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Saturday, 14 February 2009

Apology to the stolen generations

It’s one year on since (February 13th, 2008) PM Kevin Rudd said “sorry” on behalf of Australia for the many half-caste kids taken under protest from their mother’s arms. They were placed in white care between the 100 years 1870 – 1970. Saying "sorry" was a controversial thing to do, but many an Aborigine still says, ‘I don’t know why they feel they had to do that to us.”

Margaret Somerville cared for removed part-Aboriginal children for 24 years in the Methodist missionary home on Croker Island, Northern Territory. She said: “I don't feel I have to apologise for what happened to the children, or for my part in it, because I gave the very best that I could. I would apologise to the mothers that had to lose the babies and to any part-Aboriginal child who was worse off through being taken. But the ones I knew were not worse off. Arthur Marshall and his wife Lydia were also Methodist missionaries. In Darwin they feel the anguish of being misunderstood. “We did it in good faith and with the most genuine integrity, that what we were doing was the right thing.” A reporter asked them: “Do you still think it was the right thing to do?” Arthur: “From my thinking now, no I don't think it was. But we are all men and women of our time, and I believe it's wrong to criticise what was done 40 to 50 years ago. Decisions today will probably be found not so good in another 50 or 100 years.” Certainly, the policies of forced removal and assimilation were a product of the times.

Among the many reasons for “breeding out” the colour from a half-caste, says Sharman Stone, “was actually Darwin's theory of evolution . . . . The widespread belief in Darwin among government officials also led to mixed-race children being placed in foster homes, Christian schools and government institutions, because the mixed-race children were considered "more evolved" than their full-blooded parent.” Truth is, it was the secular scientist and government officials who promoted racist policies against Aborigines, not Christianity. Some aboriginal parents wanted their children to be placed in schools separate from their tribes, to give the children a better chance of improving their lot in life. But the pain of separate developmentis undeniably real, for the many who have inherited two different cultures at birth, and is still with them.

The biblical truth that all humans descend from a single ancestor is emphasized in the traditional text of Acts 17: 24 – 26, God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

By adding “one blood” the Bible makes it clear that we all have Adam’s blood running in our veins, and no one is to be disrespected because their physical features may suggest, but only to some, that their DNA is different from the rest of humankind.