Australians all let us rejoice; for we are young and free … while the national anthem may not be universally adored, its opening two lines are worth reflecting upon today, more than any other.
Much has changed since the anthem was written in 1878.
Politically we are unstable and our constitutional structure and its damaging lack of federalism is a deep and lasting drag on attempts to move the country forward as a whole.
Sport remains an obsession but life has changed in both the city and the country and there is less time and more competition for these once-bronzed Aussie pursuits.
Financially, it is a mixed bag. As a nation we continue to be among the wealthy. But do the majority of us feel wealthy?
Multiculturalism continues to change the actual face of the nation (and rightly so) but has brought with it a multitude of attendant problems. None of these are particularly new given even a casual glance back through the pages of global history, but they continue to trouble us individually and collectively.
And the health, future and past of Indigenous Australia is, was and remains a national disgrace, bought into sharp focus every year on this day by the debate about the very nature and origin of Australia Day.
So where are we at on this day, January 26, 2019?
Are we happy? Are we proud? Do we feel the future is bright?
Perhaps today more than ever we should look at our kids, our neighbour’s kids or our friends’ kids. Let’s spend some time investing in them by listening to them, playing with them and hugging them.
They are luckier than most to be children in this country where they are generally speaking safer, healthier and happier than elsewhere.
And then let’s think of those who do not have what we have. And remind ourselves that the path to unhappiness lies in wanting what we cannot have, rather than appreciating and enjoying what we have got.
Perhaps in this way we can truly Advance Australia Fair.