Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Australia Day

Local identity, Sheepie, celebrates Australia in the same way many thousands will today- a barbie and the beach.

Without wishing to sound jingoistic at all, I think Australians would all do well to spend a few moments of quiet contemplation and count up the many reasons we should be grateful to live here. Here's a few to start: we enjoy a democracy; peace; a working judiciary; a free press; we've managed to combine all that is good about capitalism with enough safety nets to catch the not so well off; an education system; health services for all; clean water; reliable electricity. etc etc.

Recently I read Peter Hartcher's The Sweet Spot. It is a wide ranging read through Australia's political and economic history to show how we got here. Here's a bit from the blurb,

"Hartcher argues that Australia's prosperity was not built on dumb luck. In a time when the authoritarian success story of China is strong, Australia offers a better model: a democratic success story. Is it perfect? Of course not. But on some of the most important and appraently intractable problems of the modern world, Australia, believe it or not, is as good as it gets. And the beaches aren't bad either."

In a time where our politicians and media seem hell bent on pushing why things are so bad in this country, and will get worse, and why we should be fearful, Hartcher's book is an welcome antidote. We have challenges and inequalities, no doubt, and we shouldn't rest on our laurels. But I can't think of a country in the world better placed to rise up and meet them. Far from being fearful, and as hokey as it sounds, we need to count our blessings.

Happy Australia Day to all. Be thankful. And enjoy your day whatever you're up to.

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