on the bridge between reconciliation and refugee
Many of you would have been aware that 27 May-3 June was National Reconciliation Week in Australia.
Many would also be aware that coming up from 17-23 June is Refugee Week.
As we find ourselves positioned in the middle of these two weeks it seems as good a time as any for a point of reflection.
Within our collective consciousness, deep in the spirit of this nation, lies a fear of the refugee “threat”. This is no doubt energised by
political powers and their populist insistence on sidelining our legal responsibilities in the international community. And what inspiring leadership it is!
In response to the, shall we say, widespread unwelcoming attitudes against asylum seekers in this country, a minor meme states, “We are all boat people!”, alluding to our common history of immigration and the related hypocrisy of resisting asylum seekers.
In reality the only immigrants who have ever caused widespread problems for the populace of this land were those who arrived on ships in 1788. The treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia since then has been nothing less than inhumane.
Since I have covered these topics previously on this blog I need not do so here.
What I do want to point out is the connection between these issues in our national psyche. I would suggest that our propensity for prejudice against asylum seekers (and perhaps immigrants more generally) is a result of our own colonial history. Deep down we are afraid that what was done to the first people of this land could also happen to “us”.
Conversely, many Australians have a fear of immigrants “taking over” because that’s what we did!
In truth this nation will never find compassion for asylum seekers and immigrants until we come to terms with what was done to the Aboriginal people in our past. Until our national guilt is assuaged and real reconciliation is forged we will never be able to overcome our own reflective fears, no matter how illogical, illegal or disgusting they might be.
And in the midst of this where are the majority of churches? Isn’t the ministry of reconciliation our ministry, given by Christ himself? Indeed, and imagine the change that could come if the Church mobilised around these grave injustices.
Worth taking some time to ponder on a long weekend.