Daley, Paul: Australian patriotism: it’s not about war, it’s in our love of the land

Paul Daley

Australian patriotism: it’s not about war, it’s in our love of the land‘, Guardian Australia, 7 May 2016 updated

Daley rejects violent metaphors for election campaigns and suggests patriotism, always evoked at such times, is more subtle and gentle, being a matter of love for the many sides and strands of one’s country. ‘For a century now, but with increasing emphasis in the past few decades, Australian history and culture has become increasingly militarised.’ We don’t, says Daley, look far enough beyond military examples for our patriotism. Meanwhile, Indigenous Australians have a good grip on country.

[T]he Indigenous experience of loving one’s country is closest to the purest form of Australian patriotism I can find. Country: the earth from which the life force grows and to which it should ultimately return. Country: the place that provides food and shelter, and sustainable natural wealth. Country: the beauty of its trees, rocks, seas and creatures, and its sky overhead, to be celebrated and shared by all who experience it.

We should respect those, Indigenous and non-, who protect the environment of country. Beyond that, we should look for patriotism in many people who never wear military uniforms.

They are refugee advocates, scientists and doctors. Naturalists and archivists. Writers and artists. Teachers and occupational therapists. They include the man who drives the bus that takes the disabled young woman down the road to her place of work every day. They are the lesser known and the famous.

Daley refers to the valedictory speech of Melissa Parke MP. Meanwhile, we have added another 49 species to the list of species endangered in our land. Very urban but still fascinating are these pictures of just part of our wide brown land, taken from a blimp over Sydney.

Paul Daley is one of Honest History’s distinguished supporters. His chapter in The Honest History Book (2017) is ‘Our most important war: The legacy of frontier conflict’. He has been commissioned by Melbourne University Press to write a book, On Patriotism, for publication later in 2018. Also on this subject is this article of his.

Ben Wilkie blogs at Bombs & Biodiversity about wartime rhetoric and Australia’s dying heart. Wilkie’s blog is well worth browsing for material on the environmental legacies of war and conflict. Mungo McCallum in The Monthly is tired of the war metaphors in the election campaign.


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