Australian identity isn’t decided by an egg

Harrison Vesey is a journalist for the Blacktown Sun. Picture: Geoff Jones

Harrison Vesey is a journalist for the Blacktown Sun. Picture: Geoff Jones

Christmas may seem like it was only yesterday but yes, it’s true, Easter is already here – as are the usual seasonal complaints.

No, I’m not talking about hot cross buns being on shelves too early. What I’m referring to is the outrage over the removal of the word “Easter” from products and celebrations. Certain politicians and media personalities would have you believe that a “crazy hat parade” is political-correctness gone mad, and a sure sign that Australia is losing touch with its traditional values.

As a Christian, I understand where the frustration comes from. Religion is not as important in our country as it was 50 years ago – in fact, atheism could be considered the fastest-growing “belief system” here. While most Australians still tick some form of Christianity on the census, we have to accept that our culture has changed. I do think this points to a national conversation worth having, but I also think it’s crucial to keep a sense of perspective.

It’s rather easy to get worked up about the removal of words like Easter and Christmas, and find an easy target to attribute blame. What’s much harder is a critical examination of Australian culture, and where we might have strayed from Christian values – or where we never had them in the first place.

Easter is a time that Christians remember the death and resurrection of our saviour. Many churches encourage lent: six weeks of sacrifice, to remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice that made it possible for humanity to be redeemed. But is self-sacrifice a value we uphold in Australia? Or do we baulk at the first inconvenience when it comes to looking after those less fortunate?

A fundamental teaching of Christianity is that all people are equal before God. Yet for the majority of modern Australian history, Aboriginal people were treated as sub-human. The legacy of those abhorrent beliefs is still glaringly obvious in society today, from the gap in educational outcomes to life expectancy. As a nation, we have said sorry. But have we changed our ways? Or is equality too difficult a goal?

If words like Easter and Christmas are important to you then yes, by all means, take the time this week to speak up for our Christian heritage. But please consider that a society is much more than its holidays and traditions. If there is a battle for Australian values then it won’t be decided by what Cadbury calls their chocolate eggs.

  • Harrison Vesey is a journalist based in north west Sydney.