Sunday, November 2, 2008
Small Steps Across the Bridge
It is only as we take steps across a bridge that we get to the other side. Those steps are one after another, and we cannot take the last step until after we have taken the first.
For me, the first step was taken when I moved with my family to Lajamanu, a Warlpiri community in Central Northern Territory. In the beginning, all our prejudices and pre-conceived ideas kept our eyes looking at superficial things. Warlpiri culture and their way of life was as foreign to us as Pluto is from Mars.
However, we allowed ourselves to be adopted by a Warlpiri family, and we learned to listen, and not to always try and impose our own perspectives onto every thing we heard. Gradually, we had our eyes opened to view life from a different point of view.
There have been many high points: getting to know Old People, who have great knowledge and wisdom; learning how to paint using the central Australia dot painting style; becoming family to a wonderful nation of people who are generous, intelligent, full of fun, fiery, unpredictable, resiliant, and amazing.
There have also been points of disappointment: regret that we did not learn more quickly; having to leave after only five years of living with the Warlpiri; watching the unfolding of the Federal Intervention and all of its painful and insensitive dealings; thinking about the Old People who have already gone, and along with them the knowledge that is lost to us as a nation.
I have been privileged to co-author a paper that touches on some of the things that I have learned from living in Lajamanu. For those interested, the location of the paper is: http://www.desertknowledgecrc.com.au/publications/downloads/DKCRC-Report-41-Ngurra-kurlu.pdf