The Lucky Country? What is luck anyway?


As my regular readers will know I am a recent immigrant (from the UK) to Australia , The Lucky Country. I arrived in 1999 to take up residence and don’t regret it at all. However, the concept of it being The Lucky Country just challenges me to think through the whole idea of luck to the point where I have concluded it doesn’t even exist.

It gets even more bizarre when you think that a number of the lucky and unlucky symbols are linked to religion. Here are a few:

Friday 13th – considered unlucky because there were 13 people sat around the table of The Last Supper and, of course, Jesus was crucified on a Friday.

The crucifixion leads to more ways of remaining ‘lucky’

Touch wood – comes from the idea that you carried a piece of wood [ideally from the original cross, but any wood would do) in your pocket and if you felt under pressure (clearly from evil spirits!) then you could touch the wood and invoke good spirits to fight on your behalf.

Fingers crossed also reminds the person of the cross as a symbol of ultimate victory (as Easter Sunday demonstrates).

Lucky 7 refers to the perfect number 7 that is the number of days in a week from the Genesis creation story.

Thank your lucky stars ‘works’ because stars represent the heavens – the place where God lives.

I wasn’t aware of the origin of Australia being called The Lucky Country – if you didn’t know either then I can tell you it came from a book of that name by Donald Horne first published in 1964.

‘Australia is a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.’
The phrase ‘the lucky country’ has become part of our lexicon; it’s forever being invoked in debates about the Australian way of life, but is all too often misused by those blind to Horne’s irony – it being a negative comment aimed at the politicians of the day.

So – do I believe in luck? No, not in the way it is commonly used. Of course, I do believe in mathematical ‘chance’ – for example the chance of any 2 dice totalling 12 can be calculated (by people more inclined than I am). But being lucky in life, lucky to get a job, lucky I found a wife etc – not at all. There is way more to those things than mere luck.

Do you agree? Please give your answer below.

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