Thursday, February 14, 2008
Why say sorry?
Today I am basking in the after glow of one of the most important and historic days for Australia. I finally managed to watch the full 30 minute speech after midnight, but was happy to get to bed late so as to somehow feel included in such a momentous occasion for Australia. I watched in sadness and joy as so many Aboriginal people said thank you for the apology. There were so many tears, but there was also a release, and understanding that perhaps a Federal government would actually start listening to them.
Previous governments may have claimed that they were doing all that was possible to help Indigenous Australia. But there was an important factor missing. Previous governments did not acknowledge the pain that Aboriginals experienced. It is a little like the addage of the past "Children should be seen and not heard.... or "Speak when you are spoken to." Previous Australian governments have had attitudes of paternalism towards Aboriginal cultures, believing that they would tell Aboriginal people what was best for them.
The only way forward is to listen to Aboriginal peoples and to act in partnership with them.
Some Australians, Brendan Nelson (leader of the opposition) in particular have claimed that this current generation does not own the actions of previous generations. That may be so, but we can apologise on their behalf. The response of so many stolen generations people yesterday shows that they appreciate the apology. Is it really that hard to say sorry? Isn't this one of the first things that our parents taught us when we were little?
Daniel and Nehemiah in the Bible both chose to repent of the sins of their nation from previous generations. They were both godly men, but they also knew that no one is without sin. They repented for the sins of the Israelites that worshipped false idols even though they did not worship these idols themselves. As Christians, this should be enough of a Biblical precedent for us to do the same.
One Liberal politician, Tuckey, made a point of saying the Lord's Prayer loudly at the opening of Parliament, and then promptly walked out. This is hardly a good witness.
Patrick Dodson, an Aboriginal leader even spoke of forgiveness in The Age newspaper this morning. Wow, there really is hope and I am excited about this.
Apology and Forgiveness will open the doors for true spiritual blessing on Australia. Perhaps if Australians want to see rain, we should say sorry first.