Flanagan, Richard: The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too

Richard Flanagan

The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too‘, Guardian Australia, 5 August 2018

Speech at Garma festival, NT, by distinguished author. (Over 500 comments at time of this writing, shared more than 10 000 times.) Among other things, critical of the government’s limp response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart (use our Search engine to find earlier references), supportive of the need for Makarrata (coming together and truth-telling), and perceptive about the way sentimental memorialisation (Anzac, Captain Cook) is often used to cover the gaps in our national self-perception – gaps caused by our refusal to confront aspects of our history.

Australia has achieved many great things as a state [says Flanagan]. But it will fail as a nation if it cannot find a way of admitting our Indigenous people, and with them, our continent’s extraordinary patrimony: 60,000 years of civilisation. When the first corals began to form of what we now know as the Great Barrier Reef that civilisation was already 50,000 years old. They had known unimaginable changes of climate, ecology and zoology. We stand as the inheritors of a people whose languages, cultures and Dreamings are founded in that experience of deep time unknown to humanity anywhere else in the world.

And yet we turn away from it all, and, with a growing hysteria, feverishly return to our crumbling myths, seeking to build new statues and new memorials to collapsing fictions …

Australia as a nation, after 200 years, is faced with a fundamental truth. We are now entwined peoples; by custom, by humour, by friendship, by love, by work and by sport, in art, in music, in words, and through the land; in all these ways we have over 200 years found ourselves in each other.

Black and white, we have become kin. We cannot be selfish.

And because we are kin it is not possible for white Australia to pretend that it is not damaged by the war that so damages black Australia, that it is not crippled by the same wounds, that it too is not rendered oddly mute by the same silence.

Flanagan also made an important speech earlier this year about the poverty of our politics and another in 2016 about Australia losing its way.

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