Saturday, August 9, 2008

Can You Hear Them Crying?

A lot of people cried on Sorry Day. I was one of them.

I cried for five reasons.

I cried with joy for the miracle that was finally taken place.

I cried with hope that maybe Kevin Rudd really was a cool dude and would make things right.

I cried with sorrow for the stolen children and other atrocities.

I cried in shame for the crimes of my own country--ones that are more numerous and horrific than Australia's crimes.

I cried with anger and sadness for the people in America, Australia, and other countries who do not feel the need to apologize.

We damage people. We take away their land. We kill their children in front of them. We make them sit in the back of the bus. We ridicule them. We stick them in gas showers and watch them suffocate to death.

We do all this damage and then we get angry at these people for acting damaged.

We get annoyed with them for having a bad attitude.

We get disgusted with them for turning to alcohol and/or other drugs.

We call them lazy.

We point to the few strong ones who aren't damaged and say Hey, he's okay. Look how successful he is. Why can't you be like that? If one person from a subordinate culture can pull himself up from the bootstraps, why can't all of them?

Hey, Oprah is a Billionaire. What's wrong with the rest of you?

Oh and then there's the comparing tragedies. Often I hear people saying the Holocaust was the worst atrocity. End of argument. If you say otherwise, you're antisemitic or a self-hating Jew. I've heard the opposite as well. I once watched a movie about the Holocaust and then was told by an acquaintance that some other atrocity was worse.

How can one bad thing be worse than another bad thing?

I'm a mother and because of that I now know that any crime where a child and mother are forced to be separated is a horrific thing. It doesn't matter if six million people are effected or one mother and child are effected. It's bad and it shouldn't happen.

Even if there are degrees/levels to these things-- do we really need to quantify and qualify it? Shouldn't we just respond to the grief and anger with compassion? Shouldn't we just try to fix things as best as we can.

It's hard to come out and give a genuine apology. It's even harder to take the next step and try to make actual amends.

It's much easier to blame the victims. It's much easier to avoid them because their anger and sorrow makes us uncomfortable.

It's easier to tell them to Just get over it.

It's easier to tell them. Stop blaming others.

It's easier to deny that anything bad ever happened to them.

But when a culture is abused and damaged, it's not easy to get over the atrocities--especially when they receive very little empathy, respect, or assistance.

How does a culture get over the past when so many people aren't even sorry?

Will we ever he okay?

Will things ever get better?

Will we ever have enough compassion in this world to make everyone feel included, loved, and safe?

I don't know.