Last Sunday I wrote an article to commemorate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. I had written strongly about the grave injustices and crimes done to our First peoples before, so I decided not to repeat what I had already said.
In one sentence I wrote ‘….. the mistakes of the past ….. by a number of some new settlers’.
Someone respectfully contacted me on Monday and said that my statement minimises the very deliberate and systematic mistreatment of our First Australians, that they were dispossessed, oppressed, forcefully confined, raped, there was slavery and child stealing as a result of Government policy, there was also murder.
I certainly had no intention to minimise the crimes of the past. However, I can see how what I said could have been interpreted that way. It is not what I had intended. I need to be more careful with my choice of words!
We certainly cannot hide, or minimise, the truth of the past!
About twelve months ago, on the same occasion as last Sunday, I wrote an article which ended up in a number of newspapers interstate where I spoke strongly about this matter. Someone sent me a number of articles which alleged that a lot of the terrible acts done against our First peoples were untrue, that they had not happened.
Jesus said that the truth will set us free!
In order to clarify any misunderstanding on this matter I am writing today’s article.
Great evils were done towards our First peoples following European settlement. Some of them have been listed in this article, and this list is by no means exhaustive!
There are still many injustices and inequalities happening today.
The huge gap in life expectancy, the massive disproportionate rate of incarceration, the very high and disproportionate rate of serious illness even among young people, housing, educational possibilities, generation traumas, racial discrimination, and the list goes on.
Certainly we cannot brush off past and present wrongs.
Where do we go from here? So many times others have decided for our First peoples as to what ‘is good for them’ and ‘what they need’!
Others cannot make decisions for them! They need to make their own decisions.
We all need to walk with and alongside our First Nations brothers and sisters. They need our support, respect, and love, and not patronising and arrogant impositions!
We are all brothers and sisters, children of one God. We need to take time to listen, to reflect together. There are no shortcuts, and no place for knee jerk reactions.
This short article is only a reflection and by no means meant to be exhaustive of these realities, both past and present.
I acknowledge the need for repentance of past sins and amendments needed.
I am committed to continue to learn and reflect.
I am committed to keep walking with our First Nations peoples, and to be in for the long-haul, to stay committed despite challenges encountered.
I know that we need to keep searching and discerning, listening to the Holy Spirit who has walked with the First Australian for many, many thousands of years, and is still with them, and with all of us, today.
Faithfulness to Christ and the Gospel calls us to ongoing conversion as God makes all things new.
God is always faithful.