We are one, but we are many.
We care more than we seem to — suffering for our sisters in drought, our brothers in flood, our fathers at war. Our mothers during the depression or when they had no voice or during time of less opportunity. We waste time and take the breadth of our land for granted. We splash in water we pollute, sully soil that we claim should produce our summer backyard tomatoes, BBQ beef till it’s charcoaled and dry.
We laugh. We deplore bigotry, though the minority might uphold it in workplaces, on beaches, in schools, but most of us try to heal. We want to be more community-minded, but the pace of life dictates some of us are not. Or that’s what we might tell ourselves. We believe in gender equality. Some pay packets don’t reflect this, and we vote, though some of us are donkeys.
We wish for a leader of substance, a skilled orator, a spiritual and committed figure. We vote, but many of us are donkeys in the face of limited choice. No worries! One day, maybe.
We’re thankful for our freedom. We’re grateful for our sun. We freckle, lavishing sunscreen over skin too anglicised for conditions down under, jealous of our siblings from Eurasian backgrounds who are ‘brown as berries’.
Even though berries are blue and straw, or black.
We fight, serving other countries on their fronts, providing military bases for allies we think ‘need the land.’ We’re ashamed of elements of our history, things that can’t be undone, but we look towards a future where scars are as faded as the interior of a car left too long in the sun.
We drown in flood and sear in the face of fire. Bush, fast-forest, all-powerful. My country can vaporize in the space of a day. It regenerates under the tears of its people, as long as Mother Nature doesn’t weep too long and sweep the land away during high tide.
We cherish each other. Usually. We have eucalypt running through our veins, red dust in our eyes, sand in our crack and kangaroo fillets for tea. Sometimes. We never say crikey. Surely, sheila? No way, mate. Neva!
In my country, we try. Try to be kinder, better, more worldly. Try to be more accepting and tolerate. Try to understand. And wherever we are in the world, treading lightly over other lands and learning about other cultures, we remember we are Aussies. WE NEVER ‘oi, oi, oi’, especially when one of our own is canonised at the Vatican.
Well, some do. Praps they were C of E or Protestants
Happy Australia Day, Great Southern Land. Your people salute you, old place abounding in nature’s gifts and our country, girt by sea.