On Australia Day we had the pleasure of speaking with a variety of people from many different backgrounds – cultural and social.
Overwhelmingly the view was to be proud of where we live, appreciate our community and give back to it where we can, celebrate our successes and acknowledge our differences. Above all, be inclusive and respectful.
The premise of Australia Day is sound – celebrate what makes Australia great; it’s people, history, community values, and our collective future.
The date itself is not the most ideal for that purpose given its acknowledgement of the First Fleet’s arrival and the subsequent “invasion” of white settlers across land lived on for thousands of years prior.
Do we modern Australians celebrate January 26 for the reason it marked the beginning of white settlement? Or do we just want to keep the public holiday where we can celebrate living in a free country full of opportunity and promise?
Irrespective of how many articles we published on a variety of topics and events in recent weeks, we were singled out for a couple that spoke to the “change the date” movement (one of those was even a balanced approach pointing out arguments for and against the idea – whether or not anyone read it through before commenting is arguable)
“BDN you really hate democracy don't you. When will you listen to the majority?” “You’re just trying to start arguments.” “Left-wing media stirring the pot.”
Interestingly enough, those people commenting haven’t joined the conversations on the multiple other articles this week talking about Australia Day activities and events not directly involving our First Peoples.
Who’s stirring the pot?
Division in our community is being fed from both ends. While bigotry continues to raise its ugly head on Facebook – it’s an easy outlet for sharing views – some of the most divisive comments are from one of our Indigenous community members, who is also rather selective in the articles with which they choose to engage.
Thankfully, one of the targets of their outspoken views is more respectful. (I trust there’s no hard feelings for re-purposing a message that was sent to me directly).
“I hate no-one and give respect to this great land as it has given me everything. I'll still love him if I ever meet him and also understand him. But go forward, not back, and his people would be a lot better off.”