If January 26 celebrations mean 'Become artificially happy because something wonderful happened in 1788' then Australia Day would be for the deluded and unaware. 20 years from now, if we play our cards right, we will be doing something very special on this day.
What might we be eating, creating, singing, and who with?
Australia Day Veranda with Housemates & Passers-by, Annandale 2017
This past year I read two books that re-wrote what I knew about my country's history. 'Dark Emu' by Bruce Pascoe, and 'Nanberry' by Jackie French. Both are children's book writers. Both are funny, love-filled, and use original diaries from the first days and years of our country. They make truth look fresher and stranger than fiction.
They make our future better than our past.
Australia day 1788
Captain Authur Phillips, our first boss man, was a pretty beaut bloke, from a horrible culture of domination. Here are some facts about him I just learned in the past year:
- He came from a poor landless family, and spend the end bit of his childhood cold, hungry and probably frightened on a ship that harpooned great whales up in the Artic.
- His headmaster described Phillip the child as "Unassuming, reasonable, business-like to the smallest degree in everything he undertakes".
- He refused to transport the prisoners unless they were given a few months of meat and better food, to strengthen them for a tough journey. The survival rate was extraordinary.
- Four the first four years, Australia was under his rule. Prisoners and free men had the same amount of rations. He talked of creating a new society where there would be no money.
-When dinner parties were held at government house, guests were fed from his garden, but had to bring their own bread roll from the rationed flour.
- He declared a death penalty for any British who killed indigenous Australians, and carried it out. When he was speared in the shoulder at a negotiation, he understood he was seen by aboriginals as leader of the destruction of their world, and made no reprisals, as it was true.
Unassuming, reasonable, and meticulous. It could be a lot worse.
It became a lot worse. Now its our job to make things better.
Australia Day, 2029
Its 2029. My mates and I are getting some skills in the 'invisible agriculture' that indigenous Australians perfected over thousands of years. We might even have mini pizza and cake, made from re-creations of grass-grain and daisy-yam staples. Maybe we will make 'fine cake and roast duck and new house' just like the explorer Major Thomas Mitchell got. His diaries record these gifts from brave and generous natives, when he and his men were days away from starving in the desert. Now in 2019, we realise that if we pay attention to the patterns of the creatures around us, food from nature can be 'predictable, convenient and abundant', as it was for thousands of years.
Better flag. Maybe our flad will now be the eucalyptus flowers that bloom at this time, always looking as festive as fireworks, gold and green and hot pink. Blue-and-red is for the military, for the neckties of politicians. A rectangular Union Jack imposed on lovely stars is a jarring design, and makes me think of Margarine.
In 2029 we camp a few months every summer, for fun. Now that robots have our jobs, we have more time to write poetry, do nature-farming, and splash in rivers. The rivers get cleaner each year, as we feel suitably embarrassed by what we put into them for a few hundred years, like infants dirtying their diapers.
'Success' these days means we get to do cool projects with cool people, all freely chosen. Some paid, some gifted, as we have to do something with our time. Everyone decluttered years ago, and owning heaps of cheap stuff is embarrassing. Maybe just for Australia day, we eat with people who think differently to us. A kind of truce. We also make things together, as talking wouldn't work anyway. Maybe more cubby houses. Or fish traps in rivers, just like the clever aboriginals built, many grandfathers ago.
We will sing together and have learned how to tell stories around campfires We got tired of You-Tube videos, and its a nice way to be creators, rather than consumers of our entertainment.
So, that's my story.
I've had some pretty good Australia Days in the past. Much better ones are coming.
I blog daily, with practical ideas to make daily life more creative and connected.
Visit recent posts here. My vision of the ideal future Australia day in influenced by the real-life Bathing, Building and Bonding weekend at Professor Mark's last week, with part 2 coming up next month.
Maybe you will be there. Or make the trip to Gardenfarm, where thats how life goes everyday.