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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

sorry

I'm not usually one to indulge in day time television and I've certainly never taken the time to tune into a televised parliamentary session, but today presented a suitably significant moment to do both when our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, offered a bipartisan apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia for the actions taken against them in the past.

Oh beautiful moment, wonderful words. It delighted my heart to see Aborigines sitting proudly within our Parliament House and the sound of sorry was sweet music to my ears.

Not that the past is all forgotten, or the pain expunged or the present trials of the Aborigines magically removed, but these words go a long way towards helping us achieve reconciliation in Australia. They signify the willingness of white Australia to acknowledge the wrongs committed against Indigenous Australians, and to humbly accept the role we played in the decimation of Aboriginal pride and culture.

There are of course those who seek to detract from the importance of this moment, suggesting the floodgates of compensation claims will now be opened and for this reason a formal apology should never have been given. Others believe there is no need to give an apology, as history has been distorted and the atrocities we hear of were fabricated tales. Furthermore our forebears knew not what they were doing. Still others resent the call to say sorry for a deed they did not personally commit.

To these people I would say that no relationship can move forward if we will not be genuine and real in our acknowledgement and regret of the past. Compensation or no compensation, today's words will go a long way towards healing the wounds of Indigenous Australia - observe the tears shed by both indigenous and white Australians today. Consider how you have felt on receiving a longed for apology.

Every historian adds their own bias to the retelling of the past. No matter what the degree of wrongdoing committed by early Australian settlers, we cannot deny wrongs were done. We should therefore apologise for even the slightest wrong. This is the right and decent thing to do.

To those who consider they have not personally wronged an Indigenous Australian, I say look at your wealth. We live off the fat of the land because we took the land from its original inhabitants. We could not be where we are today without the injustices of the past. You may not have killed an Aborigine or wrested the land from their tribe, but your prosperity comes care of those who did. If you do nothing to achieve justice and equality for the Aborigines of today you are surely as tainted as those who committed the original sins.

I for one have been deeply moved by the events of today. I am not in close contact with Indigenous Australians, but I join with my Prime Minister in expressing a deep and heartfelt 'sorry' to the indigenous people of Australia.

May we now all work together to achieve greater parity between white Australians and indigenous Australians, that we all might enjoy the prosperity of this beautiful country.

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6 Comments:

At 11:52 pm, February 13, 2008, Blogger luke said...

Great post about a great day.

I'm sad that not all Australians see it the same way.

Or am I mad? Both, I guess.

So I posted about it on my blog too.

 
At 1:07 am, February 14, 2008, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

This is a good thing, it is one step in the right direction. The words I'm sorry mean so much to a person who is willing to receive it.

 
At 3:52 am, February 14, 2008, Blogger Cherie said...

So glad you posted on this, Cecily. Tom was telling me about this event in your country and we are both duly impressed and humbled. You are right on! So are your Prime minister and Parliament.

Have you ever seen the film, Rabbit Proof Fences? It's about the taking of your indigenous children and placing them in the white world, from the autobiographical words of one who was so taken along with her little siblings. I won't spoil it for you, but highly suggest you and your readers give the film a look.

Again, thanks for posting this, Cecily. Well done.

 
At 4:06 am, February 14, 2008, Blogger Cherie said...

I just listened to the apology you linked to. An historical moment! Wow. A place for the world to pause and consider for more than the length of the speech. Chokes me up. You just don't hear stuff like that much in a lifetime. I'm going to go listen again...and remember.

 
At 8:11 am, February 14, 2008, Blogger Deanna said...

Tim and I saw the story on BBC world news last night, and I thought of you. The newspeople mentioned that saying sorry is a symbolic gesture. I guess I agree, but the gesture is very meaningful. An aboriginal man was interviewed, who'd been taken from his mother at age 5. He said the apology wasn't enough - nothing could ever be enough to right the wrong. That's true, too, and yet as people who do wrong (everybody does), one thing we can do is acknowledge the truth.

Anyway, I'm happy your Prime Minister did it.

 
At 2:47 am, February 15, 2008, Blogger Heather said...

I heard part of the apology speech on the radio. It's being talked about quite a bit here in Canada, because we have a very similar issue with Aboriginal people here and the same need for an apology. Hopefully our leaders will learn a lesson from yours.

 

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