2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

Sometimes, you need to keep a mantra that you repeat to yourself in your mind. Something to help catch yourself when you’re not feeling so great. Between a chant and a statement. Something to prop you up on particularly bad days. They say that our thoughts create reality, and if that’s so, it’s easy for me to drift towards negativity and pessimism, which in turn can manifest itself in negative experiences. It’s a concept I’m starting to believe in, the idea that your thoughts create your reality. You really do manifest your existence by your attitude. In saying this, I’m not a fan of the whole claptrap ‘The Secret’ idea, where if you think of money constantly it will come to you. This kind of deluded activity can only inevitably result in further disappointment and loss. As self-helpy as it is, however, trying to think positive thoughts has been something that I have attempted to insinuate in my life. I try to tell myself things that will either calm me down and destress my mind, or give me a boost of confidence.

I keep little notes about my flat in places that I will always see: bathroom mirrors, Fridge doors, next to my desk. I’ll glance at them occasionally. They say things like, ‘I’m willing to change’, or ‘I speak and think positively’. They become familiar maxims that have in turn grafted themselves within the recesses of my mind and the shape of the words become burned into my mind’s eye. As crazy as it sounds, it helps keep me above water and to keep paddling along.

Despite all this, there are always times when I feel defeated, and that crushing sense of anxiety and doom persist. It’s not a great feeling. I can be my own worst enemy at times; it can be so easy to simply crumple into nothingness and become recalcitrant and lazy. I’m learning to be able to detect these moments and to deflect these feelings, and to really work on being aware of my moods, as well as external influences.

So what are 3 things I’m not telling myself enough?

It’s never too late, and you’re never too old

 

Being 33, I sometimes feel that I have squandered so much of my time and life. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life, and I really don’t have much to show for it. I spent my 20’s being lazy and indolent, and now I sense that I am paying for it. My workplace is full of young, 20-something go-getter types who exude youthfulness, vibrancy and a sense of excitement at life that is so far removed from my existence. I always wished to be this kind of person in life. The energy level is always high and everyone’s personality cheerful and bright. I look at myself and consider myself over the hill occasionally. I think at times that I have wasted the greatest gift that could be given to anyone, being life.

…However. As I get older, I begin to find myself meeting and interacting with people of similar age or older than myself; many of whom have changed careers, transformed their lives, and have found prosperity and success not in their 20’s but later on. It’s such a gratifying and inspiring thing to behold; to be in contact with people who have done so amazingly well for themselves, and it goes to show that it is not a prerequisite to be a precocious 20-something in order to be successful. This has in turn made me rethink that no, life isn’t over once you hit 30: in fact, I feel it’s just really getting started. I know how cliché that sounds, and that it’s *such a 30-something thing to say. But I need to tell myself more that it really is never too late, and that no, I’m never too old for anything at all. For heck’s sake I’ve just successfully mastered the art of skateboarding [grazes and scratches on my limbs not withstanding] at 33. There really is something liberating to knowing this, yet it is something that I really do need to tell myself more and more.

 

Be kind to yourself

I know that I am far to hard on myself I tend to self analyze and self criticize far too often, and far too harshly at that. I don’t know how people could not be hard on themselves. It seems innate with me. Maybe it’s a result of parenting, and a strict Catholic education. This harshness and strictness results in me easily and without any restraint belittling myself in my mind. I can spiral out of control with the thought process of ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m not worth it‘ and so on. It’s really become something that has been almost second nature, this trashing of myself. Because that’s what it really is. I’m figuratively trashing my whole existence. Like a snake eating its own tail. It may feel good for a short while, it might fill you up as there’s something intoxicating about talking yourself down, ripping your own self to shreds, yet it won’t in the long run keep you full. I guess it’s been liberating, being cruel to yourself, as it becomes a tool and justification to simply just ‘giving up’, and not working at the issue of being kind to myself.

I don’t know if this is something that you yourself, dearest reader, has ever possibly experienced. Maybe this sentiment is foreign to you. I don’t know if you’ve spent the nights unable to sleep because you’re filled with regrets about choices made or not made in life, or that you can’t help but feel inadequate, too fat, too short, too ugly. Or that during the preceding day, you think you’re an idiot for saying this, or doing that. I don’t know if because of these ugly and maligned self-harming thoughts it’s resulted and manifested itself in physical form, or mental illness in yourself. It really is like a drug, talking shit about yourself. It’s easy to do, and not so easy to stop. It can manifest itself in so many ways outwardly as well. Mannerisms, general outlook. Personality and humour. Even posture.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to give myself some slack in life. I give myself time to do what I want, and what makes me happy. I’m also learning that it’s not a great idea to dwell on thoughts far too much, or to compare myself endlessly to people that I will never be, for whatever reason. I still trip up like many of us do, and have my bad days, yet this is something that I am aware of.

