News December 2011

Adversity and Victory

With destruction comes rebuilding, with displacement reconciliation. Over the year we have looked at various aspects of the Aboriginal culture and Australia as a country. We have seen how the indigenous people have been displaced and how early settlers have had to adapt to all that is harsh and real about Australia.

At first glance, its intense red soil, vivid blue seas, endless white beaches and lush dark rainforests, the Kangaroos, Koalas, Cassowarys and exotic birds make it a veritable paradise. While so beautiful, this paradise is inhabited by the ten most poisonous snakes in the world, venomous spiders that can kill with a single bite, ants that leave you in pain for several hours and a variety of plants that may look pretty but are purveyors of pain to the uninitiated. A continent surrounded by a sea that is so enticing – and yet home to the Box Jelly Fish, Irukandjis, Saltwater Crocodiles and many other exotic but dangerous species. Against this adversity generations have survived – and thrived. What spirit must man have had to see the beauty and overcome the harshness so unique to this land. The Australian ‘coat of arms’ says it all – its people like the two animals depicted – the emu and the kangaroo, with an inability to go back or backwards, must out of necessity, like the people, go forwards. Propelled towards victory.

Australia is home to the oldest continuous living culture in the world. Estimated to be at least 40.000 years old, these people are still strong and spreading. Even though the Aboriginal culture took a major set back during colonisation it was us, the ‘new comers’, who were the lucky ones. We have been allowed to partake of something ‘so old’, something so difficult to comprehend. We have witnessed in the people a oneness with the country and understanding of nature that is undeniably ingrained into the very fabric of Australia’s history. Their Art is a language that tells stories, explains the movements of the people, their customs, their ways – and shows how they survived. It invites us to understand and embrace all that has happened here in this country over the centuries. As we learn more we realise how advanced these people were and how close we were to destroying them. Each discovery made, elevating the indigenous Australians to their rightful place.

There is still a long way to go – rebuilding and reconciliation are taking place, yet some predict it could take another two generations to come to terms with all that has happened. Let us believe that we can do everything in our power to speed up the process, to become united – one strong country, one strong people – who understand, that ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’ Only then can this country rise to the greatness that it has lying deep within. And only once we take the brave step to face the adversities of the past will we arrive at the victory of the future.

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains – and we never even know we have the key. (The Eagles, 1974)


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