Yes, you read right, this very brief Monday Musings post is about what Jane Austen might have said – did say in her way – about the Stolen Generations.
What makes great literature great is its timelessness. By this I mean the fact that what is said in, say 1815, is still relevant in, say, 2018. It is this timelessness, in particular, that makes me love Jane Austen. She is so right, so often, about human nature and human behaviour. So, while the quote I’m planning to share comes from British not Australian literature, and from 1815 not 2018, it relates closely to an issue that is currently very important to Australians, the Stolen Generations.
Here’s the quote:
There is something so shocking in a child’s being taken away from his parents and natural home. (Emma, ch. 11: Mrs John Knightley on Frank Churchill being removed from his home after his mother’s death)
“Something so shocking”. There’s nothing much more to say, is there … except that …
… when I drafted and scheduled this on February 7 for posting on Monday February 12, I hadn’t remembered that the next day, February 13, was the tenth anniversary of the Australian Government’s Apology to the Stolen Generations. How freaky – but how appropriate – is that? It’s also rather concerning because, as Reconciliation Victoria says:
As we approach the anniversary of the historic Apology we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still grossly over-represented in our prisons, in out-of-home care, are still dying in custody and are still subjected to racism on a regular basis. There is still much work to do.
It’s a continuing blight on our government, on all of us, that we have achieved (are achieving) so little by most measurable standards.
For those who would like to hear the speech PM Rudd made in the Australian Parliament, here is the YouTube link.