Today we are celebrating Australia Day, though some indigenous people refer to it as Invasion Day, or a Day of Mourning. As I write this there are flooding rains in the north of our country, raging bush fires in the south and pouring rain over The Flamingo Nest on the Hill. It is just over two years since the devastating floods that claimed the lives of so many victims, including my cousin whose body has never been found and many people still carry the scars and traumas of those days. The saying goes that every drought is ended by a flood. Now it seems that every flood is followed by a fire.
A woman, Ita Buttrose who has been a major player in Australian media for many years has been named Australian of the Year. I have to admit I feel that it was a safe and unimaginative choice for an election year. I personally was more excited about Akram Azimi‘s award for Young Australian of the Year, who by coincidence (?) lives by the maxim that I do and that is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. It may not always work in your favour, but at least you sleep at night. (Except for the stick list, but that is a whole different matter and not to be discussed today – maybe)
Australia is a large land, a land of contrasts, a land that can be beautiful and at the same time deadly. We are fortunate in that we have the benefit of great abundance of many things, but we are constantly reminded by events naturally and human caused that we need to value and sustain those gifts.
We are a land largely free of civil and political unrest, our diverse cultural mix manages cohesion most of the time, we have managed to separate church and state in recent times, and though we moan and groan about our political leaders they are a fairly benign group as a whole.
Many years ago we gave ourselves the badge of “The Lucky Country” and I think we can still wear that with pride. I am not claiming that we are better than other nations, but we are lucky in that by happen stance many of us were granted the gift of being born here, and many have been gifted the opportunity to live here.
No one has to fear a knock at the door, or going to the market for bread. We care for our less fortunate, though it can be well argued, not well enough. We have the freedom to go where we may, and to share discourses denied many other individuals.
We may not be sizzling the steak and sausages outside quite as much this year, due to rain and fire, but we can still all pause and be grateful for what we do have and why we have those freedoms and gifts.
Happy Australia Day!