The river is the river, and the sea is the sea. Salt water and fresh, two separate domains. Each has its own complex patterns, origins, stories. Even though they come together, they will always exist in their own right. This is reconciliation.
Quoting Patrick Dodson’s striking image of reconciliation above (Reconciliation at the Crossroads, 1996 ) Shona Reid concluded her speech to the 2018 Convention of General Synod. READ SHONA’S FULL SPEECH.
About the ‘River and Sea’ Analogy
Patrick Lionel Djargun Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia shared his vision for relationships for all people, during an address entitled Reconciliation at the Crossroads. This address was given to the National Press Club in April 1996 whilst Mr Dodson was chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. The following excerpt shares part of his story of ‘things my grandfather taught me’ ….
…. to achieve results we need to understand where we are all coming from. Now, for all the importance of this event (National Press Club), I’d rather be fishing. ………. I would really rather be out where the rivers join the sea, near my home town of Broome, in the country of my grandfather. These are places to sit and think. Think about people, think about politics, think about the sort of country we are shaping. Many Australians don’t know how to think themselves into the country, the land. They find it hard to think with the land. We Aboriginal people find it hard to think without the land.
A story to draw a picture: my grandfather taught me how to think about relationships by showing me places.
- He showed me where the creeks and rivers swirl into the sea.
- The fresh water meets the salt, the different worlds of ocean and river are mixing together.
- He showed me the foam and the turbulence, pointed to the eddies and swirling mud, the colours intermingling.
- And he showed me where it was always good to put a line into the water and wait for a feed.
The river is the river and the sea is the sea. Salt water and fresh, two separate domains. Each has its own complex patterns, origins, stories. Even though they come together they will always exist in their own right. My hopes for reconciliation are like that.
Pat Dodson, having commenced his adult life as a Catholic priest, entered Federal Parliament as Senator for Western Australia in September, 2016.