It is “Australia Day” and I’m reeling still from the sledgehammer to my psyche that was my first viewing of John Pilger’s “Utopia” a few days ago. It was my honour to have been invited to the premiere screening here in Perth by Robert and Selina Eggington of the Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to Robert and Selina twice now on the Perth Indymedia show. The first time about the suicide epidemic in the Aboriginal community and the second time about their involvement in the development of Utopia. Each time I have been deeply moved by the extraordinary passion with which they fight for the rights of their people.
Utopia is a powerful expose of the disgraceful disparity between every day Australians experience of living in the “lucky country” versus the harsh reality of inequality and deeply entrenched racism for Aboriginal Australians. Issues such as the third world living conditions for remote communities, ongoing forced child removal by authorities, deaths in custody, the disgraceful rate of incarceration, the suicide epidemic and many other issues are all covered in a way that confronts the delusions ordinary Australians have of their country.
“The intervention” is exposed as a deeply disturbing manoeuvre with an incredibly inept press (probably complicit) being manipulated by government officials. It created a pretext for invasion by vested interests to have less inhibited access to land and thereby of course the mining of precious minerals.
The film describes the “collective despair” in Aboriginal communities across Australia. This is the first time I’ve heard this term used outside of my own musings but of course the term appropriately describes the gargantuan challenges of Aboriginal Australians to maintain a sense of optimism. This is evidenced in the fact that thirty years after John Pilger made his first documentary “A Secret Country” on the plight of Aboriginal Australians very little, if anything, has improved and of the shocking statistic of four hundred suicides of Aboriginal peoples in the last three years.
The forces arrayed against our indigenous brothers and sisters are the same forces of greed and exploitation which deprive many other human beings of a fair and sustainable share of Earth’s bounty. Forces which seek to debase our consciousness at every opportunity with their drive to make us obedient consumers and at each others throats competing in the dominant capitalist paradigm.
Robert Eggington in a panel discussion after the film made a powerful critique of the Christian dogma of heaven. He contrasted the belief of an afterlife in heaven with an Aboriginal perspective in which we maintain an ongoing connection with Mother Earth. With Boodjar.
The contrast is stark…
As Robert described it, one leads to a disconnect, to a fundamental lack of concern for this Earth. One can behave as irresponsibly, as selfishly, as exploitatively as one desires because, come the end, so long as one repents and accepts Jesus as one’s saviour then one can head on through the pearly gates and live in eternal bliss.
The other inculcates a proper psychology of responsibility, a proper appreciation of our interdependence with the other life forms with which we share the planet, a proper reverence of the mystery of our interconnectedness and leads to proper actions of stewardship.
Many Eastern traditions also have the spiritual aspirant focused on their meditation practice, asanas (yoga exercise), seeking internal mastery with little appreciation or consideration given to the welfare of the planet on which their existence relies.
Aboriginal wisdom (and that of other indigenous cultures) has an insight which is well expressed in the following quote from scientist Carl Sagan;
“Deep down, at the molecular heart of life, the trees and we are essentially identical.”
It’s my perspective that our Aboriginal brothers and sisters have this insight, this most fundamental understanding of our interdependence and our interconnection deeply ingrained in their DNA. No amount of bullshit capitalist propaganda can corrupt this deep wisdom.
This is why I personally look to indigenous leaders, warriors and healers like Robert and Selina Egginton with much admiration and take much inspiration from their stalwart resistance.
Their wisdom needs URGENT application in all our earthly actions. Equally in our everyday interactions with each other and in all levels of public policy and collective decision making.
The battle against the forces that degrade the human dignity of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters are intimately intertwined with the challenges to humanity as a whole’s continued existence on this planet.
The time has come…let’s work together towards a heaven on Earth for all living beings.
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.” Noam Chomsky
Originally published at neoradical.com.