I love my country and all of its diversity in landscape, animals, plants and peoples. There are good people here. I was born here and hope to always call this place home. I love that there is not one easy way to define our country, or what makes us Australian.
There are aspects of our country too, that I am not proud of at all. Our nation’s history, for starters, which for more than 2 centuries continues to be an unhealed sore for our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander citizens. January 26th, our own national day, is a divided experience for Australians. The date that our country celebrates British colonisation, is a sad reminder of the well established and undeniable fact that Australia was already populated with a thriving diversity of people, established for hundreds of thousands of years prior to colonization. These people, thus also their languages and their cultures, were cruelly decimated within a century.
People from our own Indigenous cultures, and people from other nationalities and cultural backgrounds, experience daily the challenges that come from looking different, sounding different, eating and dressing different, or observing different faiths and traditions. “Australians”, many of us having grown up with particular views of what constructs a model citizen, still aren’t always the most welcoming of people. I know this is not behaviour isolated to Australia – wars all through history are testament to this – but as an Australian in this day and age this saddens, angers, and embarrasses, me too.
In Numala Kinder we have a small community of children and families. Very small. Within our little slice of Australia, each of us come from a wonderful selection of backgrounds and cultural heritages from all over the world – and all of us Australians. Here is a photo of four Australian Numala Kinder children singing a song of healing to a chicken who had a broken toe. Without prompting, they formed a circle, passed the chicken around and sang whatever came from their heart.
I find I can’t sing the Australian anthem without sadness any more. I find myself longing for a song, a flag and a national day calling us all in together: something that doesn’t try to too hard to define us, rather is a celebration of our similarities as well as our diversity. I find myself wanting to sit in a circle and sing a song of healing to our broken history, just like the small people I spend my days with. Who says that adults are the only ones who set an example about how to behave and what to believe? More often than not, our children are already showing us how it is done: be friendly and go play. They already know how to be good citizens.