Today is harmony Day, and Palm Sunday is this weekend. But you probably knew that. Did you know the rest of the world has another name for ‘Harmony Day’? It is the International day for the elimination of racial discrimination. It started after the horrific massacre of racial equality activists in South Africa during the apartheid protests in the 1960s, to commemorate the victims in a way that honored what they fought (and ultimately died) for.
Like the good advice you just didn’t take, it seems our nation might be as ignorant of the implications of those events as most of us are that in Australia, we even whitewash other nations history’s.
The irony of Dutton’s recent statements advocating asylum seeking support of ‘white South African farmers’ as if white is a category of qualification, as if he is not responsible for abhorant policy relating to farmers in other nations who have sought refuge here who happen to be of a different melanin make-up, as if the refugee crisis elsewhere has never warranted a mention, within hours of the commemorative celebration we politely call Harmony day, reminds me of the awkwardly tragic stories of Alanis Morisette lyrics circa 1991.
Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?
Ironic like a nation that waxes lyrical about multiculturalism but has yet to treaty with the First Nations people.
Ironic like environment ministers who don’t believe in climate change or social service ministers who side with big business interests.
Ironic like a national anthem that touts ‘boundless plains to share’, while we are producing anti-asylumseeking propaganda for distribution in war torn and troubled nations.
Ironic like a nation many claim to be founded on Christian values where there is so little interest in what Christ valued.
The black fly in the Chardonnay, (excuse this one, no pun intended), is that there is nothing short of discriminatory in Duttons comments, regardless of where you stand on the situation in South Africa or how familiar it is to you, we must take a moment to ask why we(or our reps at least) have not been moved by similar situations of displaced farmers facing immediate threat of death by the thousands in Myanmar, some of who are detained on Manus and Nauru after loosing livelihood, land and family members. Save the blatantly racist suggestion that South African expats will be better citizens, more likely to work, more favorable to assimilate, safer or more law abiding, there is no other explanation for the difference in Dutton’s attitude (or ours collectively) beside prejudice and discrimination.
The real tragedy is not winning the lottery only to die the next day as the song goes, today, it is to seek safety, hope and a future in a nation only to find 5 years of torture of indefinite detention. It’s starting a new life of suffering with no end in sight, it’s escaping one hell to encounter another.
This is one among many reasons why ‘eliminating racial discrimination’ is not on the agenda in our nation’. Harmony day, rings reminiscent of Pax Romana. A harmony always plays a supportive role, and the support here is of the status quo, which is always in favour of the powerful and privileged.
The Kingdom of heaven will see the end of discrimination. The question as we pray “your Kingdom come” is whether we will allow that prayer to move us first, to be the beginning of the end for all the hell in the world.
We have asked to invite Jesus into our hearts and yet those who He said we would encounter him in, the hungry, homeless, the displaced, different are not welcome in our country let alone our homes, and are far from our hearts.
This weekend the Christian world will celebrate Palm Sunday, the welcoming of the King. The irony here is that the King we welcome did not come to dominate or dictate but to establish his kingdom of peace (Shalom) through radical love and so to follow him into this kingdom we will have to lay down our own agendas, self serving ideals, our fears and failures and differences to invite him in.
In the moment that Jesus could have claimed superiority and prominence he chose to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. He showed the world who God was. Not a dictator not a warmonger , but as one who came to serve. I am believing for a day when the church shows the world who Jesus is, who our God is, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.
This Palm Sunday we will be joining the march for justice for refugees, to say welcome, to say no to racial discrimination, To welcome the king, to pray his kingdom come with our feet (and our banners, placards and Palm leaves) as well as our words.