By Dorothy Thompson
Mohandas Gandhi uttered these unforgettable words in a speech he delivered in 1931. The sensibility he spoke of then is just as important, relevant and critical today.
A society is judged by how it treats and shows compassion for those who cannot protect or fend for themselves. I was distressed to see the storm that erupted over last week’s Sunrise program about the desperate plight of some Aboriginal children.
Black, white or mixed-race, there is an absolute duty of care owed to all. And anyone who wishes to exploit the plight of others for their own political or social purpose is beneath our moral contempt.
The segment I refer to was about Aboriginal adoption that aired on Channel Seven’s breakfast show. The furore it created over the discussion between media commentator, Prue MacSween, and Brisbane radio host, Ben Davis, about a proposal by the federal government to change adoption policies for indigenous children was astonishing.
Keyboard warriors went into meltdown over the content. Some describing it as “appalling”, “nationally shameful” and “blatantly racist”.
It all came about because Children’s Minister David Gillespie is arguing that white families should be allowed to adopt abused Aboriginal children to save them from rape, assault and neglect.
MacSween said: “it would be crazy to even contemplate people arguing against this”.
“We can’t have another generation of young indigenous children being abused in this way, and this conspiracy of silence and fabricated PC outlook that it’s better to leave them in this dangerous environment.”
“Don’t worry about the people who decry and handwring and say that this will be another Stolen Generation”.
“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps.”
The 4BC presenter, Ben Davis, praised Minister Gillespie for: “standing up and saying what a lot of politicians are afraid to say out of fair of being labelled as racist.
We need to be protecting kids, we need to be protecting Aboriginal kids and putting them back into that culture. What culture are they growing up seeing?
Well, they’re getting abused, they’re getting hurt and they’re getting damaged.”
Armytage wrapped up the segment by concluding, “let’s hope some sense prevails”.
That’s when all hell broke lose. Social Media went into meltdown. Many questioned, among other things, why there wasn’t an indigenous representative on the panel.
In my opinion, these commentators have missed the point.
All the talk, social indignation, and socio-political moralising misses the fact that these children are in desperate danger right now.
We mustn’t allow them to languish in – potentially fatal – poverty amidst a sea of hyperbole and political posturing.
Hubert H Humphrey said: “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ”
If this weren’t enough to make the point, consider what one of the world’s greatest statesmen, Nelson Mandela, said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation”.
I fear that while vocal liberal-political do-gooders and activists pronounce their care, they become entrapped in their own social fury, which actually risks slowing down progress on an urgent issue.
Perhaps they would be better served reflecting upon the words of the Philosophical essayist, novelist, poet and artist, Khalil Gibran when he wrote about children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.