I do not love Australia. Sorry - just don't.
I love G-MAn, the ducks, my friends, my family, the sense of place we share, and a few inanimate objects, but I just don't warm to abstractions, like Nation for example. A nation is not a real thing just because it has a name. A nation is an idea, not a way of life, and certainly is not some thing worth dying for.
Alien nation more like. Not yellow peril turn the boats back type alien, but the alien I feel when expected to manufacture sentimental attachment to this 19th Century ideological artefact. It is 2012, there is a world wide web of connection between us, we can fly to the antipodes of wherever we are in 24hrs, but I am asked to continue to believe in such an anachronistic social construct as Nation.
I watch, incredulous, as the mainstream media continues pumping out nationalist hype, when we all know it is just emotional manipulation, not as sophisticated as advertising, but to the same end. E.g. I just heard Julia Gillard declare that the people of the world are tired of war (as if we were never awake to it). Not a week passed before the papers were pimping stories of tragic losses with doe eye'd dead boys beaming up at me from the front pages of the weekend press, designed to make me too, tired of the war so they can popularise pulling out of the wreck of Afghanistan and onto the next theatre of destruction.
Hate to say I told you so, but I clearly remember marching with a few million other people Australia wide, in protest against the recent American wars. Wrong way, go back we all pleaded with our banners and chants. When so many could be so soundly ignored I realised then that Australia had swerved from apparent democracy into full-on oligarchy of vested interests. Every time the war machine gets wound up and we commit our children to its hideous maw, I hate the idea of Nation with just that little bit more conviction.
I think I lost my fealty to Nation somewhere round about the time I realised that Sunday school was not really school and Santa was really our local pedophile in a cheap clown suit. I did once love it, as was expected, and cupped a chubby little paw over my heart as I recited the creed on parade, in the blazing North Queensland sun; I love my country, I honour her flag, blah blah blah, like so many Nazi kiddies once did, and North Korean and American kiddies no doubt do today. And tomorrow, in their dead great-grandfather's jingling decorations, decked out in crisp navy whites, polished boots and plastic guns, our kiddies will be up at sparrows fart, participating in their own grooming for anticipated heroic sacrifice.
In particular, my nephew will be there in the pale dawn - a Sea Scout bound for the navy. It's either that, or a dead-end service job on the Sunshine Coast - already a vast Brisbane slum, except no one wants to actually admit it. He'll be showing off to his grandfather, trying to steal some thunder from his cousin in the army, bound for Afghanistan - logistics, so I guess that means they'l be moving on out. Cutting and running is I think, the expression.
But not the boy who's been staring at me all week. He's already home. His vibrant gaze beams up at me from the page, asking for my what, adoration? pity? But all I can manage is contempt. Not for him - poor, bright, thwarted, wasted soul. My contempt is for a nation that would not only sacrifice his life, but also lie about its reasons for doing so. Bastards. How is our society to be compensated for the loss of his potential? And I mean social, not economic potential. What blood money have we unwittingly accepted in exchange for his life?
So, off you go Australia. Jangle your jingo and drape your flags, pin your poppies, conjure up a fluttering clamour of bunting and emu feathers and hug yourself to your nation's bosom. I won't be joining you in a drink to the dream of confected golden fields of honour and glory snatched from the jaws of monumental defeat. Go ahead, love your manufactured idea of Australia.
But remember - it does not love you back.