Ok, so maybe it’s not The Big Question, but it’s A Big Question:
What does it mean to be Australian? What is great about being Australian? What is Australia Day all about?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Three Big Questions. Whatever.
The point is, I’m the Australia Day Ambassador for the lovely town I live in, which means that… I don’t really know what.
I will be giving a 10-15 minute keynote address to whoever happens to be at the showground for the official Australia Day activities, but other than that, I can’t really say. It’s a good gig, a warm fuzzy one, but I’m not sure that I’m exactly qualified to speak on behalf of… I don’t really know who.
I mean, maybe I swam a bit, maybe even represented Australia on the international stage, but for me (and I dare say for many) it was more about competing at the highest level than about “representing” a country. I didn’t really care where my competitors came from, just how freaking fast they could swim and I’m pretty sure that the feeling was mutual. Sure there’s rivalry – who doesn’t want to beat the Yanks at everything? But that has nothing to do with nationalism, patriotism, oi-oi-oi; it’s because the Yanks are good at stuff and we want to be better! Simple competition.
I’m facing a challenge here, folks. I’m supposed to get up and talk to a crowd of people gathered to celebrate Australian-ness but I don’t really know what to say and this is an unusual dilemma for Miss Verbosity. In fact, truth be known, I’m a little overwhelmed that I’ve been asked to share what I think at all. I mean, what makes my opinion more valid, interesting, worthy of being heard than anybody else’s? Australia Day organizers have been asking all kinds of “significant” people what being Australian means to them and their snappy, enchanting, titillating wisdoms are forming the basis of this year’s celebrations. But me?
This past week has certainly given me plenty to think about – sadness everywhere, so many people facing heartbreaking loss, tragedy, calamity. And despite the constant nagging ache that sits in my gut, the thoughts continually flying to Lori, to Queensland, to WA, now to Victoria and floods in Brazil, it has made me proud. Proud to be human. The opening of hearts, the generosity and compassion that have flowed from Austrailians everywhere are the best parts of humanity. But such love is not exclusive to one nation. There is no patent on “Willingness to Help”. Supporting others is not an “Australian” trait…
And herein lies my problem. Every quality that I love about Australian-ness brings me back to the fact that we are a nation of… drum roll, please… Humans! So what am I supposed to say on Australia Day? “Hey everyone, we’re humans, boom-boom!”? Hardly.
So, instead of having a crack at my own clever summation of the nation, I’ve decided to put it to you. Why get up and give my unwise, unremarkable, un-earth-shattering opinion (that is nothing more than a shadowy, hard to articulate concept anyway) when I can voice the ideas of the hundreds of “little people” like me whose thoughts about our community are just as significant as everybody else’s?
So go on. Have a crack at The Three Big Questions. Let me know what you think.
I’ll use your ideas as the basis for my speech. I’ll give credits where credits are due. I’ll let everybody know that The Blogosphere has spoken from suburbia everywhere, and when the fat lady has sung, I’ll post my Australia Day Address up here so you know that your voice has been heard.
So come on… where the bloody hell are ya?