"We are one, but we are many and from all the lands on Earth we come"Yesterday was Australia day, a day to celebrate Australian colonisation and all things Aussie. It was a typical summer's day here in Sydney with blue skies, slight humidity and a pleasant harbour breeze. Myself and a few friends spent the day around Circular Quay and The Rocks taking in the festival atmosphere. There were FA/18's buzzing the skies, Red Berets parachuting over the bridge, bands, buskers and dj's scattered around the harbour and streets, ferry races and tall ships on the water and, of course, much beer flowing. And the Australian flag was being worn in a show of pride that I have never witnessed before.
Unofficial Australian National Anthem
Each summer, Triple J puts on The Big Day Out music festival. It tours the nation and New Zealand featuring leading Australian and international artists. In Sydney, the BDO is on the day before Australia Day and is a warm-up for the start of the long weekend. As such, the Australian flag is usually spotted among the mosh-pits and dance-floors of the festival. This year, in response to the race-riots of Cronulla, the BDO organisers requested that patrons leave their Aussie flags at home. The media naturally lurched onto this, dubbing the Australian flag "gang colors" in an attempt to stir the whole racism pot of hatred. Of course, Aussies being Aussies flooded the BDO grounds with Australia flags galore.
The spirit of defiance and national pride continued into Australia day with people of all cultural backgrounds sporting the Aussie flag in a show of unity. While the crowd at The Rocks was predominantly caucasian, there were Australians from all cultural backgrounds drinking and having a good time with their fellow residents. One of the friends I was with comes from a Sri Lankian background. Over a few beers, we discussed the cultural mix of the day and she advised that when she saw another person with dark skin they shared a glance of almost relieved recognition. It saddens me that one of my best friends felt that way, but placing myself in her shoes, I can fully appreciate why. We've all been in that situation where you feel like an outsider for some reason or another and all you hope for is a familiar face to put you at ease - someone else to share your discomfort. But the fact my friend should have to feel this way on a day to celebrate her country is a true shame. Our nation will never be truely united until we stop seeing colors, features and differences and start seeing people. And when that happens, what a truely great country we will be.
Happy Australia Day mate.
Songs played while writing this entry:
"It Doesn't Matter" Chemical Brothers
"All I Want is You" U2
"The Nosebleed Section" Hill Top Hoods
"Black" Pearl Jam
"No One Else" Weezer
"Loops and Tings" Jens
"Have a Drink on Me" AC/DC
"Blister in the Sun" Violent Femmes
"Saturday Night" Cold Chisel