Port Augusta: Indigenous Issues

Had an interesting day today. Slept in and did my blog. The day went fast. I had a mechanic have a look over my car to make sure all is good, I have a big haul to Perth tomorrow. Will head to Ceduna.

I bought a present for the sisters here, some reflective happy face stickers, paddles with balls and bubbles. They were very happy and so was I. I really appreciated the time here.

I felt to interview two of the nuns. I had a very interesting conversation about indigenous issues. My friend told me there is enormous domestic violence, virtually all of the women have had abuse stories. There is much child abuse so boys and girls having problems. Apparently it is due to oppression and fuelled by alcohol and drugs. I see parallels with our society here, oppression in all its forms. The rage comes out on the second day of drinking and bottles and knifes are used. She explained that the pregnant women were the most vulnerable to being beaten. Another interesting fact was the earlier mortality rate, 20 years earlier than anglo Australians. They die in their 50’s, these are third world statistics. I have heard this but somehow it feels more real now that I am meeting people that work with aboriginal people.. Apparently the girls have babies in their teens so that grandmothers can see their grandchildren. I felt very sad to hear this.

I also discovered that the way they deal with conflict when they are unable to resolve is to fight another family. Rather than sitting down with the person they feel offended by and just talking it through to determine the issue and solve the problem with conflict resolution skills (might add most white people don’t do this either), they may end up having families fighting families. This may reflect their support system. I noted this in Alice Springs to where I was told about family feuds by some aboriginal people. They explained how a woman started the fight which was jealousy based and it blew up into violence. I have been informed they take out their anger of oppression out on their own people, those close to them. My feeling might be they don’t know how to deal with complex emotions. I found that very sad as they don’t know how to cope with this life and the complications of communication, family relationships and their own power structures of community changing or dissolving. The elders apparently are dying off, and they were the ones that had authority, so it appears complex to me. A feeling of being displaced and lost I felt within when reflecting. Not unlike refugees.

I found out that women who are alcoholics give birth to children who have been affected, they are brain damaged. Apparently they have memory loss and end up with learning difficulties, then they are often diagnosed with ADHD. So it passes on to the next generation.

We also talked about the Northern Territory intervention. I don’t know much about it as I don’t live around indigenous people. My friend was saying that they were issued cards, all indigenous people. That in itself is very discriminatory and for those who are not abusing alcohol demeaning. Apparently some have to travel 200km to go and buy food from a store that accepts the cards. My friend was saying that the Governments don’t want to deal with the real underlying issues, so money is injected in. Certainly my other friends in Alice Springs indicated that the Government comes in, says they consult, just tick boxes and leave. So it appears from the few conversations I’ve had that there is not a meaningful intervention to help the indigenous people solve their problems.

I feel as if a veil is being lifted from my eyes. I find myself looking at the indigenous people. I do feel great love for them. I feel an honouring of them, as the first people and a people that lived 40,000 years without these social problems. It is clear the dysfunction is related to European settlement here. That for me is clear.

I also felt that they are not a money based culture therefore the thinking that we all take for granted is not natural to them, they had trading, sharing, hunting and gathering and community laws that are no longer valid. My feeling is it may take hundreds of years for change, but then I think why would they want to be part of this society which clearly isn’t working. You don’t have to go far to work that out, we have 1 in 4 with mental illness, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, increasing wars and dissatisfaction. My inner feeling is somehow they need to return to their spiritual life which was pure and simple. I think we need to do this as well but somehow in a new type of society based on universal love. Sounds airy, I can assure you it is not. It is to evolve the human consciousness to be at peace with nature and each other. So I will keep reflecting and on some level integrating this. Perhaps I can be of service through clowning in the future. I am feeling drawn to them, definitely, so maybe there is something I can give. I don’t see that as superior, it is coming from love.

I feel to make a comment about men. This issue was discussed tonight in respect to bonding to children and women. I feel we are hitting on a real issue. The sense I am getting is that males are disconnected from the society. In the anglo case I see the working life as taking men away. My friend mentioned the mining industry and how men are away for weeks at a time. I feel they are getting disconnected and life becomes more in their minds, rather than deep familial bonds where they feel they belong and deeply connected into the group or family. It seems to me the violence is mostly men fighting the women, feeling jealous or somehow oppressed and inadequate so using ones power to suppress another compensates for the feelings of oppression. I can understand that. So it makes sense to help people find their self esteem, to find connection and belonging and happiness. Clowning could be useful here. I am going to give this more thought. When you are positive all the time you actually re-wire the brain and instead of negative reactions you start to laugh at life as you feel better about yourself. All anger is relaly about self, it is not about the other, people typically project their anger they do not want to own or are unable to access their true feelings given the thought process and how denial works. So often people do not know why they do what they do but the consequences can be devastating and pull families and communities apart. So I am feeling for this complexity.

It is through understanding that we come to terms with violence and conflict. Our emotions can cloud and divide us. Violence has its roots in negative ideas or conditioning and cries for help, as people are not coping. The challenge is to find creative positive ways to access the most frightening part of ourselves, our deeper fears that we are somehow inadequate or inferior. In Jungian psychology it is called the shadow. It is the place of ego and it is the part we protect by mind games. It is an interesting place to find enlightenment, but that is where you have to go to heal and see the truth of who you really are. When I clown I see that exceptional person in you.

Sending love and peace

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”