Equality is a core Quaker testimony. We believe that all people have equal access to the Divine Light, and that all should be treated with compassion and respect. But what happens when a group in our society has long been treated unequally? What is the road forward?
In this issue we are looking at roads to reconciliation with our Indigenous people, who were for many years not even considered equal before the law. This reinforced an attitude in our society, sometimes conscious and sometimes unconscious, of regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as less able or less worthy. The law has changed, but attitudes are harder to shift. Years of discrimination and exclusion have led to social and health problems in the Indigenous community which successive governments have failed to resolve, despite some good intentions.
What are Quakers doing to implement their testimony in this situation? Many writers stress that it all starts with listening, leading to better understanding. From this sharing may follow – the example of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people uniting to care for land is a good example. Political actions such as silent vigils and writing letters to politicians are also typical Quaker responses.
Hopefully there is a future in which Non-Indigenous people will take delight in Aboriginal culture and find strength in a closer relationship with country, and Indigenous people will share in the advantages and challenges of Western culture. We would welcome further articles on Roads to Reconciliation.
For our next issue our theme will be Spiritual Journeys. Sometimes a physical journey will take us out of our comfort zone and open us to the Divine light. But there may be no physical journey – there may be a life crisis which jolts us into spiritual growth, or there may be a slow and gradual development of spiritual awareness. We hope many of you will feel able to share your story with us.