Just Briefly: Australia Day

Posted: 26/01/2011 in General, Quick Thoughts

I’m a bit annoyed. I have been for years around about Australia Day, but I haven’t been able to articulate it properly until now.

I am seeing an increasing amount of talk each year from the capital-city self-confessed-expert set about how Europeans invaded this continent and how we inherit some sort of burden of guilt as a result, thus rendering Australia Day a day of shame, etc. This is poisonous nonsense. Uttering views like this without reference to the context of history is completely disingenuous and can’t be taken seriously from a logical point of view.

There’s almost no example in history of establishing a nation without upsetting or displacing someone. Throughout history, it is what we have consistently done as a species. Perhaps Iceland and Greenland escaped this fate, but I’m not even sure of that. People displace other people.

In the context of Australia, it was utterly inevitable that someone was going to come here and claim the continent for their country, be it the French, the Dutch, the Spanish, or someone else. That it was the British who finally did is more of an accident of history. Probably somewhat fortunately, all things considered.

As of about the middle of the 20th century, the world really started to wake up to the fact that all men really were created equal, and to take the idea seriously; obviously a great thing. Only since then has this talk of invasion etc come along. It’s a concept invented by the more careless and sanctimonious descendants of those who were actually there.

So let’s stop whining about historical inevitabilities that happened 220 years ago, realise that the human race is what it is, even if we are inclined to try and learn from history and thereby improve the current version of the world (which is no bad thing), and take a moment just to consider how lucky we are. None of us are going back to Europe, so this talk of invasion is hypocrisy.

Revisionism is poison. It’s fine to look at history and say “We shouldn’t ever let that happen again, knowing what we know now”. But anyone who says of people in history whose culture was still learning about the world and their fellow man “They’re bad people for not getting this or that right” are themselves bad people and just making a fool of themselves into the bargain.

In short: Move forward, getting things right from here. Don’t try to judge the past with your 21st century eyes.

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Comments
  1. Duncan says:

    Unfortunately, there will always be someone who feels a real or perceived pain, and isn’t prepared to let it go without substantial redress – and even then, it won’t be enough, so the grumbling won’t stop. The best that can be hoped for is that the vast majority can face the reality of the situation, build better societal relationships in the present, and more forward in a positive frame of mind.

    I take hope from having met an old, white-haired aboriginal man on Australia Day 1988, when he’d travelled from Brewarrina to Sydney for the bicentennial. That he was enjoying the celebration, and could call me ‘brother’ instead of seeing me as related to the invasion, was immensely touching, and a sign of the possibilities ahead.

    • sjb351 says:

      Having read your comment and later having reconsidered the wording, I have adjusted the text to reflect whom I was having a go at. I thought perhaps there was room for a bad misunderstanding.

      You’re right, of course, there is strong potential for hurt etc on the part of the traditional owners, and that can and should be addressed to at least the extent that is possible.

      But I just have no stomach for manipulative and/or misguided revisionist rhetoric.

  2. To use an old quote: “God created man – Sam Colt made them equal.” 🙂

    The simple fact is that no every man was created equal and that it was seen as the natural order to take the land of others if a) you had a need for it, b) you had the muscle to take it, and c) you would be able to keep it.
    Of course, such ideas now are considered acts of war – and people forget that in the days of exploration and conquest – if it wasn’t owned by a white fella or they could fight back: then it was there for the taking.

    Not condoning the notion – just saying how it was. I had no control over what happened in the USA, 400 years before my birth just as much as I had no control over what happened in Australia roughly 200 years previous (give or take a few dozen months 🙂 So, anyone who chooses to flame me for stating how it was… can get stuffed as I won’t be having an argument with you over the internet or otherwise.

    The important thing in this day and age is that it *doesn’t* happen now by mature, right-minded individuals. This is discounting those who still live with a bronze age attitude and would really like to see the ending chapter of Hilter’s Final Solution enacted there. If you’re one of the dickheads who wants to bring up the topic of the USA and “…invading the middle east just for oil…” – you too are stupid and can also refer to the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

    At present, the worst thing about Australia Day: The temporary patriots who put a flag on their car for one day of the year and use it as an excuse to get drunk (and maybe start a fight). Add to this the morons who think it’s the best time to reignite the argument about becoming a Republic (as if that will fix the hospitals, the roads, and get that brainless turd of a PM to throw in the towel about the WASTE of public monies — the NBN).
    The best thing about Australia day: The distinct lack of minorities who want to run around going: “I am a European/Mulsim/African/Atlantean-Australian” (equating to: give me special privileges).

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