In seeking to ponder the great things about Australia, I was tempted to focus on the recent advertising on the benefits of eating lamb, its ability to bring world peace and the fact that the only real way to celebrate Australia Day is to throw a few lamb chops on the BBQ!
Many of my farmer friends would applaud that approach, but these ponderings are seeking to go somewhat deeper than that. The theme this year is “Celebrate what’s great!” General Peter Cosgrove in his 2010 Australia Day address does that very effectively. He talks about Australia as being a place of “Sunshine and Shade” and encourages us to celebrate those occasions where we have been able to bring light and hope to many dark situations. He goes on to remind all of us of the role played by the ADF in East Timor, Bali, Middle East, Solomon Islands, and after natural disasters in places like Indonesia and Samoa. In all these cases “Australians behaved wholeheartedly and equitably, kindly and compassionately”.
Yet he admits there are also some shady areas, “pockets of racism” and our treatment of indigenous Australians. There are no easy answers, but he is confident, as am I, that it is our very nature to be optimists, and we will continue to pursue a “highly moral, inclusive and stable society” as we have done throughout our short history.
I am proud to be an Australian, and it is my hope and prayer that we will continue to bring light and hope to dark places, battling for a fair go for all no matter what their racial origin or religious background both at home and abroad. How? Obviously eat more lamb!
Chaplain Ian Whitley