It is an interesting day to be an Australian.
Today the Prime Minister said sorry to the stolen generation.
There are many feelings throughout the community over this move. Some are sceptical that it is just a political statement and nothing will come of it. Others are excited at the prospect of what could eventuate from it. There are still others who do not have an opinion one way or another.
I have only just watched the footage of the speech and I was moved. I didn't know what to expect and what I heard and saw made me cry.
I feel that we as a nation have grown up.
Many things that Mr Rudd said were obviously well thought out and heartfelt, but it was the challenges he made to the opposition that were the things that really got to me. He asked them to form a 'war cabinet' to deal with issues relating to the inequities. He asked them to work as one so that party politics could be put aside. This is such a grown up thing to do. Will the offer be taken up?
I haven't yet listened to what Brendan Nelson (opposition leader) said but there was a major reaction against it. Many people booed or turned their back to his speech. Is this merely something to do with the fact that he is a member of the party who had been in office for a decade and did not wish to say sorry as it was not something that they were personally responsible for? (their leader at the time John Howard stated this sort thing). Or was it due to what he said? I will have to watch the footage and read the news to work that out.
One of the things I say to the students I teach is 'don't apologise unless you mean it.' The way they show that they mean it is by their actions. I will now, like many others across this country and those on other lands, have to watch and listen to what is being done to change the inequity of the Aboriginies and the white population to judge the truth of the apology.
I am sure that many mistakes will be made - I just hope that none are as BIG as the one Kevin Rudd apologised for today.
I also hope that a pateranlistic attitude is not taken and that the people who the policies affect will be asked for their input rather than a 'we know best' attitude.
As I was watching the feed of the apology I couldn't help but notice Peter Garrett sitting on the front bench of the parliament. He is a hard man to avoid seeing. He is well over 6 feet tall and is totally bald. He first came into my life as an ifluence by being the lead singer and MANIC dancer (if you could call it that) for the band Midnight Oil. He then stood up to being the leader of the Australian Conservation Foundation and from there took a step (although some think backward) to joining the Labour Party. He now sits there as a front bench Minister for the Environment (although his capacity is quite small as he is very much a newbie and he often puts his foot into it.)
Before he became a major political person I last saw him at the closing of the Sydney Olympics performing and wearing a black t-shirt with the white word 'SORRY' written across it, as did all the band. It was a major political statement to have made on national and international televsion!
Today I whenever the camera caught him, he was watching the Prime Minister avidly. He could not keep his eyes of Kevin whereas the others on the frontbench were looking stonily at the opposition. It was a major contrast and I couldn't help but think how proud he looked.
As I said, it is an interesting day to be an Australian.