“For flood and fire and famine / she pays us back threefold.”
Australia Day is messy.
Foremost, the flood of European arrival swept away vast plains of unrecoverable Aboriginal heritage. The brutal loss of life, history and culture in exchange for modern Australia is heartbreaking.
The fires this season have been scarring. The rising body count, the razed bushland, the drowning smoke that’s settled over our cities, all burn deep into the social psyche.
On a personal note, and of less significance, my trips to Australia have extended a famine of certainty and balance. Any crumbs of validation, growth and purpose have quickly been swept away and replaced with a great sense of isolation, pessimism and ultimately heartbreak.
But Australia is special.
Despite our mistakes, the intentions are right and progress is being made; despite the damage inflicted, she is beautiful and incredibly resilient; despite disappointing decisions, Australians are forgiving and overtly optimistic.
I don’t want to celebrate Australia without an opportunity to confront, mourn, and ultimately learn from the cost that being a modern Australian comes at.
I hope you have a happy Australia Day; one that’s reflective, concentrating and chock-a-block with optimism.