Don’t get me wrong, I love brandishing an over-sized flag with the best of them and have been known to break out into slurred nationalistic anthems after only a handful of beers. Perhaps I’m sipping on the wrong brand of turps but I’m beginning to think that all this wonderful patriotic fervour is becoming woefully misdirected.
Take social commentators, Peter Fitzsimons and Mike Carlton for example, both of whom I admire for their journalistic idiosyncrasies and flair. Ne’er a day goes by without them bleating about the inappropriateness of our flag or the shameful ignominy of ‘Straya not becoming a republic. I don’t see them getting too hot and bothered about real, concrete threats to our country. Does the fact that the Great Barrier Reef may not have a long term future, appear on their radar? Are they having sleepless nights over the fate of the beautiful Tarkine, currently being earmarked for open cut mining? Is the continued decline in Koala numbers sparking any vitriol?
Surely, if you love Australia so much...not as a jingoistic, mental construct but as a place of deep spiritual and physical connection, then surely, by comparison, the pattern on a flag would fade into pallid insignificance as a trigger for outrage.
To me, the real patriots are people like Miranda Gibson, who sat high up in a tall tree for over a year in Tasmania’s spectacular Florentine forests to save the area from logging http://observertree.org/ or Jonathan Moylan, who is being hauled through the courts for trying to save Leard State Forest from being obliterated by Whitehaven Coal. http://maulescreek.org/
There are less Northern Hairy Nosed wombats on the planet than Pandas, can’t our wonderful sense of patriotic pride be galvanised to give them some rabid "one eyed" support?
The land we love is being poisoned, polluted, clear-felled, open cut mined and dredged. To use a sporting metaphor...we are being flogged all over the park. And, with apologies to Australian cricket captain, Michael Clarke... when it comes to patriotism, we are being sold a “pup”.
In 1775, Samuel Johnson famously said “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. I reckon it’s time to re-brand this misused human condition for something ever so slightly more constructive.
William Lines has written a book on this very subject...called, very appropriately "Patriots"