Today was a very emotional time for Australia for if not an overwhelming than a very substantial majority of its citizens.
In parliament, to a capacity gallery audience spilling over into the grassy surrounds amid sprinklings of indigenous colors proudly waving, to school children listening intently, to News Bulletins, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd addressed the opening of the new parliament to deliver a formal apology to the indigenous peoples of Australia.
This historic moment, a first for an Australian parliament since federation, was to say sorry, for the stolen generation of children separated from families, and for the wrongs and injustices of the past. The occasion was a first in many respects , a gallery normally subdued was encouraged by the speaker to freely show their feelings of great joy in loud warm hearted acclamation , the parliament united in a bipartisan approach, the speech heard in a deafening silence but sincere of tone, by an appreciative audience that included all previous prime Ministers with the one notable exception of John Howard. The apology was emotionally accepted amid grateful tears in spirituall atmoshere that united Australia. The apology meant an awful lot to the aboriginal community who have graciously accepted it and who spoke emotionally of the enormous burden finally lifted from their shoulders, to allow healing to take place.
And the message has really taken root with our schoolchildren throughout the nation. Teachers have encouraged the students in the lead up to talk about what is means to say sorry and engendered philosophical questions along with many in the community who have asked those same questions. How do you say sorry? Why would you say sorry? Is it okay just to be just well-meaning? Is it a good idea to say sorry even if it’s a long time ago and you were not directly responsible? How will it be recorded in history?
To day they all listened intently.
So in essence this is one of those rare times when the words mean far more than the actions, words like spirituality, sorrow, healing, peace and pride start to seem very normal parts of every day news broadcast. People were not afraid to show their emotions including many notable public figures which contributed to this collective overwhelming feeling of goodwill. And for the first time for many indigenous people, they say they are proud to be Australians, teaching us what remarkably generous people they are, beyond our imagination. We are one but many, and thankfully now we can all move forward as one.
But unless theses words are translated into measurable progress to build a comparable future for all of us as one, to eliminate any divide in Housing, Heath and Education outcomes and general wellbeing we risk tragically returning in another 50 years to reconsider it all over again.
What are the prospects? One encouraging aspect is the bipartisan Commission already set upon to work with the leaders of aboriginal communities to provide more resources for housing and pre school resources with an additional 1400 teachers, and other initiates to hopefully quickly follow.
Has Rudd the ticker to make it all work? He’s certainly aware of the need to move forward, citing St Paul words as a reminder that without action words are like clashing symbols.
Cart is a fellow Australia blogger who has also posted comprehensibly on the topic, included he has refernced the full transcript of Rudd’s delivery of the apology which you can read by visiting his blog by clicking here.