"How much is your mother worth? How much money would your brother, sister or aunties be worth?"
The words rung in my ear.
Yesterday, I had the fortune to sit in a presentation by the Larrakia Foundation, a group that advocates for the interests of the Larrakia, the Aboriginal people of Darwin.
The cultures of the traditional owners is remarkably fascinating, and it always surprises me how little I know whenever I learn something new.
Granted, there are hundreds of different Aboriginal nations in Australia, all with their own languages, customs and types of beliefs. Some things though, like the kinship system are found in many different 'nations', and I was amazed to only be finding out about it yesterday!
The lady in the presentation talked about many a thing, but one line in particular has remained with me.
"How much is your mother worth?" She asked.
"People tend to think the apology is about compensation. Tell me, how much money would you want if your mother was taken away?"
I shook my head to make sense of it. Although I have always had compassion for those affected by the stolen generation, it is when messages like that are shared that it is really brought home.
Yes, we are not personally responsible as individuals who are descendant from those who made the decisions to persecute and oppress others.
However, we are responsible for having compassion for one another. We are responsible for ensuring that as a society, we look out for each other and not let race be a determining factor in our interactions.
That brings us to where we are now as a nation. The repeal (technically the amendment but it's so weak it is essentially a repeal) of 18C and 18D in the racial anti-discrimination act is something I have been fuming about for a while. You can send in submissions, and I'd suggest that.
Fundamentally though, for those who aren't across the changes, my issue is this:
If we are to give people the right and permission to 'be bigots' as adults, what on earth are we teaching our children?
We talk about fighting bullying, yet we let people bully each other, publicly, because, why? It is in the interests of a small minority of powerful men? We talk about a fair go, and yet want to judge insult by the standards of the perpetrator?
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the litigious nature of things that we forget the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is this:
Multiculturalism and diversity do not happen by accident.
We aren't a beautiful mixed nation of migrants because a bunch of random people just decided to visit a huge island. The fabric of our society is delicate, and something to be worked on. We have to proactively support multiculturalism and cultural diversity in order to keep Australia thriving, not tear it down bit by bit so that groups feel more and more marginalised...
One day I hope we will look back and think, "woah, wasn't that crazy? We almost let that happen... Thank goodness we didn't."
In this day and age though, I am not so sure.