Friday, May 20, 2011

Sorry Day

The boys at a War Memorial in Kallangur.   Don't worry, they've all had the 'war is bad' pacificist speech over and over.  Weapons still seem to be part of the XY mentality!
I don't know if I've publicly admitted that the holidays down here have taken a little getting used to.  The old ones you are used to in the Northern Hemisphere, like Christmas and Easter, aren't the same down here.  Dare I complain about too much beach and sun and barbeque and fun dampening the spirit of the holidays?!!  Nah!

And the uniquely Australian ones make up for it.

ANZAC day was nice.  Mostly because Aussies (and New Zealand) are truly able to thank their soldiers for protecting them and for helping others - the good mates who come to the aid of other countries in World Wars and regional wars alike without being called either imperialistic like the USA.  Or without actually BEING the bad guys, like Germany.  You can honor individual German soldiers who died for their country in private, but you can't really dedicate a national holiday to a group of people who were trying to take over Europe and wipe out the races that weren't quite up to par.  And America has Vietnam.  Australia was there too.  But it doesn't hold the same 'hush-hush oh - goodness our government was doing something wrong and should we have supported the nineteen year old boys who were over there dying even though we may have felt the government had no business sending them over there in the first place' kind of angst that the word still conjures up in the USA two generations later.

It's nice to be able to be proud of your country, without all the moral ambiguities.  (And I AM going to argue, at some point, that everyone deserves to be proud of their country, and should work on that!)

The kids marching on ANZAC Day.  (Ryan has the flowered hat on and Andrew is right behind her.)

Aussies get a little nervous when I say this, because they do have the 'aborginal issue' to deal with.  Something I may be a little less sensitive to as a newcomer - here's a race of people MY ancestors DIDN'T oppress and/or try to exterminate!  But yeah, the native Australians in Tasmania were rounded up and exterminated.  Those everywhere else were marginalized at best, and killed outright at worst.  Mixed-race children - the 'Stolen Generation' - were forcibly taken from their homes and 'reeducated'  to fit 'their proper roles' - as servants of course - in white Australian society.  For their own good.  Because the white in them was worth saving. 

So that none of us is generationally free from original sin. 

Of course, the original white Australians that came here didn't want to be here either.  They, too were the marginalized classes of Britain - the poor, the Irish (and it REALLY pisses me off that there WAS food to eat during the Potato Blight but that the English were shipping it all to their estates and leaving the Irish to starve).  The tired and poor and the usual outcasts.  And the soldiers.

Here come the Veterans.  One older gentleman had tears in his eyes.  I did too.

This month we have 'Sorry Day' coming up.  Which I believe is known as Reconciliation Week officially.  And while I am not so sure I would be big enough to be able to forgive white Australians for the past, especially for something as recent as the 'Stolen Generation', I admire those native Australians who can. 

And I admire Australia for officially, as a nation, admitting their guilt and apologizing for their collective role in it. 

"We are so truly sorry for what happened.  We are so terribly sorry that our ancestors did this to yours.  There is no making up for it.  It was truly horrible and truly wrong.  But we can work together from here to make this a country for ALL of us TOGETHER now."

XX for peace!

Shouldn't Germany be doing this for the Holocaust?  (There have been some small apologies, all rather lame and none of them speaking of true, national repentence.)  What about the USA and THEIR native Americans?  The problem being that if you apologize and admit you were wrong you would probably have to do more to change the current situation than let your native Americans rot on their reservations in marginalized lands - ie the desert that noone else wanted - and let them upon up casinos to fund their AA programs. 

The past can't be changed.  All we can do is accept responsibility and do better from here on out.

New Aussies.  Goofy but well-intentioned!


Such a little word.

But such a big start.

1 comment:

  1. I want a car like that!!! I owuld look really cool in my 'Amish' gard drivng through Des Moines in that!!
    I can see you children are really growing up. Enjoy them, soon they will be out the door to learn other things besides what mom has to say about war!!!