Challenging Australia and speaking truth to power

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Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence salutes Independent Australia for challenging the status quo — and Australia for being so challenging.

single seat on our Board.

We have come a long way in a mere 24 months — but we have much more to do. And say. And write. And as always, you, our readers, are an integral part of the conversation — and fuel the excitement of public debate, argument and brave discourse and journalism that is unafraid of speaking Truth to Power.

Often in our comments sections, you reflect on Australia itself and what it stands for. What we want it to stand for. What we think it once stood for. What we want it to be. What it could be.

I have come to understand that Australia means different things to different people. That is her great power.

Yesterday I re-read a short essay I wrote several years ago and today we adapt and share some of these words that, for me, are a feeble attempt to try and express my feelings, wonderment, awe and fascination, for this sacred land.

We salute Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike and acknowledge the collective endeavour of past and contemporary settlers who landed here, shackled by force or circumstance, on the shores of this Great Southern Land.

We further acknowledge the sometimes uncommon migrant ancestries that today makes Australians as complex and curious as our unique marsupials and the cultural and geophysical landscape that we share and, in some instances, for which we compete.

Our collective songline is sometimes brutal and raw; other times it has a lyricism so beautiful that it lacerates the very lining of the soul.

On this day, we remain a Continent dying of thirst in part. Rain falls too gently upon our parched land; her crack'd lips ringed with salt; the powdered mucus of drought. A million earthern mouths gape open in silent scream, begging for a moistened sponge from an unforgiving artist or an angel's single tear. Not even the Heavens dare cry for pity.

For some, the iconoclastic symbols of Terra Australis remain the Sea, the Surf, the Sun, the Sky, the Beach, the Coastline — all ribboned with a gauzy bandage of fine white sands.

But for others, the latitude and the platitudes differ.

It is The Bush and its choristers drawn from nature in all her forms that beguile us; our dribbling rivers and mountain ranges robed in the purple, blue and green regalia of majestic eucalypts; gum leaves shimmering fingers on nature's perfumed hands.

Despite the Big Dry we have the Big Lie to it — our tropical rainforests: a land within a land, whose flora and fauna have plundered  primary and primal colours from The Dreamtime's ancient palette.

Earth.Wind.Water.Fire. At times these four gods of nature wreak cruel and unforgiving havoc upon us; each is capable of teasing caress or merciless violence.

Then there are the Desert swooners. For some our desert is a vast and lonely nothingness whose absconding horizons taunt our inner demons. Others will profess no such thing; instead the Desert provides both home and sanctuary, a cornucopia of plant and animal life, and the freedom of a mind unfenced.

But for many of us, our affection for Australia is seeded in the Land itself — who speaks to us in encrypted language known only to those who offer love and respect.

It's likely we love most or all of the above facets of our Island Continent.

[caption id="attachment_7783" align="alignnone" width="492"] Australia is many different things to many different people.

Australia is a work in progress; as is the World surely and all that dwells atop, below and above it.

Consider the myriad attempts to define what it means to 'be Australian'.

Consider the implications of being 'accused' of being 'un-Australian'.

For some, our Paradise is already lost. For others it will be regained or is simply misplaced.

One thing is clear.

We are a seething mass of contradiction, capable of courageous innovation, breathtaking modernism and a muscular intellect that is contemptuous of acolytes.

And yet these capabilities are often sacrificed on the altar of Mediocrity, that unjealous master so beloved of lazy and malevolent bystanders.

What will we make of Australia? And will it be the making of us?

If you listen carefully, you can hear her heartbeat.

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