Acknowledging our shared history

February 1, 2019

Lucy Davis reflects on what 26 January means to her.

 

 

Most people prepare and plan for a new year by setting short- and long-term goals. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, everyone has a different approach. For me, I take a deep breath, ask God for strength, then brace myself for two dates—26 January (Australia Day) and 13 Feb­ruary (anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples).


It is hard work being a First Nations woman in this country and it’s even harder being a Christian woman. I am excited about the positive conversations that are taking place in regard to First Nations people, but I am always shocked by the lack of empathy and the complete ignorance that many of my fellow Australians—Christians and non-Christians—have towards the First Nation people of this land.


In the lead-up to these significant dates we are smothered by mainstream media engaging in conversations about whether we should change the date of Australia Day, or why can’t First Nations peoples just move on. And then there’s the classic, “We said sorry, what more do they want?”


One night, I watched an interview with Indigenous politician Jacinta Price about why we shouldn’t change the date, then went to check on my three young children. I stood in the doorway of their bedroom and prayed to God to protect them from racism. I asked God to keep my gundoos (children) safe from people who may not understand why our people struggle or why the atrocities of our shared history have such an impact on First Nations people today.


I felt a real desperation in my heart. I asked God: “Why? Why are my people treated so badly, why can’t my fellow-Australian, non-Indigenous people empathise with our shared history?”


I walked to my room, sat on my bed and was overcome with emotion. I felt God’s reply: “Lucy, I created you, I gave you light and my light shines through you always. Remember, you can’t choose who you love, but you can choose who you hate.” 


I sat for a bit and started to reflect on my journey. I strongly believe I am a servant of God. My journey is to inform the uninformed of our shared history in this great country in which we share worship. 


I continually give God my fears of repercussions of racism and hate, and I will continue to speak the truth. The Bible (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 5) says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”


My opinion on Australia Day—or Invasion Day—is quite simple. This day is an acknowledgement of one part of history, a history that haunts First Nations people daily.

 

As Australians, this part of history did not just happen to me and First Nations people, it happened to all of us.


For many First Nations people, this date represents an invasion by the British on 26 January 1788, when the British flag was raised by Governor Arthur Phillip at Sydney Cove, and the beginning of slowly trying to eradicate an Indigenous people. I believe the most hurtful part of this truth is the treatment of First Nations people from the time of British settlement to now. 


A point to make is that there were policies created to control First Nations people, to destroy a people. Some of these policies include the Aboriginal Protection Act, the assimilation policy, and the Aborigines Welfare Board. The results of these policies continue to have an impact on First Nations people across Australia today. 


The lack of education on our shared history means that many non-
Indigenous people do not know or understand the impact of Australia Day. This is why a process of ‘truth-telling’ must occur for all of us as we now live in a shared country. As Australians, this part of history did not just happen to me and First Nations people, it happened to all of us. My hurt is your hurt; it’s our hurt and we can move forward together once that is acknowledged. 


As Christians we feel the love of Jesus. We feel the pain and sacrifice he went through for us. Galatians chapter 3, verses 28–29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”


After I prayed and yarned to God about my feelings that night, I felt a real sense of peace and hope. I felt like God had answered my questions, had taken my fear, and I felt a need to apologise for doubting him. And then I heard his reply: “It’s okay, Lucy, I never doubted you nor have I ever stopped believing in you. I will love you forever.”

 

 

Lucy Davis is The Salvation Army Indigenous Engagement Coordinator for Queensland.


Hear Lucy on Salvos Radio’s Light and Life program at salvos.org.au/radio

 

 

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