Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Creating our own history

By Rachel Hills - posted Thursday, 27 July 2006


In Boston recently, I overheard the following exchange between an Australian tourist and an American tour guide.

"There's nothing in Australia," said the Australian. The American begged to differ. No, the Australian insisted, "There's nothing to see. No history." The American remarked on how many Australians he saw travelling. "You guys are everywhere."

It was an exchange that had taken place countless times before and which will no doubt occur again. It was significant because it illustrated some key differences between two outwardly similar countries: Australian self-deprecation versus American pride and America's inward focus versus Australia's focus on the outside world.

Advertisement

Australians are eager to gobble up the world around them. Per capita, we travel more than anyone else in the world. A year overseas after high school or university is near ubiquitous among those who can afford it - and those who can't afford it, save until they can. It seems extravagant at first glance, but $5,000 for a trip overseas is an infinitely more affordable financial goal than $100,000 for a deposit on a house.

In contrast, 80 per cent of US citizens don't own a passport and, broadly speaking, their knowledge of the world outside their borders reflects this.

When US singer Chris Brown visited Melbourne in May, he was dismayed to discover that it was cold. More disturbing than his ignorance was the fact that so many Americans who discussed the incident online seemed to think there was nothing ignorant about it. Why would anyone expect them to know the meteorological intricacies of far-flung continents like Australia?

Indeed, why would anyone expect them to know that the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are in opposite seasons at any given point in time?

While Australians are excited about the outside world, the United States is excited about, well, the United States.

At the Independence Day parade in Washington DC earlier this month, high school marching bands from across the country and immigrants from around the globe marched down Constitution Avenue to declare their love of all things American.

Advertisement

Onlookers dressed in the stars and stripes, children munched on red, white and blue popsicles, and families drank from “Take Pride in America” cups.

In Australia the only people who wear the flag are British backpackers who've mistaken it for the Union Jack.

Australian discomfort with patriotism is understandable - it's closely related to its ugly cousins, nationalism, racism and excessive self-love. If there's one thing Australians have traditionally riled against, it's a self-loving tall poppy. But patriotism is not without perks.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on July 19, 2006.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

40 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Rachel Hills is Managing Editor of Vibewire.nets print projects division and a freelance writer based in Sydney.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Rachel Hills

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 40 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy