Several days ago, on what is known as Australia Day, I had the privilege of attending a citizenship ceremony in my community.
To be honest, I was feeling quite ambivalent about what for me are conflicted reasons for celebration; the landing of European settlers and the establishment of their towns, and the subsequent mistreatment and destruction of our indigenous peoples and their land. However, my attendance was of celebration and recognition of an individual rather than an Australia Day focus.
What struck me during the ceremony, was the attitude of those of us born here in Australia, in comparison to the people choosing to become Australian citizens.
There was a palpable excitement in the air. Couples, individuals, family, and friends were gathered. Chatter and laughter, and a bubbling sense of pride permeated the gathering.
A member of the indigenous tribe of our area recited the story of his community, speaking of the spirits, the land and his elder’s attitudes of welcoming to all. A heartfelt hand extended to our new community members from our very oldest 🙏🏻
Those becoming citizens stood and recited their allegiance to Australia. They were so enthusiastic, excited, bubbling with pride, I feel inadequate in that I fail to convey what it was to witness this. It both astonished and invoked an immense gratitude from within.
As individuals were called to receive their certificates and a native plant, friends and family clapped, cheered, took photos and congratulated. A few dressed in traditional costume, honouring their ancestry, and many carried an Australian flag honouring their choice to be Australian.
The majority of these new Australians I believe, appreciate and recognise more than we born here, what a wonderful, safe country we live in. If you are ever offered the opportunity to attend a citizenship ceremony, don’t hesitate, I encourage you to do so. Because to see the appreciation, celebration and joy of those making a choice to be members of our community and country, will surely ignite the same from within you.
Perhaps now is the time to consider your own personal truth about being a citizen of your country. What are you truly grateful for?
Say “yes” to witness the joy of belonging, and give thanks for the privileges of your birth.