One of the ways we learn to live and understand our world is through our repeated habits. As Christians rituals like eating bread and wine remind us of Jesus death. In the ancient world the making of tents at the time of tabernacles helped the people remember their time wandering in the wilderness.
These actions involve a process we call anamnesis which involves the act of recalling the past or reminiscing. In this process we as community remember things we may have forgotten and in so doing we are meant to be transformed.
I can’t help but think that maybe as an Australian culture we should engage in some communal acts of anamnesis – like building some tents to remind us of the first settlers who came here from other lands. That we came as strangers into this land with total disregard to the first peoples. That many of us were forced arrivals and as time progressed some of us arrived escaping hardship and seeking a better life.
Maybe if we made some tents and told the stories we would remember how our ancestors treated the first peoples and maybe we would learn a deeper sense of respect and compassion for those who are seeking asylum on our shores now.
As complex as the issue of refugees may be I am yet to find a rationale in which Christ’s words “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” bears any connection to the concept of mandatory detention.
As our President Stuart McMillan has said the idea of returning children to detention is a test of our morality.
Let us pitch some tents and remember our history and exercise some compassion.