From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Y’all, Australia had a breakthrough on February 13, 2008 (yep, just this year) when the prime minister, Kevin Rudd publicly apologized to the indigenous people of Australia and the Torres Straights. Public pressure had been building for about a decade when the first National Sorry Day (May 26) was held to try to reconcile the “two Australias” over the most divisive policy anyone could come up with – the removal of children from their families. We’re not talkin’ ancient times here either - in some places, this went right up until 1973. 

So what’s the big deal about saying “I’m sorry.”? (BTW - PM Kevin ended up on a lot of doo-doo lists over this one – maybe even career suicide) Well, as you might know from personal experience, sometimes it’s easier to say “bite me” than “sorry.” Saying sorry means you did something, and then it’s just a short jump to having to take some degree of responsibility for it. That’s why you haven’t had any American presidents apologizing to the Cherokee Nation, or even checking to see if his grandfather did dig up Geronimo and put him on display at Yale’s Skull and Bones headquarters. So I’m giving a big shout out to Kevin Rudd for doing the right thing, and a brave thing, and hoping that it helps get indigenous people in Australia, and by extension, the world, some acknowledgment. Obviously, there’s no going back in time, and this situation can’t really be “fixed,” but we can stop doing more harm. The GetUp mob is a community advocacy organization in Australia that supports indigenous reconciliation. Here’s the GetUp Mob’s “Sorry” version of the song From Little Things, Big Things Grow by Paul Kelly. http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/MakeThisAHit&id=339

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Gather round people let me tell you’re a story
An eight year long story of power and pride
British Lord Vestey and Vincent Lingiarri
Were opposite men on opposite sides

Vestey was fat with money and muscle
Beef was his business, broad was his door
Vincent was lean and spoke very little
He had no bank balance, hard dirt was his floor

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Gurindji were working for nothing but rations
Where once they had gathered the wealth of the land
Daily the pressure got tighter and tighter
Gurindju decided they must make a stand

They picked up their swags and started off walking
At Wattie Creek they sat themselves down
Now it don’t sound like much but it sure got tongues talking
Back at the homestead and then in the town

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Vestey man said I’ll double your wages
Seven quid a week you’ll have in your hand
Vincent said uhuh we’re not talking about wages
We’re sitting right here till we get our land
Vestey man roared and Vestey man thundered
You don’t stand the chance of a cinder in snow
Vince said if we fall others are rising

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri boarded an aeroplane
Landed in Sydney, big city of lights
And daily he went round softly speaking his story
To all kinds of men from all walks of life

And Vincent sat down with big politicians
This affair they told him is a matter of state
Let us sort it out, your people are hungry
Vincent said no thanks, we know how to wait

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

Then Vincent Lingiarri returned in an aeroplane
Back to his country once more to sit down
And he told his people let the stars keep on turning
We have friends in the south, in the cities and towns

Eight years went by, eight long years of waiting
Till one day a tall stranger appeared in the land
And he came with lawyers and he came with great ceremony
And through Vincent’s fingers poured a handful of sand

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

That was the story of Vincent Lingairri
But this is the story of something much more
How power and privilege can not move a people
Who know where they stand and stand in the law

From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow
From little things big things grow

 

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech (shout out to Chezz for the connect)  http://chezzag.vox.com/

 http://www.getup.org.au/files/blogs/ruddsorrytext.pdf

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~ by ravenjake on December 10, 2008.

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