Morning Thought – Australia Day

Morning Thought – Australia Day

G’day, mate.  Ow ya goin’?  Happy Australia Day!  A number of years ago, I was working for a large company in England.  One day, an Australian colleague brought in a whole load of little Australian flags and gave them out as gifts to all the managers.  “That’s very kind,” said one of them.  “What’s this in aid of?”  “Celebrating Australia Day,” my colleague said proudly.  “That’s very patriotic of you, but I thought Australia Day was last week,” the manager replied.  “Yeah, it was.  But I forgot.”

It’s Australia Day because on this day in 1788, some 1400 people sailed into Sydney Harbour on 11 ships and established a nation that would develop into the 12th largest economy in the world. 50 years before the abolition of slavery in Britain, the captain of that First Fleet declared hopefully: “In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves.”

But the beginnings of this great nation were far from happy.  The founders were people condemned to exile, often for quite petty crimes.  Many of them died starvation or disease, even during the 8 month transit.  And in their fight for survival, the immigrants scandalously dispossessed the Aborigines of their native lands.

On this day in 1841, Great Britain control of Hong Kong and would develop it into one of the 3 cities that facilitates the global economy today.  But the beginnings of this jewel in China’s crown were far from happy: the land was stolen from China as punishment for resisting Britain’s illegal importation of £230 million worth of opium a year.

On this day in 1930, the National Congress of India, led by Mahatma Ghandi, promulgated their “Declaration of Independence,” but it would take a further 17 years and the horrors of Second World War before the world’s second most populous nation was granted independence from the British Empire.

On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond – weighing in at 3106 carat (that’s 6.2kg or nearly 1 stone) – was found in South Africa.  It was divided into more than 100 gems.  But to turn the rock into precious jewels took years, beginning with the gemsmith studying the diamond for more than 6 months.

Jesus says the Kingdom of God – where everything is put right – “is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  But a recurring theme in the Bible – and Jesus’ personal example – is that the golden treasure is being continually refined by the fire of suffering.

Give an extra encouragement to anyone who’s struggling today – and an affirming hug to anyone you may meet from Hong Kong, India or Australia.  Toodle-oo.

Prepared for BBC Jersey Radio