Let’s celebrate this wide, grand land

The date is approaching fast. Tension is in the air. Politics is taking over. Opinions are aired over social media, most often in a way that is divisive and rude. Polls are cast, most often the results are skewed or ill-represented. It is supposed to be a day to celebrate who we are, our uniqueness. Kangaroos and koalas. Uluru and the Red Centre. Beer. BBQs. Mateship. Lamb. Beaches. Vegemite. Tim Tams. Thongs. Cricket (although I’ll never understand why anyone would celebrate such a BORING game).

Australia Day. January 26.

Each year, politicians and voters with a left-leaning view, push for the date to be changed. It is wrong and continually hurtful, they claim, to celebrate the landing of white folk in this land. The indigenous folk, they remind us, were killed; their way of life abolished and they were forcefully encouraged to live as white man. We forced them to speak our language, we ignored their stories, we re-named areas, we took away their babies, we made them give up their land in order for us to build roads, buildings, homes. This is all fact. I am not disputing this. Nothing will change our history. It is pointless to change the date; it will not correct the errors of colonialism. I wrote about this last year, too. The left-leaning in this land believe that changing the date will make everything peaceful, and we can all live happily ever after. But changing the date is merely a game of smoke and mirrors.

Here’s the shock. The indigenous people are still living in terrible conditions, children suffer sexual abuse within their own communities, from their own family and tribe members. I never hear any Greens or Labor politicians speaking of correcting these atrocities.

This morning I read with interest a post on Facebook from Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, an indigenous councillor. Ms Nampijinpa Price shared a letter she’d received from an indigenous sister, unnamed in her post. The anger and frustration in this letter is tangible. Here are excerpts of what was written:

‘I see so much screaming and crying over the date…the national day of Australia…but not the correct date of the First Fleet arriving. So foolish to believe that the people crying for changing the date actually care about you? They don’t care about you! They care about division, widening the gap not closing it.

‘Not once! Not one time have I seen The Greens or Labor speak out…about stopping the violence, stopping the alcoholism, stopping the child abuse and sexual assault…

‘You cry and scream about changing the date while there are children like me, little boys and girls living the same life I did as a child, living in constant fear of violence and sexual abuse…But we mustn’t talk about the real issues effecting the indigenous community…You professional victims cry about a date while real victims suffer horrors only seen in nightmares or in a movie…

‘Personally, I’ll keep the date, some of the good memories I have is from that date, you see I spent most Australia Days with my nan, she would have BBQs where family and friends would get together and play cricket and laugh…My nan always taught me it was about unity not division, she taught me not to hate…the people of today for the sins of yesterday… On Australia Day, celebrate don’t hate.’ (click here for the entire letter)

We ought to be embracing all of our history. We need this day to celebrate, to come together as a country full of flawed people who remember the wrongs of the past and work to fix the ills of the present. The groundswell to change the date of Australia Day makes us seem spineless, fearful. There is not a country in the world that doesn’t have atrocities in the past (and present); if every country hid from its past, how can it better prepare for the future, for it is only by mistakes that we learn.

Let’s be unified, not divided.

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