Now, who am I? What is my background? And how am I enabled to ponder at some depth about my adopted nation?
I am 83 years old. I am thereby well past my statistical use-by date. No member of my extended family has survived longer. Greater longevity may of course have applied to earlier generations living in our ancestral land in Jaffna in the north of Ceylon; we are known to be a hardy people.
As a tribe, we are also known to have earned an adequate living from a harsh land for more than two thousand years; to have competed more than successfully with the Singhalese majority of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in academe and the civil and public services, while living under British suzerainty. Subsequently, we have adapted successfully to the diverse Western nations to which, as an on-going diaspora, we migrated. Initially, migration was for economic reasons; later, for political reasons.
In Australia, to which I was despatched by either my per¬sonal destiny or the spirit world, I have adapted successfully. Indeed, I have also integrated successfully, including holding leadership positions in civil society. My initial preference was naturally for living with my own people in the land of my birth. Why so? Because the land of my birth was, already in my time, multi-ethnic, multicultural, multi-religious; and with a mutual tolerance between the Asian communities there far in advance of that level of inter-cultural tolerance to be reached in Australia by the end of the twentieth century.
It is highly probable that I will be ejected from the departure lounge of life fairly soon. Because my observations of key aspects of Australia, from the vantage point of ‘Asian values,’ began more than six decades (or about two generations) ago, there should be some socio-cultural and historical value in the attached musings. I need to highlight, however, that my thoughts have been filtered through my anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-communist (that is, freedom-loving) values.
(The above extract is from Chapter 1 ‘On Biculturalism’ in ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’ I am now 86, wondering at the futility of human existence all over the world, and throughout our known history.
However, when looked at through the prism of spirituality (which is to be found in all of the major religions), there is a glimmer of hope for mankind – but perhaps for an upgraded species, following the Sixth Extinction.)