Barbecuing zucchini is not un-Australian
I am concerned at the logic that because some jerks are treating Australia Day the way Liz Taylor treated the institution of marriage that we should get rid of the celebration altogether.
The structures of our society are no better or worse because of actions of a few. Trend is not established by a few data points.
Global warming is not off because of a cold snap in the UK. The monarchy is no more appropriate for Australia because Will seems like a great bloke. And our flag is no more or less appropriate because some people (mis)use it.
What Australia means - “brand Australia” - is the collective actions of 21 million people.
To borrow from thinker Remo Giuffre: “The Community is the Brand”.
If we don’t like the way we are seen, don’t change the bloody logo, change the way the community acts.
If a large number of Australians are feel disenfranchised then let’s work to make them feel less pissed off and address why they need to express their frustrations and insecurities.
For a start we could put away the word “bogan”. Its use (but certainly not in its severity) is the exact equivalent of using the word nigger in the US. It might be OK for those from a culture that has appropriated it, but not for those outside. Language works that way. (Btw, I have seen no evidence that so-called bogans have appropriated the word bogan. It is really just a gutter swipe at a socio-economic sub-class and no fair-minded person should need to do that.)
Australians throw the phrase around like they don’t care that it hurts some people. Perhaps we don’t care. Perhaps the chardonnay class (chardonnay is back by the way, now that sauv blanc is the new chardonnay) likes the thrill of being able to denigrate one subset of society and take the moral high ground at the same time.
The use of the phrase is providing an opportunity for Australia to tear itself apart by pitting bogan against non-bogan for the high moral high ground. The fight between those who are Australian and those who are even more Australian.
Who is more “Australian”?
Is it the person who grew up in a low-income suburb, went to crowded, under-funded schools, was told constantly they were no good, saw the reward for sporting prowess placed over any intellectual pursuit, and knows that even if they save 20 per cent of their after tax income for the rest of their lives they will die with a mortgage representing 80 per cent of the value of their house?
Or is it the lucky person who was told they could amount to something, saw the evidence of it among others in their community, was encouraged at school, and had the physical security in their home life to pursue it?
All I am trying to say is that if we continue to fight over the soul of Australia, there will surely be no winners. I got to watch first hand the fight over what it meant to be American, and it was clear that only the fringes win in these battles.
And in case my wife accuses me of laying into her homeland, I agree with her suggestion that we should just say “thanks” on Australia day. We don’t need the American festival of turkey, but why not take one day a year to just say thank you to those Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians who came before us?
If we are going to get serious about this question of who represents Australia then you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The only way to do it is develop a well audited system of “Australia Points” that citizens can monitor and know where they stand.
It starts with the test for citizenship. Not only new immigrants, but a modified (bit simpler, please) version for standing Australians. The higher your marks, the more in your opening account.
Then all we have to do is work out which activities get you more points. The more points you have the louder you can express your opinion and wear your Australian-ness with pride.
The only issue will be working out the system:
When it is 40 degrees in Sydney on a summer day and 48 in Penrith, do the people in Penrith get more Australia points than those who sit in the shade of leafy beach side suburbs?
If I am constantly bullied at school, do I get Australia points per punch?
What if I eat cheap Chinese as my best meal of the week, do I get higher Australia points?
If I put zucchini on the bbq does it negate the Australia points of the marinated lamb on the other side of the BBQ?
If I put zinc on my nose when I go to the beach do I get as many points if it is the invisible zinc?
If my thongs have a flag on them but are an American brand do they score as high the plain Billabong ones? (And is walking on the flag cool?)
Are there different points for the sauces I use? Tomato, BBQ, hot chilli, sweet chilli?
Should I drive slowly but accelerate fast from the lights or should I drive fast and accelerate slowly? Should I have a designated driver or abuse a cabbie?
And what of the fear that I will rack up heaps of these Australia points and just like frequent flier points never be able to use them when I want to?
Given that a national “Australia points” system is as likely as a unified rail gauge, perhaps we should kick back today, say thanks to those who have made today possible, and work on what sort of Australia Day we want to have in 2020.
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