If the point of a ‘national holiday’ is to celebrate and unify a country, then I can think of few examples that do it worse than Australia Day.
In fact, I think it is fair to say that our national day does the exact opposite of what it intends to.
It does not bring us together nor does it unify us, on the contrary, there is no more divisive day in the Australian calendar that Jan 26th
It is a day that is celebrated only by the proudly racist or the willfully ignorant, there is, quite frankly, no other excuse for it. That might sound like a harsh or unreasonable accusation, but I challenge you to find an exception to either.
We are a nation that wants to celebrate our colonial history while simultaneously erasing the realities of it.
Our history, all the way up to now, has been filled with violent racism, the genocide of Indigenous Peoples and their culture, and the embracing of white nationalism and imperialism. Not to mention pretending that widespread slavery never happened under the colonial flag.
The cognitive dissonance of this country is approaching supernova, and that is why this day, a day that literally celebrates the arrival of the first colonial fleet and the ensuing horrors that it brought to this continent, is a holiday doomed to failure.
As we have seen in recent years, more and more Australians are choosing to rightly denounce the day, rather than celebrate it.
The calls are growing louder for us to ‘change the date’ since holding our national day on the date the genocide started, is to put it mildly, a bit insensitive.
But I think these calls miss the point entirely.
The issue is not when do we celebrate genocide, the question is why do we celebrate genocide?
The question of Australia Day is the embodiment of every issue this country has with its national identity. It highlights how little this country understands about itself. It shows that while we seemingly want to celebrate our past, we also want to erase the majority of it.
What date should Australia Day be? In my opinion we have a much bigger question we need to ask ourselves.
Do we want to live truthfully or live a lie? It’s an honest question. Because the direction this country goes from here is entirely dependent on the answer.
If we choose the lie, if we choose to continue celebrating colonialism and erasing the reality of our history, then we might as well keep the date, fuck it, it makes no difference. We will continue to be a petty colony, with the ancient queen of a long dead empire as our head of state, and we will stay stunted and racist and refuse to grow up.
That’s one choice.
The other choice, is we take our head out of the sand and finally look at our history and our society with honest eyes and honest hearts, and that? Well, that takes us down an entirely different road… The road to decolonisation.
Decolonisation benefits every single person in this country, and it gives us the chance to build a national identity that is entirely ours, one we may one day be proud of.
If we wanted to, we could have a beautiful, compassionate multicultural country, one that embraces all the good our diverse population has to offer. That road has a bright future and could take us anywhere.
…Or we can settle for an eternity of mediocre white supremacy, and go nowhere, just like we have always done.
To me it is an obvious choice, but to break away from what we have always known, takes courage, perhaps more than this country has right now.
I don’t know.
But I do know this…
A healthy modern society isn’t built on lies, especially lies that hide ongoing genocide and systemic racism. This country has a wound in its soul, one that stays open because we refuse to ever have it treated. It is why we are so divided, it is why we have so much hate in our hearts, and why we are capable of doing the most awful things to Indigenous Peoples and refugees.
Our refusal to deal with our past is poisoning our future.
And if we continue to deny the reality of our shitty colonial past, it will be impossible for us to heal.
We are capable of much better than this, and frankly we are out of excuses for not doing so.
Our country may choose to keep celebrating this awful day, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Everything we have talked about here is not hypothetical, and you, dear reader, have a choice to make yourself, right here right now.
Will you keep living the lie or are you ready to confront the truth? Will you continue to embrace your false national identity, or are you ready to build a real one?
I don’t need to hear your answer, but you do, your soul demands it.
The decolonisation of this country will not be an easy or a simple process, it is going to be uncomfortable, and it will take decades. But it must, eventually, be done.
And I promise you it will be worth it.
I hope you make the right call.
…Oh, and stay home on January 26th, there is no pride in genocide, have some dignity, folks.
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