Thursday, 20 April 2017

An affirmation of "citizenship"

for all Australians?
When citizenship ceremonies are held around the country the new citizens are asked to say, "I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey."
Those present at the ceremony who are already citizens are asked to affirm the same in return. 
Perhaps it is a good thing but I don't feel comfortable with it. I have never felt comfortable with that sort of thing.
I was barely four years of age when I started school. You could begin school in the year you turned five. My birthday comes at the very end of the year. Most parents would have waited until the following year but my mother, with two more small children at home and a child who could - annoyingly - already read, wanted me to go to school. I went to school.
At school we had "assembly" and in assembly we learned to say, "I am an Australian. I love my country.... " and more - as a pledge of allegiance to Downunder.  Even at four years of age I didn't like doing it. My dislike of it grew stronger and stronger. There were arm movements that went with it and, if I could have gotten away with not making them I would have done it. I would mouth something else instead of the words.
The idea that I was supposed to feel good about being Australian and proud of my country was something that I could never come to terms with. I still don't feel that way.
Now please don't get me wrong. I know that Downunder is a good place to live. It is, as countries go, safe. People are, on the whole, well housed and well fed and "free". It is a country with a reputation for friendliness and a relaxed life style.  I acknowledge that and I would never do anything that might make it less safe or cause people not to be housed or fed. I just don't feel the need or the desire to make a fuss about it. I want to belong to the world, not just part of it.
I know that will shock a lot of people. It's like barracking for the "wrong" football team - a sin. I just don't see the need to vote for any football team at all. 

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