Monday, 27 January 2014

I suppose if I was a "real"

Australian I would have blogged about it being Australia Day yesterday. Honestly? I couldn't care less.
Am I proud of being Australian? Not particularly.
Do I like living here? I recognise it is a good place to live - except when the temperature hits 46'C.
But really, I don't care for this fuss about "being" Australian. I loathe the tacky (made in China) flags, caps, paper serviettes and plates decorated with the Australian flag.
My parents went through Europe by Eurail pass in the seventies. They wore raincoats onto which my mother had sewn small Australian flags. My mother thought this would be "useful" - and perhaps it was - but I would not have done it.
I went - all too briefly - to France and Italy with nothing more than a change of clothes in an airways bag. I went in the depths of winter too. I had just six nights away and I had no desire to spend time telling people that "Yes, I come from Australia."
When I lived in London I avoided Earls' Court - also known as Kangaroo Valley. I was not there to mix with Australians. I had other things to do. I never felt homesick for Australia - although I did miss being there for family events.
What does "being Australian" mean? My brother in law was born here. People sometimes refer to him as being "Greek" because his parents came from Cyprus. Other Australians I know refer to themselves as being Italian, Dutch, German, Irish, French, Ukrainian or Polish and - more recently - Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian or Sudanese - and many other things besides. Many of them were born here. It is their parents or even their grandparents who have come from other places - but it is still how they define themselves. Often they keep traditions from the countries their ancestors came from. It is even possible that they keep more of those traditions than some of the people who still live in those places - people who don't fear losing their identity.
(If you come from England, Scotland or Wales it is apparently different. Defining yourself as such is generally not well regarded - perhaps because identity is bound up with language and most people arriving from such places spoke English.)
I suppose there are some "First Fleeters" who see themselves as "Australian" but even my late friend Rosie, whose family has been here for many thousands of years, once said to me "Hah, even we once came across a land bridge from elsewhere." True. Probably we all come from somewhere else.
But, do I have to be "Australian"? What is more, do I have to be "Australian - made in China"?


widdershins said...

I never felt comfortable with such nationalism when I was in OZ and feel the same here in Canada now. I get a sense that most Canadians don't feel the need to either. Which may or may not be, in part, a reaction to having such a rabidly nationalistic neighbour.

Miriam said...

That's interesting. And of course I can't help comparing it to Israel, which is the same but different.

jeanfromcornwall said...

When it comes to nationalism, I am 1:Cornish, 2:British and get irritated if referred to as "English". It's all silly though. My Father was three parts Cornish and one part Irish, and grew up in Cornwall. My Mother grew up in Cornwall, but was English through and through, except that her Father had been born in Australia. and reared in India.
So, just the usual for GB! After all, we are just Human Beans, the lot of us.

Judy Edmonds said...

I have spent slightly more of my life in Australia than in England (where I was born) and have never managed to feel completely one or the other - not do I mind that. I celebrate the aspects of Australia that I love - the fresh produce, the friendliness and multicultural acceptance that I see where I live, though I know it not universal throughout Australia - wonderful art, literature and theatre, a strong sense of family. England has great aspects too. I am proud to belong to both but would not want to belong solely to either. We celebrated Australia Day very quietly, just the two of us, with a quiet BBQ (using Australian lamb, very simply) and giving thanks for the good things in our lives.