Should You Choose to Accept It…
This week we celebrate Australia Day in Australia, on January 26th. While attempts are made by various groups to reclassify it as “Invasion Day”, this undermines one of the many reasons the date was chosen – to bring people together – and, is ultimately, self-defeating. Indigenous leaders like Jacinta Nampijinpa, an Alice Springs Town Councillor and successful mother and businesswoman, writes that in her home in Arnhem land, the local Indigenous community takes this time to celebrate the good things they receive by being Australian. Her community actively celebrates all types of Australians, inviting them to their indigenous Australia Day celebrations and thanking them for their service.
This is a much healthier approach.
My mother escaped from the atrocities of millions – yes, millions – of Ukrainians being killed by the communists prior to and during World War II. We understand generational pain. Her mother and family escaped through war-torn Europe, while my grandfather (as a male doctor escaping servitude under the Nazis) also navigated his lonesome and dangerous way through the Eastern front to meet up with his family in Germany, while it was being bombed to oblivion by the Allies. I grew up with the story and its consequences. It was a fresh wound, not ancient history. Yet, my grandmother and grandfather, and their family, while devoted to their Ukraine, committed their lives to building their new nation. My grandmother was even awarded an Order of Australia medal later in life, in recognition of her service to women in Australia.
My wife, an immigrant from the wonderful land of Canada, was naturalised as an Australian citizen on Australia Day. We have happy memories of that occasion, welcoming new Australians come from across the globe.
This nation, built into one that embraces people from all cultures, was celebrated in a poignant way here in Perth every year with the Oz Day Concert, in which members of my family participated heavily for years (and one of my brothers chairing the organising committee for a number of years). It was a grand multicultural concert: Europeans, Asians, Africans, Americans, South Americans, Middle Eastern peoples, Islanders and more, and, yes, Australian Aboriginal groups would all proudly perform every year just before or on Australia Day, with thousands in attendance, eventually with picnic blankets and meals in front of them as they enjoyed the performances. The thousands of voices would all join together in song to celebrate Australia. That heritage is a great part of what we celebrate on Australia Day, not just whether someone landed in a cove on the eastern coast a long time ago. No matter which day we choose, we cannot – or should not – rewrite history.
Demolishing the day would demolish all of the happy histories, memories and meaning that goes along with it.
Every day of the year, there are people in Australia and around the world who suffer atrocity in their own lives, so any day one may choose will have stories of heartbreak and pain. Any one day could be viewed as a day of sorrow. The best way to get past that – and the way that our national leaders should, I don’t know, LEAD – is to focus on the good and the positive, to acknowledge honestly the sins of the past but strive to continue to solve the problems of today, and develop an even better tomorrow through gratitude and protection of the freedoms that we have in this country and others like it. The moment they give that up, we are all headed towards the same kinds of atrocities that other generations faced in the past and that other countries may even face today.
We have material prosperity, health services the envy of the world, resources, abundant land, open sky, vast and beautiful beaches, astonishing natural wonders, animals that make you laugh just by their appearance, larrikin Aussie tales and personalities, the grand royal histories, the Christian heritage that fostered the nation, the spirit of self-sacrifice reflected in the ANZAC story, the peaceful co-existence and collaboration of peoples from a global diaspora, and the very red dirt itself that echoes the stories of the Aboriginal dreamtime.
For my part, I’ll be toasting the Australia that people like my grandparents, mother and father built.
Happy Australia Day!
Where You Can See Me Next: TONIGHT, January 22, at the Rotary Club of Swan Valley, on “The 7 Deadly Sins of Leaders”. http://www.swanvalleyrotary.org.au/Speakers/d4497efd-9408-43df-b0aa-3d324ef38738
The Great Leaders Project: Spend a half day with me reviewing the fascinating stories and episodes of some of history’s greatest acknowledged secular leaders [*see following note] and take away lessons that you can apply that day. Date will be in 2018, depending on interest. If you would like to do this in a shorter online format instead, let me know. Register your interest by email to email@example.com. [*Religious leaders would involve too many ontological discussions, but if you ever want to do that, let me know and I’ll work it out – I have a minor in theology and worked in the faculty.]
The Business Success Workshop: Too many people fail to thrive in their business simply because they don’t know how to put everything together to execute. We’ll spend one supercharged day together in an entrepreneurial mindset, with owners, MDs and execs from diverse industries looking to dramatically drive forward their business idea. At the same time, we’ll consider the mechanisms you need to employ to ensure that you thrive personally and don’t lose balance in your life while you pursue your mission! Tentatively planned for February 2018. Register your interest by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transformational Leadership Retreat 2018: I’m using all of my coaching, educational & development expertise, research, resources and personal executive leadership experience at ultra-challenging levels to design the ultimate transformational leadership retreat – everything that can be accomplished in two and a half days does that not involve ropes and a drill sergeant yelling at people! I’ll be bringing in the big guns for designing this one and sloughing off all the dross and dregs of buzzwords and buzz strategies, so-called development and research that merely obfuscate and “lose the name of action”. If you want to be involved, or have a request for something you’d really wish you could accomplish through a leadership retreat/workshop, then let me know while I’m in the design phase. Watch this space!
© 2018 Peter J. McLean www.petermclean.co