It’s NAIDOC week here in Australia. I’m writing this blog on Ngunnawal land and pay my respects to their elders’ past and present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
During NAIDOC week we come together as a nation to celebrate Indigenous history and culture. It’s a time to collectively stop, pause and reflect on the oldest, continuous living culture in the world.
This year the theme for NAIDOC week is Heal Country.
For those of us who live here in Australia we have learnt about the importance of country to Aboriginal people. Their connection to place and their respect for the land that sustains them physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It’s an entity that deeply is entwined into their identify and sense of community.
The devastation of Country acts as a mirror to the devastating history in Australia since colonisation.
We have a shocking history of racism and brutality, and it is a testament to the Aboriginal culture that it has survived over the past 200 years. Like Country herself, the amount of trauma, coercion, dominance and brutality has not come without a cost.
Generational trauma is a very real and scientifically proven phenomenon. Often, we think of trauma as being suffered as a result of one horrific event when the reality is ongoing micro traumas can have the same long-lasting impact. In particular, the threat to safety and the physiological and psychological response leaves a dent in the soul. Scientifically it changes DNA.
If you remember Maslow hierarchy of needs, you will know that safety lies on the bottom as a fundamental need that must be fulfilled before a person can move to the next psychological level as we strive to reach self-actualisation.
Too many of us don’t feel safe in this world of ours. This need to dominate, exert power over and act indiscriminately in the name of economic, politics and power harms us all. Perhaps during NAIDOC week as we celebrate the achievements of Australian Aboriginals, we can simultaneously reflect on their deep connection to the land and the strength they draw from Country.
There is much for us to learn here. Perhaps the first step for all of us in healing is to draw strength from Country. To recognise where we come from, and to respect the land we stand on. And, while we can’t change the past, we can all contribute to the future. Regardless of where come from, what race or nationality we hold we can take a moment and reconnect with the land we share, the air we all breathe and the life force we all depend on.
Heal Country. Heal Ourselves. Heal the World.
* Image is the NAIDOC Logo 2021.