Thursday, April 26, 2012

The inconsistency of ANZAC Day

I had the privilege of leading two ANZAC Day commemoration services this year, at a large Australian Tax Office event in Brisbane and also at my regiment.

The language of ANZAC Day is well established, and except in the military environment, feels close to becoming clichéd. In our society it's easy to despair that talk of sacrifice, camaraderie, duty and putting the country before one's self-interest is just that -- all talk and nothing more. This was most apparent to me in conducting the commemoration service at the ATO, not because of that organization itself and certainly not because of the individual members of the ATO that I had contact with. Rather it's because of the role that that organization plays in our national life and economy.

Currently it's anathema to call for anyone (but especially those most able to) to make economic sacrifices and carry a larger portion of the tax burden than anyone else. To suggest that the rich have a duty to support the poor is scoffed at as class warfare, even as we honour those who because of their moral courage saw that they had a duty to defend those who didn't have the same physical strength as them. It's unquestioned orthodoxy that competition brings more benefits to groups and individuals than camaraderie and cooperation.

Increasingly it seems that ANZAC Day is tokenistic- a facile attempt for one day to balance out 364 driven by the insatiable appetite for economic growth and the greedy individualism that fuels it.

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