather (believe me, snow in winter time is sooooooooooo over-rated). We are lucky to have a great deal of free speech. And we are most lucky to live in a multi-cultural society.
This is what essentially makes Melbourne such a brilliant city, above all else. You can see people from every origin imaginable in Melbourne, living in relative harmony, expressing their own cultures in a mostly peaceful way. Yes, it has its faults. Yes not everyone gets along. But we have communities from all across the planet.
I think we forget that we are so young too as a country and as a city. People get in a tiff saying immigrants should basically ‘assimilate’. Ever since the Borg it’s become a really ugly word, and frankly I think people’s expectations for people coming to another country and assimilating within a few years is rather ridiculous.
And if ‘assimilating’ means letting go of culture and who you are, then it’s a word that needs to be abandoned post haste. Australia IS a country of IMMIGRANTS. Simple as that. Think what today means for the indigenous Australians – the day they lost their land. It’s so important that as a nation Australians NEVER forget this.
Memes. They sprung up seemingly from no where and now they are everywhere, and Australia Day is the time you see a hell of a lot on twitter and facebook feeds. This year Meme’s are playing on use of ‘Stralya’ to mock the way some Aussies pronounce Australia. Take the one above which shows a child reaching for a beer. This underlines the divide at the moment in Australian society, some being I guess for want of a better word, ‘intellectuals’ bemoaning and almost being embarrassed by a culture seen as based on drinking and racism. Is that an unfair assertion? Then there is a group who see that group as trying to cut down, belittle and destroy what they consider to be Australia. Does the truth lie somewhere in between? One things for sure, the groups won’t see eye to eye.
‘White Australia has a black history’. I mean this is the sort of stuff I’ve seen destroy friendship on the book of faces. Maybe this is what is wrong with facebook. Opinions you wouldn’t express in public are revealed on facebook. Of course, this meme is 100% true. 60,000 odd years Indigenous Australians are traced to this land. 1788 is only a fateful day that began White Australian history. Imagine then being an Indigenous Australian walking down the street seeing a white person wearing this –
This T-shirt was being sold by the supermarket chain ALDI. It was removed from stores for being racist. And you know, it is. 60,000 years of people living in Australia. It’s really important that Australians have a little bit of respect for the Indigenous peoples of our country. And many do, please don’t think that everyone feels negatively towards them. Just as we don’t ALL feel negatively towards refugees fleeing their country and coming to Australia by any means they can to seek asylum.
Irony is sometimes lost on people.
It doesn’t mean Australia is not a great country. Hell, as a tourist you should have a blast and I encourage you to come. Uluru, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Kakadu, Sydney, oh and please do take a chance to get to Tasmania, it is really gorgeous. Australians are very friendly and welcoming and laid back which is the best thing of all I can honestly say living in Japan at the moment where it doesn’t appear to be a good thing to be ‘laid back’ about anything.
There is however a political divide in the country that appears to growing wider. With people in one of two camps. Some would say it’s left versus right, but it’s not really. It’s a series of issues that people feel strongly one way or another on. And the thing is, the variety of cultures in GREAT in my opinion. And should only be encouraged. If Australia can go forward with positivity and understanding, there is no ceiling.
Australians on Australia day – in fact all those IN Australia on Australia, look at what is the same about you. Listen to someone’s point of view. Extend the hand of friendship.
I’m terribly sorry this became political again.