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That Shore

By January 26, 2016 Jonathan

I woke today thinking of that shore, where sails and European men who looked like me met the Gweagal people of Indigenous Australia. Somehow I saw myself in skin a beautifully dark hue, a bullet pierced my leg. I fled.

Today is a day full of emotions.

A day of celebrating a strong, diverse nation. Remembering our past, enjoying our country, looking forward to the future.

It is also a sad day as we remember the terrors committed against the indigenous people when the Europeans arrived.

Would that it could be a day full of celebration
For everyone.
Yet for many the terrors of the past taint
Australia’s fullest beauty.
We must address, work through and continue to acknowledge the past.

I live far away among the Basque people of Europe, an indigenous people group who have also dwelt in their homeland for millenia. I miss Australia. I believe Australia is one of the top places to live in the world without any need of saying “We are the best or greatest”. A place that truly seeks to give everyone a fair go.

I have walked that shore often, thinking about the past. I have spoken with my Indigenous friends at university and over communal meals about what it means to be in this land together. What it means to acknowledge the past and find reconciliation, to embrace each other.

I love the diversity of Australia. Most Australians hold a deep respect for the indigenous people of the land we share and Australians of all backgrounds can share videos like this (below) because we see the truth that the native people were never consulted, asked or talked with as the carers and rightful stewards of what was named “Australia”.
Hopefully the voice of the Aboriginal people of Australia will be catalyses of further awareness both on the Australian shore AND among other nations who also are prone to forget the past in the collective here and now of daily life and amidst growing nationalism around the world. It is hard but true that many prosperous nations were founded upon the sadness of invasion.

I love this people and this land too much to forget the past. I choose to listen to Indigenous voices addressing Australia, calling for change. One clear response would be to change the date of Australia Day. This is not to do away with the celebration, but to celebrate in a way that reflects the true identity of Australia, recognising us all.

The land that native Aboriginal people for millenia
Called home
Is too precious to be held by ransom by those
Threatened by unfamiliarity.

I will continue to walk that shore, to remember.

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