europe and australia

We visited Europe where human history goes back to forever.

A place of castles, cathedrals, museums, art galleries, iconic structures and statues, cobblestone roads, crumbling facades, Roman ruins, different languages, different currencies, labyrinths of metros and lots and lots of people. And did I mention castles and cathedrals?

There’s the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Tower of London, Grand Canal, Colosseum, Sagrada Familia, Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, Arc de Triomphe, Sch√∂nbrunn Palace… The list is endless.

Europe is a place where humans have made their mark.

I am from Australia where human history goes back around 40,000 years with the Aborigines, so it is said, and 228 years of European settlement. Apart from the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, iconic structures made by human hands are few and far between.

kakaduNatural icons, on the other hand, abound: the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, Karijini, the Bungle Bungles, the Twelve Apostles, the Snowy Mountains, Mount Augustus, Lake Eyre, the Great Australian Bight, Daintree Rainforest, Eighty Mile Beach, the Nullarbor Plain… The list goes on.

There are jarrah, karri and huon pine forests, deserts and vast spaces devoid of people. We also have kangaroos, koalas, dales-gorge-karijiniwombats and numerous other animals indigenous to Australia.

One national language is spoken. One currency is used. No metro. A few museums and art galleries. And you can’t see all the sights in a day or two. You can’t hop on the metro or tram to see one or another. You have to travel months in order to see all the sights Australia has to offer.

I think I can sum up my thoughts thus:

Man made Europe.

God made Australia ūüôā

standing for the dignity of women? … or just showing a gross lack of dignity

Apparently the world of women is buoyed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent speech in our Australian parliament. But Ms Gillard missed the mark by the proverbial mile.

In the one breath, she was vehement towards the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, accusing him of sexism and misogyny. Then in the next … nothing. She said nothing against the Speaker she appointed, Peter Slipper, for the denigration of women in his text messages to his former staffer who is taking him to task in court for sexual harassment.

In fact, she argued and voted for Slipper to remain in the Speaker’s chair, the most important position in the House of Representatives.

In the words of one of her own Labor Party members and former politician, Graham Richardson:

By Tuesday morning it is hard to believe anyone with an IQ over 100 would have believed Slipper had any option other than to resign. Yet seven hours later, the PM was on her feet defending him and, by inference, those texts. (The Australian, ‘Sticking with a slime goes beyond whatever it takes‘¬†12/10/2012)

Our Prime Minister accused one man of sexism and misogyny, but not the other.

Richardson further states:

The hypocrisy of defending Slipper while attacking Abbott for not respecting women is breathtaking.

Women of the world should not laud Ms Gillard for her impassioned speech, because she has been conveniently selective in who can be sexist and misogynist.

Further to this, within a day or two,¬†at¬†a¬†union function, a comedian¬†made¬†an offensive joke¬†about Mr Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin after which our Treasurer, Wayne Swan, took the podium and made a speech. There was no protest at the time, no walk out. Ms Gillard’s minions also got it wrong. They did not live up to the same¬†high moral standard that Ms Gillard set for Mr Abbott.

In the light of Peter Slipper’s transgressions, Ms Gillard did not live up to her own high moral standard. She has shown very poor judgement, has defended the indefensible and has clung to her position at all costs. Whatever Mr Abbott’s faults, Ms Gillard’s are such that she simply does not deserve to be in the highest office of our land.

I believe Ms Gillard is an embarrassment and has brought disgrace to the office of Prime Minister. She has, over time, proven that she has no credibility, no integrity, no morals or ethics. At least Peter Slipper had the nous to realise that it was time to go.

we will remember them

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
‚ÄĒLaurence Binyon

This morning as¬†we were on¬†our way to celebrate¬†our grandson’s sixth birthday we were listening to the radio and some stories of the exploits of men and women who served in some capacity in world wars one and two.

The comment was made that we regard these people as heros, but the diggers do not regard themselves thus. They think they are just ordinary men.

And they were.¬†Each serviceman was someone’s husband, someone’s father, someone’s son,¬†a butcher, a baker or maybe tailor or an accountant. They were just ordinary people who were called to do an extra-ordinary task.

Stories have been told of soldiers’ brave acts of sacrifice or the rescue of a mate under enemy fire. We have also¬†been told of¬†soldiers cowering in the trenches. In any event, they went to do their duty for their own country and for an ally. They fought the Germans and the Japanese.¬†They have fought in¬†other theatres of war such as Vietnam and¬†more recently in Iraq and Afganistan.

We remember those who died.

There were also comments on the radio to the effect that we should also remember those who have survived war because many continued to suffer torment after returning home; returning from a living hell to the nightmare of living with war injuries or mental anguish, now called post traumatic stress syndrome.

We remember those who survived.

Lest we forget.

anzac day: an australian sacred cow

lest we forget

The Australian media are at it again, creating mass hysteria in a fairly ignorant Australian population.

April 25, 2015 will be the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the beach at Gallipoli where thousands of our young men died, not to mention the thousands of Turks who also sacrificed their lives.

A group of six people, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, Mr Warren Brown, Major Matina Jewell, Ms Kylie Russell, were commissioned to report on the proposed centenary commemorations and The National Commission on the Commemoration of the Anzac Centenary report was presented to the Australian parliament on 28 March 2011.

In the last few days though the media, and consequently¬†many Australians, have focused on one or two sections of the report, especially¬†on the paragraph on page 71 under the heading: ‚ÄėRisks and issues to consider‚Äô.

The introductory paragraph to Risks and issues to consider goes thus:

There are four areas of potential concern surrounding the commemorations. None of these are definitive problems, but rather points that should be explicitly considered in order to ensure they do not introduce unexpected negative complications.

