An Australian Rift

The Australian Aborigine, is, on the whole, a wonderful person, in my experience. Spend five minutes with them and see the sadness in their eyes and hear the sorrow in their voice. They are, traditionally at least, far more equitable a race than the European – perhaps legacy of a long-standing ‘unspoilt’ civilisation.

White man’s legacy; industrialisation albeit with benefits, brought the scourges of modern society: infectious diseases; non-communicable chronic disease; drugs and alcohol; chemicals, bombs, radiation, etc..

The gap between whites and blacks in this country is wider than the Rift Valley itself. But the chasm of culture and understanding is by the far the greatest problem, indeed the problem through which all others take hold. It is this inherent disconnect between white man and black man, at a fundamental human level, rather than money, science, technology, power or politics, that continues to drive a wedge between the two.

The solution requires a paradigm shift within both sub-populations. White man particularly has to acknowledge his paradoxical and unique but intermittent and spasmodic combination of apathy and paternalism. Meanwhile, Black man needs to stand up and be counted.

My hope is that the slow but steady emergence of aboriginal leaders into the public debate is met by a steady shift in white-man’s attitude toward them. The fundamental problem has always been and continues to be a lack of dialogue – the two cultures have for the most part clearly failed to engage. Both parties need to reach out and meet in the middle, even if it is, initially, a meeting at the bottom of a deep valley.

To that end, white man, in his disproportionate position of power, needs to take the lead and the burden of most of the responsibility. One day then, with the Aborigine’s blessing, white and black man will meet, not at the bottom of a great rift, but perhaps even atop a great big rock.


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