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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

FOCAL POINT (for publishing 12/02/02)


We held more official celebrations on a grander scale than ever before, but I'm sure that the concept of the Aussie long weekend appealed to us anyway. Yet the thoughtful among us are finding ourselves in a dilemma of heart, mind and apathy because we are well aware that not all in our great country celebrate. The families of those who saw no hope and took their own lives last year, would have found it hard. We try to understand 'stolen' indigenous Australians having little to celebrate in what some call a 'white conqueror's' event, and I'm sure that the Woomera detainee's day didn't hold celebrity status. Yet one may have sympathy with our leaders as they try to take a positive stand while 'listening to the people'. Balancing the pride that promotes celebration and listening to the dissident voices can't be easy. However we're heartened to see a new thrust of inclusiveness with the opening of the Birrarung Marr parkland. The Eddie Mabo's of the world would have been smiling from the grave. How encouraging and empowering it was for the local tribe to hand over access rights to the people of Victoria with a smoking ceremony. Maybe we are at last listening to the voices of Midnight Oil and Bono as they cried out for justice, human rights and equal values for our indigenous folk and the marginalised of the world. And I'm glad to see the Church is dealing with some of its people who contributed to broken lives through their actions in the past. There is also a preparedness to acknowledge that what seemed appropriate in the past has in some cases caused pain in the lives of our indigenous brothers and sisters. Learning from that past, maybe our community today should listen to Jesus' radical words of compassion: 'Go the extra mile', 'If you have two coats give one to someone in need', if you want to save your life give it away'. Some of us may find these words strange because they're part of a value system that is foreign in our society today. God's prophet, Micah, (700yrs BC) spoke to the people of his day in words that are just as applicable for us. "Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly before your God". Maybe true Australian celebrations should include a demonstration of these three ingredients. I hope you and I can to continue to struggle with a balanced walk in our dilemma in 2002.

Graeme Dawson Co-ordinator 
Focal Point


Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009