Many Australians will be waking up today, clutching their heads and feeling sorry for themselves, hungover, after a day of ‘celebrating’ this wonderful nation. Amid a global pandemic that’s affecting the lives and has taken the lives of many, it’s perhaps never felt more evident that we are ‘the lucky country’. We haven’t been untouched but we are fortunate to be experiencing COVID at a lower level than much of the world. It seems to me though, if we’re to remain lucky we need to change the way we celebrate.
Many Australian’s still consider it “un-Australian” to not ‘get on the piss with ya mates’ (for the non-Australian’s reading this, that means to consume huge amounts of alcohol with your friends). I know this because I grew up in a community where that is exactly what you did when you were celebrating (or commiserating). It didn’t matter what, a birth, a death, a christening, a win, a loss, the ‘supposed’ birth of our nation, there we were, beer in hand to celebrate. It’s only through hindsight, after spending almost two years celebrating many occasions without said beer in hand, that I can see how deeply rooted alcohol is in our society and just how dangerous it is. We need to start leveraging some of those roots and help Australian’s to understand the reality, that alcohol has the potential to destroy the fabric of our society and that it is already destroying the lives of so many Australians.
Alcohol is a drug, it changes peoples behaviour and alters peoples mindsets. Alcohol use is so often at the heart of issues of assault and domestic violence, it’s a dangerous, mind altering substance and people need to know this! What begins as a seemingly innocent drink with ya mates has the potential to wind up very differently. Alcohol doesn’t affect everyone the same way and that’s one of the things that’s so dangerous about it. It’s crucial that we have open dialogue and honest conversations surrounding alcohol and the varying affects it can have on people.
On occasions like Australia Day, alcohol is marketed as the bonding tool that unites us. But for many it’s the thing that separates us. It can be a fine line between enjoying a drink or two and relaxing our inhibitions to teetering over the edge and becoming an obnoxious twat, capable of who knows what! Let’s do ourselves a favour and educate ourselves and each other on the dangers of alcohol so that those who are unable to enjoy alcohol in the relaxed manner that it’s marketed to us, don’t feel shame. Let’s cultivate a society where it’s ok to celebrate with you mates over an ice cold water, lemonade or ginger beer and just to enjoy each others authentic personalities, not whatever fake bravado comes from drowning ourselves in booze. Let’s realise and celebrate that we have the choice to wake up each day, hangover free.
*Side note – It’s time to change the date and celebrate this great country on a day that’s not linked to horrible atrocities for our indigenous people. Let’s respect everyone and promote unity and inclusion.