AUSTRALIA 2012, by Katerina Dehning

Here it is again, another Family Newsletter, another deadline for articles, and another question from Hans Dehning, “Will you write something?”
“I’d love to,” was my answer, except that right now we are living and traveling around Australia due to Bruce’s sabbatical and having time for thinking and writing is crucial.
“So write something about Australia,” was Hans’ reply.

So here I am writing about Australia.
How much do we actually know about this great country hidden Down Under?  Not much, I’d say.  You never hear about Australia in the daily news and you almost never meet Australians outside of their country.  They are there, we just do not know who they are.  It is kind of an invisible continent compared to other places, yet it is the land that almost everyone is eager to know more about, and it is worth knowing because it is an interesting and unique country.  It is very nice and very young too - the youngest in all measures.  It is a land of rough beginnings and history of which some would rather forget.  Still, in Australia you may find out what mankind is made of, and capable of, if things are going the right direction.  The more I learn about Australia, the more I admire how far they have walked as a nation.  Did they make some mistakes along the way?  Yes, they did, and a lot of them.  Did they learn from them?  Yes, they did.  And they keep learning as they keep growing.

Australians are a cheery, easy-going people with a good sense of humor, therefore it is pleasant to travel and stay in their country.  It is especially nice for Americans, just because Australians like them very much.  And Americans like Australians.  I am sure the immediate reason is the same language and similar background of their nations.  It is not a coincidence that Australians chose American architects to design Canberra, their capital city, and it is no coincidence that they also chose an American architectural firm to design their Parliament building.  The admiration is mutual and connects both nations in the past, as well as bringing them even closer for future cooperation.

In their very short history of a little over 200 years since the first settlers, Australia has gone through many amazing changes.  But what leaves me in awe the most is how something so negative could be turned into something so positive.  It is very nice to be an Australian today and here is why:
It all started with Great Britain and their never ending greed for spreading their empire further and further to all of the corners of the globe.  They did not arrive many places as the first Europeans, but they were sure first to claim the places for their own.  That’s what made them so ‘Great,’ I guess.  What they did not count on was the absolutely incredible unruly nation, called America, who decided that being under the British Empire was not made for them.  America declares independence in 1776, wins the war, and Great Britain loses their largest and richest colony.  Not only that, Great Britain also loses the place where it likes to ‘dump junk.’  “No more imported convicts from Great Britain, either,” calls America.  Britain is getting into deeper trouble.  An economic revolution drives their citizens to the edge.  Unemployment is growing, as is more crime.  Great Britain starts looking for an available place where it can be rid of its unwanted citizens.  The place is called Australia.  It was already discovered, now they just need to claim it for themselves and one problem would be solved.
Australia was started with people called convicts.  Let me remind you that at this time it was very easy to become a convict.  It was just enough to be poor, uneducated, and hungry; steal some bread and you end up in jail.  Tough times.  Before you know it you were shipped off to a far-away land.
But Australia was not started just by convicts.  There were also free settlers coming soon after, gold miners, and just pure luck-seekers as well.  Despite all this, Australia was viewed as a nation of unwanted Britons who were here to change their behavior.  And this is the part that interests me the most.  The fact of how the ‘Mother Nation’ put Australians down.  It made fun of them, and definitely looked at them as less worthy citizens.  Still, a couple hundred years later, here rises a nation full of confident, handsome, nice, and the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet.
Today Australians view Brits as the unlucky ones, who stayed behind and are still trapped back in old, small, stuffy Britain.  While they [Australians] are free and happy in a new great continent.

If there is a lesson to be learned from the story of Australia it is this: whatever bad happened to us in the past, it is not an excuse for being bitter and mean about it in the future.  However we start does not mean that we have to be that way for the rest of our days.  However low we get, there is not any reason for not rising up again and maybe even outshining the others.  You can always be better for it, not worse.  Australia is the living proof.
There is no use to feel sorry for ourselves either.  Did you ever notice that the nations, tribes, or people who feel sorry for themselves usually sooner or later disappear?  Feeling sorry for yourself is the beginning of the end.
Well, Australia did not feel sorry for itself and today has one of the best economies in the world, and one of the happiest, nicest, and proudest citizens in the world.  Millions of immigrants are flooding to this great land just to get a piece of the Australian feeling.

What would the first settlers/convicts think about that?

G’Day from Oz J

April 1- 2012 in Sydney, Australia