Celebrating one’s culture

In the early 1980s, that great Greek composer of music, Hadjidakis, arrived in Melbourne. My 2-i-c, a Greek Australian, confirmed that our Greek community was looking forward eagerly to meeting him. I had always enjoyed his music; it set my soul soaring and my feet feeling frivolous.

At a very large gathering, which I attended, both as a representative of my department and to satisfy my own need, we waited for 45 minutes before the great man arrived. We had a splendid evening.

On another occasion, I attended a meeting of the Greek community. I was greeted warmly as the government representative, and then taught how to dance in the traditional style. The warmth of my relationship with Greeks has led me to feel that I may have been a Greek in one of my many lives on Earth.

During the 1980s, officialdom made a great fuss about multiculturalism. While British Australia was becoming multi-ethnic and less sensitive to skin colour, the federal government sought to manage multiculturalism; to tell us ethnics how to get along with one another, and with the host community. Really!

Having contacts with a large variety of immigrants, and participating extensively in civil society, I know this: all of us got along well with one another without government involvement. We are free to pray as we wish, and to celebrate our cultural festivals in the company of those of other cultures, while living day-to-day like everyone else.

As Prime Minister Howard and NSW Premier Carr showed later, we are also connected THROUGH A SHARED CITIZENSHIP, and our pride in being Australian. We are indeed on the way to being the Family of Man.