One of the hard things about moving cities or countries is the lack of people around us who know our history and vice versa. It takes time to develop friendships and history together. To feel really known and loved by people. It’s natural we want to establish this because we’re shaped by our personal history. We’re also shaped by the history of the people around us and the history of where we live or have grown up. I’m thankful for people who’ve have taken the time to love me by asking about my life history.
Over the Christmas break I borrowed the audio book 'Down Under' by Bill Bryson. I’ve really enjoyed listening to someone explore many of the places I’ve been to or lived in Australia. I laughed as he opened the book saying he can never remember who our Prime Minister is and that was back in 1999! As he described the dangers of Australia I could begin to understand why overseas visitors might be afraid to come:
“If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback.” 
I’ve enjoyed his observations and critiques of our culture in the different parts of the country. I’ve learnt more than I’ve ever known before about Burke and Wills, Ned Kelly and Charles Kingsford Smith.
But I’ve also been saddened again by our Indigenous history. Saddened more by how most of us know and have known in the past. When Bryson visited Myall Creek, he went to the local museum, he wandered around the town looking for a monument about the Myall Creek massacre. He asked the locals about it but there was nothing to acknowledge this event had even happened! The locals had limited knowledge and were even surprised Bryson was asking about it. Bryson was rightly shocked by this (since his visit a memorial site was opened in 2000). I’ve been saddened and reminded of how little most of us know about our history.
As we approach Australia Day I don’t pretend to understand all the issues. But I do understand people approach this day with different emotions. Some with sadness and grief, some with anger, some with joy and thankfulness and others indifference and I’m sure a range of other emotions. I don’t have the answers but I believe seeking to understand each other and the life-history we bring to this day will help us. It’s when we take the time to listen and seek to understand each other that we show love to our fellow Australians.
So why not ask someone about their history this week? Seek to understand them and how their history shapes them. Take the time read more about our indigenous history. Understand where others are coming from. Perhaps you could start here: www.prideandpain.org.au.
Show love to people by seeking to understand who they are and where they’ve come from, not just where they’ve lived but the history they’ve come from.
That’s why I’m so impressed by Jesus, God’s son, who understands me and knows me better than I know myself. Jesus came to live on earth amongst us so he knows and understand what it means to be human. Jesus grieved with hurting people, he grieved over death, he suffered himself at the hands of people and he did all of this because he loves us. Jesus understands our pain, anger and sadness as well as our joys.
Whatever emotions you approach Australia Day with, why not take the time to love those around you by asking them about their history and how they feel about Australia Day?
And if you’d like to know more about Jesus who understands all our history better than we do and loves us more than we can imagine then why not check out the life of Jesus for yourself.
 Bill Bryson, Down Under, pg 19-20.
Written by Gemma Cardew