The following ‚Äėrisk to consider‚Äô is what has apparently¬†got up the nose of many Australians:

Multiculturalism: Commemorating our military history in a multi-cultural society is something of a double-edged sword. While the 100th anniversaries are thought to provide some opportunity for creating a greater sense of unity, it is also recognised as a potential area of divisiveness. There are strong views either way in terms of how to recognise any ‚Äėnon-Australian‚Äô military service of those who now live here, and this lack of consensus is well known. It was clear that erring by making commemorations ‚Äėoverly politically correct‚Äô would generate more negative reactions from the general public and in particular from ADF personnel and their families, but that the community does not know what recently arrived Australians think about the whole idea. This research did not explore the views of that group, and this is an area which we suggest could benefit from quite explicit further research, if not at this general stage, then certainly at the stage of any concept testing.

The term ‚Äėmulticulturalism‚Äô has sparked the media and social sites to a flurry of comments. The question that many are asking is: why would multiculturalism be a risk to consider about Anzac Day?

But the question we should be asking is: Why would we commemorate the ‚Äú‚Äėnon-Australian‚Äô military service of those who now live here‚ÄĚ, that is those who are still living, when we don‚Äôt even do that for our own living military personnel?

What Anzac Day has traditionally been about is that we remember those who have fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy in our country. We remember the dead, not the living.

One would expect that new arrivals to Australia would relish the idea of commemorating those who have died in battle to preserve all the things that our wonderful country represents: the equal rights of all its citizens, a place where we can freely speak our political views, where we are free to prosper and have freedom of religion.

Why not invite our new arrivals to remember our fallen soldiers with us?

Lest we forget.

australia, austraya, orstralia, os-tralia day‚ÄĒthis is ‘my country’

Australia Day, Austraya Day, Orstralia Day, Os-tralia Day

January 26 ‚ÄĒ Australia Day, or Austraya Day (cricket commentator’s English),¬†or Orstralia Day¬†(the Queen’s English) or¬†our PM’s rendering: Os-tralia Day, depending on one’s upbringing and education¬†‚ÄĒ the day we Aussies rejoice in our beautiful country.

This is the day Aussie people stick Australian flags on their cars and parade around proudly and patriotically. I think today and ANZAC Day are the only days Aussies in Australia and abroad openly display their patriotism, although it is always there, lying hidden deep in the recesses of our psyche.

Every Australian who knows it, for sadly many of¬†our young do not, would say a very loud ‘Amen and amen’ to the sentiments in one of Australia‚Äôs most iconic poems ‘My Country’ penned by one of our illustrious poets, Dorothea Mackellar. Following is a bit of a break-down of¬†‘Core of my Heart’ later renamed¬†‚ÄėMy Country‚Äô.

The love of field and coppice / Of green and shaded lanes
Of ordered woods and gardens / Is running in your veins ‚ÄĒ
Strong love of grey-blue distance / Brown streams and soft dim skies…
I know but cannot share it, / My love is otherwise.

Here are images of the mother country, England, and the nostalgic remembrances that many early pioneers, and yes, convicts, would have had for their homeland. But the last two lines show that¬†the poet’s allegiance is elsewhere. The passion she feels for Australia¬†is evoked through the strong imagery in the following stanzas.

I love a sunburnt country, / A land of sweeping plains
Of ragged mountain ranges / Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons / I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror ‚ÄĒ / The wide brown land for me!
—– —– —–
The stark white ringbarked forests /¬†¬†All tragic¬†‘neath the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains / The hot gold rush of noon¬†‚ÄĒ
Green tangle of the brushes / Where lithe lianas coil
And orchid-laden tree-ferns / Smother the crimson soil.
—– —– —–
Core of my heart, my country¬†‚ÄĒ / Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us / We see the cattle die…
And then the grey clouds gather / And we can bless again,
The drumming of an army, / The steady, soaking rain.
—– —– —–
Core of my heart, my country, / Young Land of Rainbow Gold¬†‚ÄĒ
For flood and fire and famine / She pays us back three-fold…
Over the thirsty paddocks / Watch, after many days
The filmy veil of greenness / That thickens as you gaze…
—– —– —–
An opal-hearted country, / A wilful, lavish land¬†‚ÄĒ
Ah, you who have not loved her / You cannot understand…
‚ĶThe world is fair and splendid / But whensoe’er I die
I know to what brown country / My homing thoughts will fly!

Australia is a land of so many contrasts and colours: the red earth of the north west pulsating under the mirages and the unrelenting sun; the cool greens of the rainforest in the north of Australia; the aquamarine blues and greens of the sea truly sparkle like jewels¬†‚Äď an ‚Äėopal-hearted country‚Äô indeed.

Flood, fire and famine have been a curse to many in our wilful land, but she comes through in the end, bringing blessings aplenty in the cycles of life here. And it’s through these trying times that the Aussie community shines and through the good times that we enjoy our lives together.

We are known as the ‘lucky’ country. We are, more importantly, a country blessed by God. We have such a rich indigenous heritage, along with the heritage of the early European¬†settlers and convicts. Lately we have added to the mix, the traditions of peoples from other countries, whether Asian, African or Middle Eastern.

Read my boy Dan’s blog I heart Australia¬†about his love for his native land. He expresses it beautifully. And read Judo’s blog Australia day with the family to see the sort of thing Aussie¬†families do on Australia Day.

I know one thing for sure¬†‚Äď when I am in a foreign land, I get terribly home-sick for my country and my people. There is no place like it¬†in the whole wide world.

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