 

I must create.

 

As the two points above are preoccupied with the mind’s well-being in a nurturing,  self-healing and self-aware respect, this point is something that I need drummed into my mind like rote, endlessly.

I  must create.

The need and desire to make something, anything at all, to produce and be prolific with what I come up with is a definitely tangible feeling within me. Like a tendril of smoke that is somehow able to pull at my psyche, willing and urging me to continue on. An invisible string pulled by some great puppeteer in the sky looking down on me.

I always feel the sensation and need to create. Whether it be a simple line in a journal, or taking a photo, or writing a blog post, there’s this fantastic sense of accomplishment as well as release upon the completion of something that I have worked on. I don’t know what will come any of it, if anything at all. I’m not too sure I care. If I don’t do any of this regularly my mood declines sharply. Creating something has become a bulwark of life, colour and imagination against the demonstrably drab reality of work life. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job as well as my colleagues. Yet at its core, it is a very physical, task-based job that does not give itself over to creativity or imagination. Which again is fine, as this is what I wanted in a work place. But there is really something to be said of having a side project of my own apart from day-to-day life, something which I feel I can get so much out of by putting so much in. I must create because I must put back out in the world, and not just consume. I must create because I feel this inherent need to, it is very much a part of me.

So, these are the 3 things I need to tell myself more of everyday. I don’t know how successful I am at telling myself these 3 things, yet the good news is that I’m aware.

 

What would your 3 things be?

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Thoughts

My Ideal Day

If money was not an issue, what would your life look like today? How would you fill your days?

For me, if money was not an issue [as it would be if Utopian Socialism worked], I would fill my days with learning and trying to make myself better and improving myself. Yup, super cliche, I know. I would still try to wake up early and hit the gym, as it’s become a place that I enjoy going to and exercise something that has really helped me grow and become a healthier person inside and out. I know this sounds so self-indulgent, and typically self-entitled millennial of me, but really, without the need to work to provide for oneself, I would make my life about being better as a whole, and experiencing the most out of life.

I would go for nice breakfasts, maybe eat something sweet like pancakes [because why the fuck not] with coffee, sit outside al fresco if it was a sunny day, perhaps sit inside if it was cooler or wet. I’d have an Ipad loaded with paid-for subscriptions like The New Yorker or Time magazine, and I would spend an hour just reading, eating breakfast, sipping my coffee, and then planning my day ahead and what I wanted to accomplish, work on or get out of my time for the day. Maybe some days I would go to different cafes for a change of scenery, maybe I would have weeks or even months of frequenting that same favourite cafe that does coffee just how I like it, or cooks a great breakfast.

After reading through an article or two in New Yorker or Time, or perhaps a newspaper, I would take out my journal or perhaps go on Daily Page and start writing. Maybe I would be with Adrian, or maybe alone. I would then work out my day and break down what I would want to achieve or get out of the day.

Maybe one day would be spent reading, or playing computer games, or maybe having lunches with friends and loved ones. I might go visit my nonna and hang with her, or go for a drive up to the mountains. I know some days all I would do would be anything I want. Like even playing World of Warcraft for endless hours. Maybe I would simply while away the day in the sun at a park, or a beach or pool. I would try to gauge how I felt, and do whatever my heart desires. I’d like to think however that I would try to learn something or create something no matter how small each day. Perhaps a little blog post, or a journal entry. Maybe I would walk about the city and take pictures. I guess because currently with the need to work and pay bills and rent, I don’t have this luxury. I envy people who come from wealthy backgrounds as this has afforded them something more important than money, rather it has given them the freedom of time.  Many of these people take this luxury for granted and squander their time. I wish I didn’t have to work 9 hours a day five days a week. I wish I could emulate that archetype of the Renaissance era person of art and passion, and had the time to muse and delve into creating things.

If money was no issue, I would make sure to have my own workspace away from home as well. I would use this as a base for inspiration and production, as I tend to work much better when away from the many distractions of home. In my head, I picture my ideal work space to be a light-filled large converted warehouse room with high ceilings and tall windows that let in lots of light. It would be somewhere not too far from home, perhaps a ten minute walk, so I would have no excuse not to go, and maybe situated around the corner from a cafe, where I would grab myself a mid morning coffee. The walls would be a pure white, unadorned, and the floor would be either old and worn wood flooring, or polished concrete. I picture a desk set up in front of a window, with a nice large desktop computer, as well as plenty of writing materials. I would keep this desk as organised as my current desk is at home: everything would have its place. It would be here that I would write or create or build or work on something, at my own pace and in whatever direction I felt. I would have a large inspiration wall where I would pin anything that I found inspiring i.e. posters, prints, magazine clippings etc.

