Writer’s note: I wrote this not to advocate any position, or to say anything in particular. It’s simply a collection of observations, stories, hushed chats and whispers. There’s stories in here that aren’t my own, and it’s certainly not my intention to sound like I’m advocating a position. It’s in a minor key, it’s a bundle of observations and a collection of mumbles.
Bekka’s turning 18, coming of age, party at mum and dads. Scotty spins the tunes and dad throws up the fairy lights, mum caters to fill teenage stomachs – it’ll come up in the front paddock in a few hours anyway.
Mason’s got a new truck, lifted with an LED bar light to be seen from space. He’s the first to arrive at this festive event, and his country dimples cover valleys of insecurity. Cowboy hat bent at the front, ma and pa secretly hope he’d turn his eyes towards their Bek – if only they knew.
Stace, Maria and Bree tumble out of someone’s back seat, pre-loaded. Dressed to the nines, their heels sink into soft country soil, squealing with each squelch, their lives work to snob you off.
Jase makes an entrance, circle work in his beat up ute. The joker, always the laugh. Bekka’s beau, the half bottle of cheap bourbon held by it’s neck. He’s the joker, but she’s got a creeping suspicion the joke’s on him. 20 years old, on the same an hour, with no prospects of increase.
Family comes, smiles abound. Uncle Frank and Aunt Nina, there’s grandma and gramps. Cousins of all ages. Dad playfully grabs Danny in a headlock, trying to explain that his sodomite son is merely creative, like you can try to explain the gay away. Thanks dad, but they both grieve, unable to move past recent revelations.
Raye and Chrissy sit in the tray of Mason’s ute, necking cheap vodka straight from the bottle. He could have both in a heartbeat, but his sights are set on other targets, perhaps tonight he’ll pipe up the confidence to tell her.
Dwayne sings along to the country ditties, he’s unusually talented that way. Laughing off the compliments, he wonders how life might be different if not yoked with three generations of expectation breathing down his neck. Still, he hums along, wondering, even for a second, if things were different.
Kal, as everyone agrees, is classic wife material, the mother hen of the group. She chats CWA with mum, half an eye on Danny, blissfully unaware he’ll make no woman honest. She mistakes his compliments for flirting, and the thought crosses his mind that perhaps he could fake it, until he made it.
Speeches, and mum and dad praise their perfect Bekka. She spies Jase, he’s getting amorous with Raye, and way too close to his bourbon. She pats her tummy – a week late, and she wonders how daddy will react if she breaks the news to him.
And the party continues, and the fire crackles. They all continue to live their lives together, all in secret.
Picture from https://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fuploaded_images%2F108685-Bonfire-Party.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fimage%2F108685%2Fbonfire-party&docid=2BomfXY3f8L2kM&tbnid=ahC-QHXakHIw-M%3A&vet=1&w=500&h=332&bih=708&biw=1517&q=teenagers%20party%20bonfire&ved=0ahUKEwiY4ePVj7_SAhVrrFQKHcKHDpgQMwhFKCMwIw&iact=mrc&uact=8#h=332&imgrc=ahC-QHXakHIw-M:&vet=1&w=500
I recently read an article in Smith Journal about how the influx of international beer into Australia is evidence of the success of multiculturalism. Whilst the article was proudly sponsored by Corona, I couldn’t help but notice that proliferation of overseas brews actually demonstrated the opposite of multiculturalism in Australia.
First up, I’m quite partial to a brew. I’m always happy to try something new, but I’ll always come back my fav bitter or draught beers.
It is true that there is an influx of overseas beers – Guinness from Ireland, Carlsberg from Holland, Bin-Tang from Indonesia, Millers from the USA, Ashai from Japan. For the most part, beers are from, what we could best describe, ‘Westernised’ countries.
What we aren’t seeing is an Afghani Amber Ale. An Iranian IPA. A Sudanese Stout. A Malaysian Malt Brew. A Pakistani Pilsner. A Bahraini Bitter.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics advises that as of the year 2010, the top % of migrants to Australia were from the UK (14.5%); India 13.2%); China (10.3%), South Africa (5.8%) The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, Fiji & Vietnam all had between 4.5% – 1.8% share of the migrants coming to Australia.
The Australian Department of Immigration advises that the highest number of approved protection visa applicants were from Afghanistan, Iran, ‘Stateless’, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Whilst we are not being ‘swamped’ by refugees (as some commentators argue), what we aren’t seeing is an influx of multi-cultural drinking trends or drinks into Australia. Arguments against this might be:
– Of the current migrants, drinking options (certainly for the UK migrants) are well established here in Australia
– For refugees, a majority of these are from Muslim nations where alcohol is either illegal or strongly frowned up.
