Politics Opinion

Fear and ignorance saw demise of Voice Referendum

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

As many feel the hurt from the rejection of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament, one writer examines the factors that turned Australia into a nation of fear and anger.

ON HEARING the result of the Voice Referendum, I was hurt. I was naïve, though. I had hope and it felt good to support the “Yes” campaign. I handed out flyers on my own. I’ve seen injustice since I was a little kid and always spoke up. I am surprised I was never expelled from my school. I always questioned the narrative.

As an adult, I was bullied at work. I didn’t know my rights. I was ignorant. I read The Australian ignorance. And they took advantage of my ignorance. I celebrated Australia Day for years with all the Australian buntings and flags. I saw protests with First Nations people but I was too ignorant to know why. Yet I had an inner voice that gently whispered to me that something was not just. I didn’t realise I was not right.

One day my thinking changed. I attended cultural awareness training. At first, I thought two days might be a bit much. I had other things to be doing, really.

When the course was finished, I was hurt. I was hurt because I was so ignorant. I was hurt for the proud and fierce Indigenous man who gave us the course. I was hurt for his mob. I was hurt and angry at myself. I believed I needed that hurt. I deserved to be hurt. I became a little afraid. Afraid of the Australia I lived in, of my neighbour, of some friends. How have the First Nations people felt since seeing those ships from distant lands with White people on them on the horizon?

I ask forgiveness from First Nations people. I ask forgiveness for my role in my ignorance. I didn’t realise that I had to lean into my hurt, sit with it and dare to forgive myself first. When former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said “I am Sorry”, he spoke for me. The rebel who they crucified said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do”. Did we ever forgive that dark-skinned freedom fighter?

I am still hurting. But I have a new type of hurt. I have been hurt enough never to fear doing and saying the right thing. I am hurt but will never give up on human rights around the planet.

I forgive the anger and speak anyway.

There is fear. I think most of my neighbours voted “No”. No excuses, Australia. You said “No”. There is still fear, so I pen this anonymously. In law, ignorance of the law is not a defence. You cannot defend yourself based on “I didn’t know, so I’m voting ‘No’”. Ergo, I am in an unsafe place.

When I heard people say that the Aborigines would take our lands and raise our taxes and take our houses and ruin our children’s future, I was frustrated by their ignorance. I felt hurt on the night of the vote. I awoke in an ignorant and racist “Australia”. People will say I have White privilege. They are right. Damn right! People will say I am being racist to White people. They are wrong. Deadly wrong.

With fear still in my voice and forgiveness in my heart, I am the voice for many. I don’t care if you agree or disagree. That’s your fault, “Australia”, not mine. I’ve owned up to my part in your ignorance. At least I am trying.

Fear recedes. It always does when you know right from wrong. Does that scare you, Australia? It's okay — it will recede when you say “sorry” again and make positive changes.

How about you get rid of the oppressor’s flag from yours? It’s plainly ignorant.

Consign Australia Day to the annals of a terrible history and learn from it. Your grandchildren will thank you someday for it. It should be a public holiday, but a day of mourning. Don’t change the date. Get rid of the day altogether. Australia Day is “Racist Day” now, I feel.

Kings holiday? The only King who has a holiday is Martin Luther. Queensland? Bin that name, too. Oh, that makes you angrier, does it? But at least you know how real anger feels. It’s hard to read on if you haven’t left already and gone outside shaking your fist at the black clouds. They might piss down on you like the pictures you posted of First Nations people pissing in a street on social media platforms. As if you’ve never pissed in a street. Next time I hope someone takes your photo.

You take away their grog while you are a country of many White pissheads — too piss poor for empathy and compassion. No voice for the countries you invaded. New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the NT, A.C.T. and Western Australia. You weren’t very bright there. You named places based on a compass. Yet you have no compass to show you the way to your heart.

Why didn’t you name the eastern state “East Australia” instead of Queensland? No. You wanted to remind the mob where you came from and who still rules with an iron fist. You might as well have named it Thatcherland. The Governor-General? Extradite them back to the UK. They can have all the generals they like. Call the position a “Bardan” instead. I know you will have to look that up. But you don’t do Googling well, do you?

Get rid of your Constitution. It is not yours to constitute! I thought I would never say this but maybe consider going back to where you come from. I do not include First Nations peoples in that statement. They are not you. You’ve just told them that. You must be very angry. Be angry at Hamas. Be angry at Russia. Be angry at China. Be angry at the IRA. Be Angry at ETA. But don’t be angry at nuclear subs or being another state of America. You did that.

It’s okay. You won’t go to hell. There is no such place. But why create hell on Earth for others? Buy yourself Murdoch press to make yourself feel better. Watch Sky News in Australia. Watch Fox News YouTube videos you love and the conspiracy ones, too, as you conspire against us. You are a trespasser on these lands. Go home in peace. Nobody will shoot you in the back as you run away. We have no country to defend. We have no weapons to shoot at you since you arrived with yours and committed genocide.

Gandhi said:

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”

They executed him, too, you know.

A new type of rebel writes here. You tell me you love “freedom of speech”. So do I. I do not like hate speech, of which you will accuse me. You have spoken plenty of that. Free speech for some; no voice for others. I do not represent the views of any organisation, entity or sentient being. My view is my own. These lands were and always will be Indigenous lands.

“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” ~ Bobby Sands.

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