Even witnesses to an accident have a different perception of what happened, and the more they try to remember what they actually saw and heard, the less certain they become. Ask any crime scene investigator!
Catching a photo or a video might appear to provide a more accurate picture of the event, but, again where precisely the individual recording the scene is located, in relation to the recorded event might, and often does, affect how the picture can be interpreted.
We cannot change history – but we can never be certain it has been recorded or reported accurately, and it is rare for the record to not be influenced, at least to some extent, by the personal perspectives of, and choices made by, the recorder, even if only in what to include and what to exclude..
What is indelibly ingrained in the first memory of someone hurt in an accident, is the pain.
I have fallen many times. I could not tell you how I looked, as I fell, but I can tell you – if I survive the fall (clearly I always have done, so far!) – exactly which bits of me hurt as a result of the fall.
You can see where I am bruised – I bruise very easily and the bruises appear remarkably quickly! – and, if you have medical knowledge, you can assess whether I have broken any bones or possibly incurred more serious internal injuries.
But you can never experience or record my pain.
However nature has a remedy. If we recover from the fall, we remember that we were hurt, but no longer feel the pain.
Around the world, wars, invasions and catastrophic events have left people bereaved maimed, grieving – or dead. The survivors each have an individual story and for many the pain never really goes away.
The concept of human rights is a relatively modern phenomenon, even though, through the ages, there have always been people who sought to help others, just as there have also always been people who seek a goal, carelessly destroying any who get in their way while they stride towards it.
Some countries – even ones like the USA, which regard themselves as being modern and enlightened (laughter off-stage) – still have the death penalty for certain crimes. Yet those same countries often have a very flawed justice system. And if you execute someone who is not the real culprit, that situation is not open to reversal.
We are all imperfect beings, who make mistakes, hurt other people – sometimes deliberately – and experience many emotions. Much of our experience is not recorded, and those records are often questioned.
What is – IMHO – indisputable is that descendants of those forced into slavery by invading Europeans, and transported to Europe and the Americas, are members of the human race and entitled to as much care and respect as all other members of that race.
No – revise that statement – they are entitled to more care and respect, to recompense them for much of what they have been denied because of their origins.
What is done, cannot be undone is a trite but true statement.
When the First Fleet, and those that followed it, arrived in Australia, in their ignorance they regarded our First Nations as savages and made a good fist of trying to destroy them.
Yet we now know that they have a long history of developing a culture which saw nurturing the land as their duty. Their culture is, in fact, very complex and contains many elements which are far superior to our money-centred life-style.
I personally feel that is not really fair to judge the past by standards which we have adopted only recently.
Pulling down statues of slave traders, or others who are no longer regarded highly, is not necessary, because it does not change what they did. What would be more effective would be to erect an easily-read plaque which critiques the damage done through their actions.
In our criminal law system, intent to cause harm is a critical element of finding guilt. If a political climate sanctions certain behaviours, then where does the guilt lie?
We are at a watershed in history as regards discrimination in first world nations.
If we genuinely support human rights, then surely we need to sanction all – be they Presidents, police officers or governments – who promote or condone discrimination on racial grounds, particularly if it leads to harm, or death, of anyone subject to that discrimination.
In Australia, our education system MUST incorporate the history of our First Nations if we hope to change our attitudes to any significant extent. We need to consult community leaders and involve them in decision making and we need to stop allowing mining companies from destroying heritage treasures tens of thousands of years old.
If we stopped worshipping money, just think how much better our world might be!
We cannot change the past but we can and should make a real effort to ensure our behaviour in the future leaves a history which does not make our descendants ashamed of their ancestors.
And if we are to have a future, we need to start listening to the experts in all of the sciences, not just health!
I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”
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