Monday, May 6, 2013


Say Australia to somebody overseas and more than likely their eyes will light up. We are far enough away yet still enough of a presence on the international stage for people to recognise the name and still find it exotic. The land of economic prosperity among so many recessions, the land of the never-ending sun amongst so many european winters.

Just as I fell in love with spain, people can fall in love with the idea of Australia. It's easy to do when you're a foreigner that has a home to go back to and is seduced too easily by the surface of what you experience living or travelling through another's borders.

Australia is not perfect, although there is a lot to be grateful for when compared to the rest of the world. We have never had our 'own wars', when our politicians disagree they shoot each other only with words, we have medicare, land to spare, job opportunities, support networks, a national disability scheme - the list goes on.

On the other hand, we have to confront the truth of ourselves as a nation, like any nation. We are not perfect and we need not suppose that we are. There exists racism, bigotry, xenophobia, moral panic, discrimination, a history of colonial genocide and the white Australia policy and today we see a morally bankrupt approach to some of the worlds most vulnerable people - those who seek refuge and asylum.

Yet I love Australia. I do, I love this country - even though there is still so much that I find enraging. Maybe that's why I find fault or have an aversion to patriotism because it treats the nation as a faultless entity and too often an excuse to act in ways that might not be deemed acceptable if it was not for supposed and all consuming 'good of the nation'.

I love this country despite its dark history and moody chapters that are too often glossed over still. Despite the shameful debates and policies that continue to discriminate, to withhold a recognition of other people as deserving and human as those that reside legally within the borders of this nation we call Australia.

I love this country, not because as any patriot claims of their country 'it is the greatest nation on earth' (to suppose greatness achieved implies a lack of imagination and a failure to recognise shortcomings, the many steps forward that are lacking) but because of its possibilities.

I am grateful for my right to vote and aware that it has not always been this way. A female asian woman participating in democracy was unthinkable only a few generations ago in Australia. I am happy just to be here.

It goes without saying that I will miss this place when I leave, but today I'm here and feeling a little bit sentimental about this big ole island and its tiny little specks of other islands.

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