Australia Day should be like a funeral.
Wait. Let me explain.
There are four things at a funeral- There’s a degree of grief and a degree of celebration of the person’s life. How much of each depends on the person’s life. There’s more celebration and less grief if it’s an elderly person who’s lived a good life, and a lot more grief for someone who’s died young and tragically, and the celebration of the life they have had is there but overwhelmed. The degrees of grief and celebration will vary too, depending on how close the person who died was to you.
So, with Australia Day- there needs to be both grief and celebration. Grief at the dispossession, traumas and injustices our Indigenous people have experienced. And celebration of the great things about our country- its natural beauty and wonders, and our human community, our prosperity and freedoms. We won’t all feel the grief the same. It will be much stronger for our First Peoples; and for them it may be so strong the celebration is overwhelmed. But all of us, and especially us Second Peoples, we need to acknowledge both.
The other elements of a funeral are looking back on the person’s life and looking forward into the future. The eulogy and tributes look back over the past, and there will be something of the future- whether it is the Christian hope of life after life, or a non-religious comfort that the person will live on in the hearts and memories of their family and friends.
So with Australia Day, we need to look back and acknowledge the full history, making a point of including our First Peoples’ history; and looking forward with a commitment to reconciliation and a fair future together.
As Christians I believe an important part of our call is to work towards reconciliation, doing our best to bring our polarised nation together.
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