In civilization terms, Australia — Terra Australis — our Great Southern Land — would appear to be quite young. As history has shown, any country can be invaded and populated by scores of other cultures and civilizations before the die is cast and a people are born. Then the cycle continues, the cast is broken, and another breed, another choice is offered.
We are lucky enough, all of us, to be witness to the planting of the seeds right now. We are in the throes of a great opportunity to learn from each and every culture, an Australian way of life, while being guided and advised by the latest original Australians. Our Indigenous peoples, as scattered and fractured and depleted as they are magnificent, were themselves once refugees in this country, and now face the eternal choice made by generations of every culture and country watching the dissemination of their way of life with sadness and anger. They have much to teach us. Embracing the varying racial influences in this country is a great opportunity. It’s simply another ripple in the never-ending tide. Ultimately, we are all a part of the same flow.
I’m a true blue skip with the atypical standard Australian ancestry story. The whispers in my bones echo from poverty stricken Irish convicts and outrageously wealthy English gentry — American Naval adventurers and Welsh servants — Celtic Princes and Yorkshire musicians. Illiterate and illegitimate. Educated and well mannered. Passionate and Desperate. Oversexed and Underfinanced. Overindulgent and Underdeveloped. Fueled with fires from each of their stories — one way or the other. One generation later, however, the blood of my children flows from a far more exotic Middle Eastern and European pool.
After a storm, the colors of a rainbow glow in pure brilliance. The children of the rainbow serpent, the melting pot of Australian immigrants, my Hibernian background and my Mediterranean offspring — we are all true blue skips. As each day passes, another spice is added to the pot. We all make a shift and extend space to include another shade, another smell, and another taste. Other races in other places and times have experienced war and suffering, as will we. History not only repeats, it rhymes! Our survival and prosperity are linked to each other and how we adapt to each shift and each new spice.
Both my Italian and Greek father’s in law arrived here as poor migrants who suffered hideous racism as a result of the White Australian policy at the time. They arrived as part of the then government’s Populate or Perish program with nothing but the promise of a new life. The Greeks and Italians took on the jobs that the present White Anglo Australians wouldn’t have a bar of while enduring a frenzied hostility and anger that they would bring Fascism to our shores and change it forever. As each decade followed in boats filled with various shades of the Earth’s peoples, the landscape of Australian culture has been painted in rich vivid bright stunning colors as a result.
And here we are once again with the latest wave of refugees. For many Australians, there is a grave and realistic concern that Muslim immigrants will implement their own laws in OUR country gradually tipping up and spilling the melting pot itself to actually restrict the very nature of our Australian way of life. If we identify ourselves as being one big mob all in it together, how can we open our present way of life into a culture that seeks to limit ours? Mmmm…………….de ja vu anyone?
I have to ask myself this question. Over the past 200 years, Australia has been a work in progress when it comes to culture. Who gets to dictate which culture is right for which country? I’m sure the laws that our Indigenous peoples had 200 years ago look a hell of lot different to our laws today. The British were the masters of the global sweep and implementing THEIR own laws is precisely what THEY did when they colonized Australia. Are we feeling now the way that our indigenous Australians did 200 years ago? Some scientists suggest that our original Australians are descendants of an early human dispersal from eastern Asia into Terra Australis. How did THAT pre aboriginal race feel about THAT invasion 75000 years ago?
Emma Lazarus wrote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” And New York, the greatest modern city of our times, was built on the back of the immigrant in this fashion.
This current refugee question is one hell of a complex issue as immigration over the past 200 years always has been There are no sides to choose. We are ALL refugees in one way or another.
This is a journey that all Australians take together. We all have something to lose and something to gain as life continues to be a series of profits and losses — positive and negative. As has happened in every other cultural injection throughout our short history, every ending is a new beginning. Every invasion will dislodge as well as provide refuge. There can never be a clear black and white – neither in people or in ideologies. Regardless of the date for Australia Day – our true blue skip children – whatever their roots – have much to celebrate, honour, appreciate and contemplate.