Thursday, May 21, 2009

Patriotism: American vs. Australian

Long time no post...

I have been spending this semester abroad in Australia, the land Down Under. Australia is, like much of the Western world, heavily influenced by America - McDonalds, Nike, Hollywood, Disney - all are quite influential and prominent.

The largest difference between our two cultures would have to be patriotism. Whereas, most Americans know the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem, Australians are nowhere near as knowledgeable. The prevalence of the flag and its treatment also highlight this difference. Australia is a very multicultural country, boasting the second highest number of citizens born in another country (behind Israel), but this does not explain this patriotism gap.

Without a doubt, I think the largest cause of this gap is the difference in our roots. Australia was discovered and claimed by Captain Cook as America was struggling to form a republic. It declared its independence from Britain and joined the commonwealth of nations as we were defeating Spain and the 20th century was beginning. The form of government chosen was a federalist mixture based largely on the Westminster form, but also undeniably influenced by the American style of government.

What makes America so great, and our people so proud, is America's roots were truly revolutionary. Our forefathers created a whole new system, a radical shift from monarchies (even the constitutional monarchy of Georgian England). They took the ideals of Rousseau and Locke and so many others and made them a reality - it wasn't and isn't perfect. And yet, many will still probably say that it is the best attempt at equal, good government humankind has achieved yet. And that's why I'm proud to be an American.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photo Journal of Commencement Weekend 2009

Notre Dame's 2009 Commencement Weekend was a little different from past years. With University's announcement that President Obama would be the principle speaker at the Commencement, as well as recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree, the campus quickly became the epicenter of an intense debate of politics, morals, religion, secularism, and etc. Here are some photos taken in the days leading up to Commencement as well as of the Commencement Day events hosted by the Notre Dame Response Student Coalition (