Sunday, 25 January 2015

January 26th: Not My National Day

Fellow citizens of Australia:

What are you doing tomorrow?

It is our supposed national day.

Are you?:
A: Waving the British flag with pride?
B: Feeling lucky you have a public holiday?
C: Partaking in a barbecue lunch?
D: Watching the Cricket or Tennis?
E: Listening to the Hottest 100?

Ironically, January 26th is Australia Day, but its also India’s Republic Day. On this day the people of India celebrate the day in which they were free from their British colonises and formed an independent nation in 1948. Contrast that to what Australia celebrates on January 26. It is actually the day where British colonists first settled in this country, and chased its native people away, slaughtering many of them, and claiming the land as their own with a smug sense of entitlement. Yet more than 200 years later we choose to celebrate this as our national day. We should not. It should be looked upon as a national day of shame.

I am proud of the majority of Australia's citizens, but it seems that anytime one chooses to criticise our great nation that person gets called ‘un-Australian.’ For me at least, being called ‘un-Australian’ is itself that very thing. One of the great things about our country is the ability to openly criticise and question things. If I lived in some countries I’d get shot for writing what is below, calling the stereotypical members of our population short sighted and myopic, calling our supposed ‘national day’ a complete and utter disgrace.

Even when the general populace fail to grasp what the significance of the day actually entails, a vocal minority choose this day to behave in an appalling manner. They display our nation's flag, a British flag, (not an Australian one) with the same sense of superiority as their forefathers. Rather than the flag becoming a source of national pride, it is rapidly turning into a symbol of militant nationalism. Our British flag was and continues to be a graphical representation of all that is wrong with this nation, our shameful past, and now it has become a symbol which people use to malign those from Non-European backgrounds.

A national holiday should celebrate the things that define our national character. A celebration of our past, present, and future: a day when we as a nation can truly celebrate an event which defined our national character. We already have this day. It's on May 9th.

That's the day Australia's Federal Parliament was opened for the very first time in 1901. The day we were born as a nation, when all the disparate state colonies on one continent federated together and formed Australia. It is a day that signifies the best parts of Australia: diversity, the right kind of positive nationalism, the importance of both regions and urban areas with their different objectives, and the strength of Australian democracy.  Yet 99.99% of the population don't consider this date important. Why not, you may ask?

Think about that on your day off.

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