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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Australia day 2013 post...

Aussie Toast...With Vegemite of course!

Another Australia Day has just been and gone...and of course with the entire goings on and when you're a social person, there's no escaping thinking about Aussie stuff...An Aussie fair go, Tall Poppy Syndrome, the beloved under-dog and our refugee crisis...I've been pondering about these Aussie things and for those of you who aren't are some quick explanations...

A Fair Go: What I'm referring to here is a fundamental Aussie ideal that here in Australia, we try to hold onto (or think we do)... It's a practical example of what 'not judging a book by its cover' may produce.  It's not a hand out (charity), rather a hand-up.  It's giving someone an equal opportunity alongside someone else, who may seem more appropriately suitable.  It's giving someone a chance to speak up, rather than being silenced.  It's delayed judgement.  Even a second chance.  "Fair go!" can sometimes be heard in protest, when someone's un-fairly treated or even still, in jest.

'Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.' (

People here where I live in Australia love to see the 'under-dog' win.  I remember as a girl how beloved the 'Rocky' (American boxing movies starring Sly Stallone) were to my Dad and older brother, due to the massive come-back Rocky would make at the end each time.  During the footy final if our team isn't playing, we cheer for the under-dog team and hope that somehow they may win.  We love for people to get a fair go, to not be cheated or scammed, especially our family and friends.  Yet alongside this high moral thread, is also an underlying double standard.  You see, although people don't want to be ripped off, there are those who will still try to get away with it themselves...and I think it's because sometimes they view themselves as the under-dog.  I'm not trying to judge here, as people make mistakes and although I know it's not good, it is a reality in our society.  But there are people who genuinely want a fair go for others and who don't cheat and who extend fair goes to others...which is awesome!

But if as a society we foster the 'fair go' culture, why do we have the 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' and such an issue with the refugees arriving on boats?

Well before I begin, I must state that this is not an academic thesis, and is more of a though provoking piece, rather than something offering solutions :)

Well here are a couple of ideas for you to think about...

Some Aussies are angered and confused over the TPS.  You see, it doesn't seem to make any sense given our 'fair go' culture.

But here's an idea.  Maybe some of our TPS problem is due to a lack of humility shown by Tall Poppies? Just stay with me for a little bit see the older generation of Australians understood humility, something that can be, more often than not, substantially lacking among younger generations of Australians.  Don't get me wrong, I think there may be genuine examples of Tall Poppies who are cut down due to un-deserved jealously or plain contempt.  But maybe not all are genuine cases? If you listen to some wise Australians, you may hear remarks of how selfish, disrespectful and narcissistic some younger people are.  So the next time you hear someone quip "fair-go!" or complain that they're suffering from TPS, stop and consider the issue of humility...maybe we need to remind them that life's not all about them (in a gentle way, of course) and that there are real consequences for their decisions.

Next the current boat-people, refugee issue.  If, as Australians we foster the fair-go culture, why do we so often hear complaints about accepting refugees, and the nonsense that our country is full?  Yes I understand that assylum seekers, arriving via boat smugglers is illegal.  However there is still a lot of hostility towards these people.

Well, here's an idea, maybe it's got to do with a skewed perception.  You see some people think we're the under-dogs who are living in the 'Lucky Country'.  This may seem weird, but again, just stay with me a little longer. 

In reality, Australia is definitely not the under-dog anymore...but you see, we love the under-dog, we cheer and stand alongside the under-dog and I think we still romantically view ourselves as the rugged, untamed, under-dog.  I mean, if you know an Aussie, you'll understand when I say that we'd hate for people to view us as rich, stuck-up we don't want to picture ourselves like this.  However in reality we've been voted the second best country in the world!  Now picture an under-dog who's finally made it to the you think that they'd really want to share their bone?  Of course not!  I think this under-dog perception allows fear to also creep in.  Some Aussies don't want to share our 'Luck Country' even with other under-dogs!

Yes we once were convicts and our cities were built from scratch not so long ago.  Yes, older generations had to endure war and the depression...we have been under-dogs...but this is no longer what we are and we don't have to live in fear of losing our country!  We need to remember that once we were under-dogs who needed a hand-up, and give the real under-dogs of today the same 'fair-go' that we demand...

Some food for thought! Melanie...


Justin Hayes said...

Mel, just a quick note on asylum seekers. I was once expaplained the situation from this point of view. Imagine just how utterly desperate you would have to be with your current living arrangements, to leave all your belongings behind, use up all your savings to embark on a perilous journey with your young family, on the whim of hope that there maybe a better life available to you in another country. Having to overcome language barriers, imprisonment and threats of refusal would be one of the most frightening decisions of your life. These people are desperate for the God given chances we take for granted on a daily basis. While I'm not sure of the solution, however we must view these people with compassion and the love of fellow human beings. Do not fall into the trap of selfishness and bigotry that plagues our society today. These are people the same as you and I, and should be afforded the same humans rights we enjoy.

Melanie Baker said...

gr8 comments Justin! Love ur heart :)