A momentous day with huge activating emotions attached to it. The campaigning has been dirty filled with deliberate disinformation and fear-mongering.
How can I hold true to myself and not be filled with disgust at being Australian?
One First Nations commentator said that a no result will tell us that we are not mature enough as a nation to look at our racism honestly. It would however reveal exactly that.
What I know to be important is for me in my white body to not look to be soothed or comforted by First Nations people, to be aware of any tendency to white fragility that would cause me to behave in that way. In his book My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem writes about the racist myths: “Because white bodies are so vulnerable to Black ones, when a Black body is not subservient to a white one, it must be destroyed. And because Black bodies are nearly invulnerable, that destruction must be swift and ruthless.”
A no vote will be ruthless to the more than 80% of First Nation’s people who have asked us to vote yes. By my dodgy calculations the hearts of 806,634 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the potential to be broken today. That does not sit well with me.
One traditional compassion practice begins with the words just like me. When we sit with those words and focus on First Nations people we can imagine:
Just like me First Nations people want to feel safe.
Just like me First Nations people want dignity.
Just like me First Nations people want to be included.
Just like me First Nations people want to be free of suffering.
Just like me First Nations people want peace.
Just like me First Nations people want equality.
Just like me First Nations people want respect.
Just like me First Nations people want to direct the course of their lives.
Just like me First Nations people want a voice.
And as you marinate in this practice it becomes nonsense to think otherwise, it becomes nonsense to continue othering, it becomes sensible to open to compassion.
Staying Calm in the Storm is a poem written by Professor Helen Milroy AM. She writes to bring comfort and strength in these stormy circumstances.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters in which we work and the knowledge-holders of the oldest continuous cultures in the world. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.