In this Lunchbox/Soapbox, author and academic Sarah Maddison tackles the issue of mainstream Australia’s unacknowledged, unresolved guilt over the brutality of white settlement over two centuries ago — as well as its poor relationship with the indigenous population now. How can we redress injustice and convert our awareness of the past into a productive force?
The challenge, Maddison says, is an adaptive one — and it won’t be overcome without a painful and uncomfortable process of introspection. But, she continues, “by taking account of past injustice in this work, we may have the opportunity to experience ourselves as truly moral, rather than as defensive and anxious about the past”.
At stake is also the authenticity of our national identity, or “diminishing the gap between the values people stand for, and the reality they face”. In other words, we must reconcile our closely held idea of the fair go with our racist past.
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Do you believe that guilt, evasiveness and awkwardness surrounding our past hinders progress on indigenous issues?
Can we rely on public institutions to lead the way on adapting to moral truth? If not, what’s the best way to address our nation’s brutal beginnings?
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