"I am ashamed to be Australian"

I've heard a lot of people trumpet this in the last few years. Along with the chastisement "That is un-Australian", this ranks up there with what is fast becoming cliched, hollow rhetoric:

As an Australian citizen, let me assure you that I will NEVER be ashamed of my country, or its people. I may dislike certain elements of it, I may even detest certain places, or political decisions. This will not make me ashamed of my country, my heritage or the fact that I live in the greatest country on Earth.

We have some funny rules about who gets to live here, we spray the passenger compartments of planes arriving on international flights with aerosol cans from top to tail before they land, we have people like Pauline Hanson and Ivan Milat, gun murders in Port Arthur and a society that began life as a rather large jail for the riff raff of Britain.


We also have some of the best red wine districts in the world (The Barossa Valley for example), some magnificent coastline, world-heritage listed national parks, the Great Barrier Reef, International sporting events (the Grand Prix in Melbourne), the Australian Open tennis... We also make some great films

We have some of the best sporting teams and individual sportsmen and women in the world.

Here's a list of other amazing Aussies from past to present:

I cold go on, there are many, many amazing things that have come from this wide, brown land of mine. We don't like to think of ourselves as overtly patriotic, but we are a proud nation.

So the next time someone tells me that they're Ashamed to be Australian I will politely remind them that they are free to leave at any time. Another luxury we take for granted here in this great land.

I am Australian, and proud of it.

Goodness me, Patrick Bateman! How easily I seem to fit your "most Australians are beer swilling, sport watching yobbs" model. Being good at sport does not necessarily make you a good person, I agree. But then neither does being good at science, education or the arts. Inspiring a nation, being a hero and giving people something to aspire to on the other hand...

Time and energy spent becoming the best you can be in your chosen field is not time wasted as far as I'm concerned. If that's running faster over 400m that anybody else or pioneering medical discoveries, it's far, far better than sitting around wishing your life was better, and that the world didn't suck as much.

For the record, I am apalled at our treatment of refugees, and I didn't as you suggest stand by and do nothing. I used my vote at the recent election as my conscience dictated. We still got John Howard, but that's democracy in action, isn't it? I am not "most Australians", neither are you, and neither is everybody else in this country.

Please don't suggest that I am a nazi simply because I choose to be inspired by prominent sports people as well as other significant Australians.

You listed more sports stars than real achievers. That makes me ashamed to be Australian. It is typical of Australia to think that being good at sport is something really important and noteworthy, whilst science, education and art are all elitist pursuits and viewed with a sort of mild disdain (although I acknowledge you listed a few such achievers). Being able to run very fast does not make you a good person. Winning the cricket does not make you a good person. Don Bradman was a great batsman, but he still allowed religious differences to come between him and his team mates.

As for the 'minor' issues that you so casually brush aside, Australia is facing a great moral challenge and many Australians are unwilling to even admit that it exists, let alone resolve it. The 2001 Tampa Crisis and various subsequent refugee-related controversies have been a horrible exercise in manipulation and xenophobia and have helped to bring politics in this country to new depths.

I strongly believe that an Australian (or anyone) who lives in an ostensibly free society has a duty to care about the actions of the nation as a whole. Although I would never suggest that there are parallels between Australia and wartime Germany, would you say that the apathy of ordinary Germans made the holocaust ok? To show you that I'm not just ranting, here's some words from wiser heads than mine:

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." - Dante

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." - Edmund Burke

"Now that no one buys our votes, the public has long since cast off its cares; the people that once bestowed commands, consulships, legions, and all else, now meddles no more and longs eagerly for just two things--bread and circuses." - Juvenal

So, rather than glibly suggesting that those who don't like the way things are going in Australia are free to leave, perhaps some Aussies should turn off the sport and take an interest in what is happening in their own country, or maybe leave themselves.

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