Evolution of a Human
Over the last few years, I have changed. I have always been passionate about certain causes and issues. Recently, I have started to practice more of what I preach. I guess you could say I have discovered this social justice warrior inside of me and it is a change that I have embraced.
It can be really scary when you realise you are changing and that some things that were once important to you, aren’t so much anymore. And vice versa. Perhaps one of the more obvious ways I have noticed these changes in me, relates to yesterday. January 26. Australia Day, also known as Invasion Day or Survival Day. This day has become one of incredible division when it comes to discussion here in this country. It’s a day where many Australians celebrate this great country we live in. It’s a day where many Indigenous Australians mourn the loss of land, their ancestors and much more. People want the day to remain as our national holiday of celebration, others want it changed to be more inclusive of Indigenous Australians and sensitive to what occurred during the colonisation of this country.
Up until about five years ago, it was a pretty sure bet that on January 26, you would have found me at the beach, pub or someone’s bbq, drinking beers and celebrating. In 2016, I moved out of home just before the Australia Day weekend and spent the next few days unpacking and sorting through things, as you do when you move. I remember knocking back a few invites to Australia Day bbqs because I just wanted to have a few beers at home, sort through some of my things and watch tennis. I did that. I also kept coming across posts that were about changing the date or Invasion/Survival Day. I’d obviously heard of these terms before but never paid too much attention. So I decided to do a bit of online research. By the time the next year had rolled around, I was working for an aid and development organisation that worked closely alongside Indigenous Australians so my journey was well underway. I have spent the last four January 26 dates at Yabun Festival, with the last two including the Invasion Day rally/march that leads to Yabun.
My journey in educating myself on the issues Indigenous Australians face is ongoing and I am learning new things all the time. I have made a conscious decision to not look away and if I am really honest, I couldn’t if I tried because some of this country’s history and behaviour is abhorrent. I am trying to do my best as an ally and I still have a long way to go — as I said before, this journey is ongoing.
Whatever the cause or issue is, it is important to keep an open mind and heart when it comes to discussions around them. It is important to ask questions and it is even more important to listen. If you did spend yesterday at the beach, pub, bbq or even hungover from partying too hard the day before listening to the Hottest 100, that’s ok. We are all entitled to celebrate, reflect or even mourn in the ways we feel appropriate. But we have to be respectful and open. If you don’t understand something, ask the question. Do some research of your own and if you don’t know where to start, ask someone that you trust. You never know what path it may take you down or what causes or issues you really do care about and want to change. Humans are not meant to stay the same. We are meant to evolve.
Some places to start
If you are curious about why so many people choose to reflect and mourn on January 26 instead of celebrating or you want to learn more about indigenous rights and issues, here are a few resources and activists that have really helped inform me.
Blak Business — @blakbusiness
Amy Thunig — @AmyThunig
Joe Williams — @jowwilliams_tew
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies — www.aiatsis.gov.au
Creative Spirits — www.creativespirits.info