 

In the middle of the space would be a big old vintage work bench table, the ones that have thin long drawers underneath to put all your bits and pieces like stationary in. I would have stools set up around it, and I can imagine it being loaded with open coffee table books, magazines and all manner of bric a brac. I imagine myself spending time pouring over a new book I bought, or simply jotting down brainstorm notes.

Spread about the space would be studio lighting and equipment, and maybe some props as well, as I would hopefully be organising photo shoots when I could.

I would try to spend as many days as I could here with the intention of experimenting, exploring and producing anything that I was inspired from. I think that would be the sum of my days, working towards being inspired and prolific. But heck, the place could be sitting empty and unused for days on end if I felt like doing something else. I think that’s what I would want from my days: the luxury of freedom and abundant time.

Every month or maybe weekend I would aim to get away with my boyfriend, and we would do little trips and adventures. I see myself taking him on trips to the countryside and driving for hours on quiet roads and stopping in sleepy country hamlets and staying in quaint B and B’s. Perhaps every few months we would go away on longer trips further afield, and go places that we would never usually be able to.

My life would be one of contemplation, exploration, experimentation and joy. I’m lucky with life as it is to have some distilled and minute form of this life I picture. I’m able to have a small fraction of what I describe above, and I’m eternally grateful that I do.

If money were no issue in your life, what would your ideal day look like?

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Sydney

[De]Motivators

The biggest motivator that has been driving me lately has been time itself, and the fact that as every day that goes past that I don’t write or contribute is a day lost. I’m motivated lately by fear. Fear now, of looking back at my life and feeling shame at myself, for not trying hard enough and not working hard enough. I feel as though I am at a point where I really have to start pushing for myself, and to continue working with what I have and to make my goals a reality. In a month I turn 33, I’m no longer a youth. The days of being an aimless lout are far behind me. I’m supposed to, according to society, have my collective ‘shit together’. It still doesn’t feel that way. The last few years have seen me try to try to work out what it is that I’m good at, enjoy doing that will make me some money. The idea of ‘finding yourself’ can be cute and romantic, but not once you get into your mid 30’s. I’m not after fame and fortune, I’d rather just be comfortable and be able to have freedom to be able to travel, or perhaps one day own my own home. I can really feel the clock ticking these days, the nerves fraying, In back of my mind my own voice urging me to write more, contribute more, to take more of a chance, and to not let slip any possible potential opportunity that may come my way.

I guess sometimes fear of the future or of failure can be an immensely potent motivator, yet I also sense that it can bring ruination. As the flip side of this is the response of ‘well whats the use’ or ‘I’m doomed to fail anyways.’ It’s hard sometimes to stay focused and on the ball and to continue on when at times it all seems pointless. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with over and over again in the past. The smallest set back will trigger my confidence and morale to collapse. I picture it like an eagle posed, ready for flight, and when it takes that first sweep of its wings something goes wrong. It’s been a game in itself to keep my confidence up and in flight, it’s been an absolute disaster when my confidence and morale plummets. It’s something which takes time to re-balance itself enough for me to get back on my feet, dust myself off and try again.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure at life. Which is how I’m feeling at this moment. I feel that I’ve not accomplished enough, I’m not travelled enough, and I’m not doing enough in my life to bring me joy, happiness and yeh maybe a little success and prosperity. Success continually seems to elude me.

It’s very easy to place yourself next to someone else and consequently compare yourself to them. They might have all those things you desperately crave. A great job. Amazing looks. A great body. Lots of friends. People paying attention to them because of these things. In my world, it is easy for me to fall into this trap of envy. I find myself doing this more and more these days, and it worries me. Being in the Gay world of Sydney, as well as Melbourne, everyone seems to have something that they’re doing that brings them something quantifiable and desirable: money, career, attention or exposure. Everyone is to my eye out partying, doing photo shoots, getting great gigs, always at fun parties dressed up in crazy outfits. I get a little bit envious and down at times. All I seem to see is other’s displaying how fantastic their lives are, which isn’t even necessarily the truth. I feel sick about myself and insecure. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin at this point, when will I be? Does the act of me comparing myself to others work as a motivator, or de-motivator? What reason then do I want the things out of life that I do? For my own wellbeing and benefit, or simply so I can feel better about myself and what others think of me?

Motivation has to come from the right place, and lately for me it hasn’t. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to others, which is a toxic and unhealthy approach. I see people taking selfies at the parties, dressed to the nines, at the gyms showing their biceps off. All of this self-aggrandisement has an effect on others. An effect that needs to be monitored and contemplated and considered. I’ve also thought of myself as ‘too old’ for the things I want, and that I am over the hill. None of this might necessarily be true, as I have met some fantastically talented people who have come into their own later in life, and found the things that I have been searching for, yet lately this has been something to which I have given much thought to in my life.

