Tuesday, 12 July 2022

On not "celebrating" what divides us

but perhaps thinking more about what unites us.

The "right wing" commentator Andrew Bolt often irritates me to the point where I would like the opportunity to confront him and say, "Now listen here Mr Bolt there IS another side to the argument...."

I also know some people would like to say a lot more to him. But yesterday he had a point, a good point to make. He was arguing that we should concentrate more on what unites us rather than what divides us.  

I hope I am not "racist" but I am concerned by the seemingly endless "welcome to country" statements, the "acknowledgment that we are meeting on....  land" and so on. The reason for my concern is not because I don't think those things are important. They are important but I believe they should also be reserved for special occasions. They are not there to be treated as a day-to-day thing. They should be associated with events which themselves have some relevance to what is going on. They are words which should mean something, not simply something that is recited at the beginning of a meeting because that is what has been decided is politically correct.

When I went, by invitation, to the funeral of my very close friend R... I was the only "white" person there. (There were several people from other cultures there.) There was no fuss about the funeral taking place on Kaurna land and no "welcome to country". Her son M... briefly acknowledged the people who had travelled from remote locations to be there but it was done in a way that might have been done anywhere. R...'s family saw no need of these things even though it was a farewell. The only acknowledgment of her indigenous descent came when her cousin said a short prayer in the language of their ancestors. That had a much more powerful impact on me than any fuss the family might have made. 

Now though I listen to people who like to believe that there are no differences between the sexes saying things like, "T.... is the first woman to...." and "N.... is the only man...." or, even worse, "J.... is the first black woman..."

As someone else I know said yesterday, "Does this matter?" If you don't believe there is any difference between the sexes why are you saying "first woman" and why on earth would you want to say "first black woman"? If you want to acknowledge someone for their achievements would it not be better to say, "T....has become...." or "J... has succeeded in obtaining the position of because of her skills in..."? 

If I had lived in the territory where one of the new Senators in our parliament lives I would have voted for her. I would have voted for her because of what she has to say and the way she says it. I hope she is an influence for good in parliament. Yes, she happens to be an indigenous person but she has been among the few to point out how varied indigenous people are. The idea that all indigenous people are the same is ridiculous. Emphasising race or someone's gender really isn't helping anyone. We need to acknowledge people for what they have achieved by their own efforts.

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