What is Australian or un-Australian?

One wonders what that question meant to the early Australians, how they saw themselves or if they made an issue of it as often as we do, even.

While there is much mediatic fuss over what might constitute Un-Australian behaviour, it is rare to hear a proposed definition for what it means to be an Australian in simple terms that don't resemble any other.

What does it take to have an approach to life that you could call especially Australian? Editorials tend to fumble on that score, even in Commemorials. Not that it's different anywhere else. The mistake begins where we know how to be this or that—but mostly in terms of what to avoid.

Also in most places you must conform to a general idea of what everyone is supposed to be within the national borders, and it is regarded as offensive to add a couple of qualities people didn't know they had.

Expressions of national genius must fit within what can be recognised as being homegrown.

If you dig out a greatness that belongs in the land and no one knew of it yet, you get opprobrium, and every effort is made to bring back the territorial image to how it ought to be.
Worse, unearthing genial traits in the national genetic make up is treated as treason, in some places. Luckily, you can make it big as an artist, a scientist or in sports, without having to go abroad, and not always posthumously. There are other outlets if big money is involved. But this gets so involved you could fall asleep, just reading the lines.

Defining an identity is not a piece of cake. Because identity transcends emotion. You have to be precise, or you might paint your personal hero with features all heroes tend to share.

Take Mateship, one of the Australian fundamentals. You may be excused for thinking that mateship originated in Australia... By the same token, what appears to be a joke has a fine core. Indeed, a fellow may be friendly and a good mate, yet he may be un-Australian about it, if his sense of mateship were to prove variable, somewhat volatile or inconstant.

To make this a constructive observation we should stress that a fundamental Australian trait consists in weatherproof constancy of affection.
Whereas saying that it is un-Australian to lack a basic sense of mateship comes to an insipid remark that leads nowhere, apart from misleading everyone.

As a rule of thumb when dealing with identities, look for what something is in itself, not by comparison with what it is not.

Another pivotal point in the Australian psyche: The Digger.
Definition of the Australian Digger, from Futureprimer's PHAEDRA [Emancipated Dictionaries]:
Early Australian soldier renown for displaying general commonsense in appraising circumstances and a typical quality of humour, combined with self-denial and a capacity of selfless act, so that he often demonstrated bravery in battle as though heroism were just another job.

The Australian Digger...

Another psychological crime that has made a mess of every society is a tendency to turn ordinary human characteristics into specialised features, to be found in some places and not anywhere else—which is true to an extent, as in a cigar made in Havana or a night at The Moulin Rouge. If you are looking for an identity, however, you can't make it a theory that it is un-French to not know your way around a kitchen, un-Indian to be unfamiliar with Yoga and un-Chinese to be unable to perform Acupuncture...

Everyone has a sense of national identity.
This is harder to define in the case of a boy who survived a plane crash and grew up in the wild in a society of animals.

We also have a personal identity, which may be at variance with collective impulses, although both remain interdependent for a lifetime.

Excluding metaphysical reincarnations, all identity is shaped by what happens and what we do from the earliest years—starting in the womb, some say.
We all start in a different way, due to variable social conditions, strife or abject poverty—but the actual process of identity formation is the same, regardless of cultural imperatives.
We develop habits and tendencies, likes and dislikes, we acquire table-manners—at home or in the jungle, it comes to the same.

An identity is a total result. It is never a finished product, only a work in process.

But it is a total result in that it assembles every aspect of living into an image you recognise as your self.
This is achieved through what we see, do and learn, how we interact, what we choose to read or are made to read, the kinds of toys we keep playing with, until it becomes a way of life; the clothes you wear, depending on what is fashionable or because you like it.

An identity is a psychological piece of artwork, and language seals it all off.
An identity is a system of priorities based on a sequence of what means something to you, what may be a cause for greatness, pride, truly beautiful home sentiments.

We begin by imitating what is pleasurable and more likely to win.

But there are too many imperatives to choose from, so we must make a stand on what is valuable.

Real life shows that you can't bet with the same values in all circumstances, so you have to prioritise what works better for now from what is not essential immediately.
You are left with a system of flexible priorities.

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Australiana Links:

Australian Incentives

The Traditional Australian

More Homages Links:

Saturn in Leo Remembers Heroes

Mothers Day (French)

Fathers Day (French)

Fathers Day (English)


Author: René Blundo
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Last update: 9 February 2007
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