As promised, I will try and bring this article up to the present time. We have the stories of Xavier Herbert, Katherine Susannah Prichard that illustrate the early 20th Century; this was also the time of the stolen generation. At this time young aboriginal women (with white blood in their veins) were sent off to servitude/slavery, some were worked as servants and may have been treated honorably while others worked as slaves and were treated accordingly. If they didnít like their working conditions they could run away or leave, but they couldnít return to their tribal lands, so they ended up as single mothers living on the fringes of white society. In those days there was no supporting dole or pension. Further their impecunious condition was regarded as typical of the failure of their race and obviously nothing to do with the noble white family from whom they had run away and shown such gross ingratitude. Their mixed blood children of unacknowledged parentage went straight into an institution designed to train these children to continue in service. This is background story of todayís generation of indigenous Australians. You can read such stories in the biographies of Ron Williams, Sally Morgan, Roberta Sykes and so on.
Two issues impress me from reading these real life tales. First some of the recent female ancestors were forced to live as prostitutes or concubines. Second some of the recent male ancestors are quite unknown and the unfortunate mother refused to disclose the father even under considerable emotional duress. These are not the records that one wants to disclose as a newly assimilated Ďwhiteí person, or as a coloured person trying to rediscover their proper identity and tribal roots.
Let us turn from polite social judgments and assess these typical happenings from a Biblical perspective. We start by asking: What famous biblical character had a prostitute in his bloodline? The answer is Jesus Christ. If you look at his genealogy at the beginning of the gospel of Matthew, you will find a long list of males from Abraham to Joseph (Maryís husband) with five significant females included in the listing. These women are: Tamar, who fell pregnant to her father-in-law; Rahab, a prostitute from the land invaded by the Jews; Ruth, a foreigner and outsider who had to seduce a nobleman to become accepted; Bathsheba, who was raped by king David before he went on to murder her husband and then, finally Mary the mother of Jesus who could not claim Joseph as his biological father. (There is another genealogy given for Jesus in the gospel of Luke. This one has some obvious variations from the one we are discussing, but I donít want to stop and discuss these at this point.) The inclusion of the above five women amongst the traditional listing of males is clearly deliberate. It shows that these specially honoured female ancestors all overcame sexual stress and abuse to triumphantly pass on their fresh bloodlines.
No person should ever feel any sense of shame over the unfortunate plight or actions of their ancestors. No one can carry the blame for the events and actions that occurred before they were born; nor should they deny their heritage. Many Europeans living in Australia today use this argument to explain why they canít say sorry for things that their ancestors did. Because they didnít actually do these things, they feel they canít be held responsible and thus say sorry. This is a correct line of reasoning, however they need to understand that are not being held responsible for past actions; rather they are being asked to acknowledge what happened and respond with sympathy and empathy so that we can all start to undo the accumulated psychological damage. Acting in terms of the cold logic of sterile and selective history is a modern heresy. Acting from a sense of presence and place and dealing with present recollections is the correct way to live in Australia.