The Big Question


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?

And after you’ve commented, head over to the Flog Yo Blog Friday list at Wanderlust, hosing for RRSAHM Lori.


9 responses »

  1. Whoa. This will require some thought. First of all, though, you’re as qualified as anyone to give the Australia Day speech. More qualified than many. And you’ll do a great job.

    In my opinion, Australia Day has been taken over by the flag waving brigade in recent years. I’ve always associated being Australian with a quiet pride, an affirming belief that we are lucky to live in the Lucky Country.

    That’s all I’ve got right now.


  2. Australia Day 2007 was a gorgeous day in Melbourne, perfect for BBQs. I know that from the paper. I was in a hospital labour ward in the midst of a posterior labour that turned to crap and ended up in an emergency c-section. Australia Day for me is my number one cherub’s birthday and I’ll be waving my flag for her! I’m with Alison- Australia Day in the last 10 years has turned too American for my liking- beer and bozos. I like the quiet pride concept, the citizenship ceremonies and I really like the lamb ads. There- I’ve written your speech for you! Thank me later.


  3. Nadzy… Remember those times travelling for swimming/family/spirituality? I’ve recently come back from a journey around the world… being Australian is that pure, simple and yearning desire… to come home!
    I’m posting a link here to a u-tube video, I hope it still exists. It was a project some of David’s old media students did years ago, they’ve all since moved on to budding artistic degrees and helping him with his ABC3 audition tape, but they posed the question to him and unscripted mind you, he talked about what it is to be an Aussie. I LOVED it and he’s a natural! Only problem – the project was an “add for Batlow Apples”!!!

    Love you. x


  4. Bummer… can’t paste the link here but if you go onto YouTube and search Batlow Apples it should be the first one with Elle McPherson walking out of the water!


  5. What is great about ‘Being Australian’ is those who take every opportunity to lighten the load of others around us.

    Especially – those who risk their life to rescue others or even horses; SES workers who fight fires or floods while their own houses burn or drown (? – you know what I mean)
    Great post.


  6. Being Australian means embracing freedom, choice and family.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you choose to look at it, in distasters such as the QLD floods that we are seeing now, is where what it means to be Australian is truly shown. The outpouring of compassion, supportiveness, and togetherness is what it means to be Australian. Other cities in the world fall apart during disaster times, but as

    Australian’s we band together. I know it sounds clichéd, but it is the truth.

    It is also in ‘coming home’ after being away travelling, that you appreciate what a beautiful, diverse, and rich country we live in.

    Righty O that is enough patriotism for one day!

    Good luck with your speech, I’m sure you will nail it 🙂


  7. Australia is the 2nd country I have immigrated to that has and displays strong patriotic feelings.
    Sometimes, it just makes me laugh or puzzles me (when people declare having a BBQ as something ‘so Australian’) but it’s true, in the context of the floods, again, ‘being Aussie’, being ‘Queenslander’ is used to describe acts of solidarity, of humanity and selfless help. Like you, I believe, it’s what makes us ‘human’ and fortunately, this ‘phenomena’ can be and has be observed in many other places and circumstances.
    Sometimes, people refer to ‘Christian values’ in similar situations, and here too, I think you don’t have to believe in any god in particular to spontaneously decide to help someone in need. You just need to have a good heart.
    At the same time, I understand it is important to keep the spirits up, and appealing to feelings of community, of common grounds, is a good way to make people work together in these times of crisis. Way to go, Anna Bligh!
    It would be inappropriate and, especially coming from a foreigner, badly received to criticize the display of ‘Aussieness’ at this point and I won’t. But I am hoping to hear in future speeches and appeals the inclusion of ‘the people that have come to live here’ from all over the world as much as other regions of Australia, because they’re also concerned by the floods, and they are also helping!
    If I was to hold a speech, I would go as far as to say “I am a Queenslander” because Brisbane, Qld has been my first home and was a significant new beginning for me.
    It appears to me that Australia is a country composed and built by immigration, and it’s an ongoing progress.
    It’s good to be patriotic, but it would be nice to include those who were not simply born here but actually chose to live here. If that is not prove that you love the region and the people in a place, I don’t know what is.
    On a sidenote, the term ‘the lucky country’ (NOT meant in a positive way when initially coined) gets a whole new meaning when you think of the other similultaniously or recently flooded countries, in already crisis ridden (Pakistan! Sri Lanka) or poor regions (Brasil) where, I believe people would help as heroically and selflessly as in Australia, but they simply do not have the means to do so.
    Queensland, and the other flooded regions in Oz will get through this, and grow further through this, because we have to, and WE can. ALL the people that live here.
    Born and bred Aussie or not.


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