Post World War Two migration saw an influx into Australia of exotic delights such as Italian food. The late 80’s and 90’s saw an increase in Indian, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in suburban Australia. Why aren’t we seeing an influx of Northern African cuisine? Middle-eastern restaurants are still, for the most part, on the fringe of Australian dining.
A cursory glance through the beer fridge at your local bottle shop won’t tell a story of multi-cultural success. It will show that Australian Society likes to try commercial European and American beers, as well as a host of local brews. It will show an explosion of craft and boutique beers. What it won’t show is a large selection from, if I can use the term, ‘New Australians’.
Beer drinkin’ is a long-standing pastime of many Australians. Rightly or wrongly, it’s a part of our national psyche. A ‘thing we do’. You don’t seem to see many ‘New Australians’ in a bottle shop – to the contrary – some ‘New Australian’ communities inflict punishments for those caught drinking alcohol.
Don’t get me wrong – alcohol brings a stack load of problems. Drink driving. Domestic violence. Alcohol fuelled violence. I think as Australians we could probably do ourselves a lot of good by easing back on the booze.
So is beer a good gauge of the success (or lack thereof) of current multiculturalism? Of course. We aren’t seeing new refugees or non Anglo-Saxon migrants enjoying beer. We aren’t seeing brews from their country of origin lining the already overstocked fridges of bottle shops.
Multicultural success to me is being open to a new culture – that of the host and that of the new arrival. It’s about enjoying the best bits of both. The food. The drink. New expressions. New ways of thinking. New ways to express individualism. You can argue that this essay is pro assimilation. You could argue that I’m looking at non-Western cultures through ‘white eyes’, and I totally get that.
I don’t know about you, but I’d love to sit down with one of my new Australian friends over a beer and find out about his culture. About his old country. His family. His hopes and dreams now he is here in Australia.
I’d love to sit down and have a beer with him. I wonder if he would want to do the same with me?
My grandparents came to Australia fleeing the terrors of Communism in Europe. My grandmother tells of her shock when the Communist Party of Australia was gaining political traction and wondered out loud why the Government didn’t ban the CPA. Her neighbour gave her wise counsel:
“Olga, if you ban these groups, they go underground, the consolidate, they grow in power. The only way to expose these groups is to allow them, to highlight them, to publicly critique and converse with them. Then the truth will come out and people will surely see the CPA for what they are”
In Australia, there is a lot of talk about a certain Act limiting free speech, especially in relation to Racial Discrimination. The ‘Left’ of politics are claiming that restrictions on free speech are required, lest differing groups are offended, insulted or miffed in some way. They claim that restrictions are required to prevent bigotry, racism and negative stereotyping. The ‘Right’ of politics claim that any restrictions on free speech is a slippery slope – legislation with noble intent used to muffle genuine free speech and freedom of expression.
Martin Luther King Jnr famously and excellently dreamed:
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
My thoughts? Like the counsel that was given my grandmother many moons ago, I think we should encourage free speech, not limit it. Working in the Public Service, I’ve found you can’t legislate against stupidity. If someone want’s to bang on about a religion, a lifestyle, a race, a thought, a brand of car, a football team, a cheese – what ever it is, let them bang on about it. If you don’t agree with it, speak up. Let’s bring out these ideas, challenge them openly.
I’m totally against discrimination – both positive and negative. I’ve written about my thoughts on racism in Australia and truly believe that Australian’s are welcoming and open, not ‘racist rednecks’ as some would suppose.
You can’t legislate against racism. You might be able to legislate against a behaviour, but not a thought, a motivation, a belief, a desire. Yeah, you might be able to stop someone from saying something terribly offensive like nigger, chinky-chonk or dune-coon. What you can’t stop is a bunch of disenfranchised group of people organising, petitioning, forming a voting block and punching back twice as hard when election time comes around.
If someone is being racist, call it out. If someone is the victim of racism, come to their aid. If someone is doing their people a dis-service by mis-representing them, correct them.
Limiting free speech limits critique and dialogue. Guess what? There will be idiots who abuse free speech, who will say terrible things, who will think terrible things. The last thing we want is for these ideas to go underground. We want to bring them to the light, shine a mirror on discrimination and racism and show it for the evil that it is.
We live in the age of information. Pretty much anyone these days can publish their views – on line, in print, standing on the street corner. Never before has there been such a free-flow of information, ideas and thoughts. We are constantly being challenged, informed, encouraged. Let’s not limit that precious flow of information.
Picture lifted from http://www.futurescopes.com/advice/104/why-men-dont-listen-women