Today is Australia Day. A public holiday. A day that is supposed to be filled with BBQ’d lamb, salads, friends and family. A day where we remember our history, dark though it may be.
In 1770 Captain Cook landed in Sydney. If you live here, you’re well familiar with the story. Botany Bay, you know… blah, blah, blah. If you’re not living here, Google it. I’m not going into the full history of our ‘white man’ founding. I’m no historian, so better that you read the facts from someone who is. However, what I do know is this: this land, as we know it now, was settled under colonialism. Show me a country that was under British rule over two hundred years ago that does not have a dark past, full of atrocities and murder and I’ll show you the miracle. That was how the world was back then. People who were different: dark-skinned, disabled, mentally impaired, female, were treated worse than second-class citizens. Worse than animals, even. That was simply, sadly, how it was. Fortunately, life is better now. We know better. We’re better educated.
We’ve said sorry for our treatment of Indigenous Australians. We are aware that theirs is a history rich with stories of the land, family. They had languages, dialects, tribes. They loved, they danced, they bled, the women bore children, they cried, they celebrated, they died. Just like us. We tore that apart when we settled here. For that, we are sorry. I wish our history is different.
Here’s the thing: I don’t believe that changing the day is going to change our history. This is a delicate point, of course. Please remember that this is my opinion, and I’m entitled to it. You are entitled to yours. Changing our Australia Day commemoration holiday is not going to change our history. What’s done is done. I’m not suggesting that the Indigenous people of Australia forget about the past; I’m not suggesting that they ‘move on’. But I think we, as a nation, cannot move forward if we keep squabbling over a day. One day.
We can move forward by striving to be better people. Let’s show greater kindness to our fellow humans, whoever they are, whatever they look like.
Enjoy the day, whatever your opinion.