It’s bright and early on Australia Day 2017, and while it means different things to different folks, I wonder who we want to be as a nation and people moving forward? How could we be proud of who we are and our place in an ever-changing world? Wherever you live and whatever your story, I invite you to consider how these questions might also apply to you.
While Australia has its fair share of people who could be classed as of genius level intelligence, among them many who have been pioneers in their field, traditionally they have also been forced to leave our shores to gain recognition or funding for their innovation and creativity. In 2016, Terence Tao, the Chinese Australian dubbed the ‘Mozart of Maths’, was recognised as having the world’s highest IQ of 130, superseding that of the late Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein by 70 IQ points! What if we could harness the brilliance – both intellectual and emotional – of those who call Australia home, no matter what their field of endeavour? Could we acknowledge that in recent years, alongside all the tragic events that have rocked us and – perhaps rightly – brought into question our “She’ll be right mate!” attitude, we have in fact been moving toward a more just society? So many archaic and inhumane practices and institutions could have continued unabated were it not for them being brought to light and now in the process of being dismantled under the weight of public outcry!
We have apologised to both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people who were separated from their families through the shameful practices of Forced Adoption and Australia’s Stolen Generation. We have been exposed to the horror of young children imprisoned and tortured in Detention Centres that rivalled some of the world’s most brutal. And while we have a long way to go yet, we have at last begun to address issues of Child Sexual Abuse and Domestic and Family Violence with greater courage and transparency than ever before. We are challenging some of the most deeply ingrained behaviours that were once considered acceptable or seen as part of growing up, like bullying and the harassment of people based on ability, race, religion, gender or sexual preference. We are instigating and calling for changes to our legal systems and policing practices so that those in need are given the respect and protection they deserve. And while our treatment of our Indigenous people as well as those seeking refuge from countries far less fortunate than our own, and for our own beautiful natural flora and fauna, are yet to be given due consideration, there is no doubt that together we will continue to stand up for what is right and for the transformation of the systems which govern them.
Everything begins with a word or a declaration! When in 2008 the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, became the first to say “Sorry” to our Indigenous Australians he made way for a new beginning, and the potential for a future in which all people are respected and given the dignity of self-determination. This, like so many of the changes that have been taking place, is just the beginning. Each of us can take affirmative action to forward the progress of that which needs to change. In this way, we take on the role of personal leadership. And no doubt it begins with ourselves; treating ourselves with love and respect, paying attention to our bodies and, while reaching for the stars, being mindful that our feet need to be on the ground and that we are, after all, only human.
In whatever country you reside and as complicated as the times in which we are now living, there is still so much to be grateful for; so many people stepping out to foster a new world and create a new reality for ourselves and future generations. Let’s celebrate that we dare to face the truth of our past where that still haunts us and work together for a world that not only meets our deepest desires but also has the potential to go beyond anything we may yet have imagined.
Inner Sense No. 44 | January 2017 – updated June 2019