There is so much to celebrate about this wonderful country. There is so much to be thankful for. But on this divisive national day, I feel like we face a stark choice. We can throw a snag on the BBQ, slap on an Australian flag tattoo, grab a cold beer, play Oz hits of the 80s and close our eyes and ears to the cries and pain of First Nations’ people. Or we can resolve to make intentional choices today that support the possibility of genuine and lasting reconciliation. I know for me, this means the need to continue to humbly engage with, walk alongside, listen to and learn from First Nations’ people.
Today I find myself asking many “what if” questions.
What if as a nation we could be courageous enough to engage in genuine truth telling when it comes to the story of our First Nations’ people? What if we can face up to uncomfortable truths?
What if, with a once in a generation opportunity before us, we could we see our leaders not play politics or the fear card when it comes to seizing a significant moment in our nation’s history?
What if we embraced the way of Jesus and treat others like we want to be treated, motivating us to no longer accept excuses for the systemic injustice First Nations’ people still face?
What if having faced these hard and painful truths we could agree that January 26, long held by First Nations’ people as a day or mourning, is the most unhelpful day on the calendar to celebrate our national day?
What if, as proud Palawa man Rodney Dillon asks, our national day was moved to any of the other 364 days in the year that didn’t mark the start of dispossession and pain? A date that meant something to everyone, whether your ancestors came here 65,000 years ago, 235 years ago, or you migrated here last week?
What if we could maturely discuss other options for our national day, which enabled unity and fostered genuine steps on the journey of reconciliation?
Speaking of Australia Day, acclaimed journalist and proud Wiradjuri man Stan Grant asks, “what if we could find a song we could all sing”?
Aunty Jean Phillips, one of Australia’s most respected Aboriginal Christian leaders reminds us that reconciliation always starts with the individual – it always begins with a change of heart.
What if we were all open to a genuine change of the heart?
We live at a pivotal time in our nation’s history where we are on the cusp of something that could lead to lasting change and genuine reconciliation. We all have a part to play in this journey.
Today I can choose apathy, I can make excuses and ignore the truth of our stained history. Or I can dare embrace “what if” questions and warmly embrace the invitation of our First Nations’ people to walk with them into a new future for our nation.