Does everyone struggle with this, and finds themselves motivated for the wrong reason? Is it wrong to motivated through envy, or is it simply a case of the means justifying the ends?

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2016, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Dear Orlando

Dear Orlando,

This is a difficult post to write. So many thoughts have been running through my mind as I first punch down words on my keyboard. The last week since the tragic occurrence in Orlando has filled me with despair, sadness as well as volumes of guilt.

The portraits of the victims; all smiling, knowable people, the video footage, the imagery and accounts have all had a profound effect on us all no matter where we live. We are all your brothers and sisters. Pain and suffering has gripped us all. I’m sure I’m not the only one to say that we all have been thinking about you.

I was sitting by a pool in an idyllic tropical paradise when I found out what happened, initially via a friend who lives in Orlando who was letting everyone know on social media that he was alright, which made me slightly worried as no details had hit social media yet. This was followed closely by my sister who informed me of what had happened. My heart sank. My eyes welled up. My sister, my boyfriend and I, all three of us being LGBTIQ, looked at each other with shock.

Day by day, more information and more details were gleaned. Social media became absolutely saturated with posts about what happened, rainbow flags popped up everywhere like flowers in a show of solidarity. It became almost too much to take in and process. All of us reined in with posts, thoughts, condolences and information. Many of us changed our profile pictures in support, or re-posted articles. Vigils were held in Orlando as well as cities and locations further afield. A sense of unity grew yet for the saddest and most dire of reasons. Some 49 innocent people died. They died being themselves, being in what was meant to be a safe place. A place that many of our forebears had to fight and suffer and sometimes died to build and protect. These people died enjoying and celebrating their lives, their worlds and their ability to love and be loved and to show this to the whole world. I still look at images of those who died. I feel like I know these people. I think we all have. I’ve met them for coffees, had them over for dinner, met them out dancing and had cheeky romantic interludes with them. They are every one of us everywhere.

Being somewhere like Bali, which is such a haven for decadence, drunken and heinous behaviour and frivolity, I came to feel quite guilty. Guilt at enjoying my time there, guilt when going to a Gay bar, having a drink, meeting new people and yes maybe going on stage to dance with a go go dancer. How could I be there having fun when something so singularly terrible occurred? I still feel this acute pain and sentiment day by day since. How do any one of us feel safe in what is meant to be our own proscribed safe spaces? Should we be feeling this collective sense of guilt? Or is the answer to get into the bars and clubs as well as out on streets and show the wider community that we exist? This is the reason we need our spaces, more now so than ever. Here in Sydney, LGBTIQ spaces are on the decline. I blame our dependency on apps like Scruff and Grindr, which have taken out the middle man of the gay club and bar scene. Sex can be had in our own homes without having to head to a bar or sauna. But that’s another post.

Like my sister and my boyfriend, we were in Bali for a purpose, which was to celebrate my close cousin’s wedding where my sister and I were honoured to be a part of the bridal party. It was difficult for us both, as we were both there in this exotic locale celebrating an event to which we both can’t have for ourselves, and not to mention an event half way across the world which shook us both.

What really upset me was the lack of any response or condolences or a reaction at all from non LGBTIQ people, both in my family or further out. Only a couple close former work friends took time out to send me a message to talk about what had happened. To which warmed my heart. 49 people died viscously. I mentioned in passing to a family member that I was feeling a bit down because of what happened, yet sadly, this person wasn’t even aware. A blank face stared back at me. I guess we all live in our own microcosms of communities online through our online platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which is a great thing as we always will have our finger on the pulse, yet also negative as we run the danger of narrowing our scope. What is important to one person may not be to another. Like in this case. As obviously majority of my friends on Facebook are Gay or Lesbian, much news I consume is very LGBTIQ-centric.

Today, the United States Congress in the worst possible way has insulted this entire tragedy and those who died as well as their families by voting down measures that could ensure this does not happen again. This tragedy has been politicised, the issue at hand morphed and distorted. It has been taken out of our hands as a community. The fact remains that people have died. What is to become of their legacy? It pains and scares me to think of possible future occurrences that could be prevented so simply and with a finality.

The perpetrator of this massacre has become known to be a very broken and hurt person. A person who in hindsight  appeared not able to live with his sexuality and who appears to have wrangled and fought with the clash of his ideological beliefs in contrast with his sexuality. I actually pity this man. A man so torn and disrupted, who has now abruptly and savagely ended the lives of so many people. I wonder what he was thinking, what experiences he went through for him to do this.

I hope that the families of those who died can find some solace somehow and someway in the future.

I also hope we can all continue to look out and support each other. I hope we can all continue to be ourselves in public without fear of persecution, and I hope we can give love to all who need it.

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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