The wonderful Shelley-Rae at Book’d Out is hosting the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop again this year, and I’m joining in a little late! After you’ve been here, click over to Book’d Out to find other wonderful opportunities to win Australian books.
Today is the day we celebrate our pride in our nation and its people. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have been born here, because it is an amazing country, with a wide diversity of resilient, courageous people.
Around this time of year though, as Australia Day approaches, I always find myself pondering what it means to me. And to be honest, sometimes I’m not always comfortable. I want to acknowledge that for many first Australians, the Indigenous people of this country, today marks an anniversary of a devastating event for their cultures – the first European Settlement of this vast continent, and the ‘claiming’ of it for the British Empire.
I also feel uncomfortable occasionally with some of the jingoism and the ‘pride’ that is loudly expressed, because ‘pride’ is a word we often use lightly and without thinking. In the media sometimes it seems it’s a ‘pride’ that excludes others, that places ‘us’ above ‘them’, that says that no-one is as good as ‘us’. And at those times I’m reminded of a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s amazing book, The Left Hand of Darkness :
And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend’s voice arises: and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?
Ursula le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (p. 235)
Now, please don’t get me wrong – I love my country, and I love that my fellow Australians are so passionate about it. I love the landscapes, the people, the places we’ve built, and the long history of struggle and achievement. But it was pure luck that I was born here. And that’s often made me think – can I be proud of that, when it wasn’t something I chose to do? What can I be proud of? What have I personally done, of my own choice and effort, to contribute to this country?
It’s a big question. I hope I uphold many of the ideals that my forebears who came to this country in the nineteenth and early twentieth century lived their lives by. My ancestors were all ‘ordinary’ folk – they weren’t famous or wealthy; they’re not mentioned in history text books. But they worked and raised families and contributed to their communities; they educated their children and volunteered their time to community groups; they took part in the lives of their towns and suburbs and took an interest in politics and had their say. Even my convict great-great-grandfather (transported for theft in 1837), respected the lives of others, rescued people from a shipwreck at great risk to himself, and eventually settled to become a respected family man and community member.
My forebears, right through to my parents and my immediate family, have all served their communities and through them their country in a multitude of ways. I could say that I am proud of that – but what they have done is not my doing. I can only truly be proud of what I have done, of how I contribute to my country, of how I uphold the traditions and ideals that have helped to make this country what it is and what it should continue to be – a wonderful, diverse, welcoming country, made up of peoples of many cultures, a safe haven for those fleeing persecution for a century or more, a nation that believes in a ‘fair go’ for all, and works to enable that.
I’ve worked in service industries (education and health) much of my career, I’ve volunteered in community organisations, I’ve served on committees, I’ve on numerous occasions written to politicians to express my view, and I’ve accepted and taken seriously my responsibilities to vote at all elections. I’ve always tried to treat others with respect, and have sought to understand the complexities of culture and history and to recognise similarities rather than emphasising differences.
I’ve tried to write my love of this country into my books; to write with respect for my readers, and to create with my fictional characters and communities a reflection of the diversity, the resilience, and the courage, that I see around me in rural Australia.
So yes, I’m proud to be Australian, and to be a part of this country. I could do more; I probably should do more. Perhaps this year I will volunteer my time again for a community organisation – I haven’t done enough in recent years, and our country relies so much on volunteers.
But enough of my rambling thoughts! Let’s get on to the book give aways! To be in the draw, just leave a comment on this post by midnight on
Monday Tuesday, 28th January, about what you’re proud of – whether you’re Australian or from somewhere else. (Because while we know that Australia is great, we also know it’s not the only great place in the world!)
For Australian residents: I’ll draw one winner who can choose between two wonderful books by Australian authors: Half Moon Bay, a thrilling romantic suspense set on the north coast of New South Wales, by Helene Young; and House for All Seasons, set just a little inland in northern New South Wales, by Jenn J McLeod.
For International residents: I’ll draw one winner who can choose between the ebook version of Helene’s Half Moon Bay, or an ebook version of my book, Darkening Skies – assuming those are available in the country where you live. Otherwise, I’ll send a paper version of my book Dead Heat.
When you comment, please mention which draw you’re entering.
For my fellow Australians, I hope you enjoy Australia Day, however you’re celebrating it!