Australia is a growing society. It’s multi-cultural. It has thrown away the shackles of an isolated country in Asia, having confidence to stand on its own two feet.
But with maturity comes growing pains. Racism and immigration continues to be a debate that rages. The media play a big role in stoking its fire.
On a recent popular TV program called The Project, a segment aired called ‘Multicultural country with a pinch of racism’. It discussed the ‘phenomenon’ of immigrants living in distinct geographic areas, not assimilating and ‘sticking to their own’. How un-Australian. The pervading view was that anyone who comes to Australia should adopt the cultural values of the society it decides to reside, whatever that means.
This got me thinking. I love Australia. I am here to stay. The good, the bad, the rough and the smooth. I would never go back to England (never say never I hear you say). I am an Australian in the eyes of the law. But could I lose my cultural values? My identity? Is that possible?
After growing up with the hope that one day England might be good at sport and all the emotional torment that goes with it, should I suddenly start supporting Australia? Should I embrace the ‘fair go for all’ mentality (and the tall poppy syndrome that goes with it)? Should I forget my yearning for English crisps and sweets and warm beer? Should I eradicate those glass half empty greetings such as ‘mustn’t grumble’? Should I only have Australian friends?
My cultural values are made up of my childhood in a small English town, school memories, university, a fight with cancer, 8 years being in the ethnic minority in Hong Kong, food memories and travels that span half the world and, yes, cultural values built after another 8 years in Australia. I am a pot pourri of memories, feelings and experiences that aren’t necessarily defined by geography or language. I am simply me. I’m not a bad person.
I love this country and everything good and bad that goes with it. But only last week I had cravings for all things English, so I visited an English sweet shop and bought a tonne of crisps and sweets (see featured photo). I still speak with a strong English accent and I still find English humour very funny (especially my own jokes). I enjoy the banter with English people. So am I Australian?
What do you think? Is there such a thing as a true Australian? Or American? Or a Briton for that matter? If such an ideal exists, what are they like?
Our societies are changing so dramatically, can we hold on to an ideal that isn’t realistic anymore?
I’m keen to hear your thoughts…