Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Long Long Time Ago...No, I mean REALLY long ago

To protect the guilty, I won't mention any names. I'll just say I was talking to Mr. X.

We discussed future travel plans, and of course, I promoted Australia.

Mr. X said he wasn't really into the whole Australia idea.


The country is too new. He likes to go to places that go way back and have a rich history.

I jumped down his throat.

Australia is NOT new. WHITE Australia is new. The name "Australia" is new. But Australia is a land with a rich culture that goes way back. It might not be the white culture a lot of us feel more comfortable with. But there was a culture, and that culture still exists today.

The indigenous people in Australia go back at least 40,000 years. If you're a Christian, that's 38,000 years before Jesus walked the Earth. If you're Jewish, that's about 34,000 years before the Earth even began. (how does that work?!).

To put things more into perspective:

The Great Wall of China was built around 200 BC.

The Egyptians built their pyramids around 3000 BC.

Thousands of years before that, some adventure-loving Asians set off in their tiny boats and landed Down Under.

And some people argue with the 40,000 year thing. They think it may have all began much earlier than that.

I guess the question this Indigenous Australian culture worthy of our respect? Is it worth visiting? I mean did they build anything really cool like Stonehenge? Can we respect a culture that didn't even know how to farm the land?

And yeah, they might be the oldest living culture. But are they happily thriving? Look at the Australian newspapers on any morning and you're sure to see a depressing story about the Aborigines living a horrible life.

Yeah. Okay White Man did some bad things to them. But if they were that great of a culture, wouldn't they have gotten over it? Fought back? Prospered?

I like this little analogy I made up.

What if tomorrow....a spaceship comes down to Earth? The well-meaning, but arrogant aliens give us a greeting that we can't understand. They're nice to us as long as we give up our houses and land to them. If we protest in any way, they kill us with weapons we've never seen before.
Our own weapons have little effect on them.

The mean ones kill us. The nice ones strip away our culture, insisting we follow their more modern culture. Later, they start having sex with our women.....often by rape. The children are born. Half Alien and Half Earthling. The well-meaning aliens decide their culture is superior to our culture; our schools, our television shows, our hobbies, our churches.....all the stuff we're proud of. They decide it's worthless and it gets in the way of their progress.

They could be like the Nazis and kill us all. But they decide to be more "humane". They'll just kidnap our children from us. They break up our families. They look down at us. Okay, yeah. Not as bad as mass extermination. But picture your darling children....the ones you love so much. Now imagine someone stealing them away from you. Might you be a little sad?

We were here first. This was our planet. But now the aliens are prospering and we're not.

What do we do? We find some cheap alcohol and wash away our sorrows. We lose faith and hope. We become less of what we were, but it doesn't change the fact that our culture was fabulous.

The amazing thing about Indigenous Australia (and other indigenous cultures....such as Native Americans) is that despite all the crap that has happened to them, they're still there. And things are getting better for them. The Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, gave a formal apology to the stolen children and their families. Schools around Australia are starting to teach indigenous languages to the children so the languages aren't lost. Museums have exhibits about Indigenous history. Land rights are being returned.

All is not perfect yet. There's still work to be done. But Australia has an amazing history. And not just the black one. The white history is amazing too.

It's a beautiful story full of mistakes, tragedy, reconciliation, redemption progress, miracles, and hope. Hey! It sounds like an episode of Lost!

Seriously, if you're looking for a historical place to visit on your next vacation/holiday....go to Australia. But do buy an extra plane ticket and take me with you!!!!!