What we are attempting to do it this; we want every single person talking about and learning the true meaning of Lateral violence.
And by ‘true meaning’ I would like to share the words of Jim Morrison and I am in complete alignment to his description of the following when I talk about the effects imbedded in our collective psyche as a colonised nation; ‘Irrespective of whether they are Aboriginal people from Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States, colonized people suffer a similar sequence of intergenerational trauma that separates their needs from others’.
- The first generation of colonisation Aboriginal men and boys were killed, imprisoned, enslaved, driven away and deprived of the ability to provide for their families. Women became single parents and many children were conceived through rape and forced prostitution.
- The second generation of colonisation Aboriginal people were rounded up and sent to missions and reserves where they were further removed from being able to obtain work, balanced diets, housing, sanitation, health care and education. This is the stage that the misuse of alcohol and drugs became embedded as a mechanism for coping with grief and the profound loss of dignity.
- In the third generation of colonisation, Aboriginal children were removed from their fractured families and placed into non-indigenous care environments where they suffered the horrors of forced inferiority, deprivation and abuse, documented for all to read in the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from their Families in April 1997. The majority of these children became parents without exposure to parenting and therefore the opportunity to develop parenting skills.
These effects of multiple Transgenerational traumas are suffered by parents and other family members, passed on, transferred to the next generations.
Aboriginal people in Australia have been exposed not to three, but seven generations of compounding bad laws, a racially prejudiced Federal constitution and institutional and social racism. This has reinforced a lack of faith in working with the Government and non-government services or any hope for the future.
The profound damage to Aboriginality cannot and will not be fixed in anything less than the time it took to inflict it’ Morrison is the Aboriginal co-chair of the National Stolen Generations Alliance and the Aboriginal co-convener of the Bringing Them Home Committee WA. hhtp://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/opinion/post/-/blog/theburningissue/post/1889/
The only way for us to do this is for us as Aboriginal and Islander people to begin the healing from the inside out. The intergenerational trauma that Jim has pointed out above, this is the very foundation of Lateral violence. It is the essence, the powerful negative force that has been embedded into our collective Aboriginal & Islander psyches right from the invasion, right from that colonialist the impact in 1788. The common thread binding together the seven traumatic generations experienced by Aboriginal and Islander peoples is survival, and survival brings with it a raft of callous, harsh, ridged resiliencies that were necessary for us to survive.
What we need to understand now in 2012 is this, our young people are still caught in this cycle of survival and it is choking them. This mode is no longer going to sustain them. We as a collective culture need to unite and acknowledge these intergenerational traumas and realise the way we have perpetrate Lateral violence onto our own.
It is a simple case of the colonised now colonising our own, the oppressed doing the oppressing. ‘Lateral violence is the product of colonisation,…it amounts to the colonised colonising one another, a situation of the oppressed oppressing each other. When you are at the bottom of the social heap and cannot strike out ‘vertically’ (ie at those above you) frustration erupts and is instead directed at your peers by your side’ Calvin Helin
Lateral violence, or should I say the manifestations of Lateral violence are the things most of us can identify with easily, but the reality of how we have come to perpetuate these behaviours still eludes many.
So that is the crux of phase 1 of this Lateral Violence Campaign that started on 23 January 2012 from my lounge room when I asked the facebook community a couple of questions, a) if anyone knew what Lateral violence was? And b) if anyone knew the opposite of Lateral violence?
Now, in the few weeks since the inception of this campaign, I have had hundreds of accounts of social racism, organisational racism, racial hatred, physical, emotional, mental and financial abuse flooding my inbox and facebook walls. As we are all becoming well too aware, the manifestations of Lateral violence resonated with almost every single human being we come into contact with. The stories continue to flood in, and it is very important for them to be heard.
Now the next phase that needs to happen, phase 2, is this; we all need to start conversations with as many people as we can about Lateral violence, sharing with them the ‘true meaning’ for us as Aboriginal and Islander people of this country, our country. Then share with them your own personal experiences with Lateral violence, talk about the difficulties we have faced and the types of things that we now understand in a more holistic way.
The best way to start conversations about Lateral violence is to create ‘Yarning Circles’. We all need to participate and play an active role to teach our young people a new way to move forward.
