Looking ahead to 2008 – time to lighten up!

With the election on a new Australian Federal government, it will take some time into 2008 for us to see what real changes they will introduce in order to restore some degree of well-being to Australia’s First Peoples.

What is needed at this time is not more of the same old Euro-centric pretences but some fresh and new thinking and – most importantly – a new approach on how to ensure an effective means of indigenous participation in all aspects of Australia’s governance.

Rudd and his Ministers will most likely continue to promote the pretence that they can ‘manage’ the lives of Australia’s surviving First Peoples – without the need to reform the existing Anglo-Australian Westminster system.

After all, all is well by their own standards now that they occupy important Parliamentary positions in the established Anglo-Australian social formation. But their time has already run out. The Howard government, on behalf of the wider Australian people, squandered that opportunity.

Our elected representatives remain unable translate into words what life is clearly telling us all – we have to change how we live (and change at all levels).

We can no longer afford to take these people in business suits seriously when they seek to reassure us all is well.

And, as we see in Pakistan and elsewhere, we must also cease humouring our brothers in their smart military uniforms when they put themselves forward as people who understand how life should be well managed.

The claims to privilege which have been attached to the Westminster form of Parliament in Australia (and elsewhere) can no longer be accepted at face value – the claims to authority are, at the very least, up for question.

But it is not a case requiring major disruption – there has been enough damage done to life already by those who promote the modern nation-state (as presently constituted) as a means of ‘solving’ life’s problems.

Modernity – capitalism and the modern nation-state – having failed to undertake real and timely reform, is now failing. It is failing historically – and not as a matter of the workings of some Western master or grand narrative or a plot against it. It always was an unearthed fantasy, and these fantasies fade as surely as everyday sunset.

Rather than seeking to ‘smash the state’ the healing task is one which requires complete commitment to the harder task of seeking to gently dissolve life’s blockages.

Where does that leave us? We, as peoples-in-community, need to reform our systems of governance and to do this in cultural partnership between First Peoples and non-indigenous peoples.

It will take some effort and some time, but it is a task which must be continued to ensure the well-being of, if not ‘all’, at least as many as possible. There is little option if we seek to avoid going down with the sinking nation-state as a life-ship.

The prediction has to be that other events – such as global warming – will now overtake the newly elected but organisationally outmoded Australian Federal government and that new forms of doing things will continue to emerge – new forms which are better related to their surroundings and better placed to take advantage of the changing world.

New emerging forms such as a new peoples movement, which does not restrict its sense of identity to categories of those captive to the old cultural masters.

Changing our mode of Being and our means of relating to each other and our surroundings is one of the keys to this process. We slowly begin to shed the overly constricting sense of identity prefabricated for us by the modern nation-state, without knowing in advance what new form will emerge – but sure that our new ‘skin’ will allow us to make better connections with other Peoples and with other Ways of life in the greater family of life.

This songlines blog will continue to explore some of these new forms during 2008, seeking to learn some lessons from what life has inscribed on the Ways of First Peoples.

We also plan to add a lot more music to the songlines blog, sadly lacking to date! Music and laughter are the best counter to those who seek to manipulate us through fear. Some help is required to get more music into this songlines website, contact me at admin@songlines.org.au

Learning to lighten up is part of means of restoring sanity to life.

Bruce (Japaljari) Reyburn
2 Jan 2008