Australians - democracy

Our Australian Story is Worth Telling and Worth Defending

26 July 2023

1.8 MINS

I recently discovered that the grandfather of a colleague survived the Auschwitz Death Camp.

On the same day, I was reminded about the various persecutions within China from a member of Australia’s Falun Gong community.

Both, coming so close upon the heels of my attendance at the Vietnamese Day of Mourning for the Fall of Saigon, brought back a recurring thought.

Life in Australia is pretty good. We face plenty of challenges, but they are nothing compared with the challenges others have faced and do face. This is something to be most grateful for.

However, my thoughts are not just about gratitude. Surrounding them is the awareness that what we have is not permanent and things can always go awry.

Keeping Democracy Alive

Australia is a free and open democracy that does a reasonable job of looking after everyone. However, this is not inevitable, nor is it permanent.

We can lose this if we do not appreciate it and work to protect it.

We can lose the freedoms Australia enjoys if we do not strive to hold on to them.

Let that sink in.

The price of our lives in this country, the price of our freedom and relative comfort, is eternal vigilance.

The price of our stability is our awareness that our world depends on us.

It is crucial for young Australians to hear, remember and retell stories of struggle. Not merely for education in facts, but for immunisation against current threats. Apathy in the face of danger is a common problem in Australia.

Most Australians are well entertained and cushioned in relative luxury. To move on from apathy, we need to get angry at injustice, which means the stories must be told. To struggle against the inaction that isolation breeds, we need to work together to gain courage and strength.

Doing Our Part

Every time we talk about some “other” as being responsible for our problems, we give that “other” control over our lives.

Every time we complain about “politicians” or “the government” without acknowledging our part in their actions and their choices, we fall into a trap where we matter less and less to our own existence.

Our democracy relies on our conscious and intentional involvement. It relies on us paying attention and considering what might happen. And it relies on us getting involved – but getting involved in the most effective way.

Looking at those suffering under tyranny around the world, you see that the way they survive is by doing what they can – not in an ideal sense, but in a here-and-now practical sense.

This starts with the stories they tell themselves.

These stories create the foundation they live from, a way to understand the world so that when the time is right, they can act.

We need to remember who we are. Then we can discern what is to be done.


Originally published by News Weekly. Photo by Avan Fadli.

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One Comment

  1. Alyse Anderson 26 July 2023 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Eternal vigilance, is required to keep our wonderful country free and the best place on the planet to live. We must all step up to the plate, speak in the public square and continue to speak loudly without compromise.

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