Tuesday, February 12, 2008

sorry

so anyway, tomorrow we say sorry to the indigenous people of Australia. it is the first step in a process of reconciliation, in which we will try to put right some of the wrong we have done the first Australians.

there is a great deal of quibbling about it. the right claims we have nothing to be sorry for: we weren't here then, we never did nuffink, we were doing them a favour. the centre doesn't want to pay reparations. i think we should. the Stolen Generation were shattered by what was done to them.

it doesn't matter who exactly was responsible. we take collective responsibility because that is what a nation does. we should apologise, and i'm delighted that finally we are doing so. we should pay the indigenous people the billion dollars they believe they are due. it's a small price to pay for their accepting that we too may live here, in amity with them. it's not enough for forgiveness. that cannot be bought. they will forgive us if they can find it in their hearts.

i am not an Australian, but i am part of Australia. i unreservedly join Kevin Rudd in apologising to the indigenous people for what they have suffered, and still suffer, and i believe we should remain sorry until every indigenous child has the same life chances my children do.

i will be a little prouder of Australia at 9am tomorrow. if Kevin Rudd achieves nothing else in his tenure as PM, he will at least be the leader who had the common human decency to begin the healing this nation needs.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry! Can you truly be sorry for deeds that were not done by you or in your name,and of which you had no knowledge of?

I would feel such an apology would be an empty PR exercise.

But if an acknowledgement of past deeds and a condemnation of them was forth coming, and the perpetrators many of whom are know were openly condemned and vilified that would make me feel better.

Can you apologise for your ancestors (although not too distant) actions.

February 12, 2008 at 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Paula Light said...

I know many are opposed to it, such as anon up there, but I like it. Of course we know that the current generation didn't do the bad thing, but that's not the point. Some may have indirectly benefitted from it, so an apology is appropriate in that case. Plus it implies that we recognize such a thing is wrong and won't do it again.

February 13, 2008 at 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

A democratic nation does what it does in the name of its people, and those people must bear collective responsibility for the things it does.

February 13, 2008 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see how you can regret and be ashamed of the actions of your ancestors, but can an actual apology for their actions be in any way sincere, i personal would feel that it was a hollow gesture. I do how ever believe that massive reparations are due.

February 13, 2008 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I think that if you have a sense of a nation as a collectivity, it becomes easier to understand that you can be genuinely sorry for what has been done in your name, particularly when you personally benefit from it.

I agree that reparations are due, and I laughed out loud when the opposition leader suggested that "no amount of money can compensate for a life" as though that was an argument for not seeing whether a couple of hundred grand at least made you feel a bit better about it. I do think though that measures to try to fix Australia are more important, and those aren't going to be cheap either.

February 13, 2008 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous ruth said...

Good post - I agree. The 'stolen generation' was a disgrace. It's awful how some people seem to think that education or money , whatever, justified the State nationalising children.

February 13, 2008 at 11:55 AM  
Anonymous anatomyofmelancholy said...

Can you truly be sorry for deeds that were not done by you or in your name,and of which you had no knowledge of?

You can be sorry for anything whatsoever, as long as you feel compassion for people's suffering. Being sorry can be simply wishing it had never happened. If I see a dog run over by a car, I feel sorry, even though I didn't run over it. How much more sorry can I feel for one other human being? Or hundreds or thousands or millions of other people, even though I wasn't personally actively responsible for what happened?

I'm not guilty of anything specific. Not personally. But I have stood by and reaped the benefits the colour of my skin has granted me, while others did not have those benefits.

And for that, I am sorry.

February 15, 2008 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can feel sorrow but does actual saying Sorry have any real meaning in those circumstances.

Every one alive today has in some way benefited from the oppression of other in the past, on class,caste,religious or racial grounds, it is still going on today.

So you are sorry for being who you are, for being the colour that you are, how utterly ridiculous. Perhaps you should give all your worldly possessions to some one less fortunate than yourself.

February 15, 2008 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Yes, actually, you probably should. Now stfu, you worm.

February 15, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Anonymous anatomyofmelancholy said...

Does actual saying Sorry have any real meaning in those circumstances?

Does fighting tooth and nail to avoid saying sorry have any meaning? I think it does. You don't want to say sorry, that's fine. Keep your mouth shut. But you actually seem indignant that someone might actually say something nice in your name.

God forbid.

Asshole.

February 15, 2008 at 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Looney said...

A democratic nation does what it does in the name of its people, and those people must bear collective responsibility for the things it does.

Precisely. And money doesn't compensate directly for human life. What money does is provide the lives that remain and that have been affected by the wrong opportunity, and the financial ability, freedom even, to pursue those opportunities despite the past wrongs that deprived the dead of theirs.

February 16, 2008 at 4:13 AM  

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