A moment to be seized

What a privilege to have walked this week on Gurindji country.

What a privilege to have walked this week on Gurindji Country.

Before me each day was beauty and brokenness. The beauty of humble, inspiring, resilient First Nations’ people and their wonderful lands, hills, rivers and creeks. And yet the brokenness of injustice, disadvantage and dislocation – the pain of all that we taken from them. The inequality gap that you cannot hide from.

This week as I sat with respected, wise First Nations’ leaders, people who are beacons of faith and ancient cultures, I did not hear one word of vitriol. I did not hear angry words. None of the divisiveness I hear from wedge politicians and commentators.

But loud and clear I heard the echoing voices of invitation and hope!

Men and women, who have every reason to be angry at the injustice they and their families have experienced, spoke of their hope for the future. Their gentle but strong invitation: “please walk with us, please listen to us, please hear our stories, please seize this moment. Let’s journey together.”

This week I have heard voices of courage. People willing to speak truth to white fellas. People willing to speak pain to white fellas. People willing to speak hope to white fellas.

The #ulurustatementfromtheheart is not a call to revolution. It’s not a call to upheaval, despite how divisive voices will seek to present it. But rather as Danny told me: “it’s about being heard, being respected, being given justice, dignity and empowerment.”

It is, as a beautiful lady Shirley told me: “about giving our younger people hope and a future”.

And as Leah reminded me, with tears in her eyes: “it must include truth telling”. And she is right. And she is gracious in knowing that this means me and all non-Aboriginal people need to be willing to once and for all confront our racist, stained and horrific past that has forever changed the way of life for First Nations’ people.

And so I come away from this journey better informed and more inspired to be a white fella voice for justice. And more humbled at the gracious invitation of beautiful, but pained people, who yearn for a better future for all of us.

Please don’t listen to the voices of fear in the months ahead. Please don’t listen to voices that foster divide. Please don’t listen to voices that dare put the blame back on the oppressed. Read a book, watch a documentary series, meet a local elder, open your heart to uncomfortable spaces. Remind yourself you are part of our national reconciliation story.

Be like Carol, my Brisbane Uber driver, who last Friday was cheering on the visit I was about to make.

“I was so ignorant. To be honest, I was racist. But then I decided to stop listening to my white friends who thought they knew everything, but who had never sat with an Indigenous person. I started to listen and learn and see our terrible past … and that I was part of the problem and the solution today.

It’s not that hard is it love,” Carol said. “To treat others like we want to be treated. And to be truly sorry for all we have taken from them.”

God bless you Carol. A courageous Australian on a reconciliation journey.

This walk is one we’re all invited to share in. Let’s not waste this generational opportunity.

As Shirley says on red dirt country: “we can do this together if we want to!”

A people who so often have been made feel unwelcome, warmly welcomed me onto their country again this week, even in the midst of sorry business.

And I am so the richer for their welcome! As I sat by the beautiful Victoria River in Kalkaringi, I breathed in the peace and beauty of the moment. May we pursue beauty and peace and the hope captured in the #ulurustatementfromtheheart.

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