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Being Un-Australian

I read recently a little commentary piece where someone was sick of hearing the pejorative “un-Australian”. It is something we read quite often in the press and although I confess its use grated with me I hadn’t given it much thought.

But when I come to think of it, it is a real cop-out!

I often see this terminology used to demean others and their activities. It is a lazy way of denigrating others.

It seems to me a way of vilifying others when we don’t have the arguments to substantiate our disagreement with their points of view. If I disagree with you or don’t approve of your behaviour I can simply put you down by saying your words or your actions are “un-Australian”.

Interestingly enough if you were born elsewhere (other than Australia) it is not likely that this pejorative will be used.

So going back to my original comment, once I label you as “un-Australian” there seems little more I have to say. I expect you to roll your eyes in tacit agreement and “tut tut” your disapproval of the villain so named.

I have a simple objection to using this deprecating terminology. If it is at all to be effective we must know what being Australian means so that we can label those miscreants that don’t fill the bill.

If we put the question to the population at large they would say that being Australian was to be generous, courageous, egalitarian, concerned, adept at sports and so on.

I suspect if I put a similar question to those of other ethnic backgrounds their responses would not be much different.

Therefore my premise is, if we don’t really know what it means to be Australian how can we possibly know what it means to be un-Australian?

The positive qualities of Australian citizens are probably no different from those qualities we celebrate in citizens around the world. The failings of Australian citizens are just as likely to be shared by the miscreants in other societies.

So what is the lesson here? Nobody is special. We are not special by dint of our nationality, our religion, our sexuality, our politics or our education or our up-bringing.

So let’s get over it. There is nothing special about being Australian. And perhaps if we were called un-Australian we should rejoice in being identified with most of humanity!

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  1. 8 Comment(s)

  2.   By Dave Bowman on Apr 4, 2012 | Reply

    Thank you Ted – a refreshing start to the day. Just saw the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” with my wife last night … wonderful … your blog just re-inforces the messages in the movie … what a wonderful mix humanity is!! … how positive to be exposed to others who are un-Australian!!

  3.   By John Grimes on Apr 4, 2012 | Reply

    Ted,

    I see where you’re coming from and I too dislke what the pejorative term ‘un-Australian’ implies. However I suspect that people who gather around various parts of Australia and the world (eg Gallipoli, Fromelles, New Guinea etc) on 25th April to honour the ANZAC tradition might disagree with your premise about not knowing what it means to be Australian.

    John

  4.   By The Venerable Father Robin on Apr 4, 2012 | Reply

    “Nobody is special. We are not special by dint of our nationality, our religion, our sexuality, our politics or our education or our up-bringing.

    So let’s get over it. There is nothing special about being Australian. And perhaps if we were called un-Australian we should rejoice in being identified with most of humanity!”

    I think everybody is special.

    ‘Humanity’ implies the existence of inhumanity.

    inhumanity stinks.

  5.   By The Venerable Father Robin on Apr 5, 2012 | Reply

    And if you’re not promoting Humanity, what are you doing here?

  6.   By Greg Brown on Apr 5, 2012 | Reply

    So what is special about being Australian? Years ago I would have said that Australians support each other, help out a mate, we are generous, we work hard and truly give it our best, we are prepared to laugh at ourselves, we don’t support a class system, we support the underdog, we buck authority and so on. The more I travel the less special I think we Australians are though. In addition the globalisation of popular media is changing Australian culture. American sit-com sarcasm has become very Australian. The smaller the planet gets the less Australian and the more human we will become. Let’s just hope the humans we evolve into are OK.

  7.   By Mark Brookes on Apr 5, 2012 | Reply

    Ted, I am currently enjoying a family holiday in Thailand. Having witnessed how many of the “tourists” treat the “locals” I am quite happy to be labelled un-Australian (and un-English etc for that matter). I share your view first and foremost we should not forget our shared humanity.

  8.   By Ted Scott on Apr 5, 2012 | Reply

    Thank you for your comments.

    Good to hear from you on your holiday Mark. I trust you are enjoying it.

    I thought Greg’s comment particularly insighful.

    And Dave, I know what you mean! Not having been to the movies for perhaps five years on a recommendation from the good Dr Phil my wife and I went to see the same movie yesterday! It was most enjoyable.

    And Father Robin you have a most obtuse way of agreeing with me. Surely if everybody is special, nobody is special?

    And John, you are of course right that because of an accident of birth I get to share a paricular history and set of traditions with my fellow Australians. I am not sure however I can be convinced that this has resulted in any particularly identifiable set of Australian traits. It’s a good point however and I will need to think a little more about it.

  9.   By The Venerable Father Robin on Apr 5, 2012 | Reply

    Different paths.

    Same peak.

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