January 26th, 2007

New Zealand

(no subject)

Today is apparently Australia Day. After how much of a whirlwind the last two weeks have been, I still feel stuck in mid-January, but this doesn't make much of a difference to me anyway as I have never really associated anything with Australia Day and it normally passes me by with little more than a faint recognition of "huh, it's Australia Day today" and "hooray for public holidays" at some point in the day. I've never been one to pay attention to national days. In fact, despite all my bluster about New Zealand, especially with regards to the All Blacks, I normally completely forget about Waitangi Day until at least the day after. In fact, it wasn't until very recently that I finally stopped forgetting whether Waitangi Day is on the 6th or 7th of February (it's on the former).

I think I actually present a bit of a false impression on this journal. I am very passionate about rugby union and the All Blacks, I also can't help but take a sense of pride in the achievements of a country so small and out-of-the-way (come on, how can you not be proud of your country being the first to give women the vote?), and New Zealand's remarkable scenic beauty is objective fact, but I would never consider myself especially patriotic. I may be the first to praise the achievements of New Zealanders and their government when things go right, but I would be a liar if I said I felt New Zealand was the best country in the world and I feel a lot has gone wrong in the last couple of decades. To tell the truth, I often feel rather stateless - a passion for sport and scenery does not translate into a fully fledged identity. I don't feel any particularly strong affection towards residing in any particular country, though I'm currently content enough with Australia. It would certainly take a lot to make me move back to New Zealand - namely, a nice house within walking distance of Featherston railway station and a high paying job at Victoria University in Wellington. I choose Featherston because I have no desire to live in a city if I can help it and I adore the tranquil serenity of the Wairarapa region, and Featherston is the closest country town to Wellington via daily rail transport. And anyway, apart from Martinborough, it's my favourite Wairarapa township (re: "tiny village" for the Americans and Europeans in the audience). I really love the Wairarapa. It's my second home; I'm from the Kapiti Coast, but my father grew up in the Wairarapa and during my childhood, we regularly made the trip over the Rimutakas to my grandparents in Masterton and the vineyards in Martinborough. Good memories.

But to get back on topic, I feel that what I appreciate about New Zealand is what any rational, thinking person would also appreciate separate from any sentimental attachment to the place, such as the aforementioned women's suffrage point, and that I appreciate other countries on the same level, though I am not as vocal about it on LiveJournal as they aren't represented by the All Blacks. I was certainly well known for my love of the history and achievements of the republics of the former Soviet Union back in high school, though (to the point that I was nicknamed Vladimir). I feel countries tend to be so diverse that it is really impossible to be patriotic about a country in general; rather, the best thing is to admire specific achievements and facets. I especially admire those countries that, like New Zealand, have contributed a lot to the world despite being rather small and often overlooked. I am happy to be called a New Zealander and I think many of the country's achievements are truly fantastic, but I have in the past said I would revoke my citizenship in certain circumstances and I stand by that. For example, if New Zealand were ever to pass such disgusting homophobic legislation as happened in those American states where homosexual marriage has been expressly constitutionally forbidden, I would revoke my citizenship and never refer to myself as a New Zealander while the law stood. While it is important to have a place in the world and to be aware of your heritage, country affiliation is ultimately a bit trifling, an accident of birth, and if New Zealand ever did anything that I did not wish to be associated with, I would not hesitate to disown the country.

And those are my random thoughts for today. Have a good one, folks!

PS England, your cricket team is a disgrace to the game. Seriously, all out for 110? Losing your last five wickets for a measly seven runs? Go home.