Saturday, January 26, 2013

Boat People

My kids are such little Aussies.  I am reminded of this every time my daughter refers to her “bah-ay-bee” brother or asks to lick the vegemite off my toast.

Yet they have ten pound poms on both sides of their family tree as well as Irish, Italian and American immigrants.  All of them arrived by boat.

We’re a mish mash.  With the important exception of Aboriginal Australians all Aussies are.  We’d be well served to remember that this Australia Day.

Being Australian doesn’t mean draping yourself in an Australian flag and drinking your body mass in Vodka Cruisers. 

Or maybe it does.  

But it must also mean acknowledging that no one in this country has the right to tell another they do not belong here. 

It unsettles me that patriotism here has come to mean something exclusive, something with an unwelcoming undercurrent.  

Political hyperbole like “Stop the Boats” has no place in an Australia that purports to be about “mateship” and “a fair go for all”.

Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet.  What better time to remind ourselves where we came from and in doing so muster some compassion for those most vulnerable people who seek to join us.

What does Australia day mean to you?

Listen to Lo-Tel We Are Australian

Image Licensed Under Creative Commons via Morguefile