HO HUM, it’s the same kerfuffle every year on Australia Day. Time for them to get over it, right? I mean, what are we doing still talking about it. It’s been almost a week. Move on whingers.
If there was ever an example of privileged Australian thinking, that’s it right there, and sadly it’s a common response whenever “noisy” protesters start to annoy satisfied Australia.
It’s also why First Nations people still need to protest funnily enough.
This is a pretty disturbing trait for a country to have. That we can’t officially see a problem with celebrating our national day on the date we bullied our way in, commandeering our ways over the top of people who were already there but we pretended were not.
Like inconvenient irritants that served no purpose, they needed to be squashed and run out of town to make room for the master plan.
As history will attest, that plan didn’t come off as easily and cleanly as they had hoped, mainly thanks to the resilience of the inconvenient inhabitants and the repercussions that live on more than two centuries later.
But that’s not the Australian story we know. And even if we hear natterings about it, we certainly don’t like to think about it among the flag-waving and projections of mateship, multiculturalism and inclusiveness on which we pride ourselves.
Unfortunately perpetuating this kind of historical obstinance is only going to come back to bite Australia on the Union Jack every January.
If it didn’t, I’d be worried we were heading for the scrap heap of humanity.
People comfortable and satisfied with their lot are understandably reluctant to give up their image of Australia, so to defend this idealism, they can be quick to label those who arc up as troublemakers or divisive because they don’t want their cruisy boat rocked.
But what about the outcasts that are expected to continue navigating the backwash of that vessel in which you so happily punt along? What if they’re only invited on board if they accept the terms and conditions of its captain but, out of principal and the pride that comes from being part of a culture that goes back further than any other on the planet, they don’t?
Instead of climbing on board and saluting Captain Cook (who else), they choose to tread water and wait for their own boat to come along.
While this is unlikely to appear on Australia’s horizon any time soon, those trailing behind are getting tired and angry.
More recently they have been thrown a few life jackets along the way by others who choose to tread water alongside them. Together they are creating a wave of momentum that will continue to rock the bigger, fancier boats, more and more.
Indigenous people have spent a lot of their lives protesting for basic rights so they are experts at it. While much they have protested about has been ignored, talked over and shut down, over the years, more and more non-indigenous people are starting to see this repeat pattern as offensive and are supporting First Nations people publicly.
I didn’t learn much about our indigenous history at school and probably a lot of the 200,000 who marched in Invasion Day protests in Melbourne (and tens of thousands in Sydney and Brisbane) didn’t either – but we’re all catching up fast.
The push for a treaty and indigenous voice in parliament is growing bigger, grassroots reparation opportunities for concerned Australians to put their money where their mouths are like Pay the Rent (because there’s no use waiting for government to orchestrate anything) are coming our way.
Changing mindsets that are at odds with our leadership is tough going but here’s something you can try at home to get the ball rolling.
The next time someone non-indigenous asks you where you live, don’t just say Grafton or Yamba. Say Bundjalung Country or Yaegl Country too and see what happens.
Everything we enjoy today was built off the back of stealing that land and the way we went about doing that is something we need to start officially acknowledging. Accepting that is the first step in recalibrating what it means to be Australian. And if governments are unwilling to do it, it’s up to the people.
When we get on top of that, there will be cause for celebration.