Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: On Being “UnAustralian”!

Fuck…I loathe that term. There isn’t even a way to categorise what is unAustralian – let alone having to put a capital “A” in the middle of a word…well, third letter in, anyway!

A couple of days a friend of mine wrote a verrrrrry long rant on the changing face of Australian culture. I read it all, to his credit, mainly because I disagreed with it all! Though he didn’t use the word unAustralian, what he had to say is tied into the same mentality. The word would have slotted easily into his rant.

I have to face facts – amongst my friends are some who don’t slot easily into the modern Australia. They are time-locked in a bygone era, where to be Australian was to be racist, intolerant and narrow-minded! This is someone who, two years ago, told me I was being “frivolous” going to TAFE to get my Certificate III in Fitness. That, indeed, all arts and humanities subjects should not be available through TAFE and universities!i didn’t hold back with telling him where to get off on that occasion, that we had a RIGHT to be able to further our education at any age, and in our chosen field. I heard no more about it. This is someone who also – though not now – post items from Islamic “watch” websites, who chose the slightest thing as a pointer to terrorism, and I have heard him spit bile at suggestions of the humanitarian handling of asylum seekers – illegal immigrants in his book. The only reason he has not been unfriended ( no capital “f” in that lol) is the longevity of our friendship, snd that he seems to have toned down his opinions over the years. His rant had bern instigated by an article in “Crikey” by a 17-year-old girl. A fluff piece – that I would have found amusing – on her tour through Canberra searching for the perfect macchiato, and her horror at finding a “Charcoal Chicken” in the centre of the city.

My friend felt that this type of coffee-culture elitism spelt the demise of Australian culture, values and lifestyle. Of course, to see this one has to assume that those values truly existed in the first place. He felt that we have become “soft”, too intent on the foibles of contemporary culture to any longer be able to uphold his values of a lost Australia. At no stage in his rant did he see himself as the lost person, out of touch, drowning in a rapidly changing world!

This puts me in mind if a recent post on the Starts At 60 facebook page about the Federal Government reintroducing temporary visas so that asylum seekers could spend time living and working in the general community. I had not seen the post, and another friend posted that she was so disillusioned by the comments she had read on the post that she had withdrawn from the subject altogether. Naturally, that piqued my interest and I had to check it out. Well, hadn’t that brought out the bigots and racists in their unadulterated hatred and spleen-venting! I was so disgusted, and posted my own comment on just how disgusting they were, and that how, having reached the advanced age and “maturity” that they had, they had, in fact, learnt nothing and needed to grow up. One if these horrendously disgusting people thought to take me to task, and informed me that they were not racists – and it was typical of my ilk, evidently – but merely offering an “alternative opinion”. I was pleased to inform him that a racist under any other disguise is still a racist! That attitudes if many older Australians just horrify me! Likewise, on a car trip to Melbourne with my partner and his mother a couple of years ago, as I sat next to her the front seat whole she took a turn driving, and we discussed life in the ‘burbs. With a triumphant glint in her eye, she was pleased to inform me that at a local meeting where she lived, they had overturned an application by “those towelheads” to open an Islamic school in the area. I was so mortified by her language that I was rendered speechless, as was my partner. Her attitude to people from the Muddle East who live here now so perfectly matched the opinions of my parents towards Greeks, Italians and Lebanese in my youth. As I have pointed out – on numerous occasions – I, thankfully, chose to ignore them. My parents ensured they had zero contact with these races, whilst I developed friendships with them through school, and in-home experiences with them.

I seem to be going a bit off-track here, but I’m sure you are getting my drift. We have a small population here, compared to most of the rest of the world, and yes we have an established culture, but it is a young one! It is also very malleable! Or so I was led to think! Just as our current hang-dog government thinks a return to the 50s would be a good thing, so do many others in our “mature” generation! I hate to say it but…do we have to wait for our current over-60 Baby Boomers to die before we dan move on! Do we need culture-shock tactics to get them to confront there own bigotry and racism! I fear so!

As a 60-year-old who doesn’t fit the mould, I see a different Australia to these people. A “fair go” has an entirely different meaning to me! I want to live in an Australia where all cultures exist in peace, and that the shared experiences of culture will broaden our horizons, and enrich our own Australian culture! I want the boganism of”Charcoal Chicken” to be as identifiable as the “elitism” of the macchiato!, yet the two live in peace alongside our culture of beer and barbecues! I want to see empathy and compassion for those seeking shelter here from the horrors of war and extremism. Despite the hatred and racism I have encountered on pages such as Starts At 60, my own personal experiences have been of people who are humanitarian and compassionate, who see injustice for what it is, and aren’t afraid to speak out.

There is no such thing as being “unAustealian”. It is merely a cultural shift that us yet to be generally recognised and accepted. The “fair go” still exists, and despite our government trying to sloganise and disguise it under the banner of protectionism and security, the bulk if us still want to see it practised for all wanting to live here. The boundaries may have changed, but the concept still exists.

I want a modern Australia. I want to see other cultural differences absorbed, and used to further enrich us! I want to see our fish ‘n chips beer-battered, our hamburgers become gourmet, our beers boutique, our coffees exotic. I do not want to live on a remote island cut off from world experiences, time-locked and worn down from the weight of continually challenging change! Only by accepting and welcoming change will we grow onto our full potential as a nation.

Indeed, we can all be Australian!

Tim Alderman
(C) 2014


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