Thursday, 1 June 2017

They are victims of victim politics

and they will continue to be victims while those seeking power allow the situation to continue.
I don't always agree with the columnist Andrew Bolt. He irritates the h.... out of me a lot of the time.
This morning though he had a point. He was talking about the outcome of the latest indigenous recognition talks at Uluru. In his column he suggested that the demands being made would lead to racial apartheid and greater rights for one group rather than another.
I thought again of my late friend R.... and her family. 
I have mentioned R... in my witterings before. To remind you though, R... was a "full blood" Aboriginal woman who was, in many ways, a mother figure to me in my teens and who remained a good and close friend until she died. I was extremely honoured to be not just be invited to her funeral but invited to speak at it.
      "Cat," her son asked me, "Will you say something about not being a victim?" 
Yes, it was one of the many things R... taught me. It was one of the many things she taught her family.
Life may throw some nasty balls at you, catch the ball and throw it back - hard.
R...and her husband were good people. He had a steady, responsible job with the railways. She was an untrained social worker. Her children went on to be a nurse and a trained social worker. Her grandchildren work in similar professions. One of them tried kicking over the traces briefly - he skipped school for a day - and was quickly brought into line. As a family they are still known as "setting an example" of what indigenous people can do. 
Yes, they have had to deal with many of the negatives. It hasn't been easy. R...'s son has had many a long talk with me about the problems they have faced but none of them have been in trouble with the law and they have finished school and gone on to further study or been apprenticed. They have found work. 
R...'s son tried a cigarette at school. His mother found out and verbally thrashed him. He tried alcohol at a party given for a friend of his. He was underage at the time. Both his parents verbally thrashed him for that. 
      "It wasn't loud Cat. It was the disappointment that did it. I'd broken their trust in me. It took months for me to feel comfortable again."
He hasn't touched alcohol since. I assume his children don't either - it certainly isn't a problem if they do.
They are all just ordinary, decent, hardworking citizens getting on with their lives.
And their view on the demands being made by those recently at Uluru? 
       "We don't need it. That isn't the way to go," R...'s son told me the other day, "We are the victims of victim politics. It is doing immense harm. People have to get over the idea that flinging money and power at them is going to solve the problems. Money has been there for years and it has been largely wasted. It's wasted because people want outcomes without working for them. It's like dieting. It isn't just about eating the right foods for a short while.  You have to go on doing it and you have to exercise as well."
I listened to him say that and I heard his mother saying much the same thing all over again. He's right of course. It's going to take a change of attitude, not a change of voice. 
R...'s husband got a job with the railways because he went looking for work. He told me about how he put on his best clothes, polished his shoes and made sure he looked the best he could. He wanted a job, any job. He was looking for a manual job believing that, if he was lucky, he might get one. Yes, he had a "lucky break" some years later when they needed someone to sell tickets at the local station for a couple of hours one morning while his local station master was absent. Could he do it before coming in to his regular job? He'd try. He was a success. They trained him. He ended up as a station master himself.  Of course it wasn't really a lucky break at all he had already proved his worth by being at work on time and proving himself to be reliable and trustworthy. 
Perhaps it is more difficult to get a job now - but it is more difficult for everyone. Still, his and R...'s grandchildren succeeded. They aren't victims of victim politics. 

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