sorry

we went down to federation square this morning to watch the federal government’s apology to indigenous people on the big screen.

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last time i was at fed square with a group this size was when we were protesting some of the policies of the last government. it was unbelievably good to be listening to a prime minister who was speaking about soul, not economics. It was a moving and beautiful moment – obviously even more so for the indigenous people in the crowd, and those who were part of the ceremony in Canberra.

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it’s funny how in christian circles the concept of forgiveness is so dominant in much theology. the demand to forgive can become as oppressive as the original act that needed to be forgiven. we rarely, if ever, talk about apologising [which is very different to confessing]… and yet today seems proof [if we needed it] of how good it does one’s soul to apologise, and to do so without demanding forgiveness in response.

The photo below was taken during the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson’s, response. Most of the crowd at Federation Square turned their back on him during his speech. His speech, and the apology within it, felt to me like the kind of apology that a 10 year old gives his sister on the insistence of his mother.

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One of the things that Kevin Rudd said in his speech accompanying the apology was that turning points aren’t born through sentimental moments, they’re born through action. and that’s the task ahead of us from here.

4 Comments

  1. jesse

    People of a certain age talk about remembering where they were when WWII ended, or when we landed on the moon, and other days of great positive moments in humanity – I get the feeling that yseterday will be one of those days

    i found some of your musings really stirring, and used some of the concepts in a prayer last night – hope you don’t mind 🙂

  2. It’s action we need. On the words, the shame about Nelson’s speech is that he failed to take on the significance of the event. The importance of ‘Sorry’ is that we recognize that we did wrong and we need to change. Sorry doesn’t mean anything unless there is some aspect of personal reparation.

    Nelson seemed intent on saying, “We are sorry BUT…” Very much like a forced apology. And the imperialism remains. Blame the blacks for their situation, for addiction, poverty, illiteracy and low life expectancy, while failing to recognize that we were the ones that started it through our insensitive and self-righteous colonization, then compounded the problem by failing to care when problems began to emerge.

    The danger of this moment is that it remains here. That Rudd speaks his piece, everyone applauds and begins printing T-shirts. Bob Hawke cried. Paul Keating spoke in Redfern. Life moves on, and nothing changes for our black brothers and sisters. It’s important that we remind Rudd to keep going.

  3. Becca

    for sins long remembered and sins forgotten…
    for wrong actions committed and right actions omitted…
    for harsh judgements and outrageous leniencies…
    forgive us as we learn to forgive each other and change.

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