Australia.Posted: January 26, 2014
A brief, late post from a very, very tired lady. I hope you had a good day today.
Here in Australia, it was Australia Day, the country’s official day of celebration of nationhood. January the 26th is the day in 1788 when the First Fleet of British settlers arrived on Australian shores. Because of this, many Aboriginal people regard this day as “Invasion Day” or Survival Day. I am sympathetic to the term Survival Day, and the sentiment behind it. I would support changing the date of celebration, although that is highly unlikely in the forseeable future.
Nonetheless, I am immensely grateful to be a citizen of Australia. For my entire life, this has been my home. Modern Australia is an evolving and beautiful country, with many generous and kind people. Perhaps my favourite part of the day’s official celebrations is seeing the Australia Day honours, as these honours often reflect a diversity of thought and background – and character – that I am glad exists alongside, ahem, the rougher edged elements here.
What is not so honourable is the broad scale ignorance of what actually happened from 1788, and the extent of the violent, repugnant subjugation of Indigenous people here, perpetrated by the European colonizers. Racism towards Indigenous people still stains the soul of this nation. Ignorance, and denial, of the Indigenous resistance to colonization prevails. Ignorance of Indigenous culture and cultural groups is also pretty thin – how many people, I wonder, would be familiar with this map? [click to enlarge]:
The failure to fully acknowledge the darker aspects of the Australian psyche and modern Australian history is just that – a failure. It is unfortunate that many don’t want to acknowledge what can be called, in spiritual terms, Australia’s “shadow”.
Australia doesn’t want to think of itself as *that*.
Yet, full recognition of that shadow is essential to healing what are deep wounds that Indigenous Australia has carried the burden of. Wounds that, it seems, non-Indigenous Australians have enjoyed the privilege of willfully ignoring or being ignorant of. Recognising what we love about this beautiful country today, and, in particular, celebrating the best of its character, is wonderful. But good character also means acknowledging wrongdoing in the past, promoting healing, and genuine respect for our diverse Indigenous population.
Full acknowledgement of past (and the legacies of that past still thriving today, as frequent incidences of racism and statistical disparities indicate), and embracing a positive today, and future, are not antithetical. A genuinely positive future is, in fact, dependent upon such an acknowledgment.
I envision a day where the celebration of one’s country does not involve the white-washing, sanctioning, or denial of the wrongs of history. An Australian Unity Day that acknowledges all facets of who we are.
Here is a piece published in The Guardian, written by Nakkiah Lui, that sheds some light on Australia’s shadow:
Here is a piece on some tangible reasons to thoroughly love modern Australia:
And here – Australia Day Honours List. People honoured for positively affecting the lives of those around them: