Shades of Grey or Black and White


Trentham Victoria January 2016

I had a nice acknowledgement from the author of the new book “Mrs Kelly”, Grantlee Kieza who read my last post and concluded that the Kelly story will be debated for centuries. I certainly don’t agree with some of his conclusions but can still acknowledge the value of his work. Our national identity and character is still being created, we are after all a young nation and talking about one of our great stories and looking at it from different perspectives only contributes to our national narrative. May it long continue.

I also had a reply from someone who is most decidedly an anti-Kelly zealot. A lady who runs a blog which seems to have an aim of destroying the Kelly myth. Now that’s okay. To each his own and differing opinions are allowed in this great nation of course but I must say she did get a little personal but I have found that arguing with people with such entrenched views is pointless. She is obviously very well researched and that’s great and difficult to counter but she reads history with a different eye to me. Having several relatives who have served time in prison for capital offences and having seen the way a small element of the judiciary and law enforcement abuse their authority has perhaps blurred my vision of the Kelly legend. So be it. Some view the story in black and white. I see it in shades of grey.

Any great national story is open for debate and we have seen recently with Australia Day passions rising on both sides of a debate about the validity of celebration of the European settlement of this continent. Anzac Day is another which often stirs controversy although the sanctity of the occasion often mutes opposition to the commemoration.

The United States is ripe for such controversy given their tumultuous history and one only has to study events such as the battles at The Alamo or Little Big Horn to see passions rise and verbal fisticuffs on display. The rise of folk hero Davy Crockett who died fighting the Mexican army in Texas is a fascinating display of myth-making.

Of course these people died a long time before I was born. I never knew them. The chapter of that book is closed. Their travails have no effect on the life I live so I don’t see the point of getting too wound up about history. I enjoy it but I would like to influence the future not the past.

The building of myths and legends is what makes up the living organism of a nation. The nation which deny’s it’s myths and legends is barely a nation at all. Of course there is always a more prosaic explanation for any event and men and women, heroes and villains are sometimes seen through a lens of national desire, needs or wants.

Good authors will keep poking at our history and produce good work. Then it’s up to us to read what they say and then make up our minds. Be adventurous and grab a history book. Our own story is pretty inspiring.

Have a nice day.





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