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beyond survival day: reflections on australia day 2012

This post is of the kind I dread most; a subject about which I am deeply convicted, that I find hard to form into a coherent discourse, and that I know will win me few friends.

However in light of the current subject my discomfort is jovial at best, and I would do well to remember that.

January 26 is a day of celebration for most Australians, of our history, identity and future. However in remembering our history many Australians prefer to screen out those episodes that do not paint the colonisers in a venerable light.

Aboriginal Nations (Click to Enlarge)

Exactly one year ago I wrote a post entitled Happy Invasion Day, a reminder of the fact that this land was taken from its first peoples. Since then I have come to prefer the label “Survival Day”, a commemoration of the fact that despite the recent history of this land the Aboriginal people are still here. Whatever the label, I can no longer celebrate Australia Day in the same way I have in years past; I cannot celebrate only the positive aspects our history knowing the pain and suffering of innocents on which it is built. Both must be acknowledged.

I do not wish to speak on behalf of Aboriginal people, for I am aware I have no right to do so. But I am also aware that Read the rest of this entry

happy invasion day

Many people nowadays replace the term “Australia Day” with “Invasion Day” for our January 26 holiday. This is of course grossly politically incorrect, but alas that is the point!

What do you think? Do you think this is a fair description of the day?

I suppose we all need to reflect today on what Australia Day “celebrates” from all perspectives. For White Australia it does mark the colonisation of yet another land and thus the beginning of a society for us. However for Indigenous Australians it is the day marking the stealing of their land and the resulting slide into statistical poverty.

Such poverty of course did not exist before the colonisation of Australia – Aboriginal people lived in harmony with the bio-web of the land and did not take more than they needed (see my last post on economics).

Australia Day might be a great opportunity for most Australians to wear boardshorts, have a BBQ, listen to the Hottest 100 and drink plenty of beer. However it should also be an opportunity to reflect on the history of our young nation and contemplate the injustices that have occurred on this land.

Aboriginal Australians really were the original owners of this land, and in actual fact our ancestors stole it from them. For Christians this should be a rude awakening to the current needs of the Aboriginal population, as stealing is obviously outrightly condemned in our Scriptures:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

What should we do now? Accept the way things have worked out? Or should we work actively for reconciliation and restitution to the greatest degree possible? The kingdom of God certainly cannot be built on the kind unredeemed history such as that of Australia, wouldn’t you agree?


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