I’m not sure what to celebrate about being Australian. I know there are a lot of things we can be grateful for.
One is that we are girt by sea. As well as providing miles of beautiful beaches, it keeps any potential enemies at a disadvantage.
Yet more and more people are becoming concerned, not that we are vulnerable from outside attack, but that we are vulnerable from attack from within.
Some people are frightened that, if we allow too many Muslims into our country, we will not only be vulnerable to a threat from terrorism, but also a threat from erosion of our way of life.
Already our laws, which are supposed to protect animals from cruelty at slaughterhouses by insisting on death by stunning, are thwarted by loopholes which allow for halal and kosher slaughter, during which, stunning is either not used, or is not used to kill the animal.
Of course, from the perspective of Aboriginal people, the enemy invaded over 200 years ago. Their way of life was seen as inferior by European settlers, and not considered worth maintaining. Our European ancestors thought that the ‘blackfellas’ needed civilising, and their traditions were not worthy of keeping.
Perhaps this is the same way that Muslim extremists now view our modern society.
Yet, there is much about our society that is worth celebrating. One is a fair go for all, regardless of colour, race, or religion. This has not always been the case, but now that it is part of our culture, we should ensure that we don’t lose it.
But this fair go cannot mean that our laws and our values are thwarted, which is why I believe that every immigrant to this country should be required to renounce any cultural or religious traditions which are known to harm other beings, and which are in conflict with Australian laws and values, such as female genitalia mutilation, and cruel slaughter practices.
How can we expect immigrants to honour our laws and values, however, when our government allows loopholes to our laws, and laughs at Australian values.
Yet the government is merely a reflection of the people whom they govern. We have allowed our country’s values to be forgotten.
We are too busy texting to offer true mateship to our mates. More and more people are feeling isolated even in a crowd, where they feel they have to put on their society face, and are not able to share their real thoughts and feelings with anyone.
At one time, our society would not tolerate cruelty to animals; yet we now allow systematic cruelty in our factory farms. So, why should the government worry if that systematic cruelty extends to halal or kosher slaughter in our abattoirs in Australia, or to long and arduous sea voyages for animals in the live export trade, and an even more horrendous fate on distant shores?
There is a lot we could have learned from the Aboriginal cultures, which our ancestors tried to eradicate.
We could have learned a strong communion with spirit. We could have learned to only take what we needed from the Earth, and no more, and to love her as part of our being, which she truly is. We could have learned the value of community, and the art of sharing with that community without losing our self-worth.
So, as we celebrate Australia Day 2017, rather than celebrate what there is to love about our country, when many of those things are becoming elusive, I would rather celebrate what I would love to see our country become in the near future.
I would love to see our country honour and respect all of its people, regardless of gender, race, religion, or cultural heritage.
I would love it if we could share our thoughts and feelings and know that the honour and respect would still be forthcoming.
I would love it if we could embrace our differences, as long as those differences didn’t allow anyone, including animals, to be harmed.
I would love it if we could learn from those Aborigines who still remember the ways of their people, and help their communities regain their honour, and help their people regain their self-respect.
I would love it if each of us realised our contribution to animal cruelty, and began to take a stand against factory farming, and against all other forms of animal cruelty.
I would love it if we began to also honour our Mother, the Earth, who gives us life, and if we could understand that, if we don’t change our ways, she may no longer be able to support human life.
I would love it if we could find a way to make the government accountable to the people once again, and for the government to be a true reflection of what we all wish our country to be – a land of freedom, a land of peace, a land of fair go for all, a land of love.
We are not very far from that country now. Each of us has to just remember that, as well as being Australians, we are first of all children of God, and when we each begin to emulate God in all that we think, say, and do, we will have a country that we can all be proud of, regardless of our origins.
Emulating God is not done by ritual kosher or halal slaughter; nor is it done by eating bread and drinking wine. Emulating God is done by being love, thinking love, and acting with love in all that we do.
Happy Australia Day!
What sort of Australia would you like to celebrate in the future?