Is it just me, or does anyone else feel that Australia is losing its sense of identity, what makes it (and us) great and what it stands for all in the name of development? I”m a migrant, but I came a a migrant in the 1980s. I called South Australia my home and was so enamoured by the freedom, the open space, the wonderful culture, the whole ‘Aussieness’ of it all.
Regrettably we returned to the United Kingdom for family reasons and have only recently returned — everyone including my children and their children too! Australia has always maintained its place in our hearts; we knew we belonged here.
New South Wales is very different to South Australia, I know that, and in the country towns I’m sure I would find life much the same. However, Sydney seems to have thrown itself to the mercy of corporate greed and is slowly destroying the very things that once made it so different. We only have a couple of hundred years of history and yet we are allowing investors (often from overseas) to tear down beautiful old buildings and erect concrete monstrosity Lego cell blocks in their place.
I want to weep. When I think of the beautiful buildings left alone in nearly every other country I’ve visited because they represent the history of that country, it saddens me that there doesn’t seem to be the same value in this country. How can we celebrate our history if we continue to remove it?
I recently observed that beautiful natural plants and trees had been cut down in one area. Of course, it was to allow for the huge block of units opposite to have an unobstructed view of the lagoon. Heaven forbid its residents should be encouraged to cross the 100m or so to look at it and take a walk in the sand.
I admire our nation’s attitude of welcoming all to its shores. I’ve done it twice myself… However, are we diluting then with our acceptance of all new and diverse cultures the very Aussieness that attracted people to want to live here in the first place?
Recently, there was an unveiling ceremony at the Welcome Wall at Darling Harbour in Sydny. I bought an inscription for my son and his family, so that our heritage was marked in history and because I am now a proud Australia. I listened to wonderful and moving stories from second and third generation refugees, I heard the tributes to the indigenous people of Australia and felt a sense of pride that they were recognised in such a way — a subject I feel very strongly about. Yet, when I returned home in the evening and was relaxing in front of the television, I became horrified that there would be a program airing called Black Comedy.
The show, is a sketch series on the ABC that satirically looks at what it means to be ‘black’ in Australia. I was taken aback. I am living in a society that is so politically correct that using the word ‘black’ to describe someone is frowned upon. We get chastised for saying ‘coloured’. There has been public outrage and the banning of a beloved toy. I have become so frightened about saying anything of another culture (good or bad) because of how it could be interpreted. Yet, here I was watching a program that was supposed to be comedy. Australians used to be very good at having a laugh and having a dig at other cultures, but now it seems that it’s inappropriate to do so for some and not others.
It’s quite confusing… Who are we, Australia? What do we stand for? I worry that it won’t be too long before we’ve completely lost our identity and are just another cog in the big political machine.