So, here’s the thing. I’m going to be celebrating Australia Day.
Over the last few days, I’ve noticed a pretty major trend in my twitter stream: and that’s folks talking about how “Australia Day is only for bogans”, “Australia Day is for racists”, that “Celebrating a country is ridiculous, jingoistic and nationalistic”.
Hookay. So, I can’t celebrate what a great country I live in, without being considered “an ignorant, racist bogan who celebrates in the luxury that I know how morally corrupt Australia is but do nothing anyway?” (ok, I’m picking on the extreme tweet here, but the sentiment remains the same)
I made the choice to move here because the opportunity was open to me (due to family) and I didn’t see the sort of future I was hoping for happening for me in South Africa. But as hard as it was to leave my home country (and, don’t get me wrong, I still support the Springboks), I’ve never regretted the move out here. Not only do I not regret it, I celebrate it. I have the shot at a life out here that I don’t believe was possible to me previously, and – for that – I have a lot to be thankful to Australia for.
I’m thankful to Australia for fostering the kind of mateship that I’ve seen on display in the last couple of weeks. For new friendships. Hell, I’m thankful to Australia for a new love. Why can’t I celebrate that bundle of absolute awesomeness without the negativity being lumped with it?
Here’s the thing. I don’t like racists. And hell, while I’m not sure if anyone out there actually has the same definition of “bogan” as the person next to them, I know I don’t like people who are not cool to other people. Because I mean, really, that’s what it comes down to. I respect people who treat people well. Everyone else can piss off, in my opinion, but boiling it right down, I don’t care who you are, what you do, or even what you’ve done… as long as you’ve treated people with respect and kindness.
When I first arrived in the country, my next door neighbour had one of those “piss off, we’re full” bumper stickers. I had the line thrown at me more than once in my first two years. So yeah, I know there are some absolute knobs out there who use Australia Day as a chance to bring out the “piss off back home” schtick.
And yes, I know there are other people who look at it as just a chance to get drunk, and cause trouble. I know there are people out there who use it as an excuse to further their own, exclusionary agendas.
But do you want to know something? That’s not going to stop me celebrating the good.
Back in the bad old days of South Africa, people felt that we shouldn’t celebrate the country at all. But if we didn’t celebrate the good that was all around us – even then, at the worst of times – what would have been the reason behind struggling to make things better?
I celebrate Australia Day because, quite frankly, I choose to. And no racist yobbo is going to take that away from me.