Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The "welcome to country" was

apparently politicised at the major ANZAC Day event. That appalls me.
The "welcome to country" is a relatively recent thing. It is in itself political. It takes the form of a person who identifies as being a member of a local indigenous tribe welcoming people on to their land or the performance of a song or other ceremony.  It isn't "traditional" in that it didn't always occur in the past and it was by no means universal in its occurrence or format. That said,  in the proper place at the proper time and done with thought and care it can be a very positive experience for everyone.  
The problem is that, like too many other ideas, it has become "politically correct" to have such a "ceremony". The frequency with which it occurs has made it less meaningful than it might be. Instead of reserving it for special occasions, as it was in the past, it has now become almost commonplace. There are demands, not always from the indigenous community, that it should occur.
I was talking to an indigenous friend about this. Like his mother before him he has a robust view of the world. He has very little time for the politics surrounding indigenous affairs. He doesn't like the way the welcome ceremony is being used. It is his belief it should be used only on rare and appropriate occasions. Yes, an ANZAC service may be such an occasion. No, it should not have been given any sort of political significance then. It should not, according to him, ever be given any sort of political significance. 
I know other indigenous people who agree. They feel their traditions have been taken over by articulate "activists" who don't represent them but have the ear of the media.  "It's our business," I've been told. "They are using it all wrong."
I didn't hear the speech which was made - and for which the speaker apparently had to offer an apology.  I'm glad I wasn't there. I would have felt very uncomfortable. 
I know there are many people who won't agree with me. They welcome such things. But, to me, this political correctness isn't about genuine respect. Those who use the occasion for political purposes are showing disrespect not just to the occasion but to the people they claim to represent.

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