Taking Myself Back to Basics.

June 28, 2007 at 2:32 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve been part of a group email exchange the past few days about Howard’s plan for the Indigenous people of the Northern Territory. I’m now feeling extremely glum, as well as extremely inadequate. There are many reasons for this, not least being the fact that there is a serious humanitarian crisis in this country, and scores of little children are being systematically sexually abused. I am sitting here literally choking up at the thought of it. But I haven’t done anything either, have I? As much as I loathe John Howard’s grossly belated, paternal and self-serving agenda, in the end I am really no better. I just have conversations and exchange emails with people with whom I generally already agree. Preaching to the converted, in other words, which is a rather ineffectual way, in the end, to harness opposition. We’re all just safely corralled off in our little pen of like-minded small ‘l’ liberals, and last time I checked almost everyone I know in Sydney (although not elsewhere) is lily white. What the hell do we really know about the indigenous condition? I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you in no uncertain terms: very little.

Have I been to the Northern Territory? No.
Do I have any Aboriginal friends? No.
Have I studied Aboriginal History? No.
Do I have a better than basic understanding of different mobs, their customs and beliefs? No.
Have I ever lived in an area with an established Indigenous community? No.

Would I like the answer to any and all of the above to be yes? Absolutely. I would. So I need to do something, something practical to address my own ignorance. I’m Australian, and I really want to start participating in everything that means. Perhaps, then, I must start at the very beginning, and start educating myself about the country’s original inhabitants. And then hopefully, in time, I’ll be able to develop a dialogue with their descendants, because – let’s be honest – right now, we don’t often speak.


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