We need to make encouragement, nurturing and sharing the only way and enforce this behavior in every interaction we have especially with our young people. We must reinforce the opposite of Lateral violence from within our own ranks so that our young ones can grow with strength, knowledge and dignity steeped in culture and nurturing love and respect for each other.
The primary aim for this Lateral Violence Campaign is to get people talking about Lateral violence to enable contemplation about what the opposite is and how we can instill this into the lives of our children so that they will be able to identify racism and Lateral violence when they are confronted with it, and have in place strategies to cope and repel these incidents from a position of knowledge and cultural strength.
On the 23rd February, exactly one month in from the inception Campaign, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Dr Chintamani Yogi from Nepal. Dr. Chintamani Yogi is the founding principal of Hindu Vidyapeeth Schools, which is working to promote value-based education. Together we visited many Aboriginal organisations here in Adelaide and I watched him as he interacted with the children, instilling little principles of his culture along the way. He was teaching the children songs that they could use like counting games with their fingers which translated to the following: I Love Mother and Father for each of their fingers and every single child in those classrooms was abuzz with this simple yet very effective respect learning tool. Dr Yogi also shared with them another hand association memory tool used in Nepal to instill the following: Loving, Respectful, Thoughtful, Appreciative and Caring. Children in Nepal are taught these very important messages right throughout their lives and it shows in the behavior and respect the community has for each other at all levels of society. His Message for the Children of the World (In his own words):
The children of the world are the only hope of this modern world. The politicians do talk about revolution but I do believe in reformation and it can happen only through children and the youth. And their future depends on the society. No one should run away from the social responsibility as we are always deeply inter-connected with our own society. Our failures and successes also depend on our own society, so it is our duty to think of it, and make a good change, just by blaming upon others nothing can be achieved. So the children of this modern age should be able to know the world but to know about their own roots as well. They should learn the computer technology but should be able to enjoy in the nature also. They should make many friends on a global level but should be able to be close with their own family members also. They should follow their own religion but should serve God in every human form they should take pride in their own culture but should respect all other faiths and cultures as well. I have met thousands of children and youths in my life; they are from various backgrounds, from different nationalities, different religious backgrounds. Every time I meet the children either in Nepal or elsewhere I have found that they all need a Right vision at Right time. They all need good Sanskaras (good human values practiced from the childhood) from their schools and from their family.
So my dear children of the world. WAKE UP!
• Make your foundation now, as it’s the only RIGHT TIME
• Think globally and act locally
• Try to be better but not the best
• Learn the cooperation, not only competition
• Follow your Heart, not only the Brain
MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL – Dr Chintamani Yogi http://www.myhero.com/go/hero.asp?hero=Chintamani_LC_HVP_07_ul
You know, it is not rocket science but sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees, all it takes is for someone to come along and shed a little light and things become clearer and new ideas and initiatives emerge. A complex matrix has evolved over all these years and has kept us in a constant cycle of perpetual Lateral violence which we have become very good at inflicting upon each other, we can change once we see the forced motivation behind our unsavory ways.
The good thing is that it is never too late to change and in the words of Mahatma Gandhi ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. The cheapest way to participate in turning Lateral violence around is by empowering all Aboriginal & Islander people, whom you personally come into contact with, that includes our own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, extended family members, students, collegues, friends and acquaintances. Listen to them with an open mind and heart and be genuine in your interactions. Encourage them and boost their self-esteem to enable them to reach their full potential and live fulfilling meaningful lives.
I ask myself every day if these beautiful children that felt the only option they had left at their critical moments in time where buy they took their own lives, if they had encouragement from nurturing fellow Aboriginal & Islander people around them, boosting them up and understanding their despair, supporting them through their times of need from a position of true understanding about the mechanisms behind all the terrible racism and maltreatment we see today, in the education system, the work places, our families and our communities, could things have taken a different course, would they still be with us now?
How can we expect our children to aspire to lead fulfilling, meaningful lives if most of the Aboriginal & Islander population cannot move past this vicious cycle of Lateral violence and forge a new beginning to save our children and strengthen them in unified culture and solidarity?
Can you go another day not trying to make this happen for your family and loved ones?
February 14, 2012