Anyone with a functioning brain wants to see genuine reconciliation in this country.
As I reflect nearly two weeks on from Australia Day, a day which really should be a time to come together to celebrate who we are, has now become almost controversial.
It’s now almost controversial to have citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day, even to say, “Happy Australia Day”.
I almost felt conflicted organising an Australia Day event on January 26th.
The ABC called January 26th, Australia Day/Invasion day
Cricket Australia no longer referred to any Big Bash matches on January 26th as ‘Australia Day’.
So where has this come from?
Am I now a racist because I celebrate being Australian on January 26th?
Why this creates a great opportunity for our Country
Australia Day marks the anniversary of the first fleet of British ships that arrived on Australian soil. It also marks the date the British flag was raised at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1788.
Governor Phillip founded the British penal colony that eventually turned into Sydney Australia.
To a growing number of Aussies, thus began the British occupation of Aboriginal land, thus beginning hundreds of years of discrimination and subjugation.
No doubt there is pain and there is hurt, though as a compassionate nation, this debate creates a great opportunity because we can now sit down and seek to heal the rift. But first for us to move forward, there needs to be forgiveness.
There also needs to be an acknowledgment of hurt that First Nations people feel. This is why I believe there should be a change, not necessarily of the date, but change in our hearts.
We have to be prepared to accept different opinions
I have been unfriended on Facebook for even daring to talk about this and for suggesting that the majority of people who are happy with Australia Day on January 26th are not racists.
I have seen immaturity on both sides of the debate, and I believe the only way we are going to bring the two sides together is to compromise.
The Noel Pearson model
Indigenous leader Noel Pearson, in 2018 in an article in The Australian, called to hold two days of commemoration, with January 25 marking the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders tribes, while January 26 acknowledging the Australia of today.
I feel that is an ideal compromise recognising the First Nations people while still acknowledging the progress in this country made since the arrival of not just the First Fleet, but the different cultures who now call Australia home.
100,000 people have become Australian citizens at Citizenship ceremonies across Australia Day in the last 6 years.
People still travel across the seas to become Australian citizens.
We have a Christian heritage thanks to our British past.
Governor Phillip was driven by his Christianity to develop harmonious relationships with the Aborigines.
61% of Australians, according to the census, identify Christianity as their religion. Australian Parliament begins with the Lord’s Prayer.
Without Christian hospitals, schools and charitable organisations, Australia’s education, health and welfare sectors would collapse without the Christian influence that stems from the first fleet.
We have the acknowledgement that the First Fleet brought this country good, we recognise January 26th as where modern Australia is today.
January 25th recognises the rich culture that our First Nations people bring.
Plus, we get two days off work, that sounds like a win to me!
I believe humility is the way forward in this country.
Recognise what people on each side of the debate has to offer.
We can unite or we can fall.
Humility allows others to be acknowledged before our own.
Surely that is a healthy way to be.
Ben Kruzins is the Campus Pastor of The Hub Baptist Church in Ocean Shores on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is also a Journalism graduate who has written articles in The Canberra Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.