Daily post: What constitutes patriotism?

Patriotism? Pledging allegiance?

When I was a kid, it really griped me than my elder sister was always insisting that I define my terms. I didn’t want to define my terms. I wanted to have a rip-roaring debate with ideas jostling for space like nuts in a Whittaker’s peanut slab.

But now I find myself asking what you mean by patriotism and swearing allegiance. They’re not terms we use a lot. Maybe we don’t wave flags and swear allegiance because we don’t feel the need to prove anything. Half the world barely knows we exist, and those who do are firmly convinced that we’re all brash and ignorant yobbos who spend our time throwing another shrimp* on the barbie, wrestling crocodiles and avoiding the kangaroos that hop down the streets of major cities. This is good for a chuckle. We know we do, we’re not, and we don’t, but making a song and dance about it isn’t going to change anyone’s minds.

So on the whole, we get on with loving Australia without too much fuss. Don’t try attacking us, though, or you’ll discover there’s more to us than you think. Official war historian C E W Bean (WW1) suggested that the Anzac spirit stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat. That’s our brand of patriotism in action.

Obviously not all Australians are gloriously happy with their homeland – and why should they be? Progress depends on seeing faults and righting wrongs. And we have our share of disgruntled expats: one size doesn’t fit all. Such is life.

*We call them prawns, not shrimps. It annoys me that we have to alter our language to be accepted for foreign markets when the same doesn’t happen in reverse. But it does mean we know more about you than you know about us. Everything has its benefits!

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