Bodies were moving and grooving to new sounds in a place where palm trees stand tall. The trees are out of place in the ancient landscape, the music also grown up from another spot now transplanted in this place and all the people too – all guests. We are all guests, visitors, pilgrims, wayfarers, passing through bowing to all those who have gone before, for whom this land has never been ceded. Reconciliation Week has come to a close for another year, and this is not just another year. This is the year we will make history. We will gather around ballot boxes and decide how grown up we can be.
In 1967 over 90% of voters said yes to the inclusion of the First Nations of this land, in the constitution of the land. A constitution that treated these people as flora and fauna. This wrong was set right. We took a step forward, and yet the gaps are still not closed. Reports and implementation plans exist, Reconciliation Action Plans are drawn up and are finding there way into the world.
I have been reflecting on these in the context of Reconciliation Week and the referendum. What am I being invited into, and what am I equipped to do? I often feel out of place in the landscape. I keep giving it a go.
Deep beneath the soil, spores are finding their way to the surface and spreading their tiny micro cellular reproductive power. Spores don’t need to have any biological sexual fusion, they are typically single cells able to create another set of cells. Even though they are from what are considered lower forms of life, this extraordinary ability to bring forth new life unaided by another is how I am beginning to think about the vote coming up around the Voice. Our individual act in private unaided by another can collectively bring something new to our nation. My individual actions are spores being sent into the world, landing where they will.
I’m developing a technique to give those spores the best chance of bearing fruit. I speak to lots of older people in my work and also lots of young ones. I am setting my course in these conversations and speeches by asking people what they were up to in 1967 and if they are in the older age group I thank them for being part of the generation who made history then with the highest vote in a referendum to bring Aboriginal peoples into the Constitution. If they are younger I encourage them to step up and see if their generation can do one better than their parents, grand parents or great grandparents and vote Yes in even bigger numbers this year. It seems to be working as a technique. I pass it on to readers as you might find it helpful as well.
In a week where I have tossed a coin at a Reconciliation Round of local football, handed out awards to recognise acts of reconciliation in the arts, sport and community services, hosted conversations about what it means to be in solidarity with First Nations, where I have remained silent, where I have spoken up and told people I am voting yes, where I have wept for wrongs and sat in solidarity to witness the impact of colonisation … I know there are spores we can send as allies and know there need to be many more if we are going to take another step forward.
I want us to be able to sway with the breeze folding it’s way around the palm trees, not as if they are in the wrong place at the right time, but instead to recognise their multi-millennial connection to the most ancient of plants in this most ancient of lands, where the oldest living culture is respected and held with such deep reverence the voice request is met with listening and the action of saying yes.
All change making is creative. I was listening to a book on creative practices this week and the writer Iris Murdoch was quoted as saying: “Moral change comes from an attention to the world whose natural result is a decrease in egoism through an increased sense of the reality of, primarily, other people, but also other things.” Not sure about being a spore? Paying attention is a good place to start.