Posts Tagged ‘national responsibility’

While there may have been actions that were at the time performed with ‘the best of intent’, which in hindsight, were detrimental to the indigenous populations; there were many many actions where the intent appears indeed malign.

Was it not once policy that the aboriginal culture was to be annihilated in one form or another, either through integration (which the stolen generation may well be an act), or through the extinction of the race itself. Poisoned flour, poisoned waterholes was this done ‘with the best intention’?

The white Australia policy, forced integration, best intentions… best for who?

For whom were these actions designed to benefit most? Irrespective of the intent of the actions toward the indigenous populations, the actions collectively over time have benefited the dominant culture at the apparent cost to the indigenous populations.

Australia’s towns and cities stand on land which for 40 – 60 thousand years were part of the domain of aboriginal tribes, complete with languages and cultures, far more ancient than any other human culture on earth… But because of the policy of Terra Nullus (best of intentions?) removal and dispossession for indigenous populations; with possession, access, and exploitation by others.

We, today, in this generation, are the inheritors of what came before, we are the receivers of things stolen, or beneficiaries of the acts of stealing. Whatever our cultural, racial, ethnic background or histories we have inherited a world, and a country with histories both good and bad. We like, and feel good when we reflect on (what we perceive to be) the better aspects of our history; but like a well person, we neglect or avoid dealing with that which does not make us feel well. We find excuses for not dealing with these things, we do not want to go to the doctor, change our diet, or exercise – even though we know it will make us feel better in the long run. Like this well person, there are those who wish to avoid contemplating past injustices, or the less savory aspects of our history, claiming that this generation has no right to apologise, for the actions of past generations. Does or should history have a use-by-date for acknowledging past wrongs?

It is said by these ‘well’ people that this generation has done nothing wrong and thus has nothing to say sorry for. Interesting point, but as the inheritors of what came before, we are the beneficiaries of both the benign and malignant policies of past times. It is incumbent upon this generation to acknowledge the darkness’ in the past and bring the salve of light, bandage wounds of the spirit, acknowledge scars, lest we too, like generations before, become complicit by our silence.

A well person can only truly appreciate their health when they can recognise, acknowledge, and face ill times. On February 13 2008 this country, through the agency of federal parliament will recognise and finally acknowledge past wrongs by saying sorry for those wrongs. It may appear to some to be bitter medicine, if it is, it s a preventative one, maybe it will immunize future generations against silence in the face of injustices committed under our very noses in our names ‘for the best of intentions’…

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