Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The day we said "sorry"!

Today, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, said "sorry" to generations of indigenous Australians who were stolen from their families. As kids, they were removed by force from their parents and sent to institutions or white families so they could be "saved", "assimilated" and, some would say, so that the Aboriginal identity would be erased forever.

Some have opposed the apology on the following grounds:
  • It is an admission of guilt by a generation that had nothing to do with it; and
  • It does nothing practical to help ease the poverty and social disintegration of the Aborigines.
Yet, sorry is a powerful word and those in favour of uttering it won the debate. The parliament of Australia legislated for the removal of children from their families and it should say sorry, even if the mouthpiece is of a younger generation. The stolen generations have requested that they be apologised to and the least we can do is honour their wish.

Today is a historic day in the history of this country. Previously, I have resisted wearing symbols, draping myself in flags and all such demonstrations. Today, I wore a black, yellow and red bracelet at school and changed my facebook status to "sorry". My family was not in Australia and I wasn't even born when the injustice was committed. I want to be part of the future of Australia and I want my kids to grow up in a united country. Saying "sorry" is the beginning of the healing process.

I pray that practical steps do follow and that Aboriginal children grow up in health and dignity. Tonight I will sleep with this vision. "Tomorrow will worry about its own things" (Matthew 6:34).

2 comments:

"Ms. Cornelius"

said...

Sorry does seem to be the hardest word, as Sir Elton sang.

Now doing something to rebuild opportunity for Aborigines wold be a good next step. But we Yanks haven't been any better at this.

Duncan Macleod

said...

A big part of this act was the context of respect - listening, speaking, expressions of sorrow and hope, symbolic gestures, and commitment to bipartisan consultative approaches to solutions.