Australia's history isn't a rosy and uncheckered one. There has been injustice and racism, bigotry and rebellion; but they have been far surpassed by what we have accomplished in a couple of centuries.
Happy Australia Day!
I say that because you should be happy. This is a fantastic country and we are very fortunate to be here. We must also be honest with ourselves and understand we aren't perfect. No place on earth is because mankind is an imperfect creature.
We all do the wrong thing at some stage or another. It's part of gaining wisdom.
The truly wise vow not to make the same mistakes again, but as our lifetimes are relatively short, humanity seems to recommit the same historical follies through generations.
That's where the phrase 'those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it' comes from.
Australia's history isn't a rosy and uncheckered one. There has been injustice and racism, bigotry and rebellion, but they have been far surpassed by what we have accomplished in a couple of centuries.
And that is what the tiny, noisy minority of self-loathing Australians hate about today - how much we have accomplished since the first fleet arrived and settled here in 1788.
Everything you see around you today is a product of that settlement. The prosperity, development, opportunity, safety and sense of community we enjoy wouldn't be here without it.
Our nation wouldn't exist in its current guise. Had another nation settled here, our customs, government and way of life would be very different.
But what if no nation had settled here, and what we call Australia was left to the nomadic Aboriginal tribes? I refuse to call them First Nations, as that is a fabricated title stolen from Canada.
In tribal Australia, do you think the health outcomes would be better for the inhabitants than they are now? Would a hospital have been built or permanent structures been erected? Would the wheel have been invented or farms established?
I dare say not. That's not to belittle the original lifestyles of the Aboriginal people, but they had tens of thousands of years to do these things but didn't. My point is that our country wouldn't be the same without British settlement.
To pretend otherwise is to ignore reality.
Some might say things would be better if the British hadn't arrived here. Once again, that smacks of historical ignorance. If not the British, it would have been someone else, and compared with many, the British were positively gentlemanly.
Imagine if the Vikings had arrived here first.
There'd be virtually no one left by the time they killed and enslaved. Or perhaps Mohammed could have invaded from the Middle East. His track record of convert or die would have left us living in a brutal theocracy mired in 6th-century beliefs.
Perhaps we should consider being settled in more recent times. The Japanese or Germans could have gained a foothold during WW2. They were not known for their compassion toward enemy prisoners or those they deemed unworthy.
Maybe Chairman Mao could have brought his revolution to our sunny shores and added a few more to his tally of slaughter, and the rest of us could now be automatons of the state.
If not Mao, maybe the Soviets could have spread their communist wings down under. How would those invasion day marches have been received by the commissars of the USSR?
The gulags would probably be full!
I make these points to show that our country could be very different.
None of the scenarios presents a better picture than the one we are offered daily. In fact, I can't think of a single alternative that would be better.
That's why we should celebrate our national day and keep it on 26 January. It's a reminder of who we are and where we have come from. Like every country, our history isn't perfect, and our future won't be perfect either.
However, compared with the annals of time and the rest of the world, we've got a heck of a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for.
Happy Australia Day.