Honour the Grief Ceremony. National Sorry Day at Parliament House. Marking the first anniversary of the "Bringing Them Home" Report.
A single candle "to light their way home".
"It was like a warm wind blowing through" said someone who couldn't get in to the Theatrette and watched with the crowd outside on closed circuit television. Inside the most extraordinary feelings of deep sadness for the terrible wrongs done in the name of doing good mixed with an amazing elation that our culture has changed forever.
I have experienced wonderful theatre before - where all the elements of lighting, sound, colour, costume and character come together with stunning effect. But artifice can never achieve real theatre like this Honouring the Grief. One candle was enough. This is the drama of our human origins, the storytelling which began long before there were theatres to separate us from the immediate experience of our emotions. And it was Theatre of Integrity.
Through a few thicknesses of cold marble, the Theatre of Insincerity was playing - the bear-baiting and bull-roaring of Question Time. The finger-stabbing, the silly-smiling, the fake-aggression and the deals behind the scenes. This was on a different closed-circuit. Who can be bothered to seriously cheer when one or other cliche role-player briefly wins a telling point?
When Gatjil Djerrkura rose to speak, with tears in his eyes, as people across the cultures held hands and personally expressed their sorrow while Torres Strait Islanders sang a slow hymn, he was heard by all of us with complete respect. When he explained that to say "Sorry" is nothing to do with guilt, but is to express sorrow and so allow us all to go forward, everyone applauded. When he described the people he had met who refuse to say sorry, he spoke with dignity and respect about how Sorry Day is also for them. The standing ovation he received was genuine, spontaneous and felt as if it should never end.
O that this might happen in that other Theatre of Parliament. I fear the hot breath and icy stares of adversarial government will never notice the warm wind there. I wish both the "Other Places" were as irrelevant as they seemed on National Sorry Day.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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