Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Stronger futures, stolen futures


Stolen Futures

Blessed are you for whom this law was made.

It will show you right from wrong
and will teach you good discipline
and, from time to time, imprison you

you remind us much too much of war and the memory of war
and the logic of plunder, 
stolen futures, forced removals, violated land.

(And you too who are not, but who remind us of,
 the First Ones; you
with the sound of your scored and scoured stories.)

We passed this law in the night time
of your mourning.

We listened
but you said nothing.

We watched 
but you did nothing for yourselves.

Today we are crying but today and tomorrow, we are ready
to take back the future you stole from us.
But not with all the love in our bodies and our skies will we
ever be able to take away the shame from you.
That is yours to keep, 
you who made this law 
and who screamed without dignity 
every time we tried to tell our stories to you
and who tore out your eyes when we tried to show you 
what we are determined to create, 
strong in the plot and the singing of our People.
We will take our future.
Be assured of that.
And you 
will keep your shame.

John FalzonDr John Falzon is an advocate with a deep interest in philosophy, society, politics and poetry. He is the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Chief Executive and a member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board. 


Topic tags: John Falzon, Stronger Futures, NAIDOC Week, Amnesty International, The Intervention



submit a comment

Existing comments

I don't suppose we could suggest to Cardinal Pell that when the time comes to choose a new Pope, Cardinal Pell should stay home and send John Falzon as his proxy.

Jim Jones | 02 July 2012  

Lest we begin to think that Government Legislation is the only way that any change can happen, let me respond to this poem by suggesting another way.

As a people, whether Christian or not, we need to walk with our aboriginal brothers and sisters in the dailiness of life...

... get to know mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, grandchildren ...
Worry when grandchildren open themselves to danger by walking the town at night,
Help to empty an overflowing garbage bin.

... cry when the phone rings and it is the police telling us that someone has been seriously hurt or is dead in a police cell,
Discover the hopes and aspirations aboriginal brothers and sisters have for their grandchildren.
Sit in the sun and enjoy conversation.

... share something of our own story, our hopes and dreams and pain
Laugh in embarrassment, when in our attempt to learn language, we stumble over seemingly unpronounceable words and our aboriginal teacher is taking the mickey out of us.
Mend a leaking tap.

... maybe step out into the big scene and accompany aboriginal families in the growing of organisations and enterprises that can give them representation and power on an equal footing with their white brothers and sisters.

Engage in real relationships, friendships, deaths, sickness, violence, amusement, grief, joy, pain ... with a people who have an extra-ordinary gift and resilience amidst the chances and changes of a legislated life, with a government bumbling along trying to get things right.
Have a go ...

David Woods
Alice Springs

David Woods | 02 July 2012  

It is interesting that John Falzon's article only attracted one response (it is now 10.58pm Monday the 2nd July) Yes I do agree with Jim Jones that Cardinal Pell stays in Australia as long as possible as we need him. With Cardinal Pell, Melbourne and Sydney's seminarians have flourished. Young Catholics are coming back to our Catholic Faith. Catholic Education has improved. Practicing Catholics are proud to declare their Cathlic identities, and happy to admit that they are loyal to the Pope and the Magisterium. Dissention in the Church has diminished. God bless Cardinal Pell.

Ron Cini | 02 July 2012  

Why not just dig up A O Neville and his ilk and reset the missions. It could hardly be more repuslive could it?

Marilyn | 02 July 2012  

Similar Articles

International Criminal Court's African bias

  • Binoy Kampmark
  • 13 July 2012

On Tuesday, the International Criminal Court sentenced Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for his use of child soldiers. It is the first sentence handed down by an institution regarded by many as a political front. As one Congolese official noted, 'You'll never see an American pass before the ICC. All of the accused are Africans.'


Trading fears for tears in complex asylum seeker debate

  • Fatima Measham
  • 11 July 2012

The tear-shedding in parliament over people drowning near our northwest coast was astonishing. In a decade that has seen asylum seekers demonised by policymakers, the reversal was nearly comical: asylum seekers, it turns out, are human beings. It illustrates how poorly the question of asylum has been discussed since 2001.