January 26 sees the celebration of Australia Day – commemorating the arrival of the first fleet in 1788. Like all nations, there are aspects of the past and present that are positive and negative. Yet the positives outweigh the negatives by a long way. As the son of migrants, I am very fortunate to live in Australia.
Each year there is an award for Australian of the year. For the first time in a while, the choice this year received widespread applause. It was awarded to Richard Harris and Craig Challen, the Australian pair instrumental in the rescue of the Thai boys trapped in an underwater cave.
In receiving the award Harris (an anaesthetist) spoke of the need for children to be allowed to take risks and the problems with helicopter parenting. He told the Australian “I’ve lived a life full of adventure and I don’t shy away from some minor risk-taking activity.
“I think such activities are really important in growing people and making them more robust and ready to take on the inevitable challenges in life.”
Those challenges include accepting that people may say things you do not like or agree with. Janet Albrechtsen wrote in the Weekend Australian “No one condones the bullying of a child. But the modern antibullying phenomenon routinely treats anything one kid says or does to another that hurts their feelings as a form of abuse”
When everyone is bullied, nobody is.
Life has challenges and the current obsession with safety which sees cubbyhouses torn down by councils and children banned from walking to school has seen the pendulum swing way too far. Couple this with the “every child wins a prize” nonsense that seeks to pretend that one team hasn’t scored more points than another is damaging to this generation of children. The current retreat to “safe spaces” in universities shows how unequipped many are for adult life.
As Albrechtsen notes universities craft new lexicons to frame words and ideas as a form of violence.
Whatever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?
Yes – words can hurt. But it is up to us to recognise that they are just words and move along.
A church had a sign out summing it up “Try hard not to offend. Try harder not to be offended”. There are far more serious issues people have to contend with in life.
Recently in my own circle, there have been a number of major diagnoses and passing’s. This serves as a reminder that we never know what is around the corner. In turn it should remind us of the need to enjoy life. This does not mean taking stupid risks, but it does mean that life is the be lived and enjoyed. This includes activities which some may deem “unsafe”.
Everything we do carries risk. It is up to us as individuals, not the state to determine what level is acceptable.