At school, Bruce Pascoe was taught Aboriginal people were backward wanderers. Today, the Dark Emu author argues for curiosity and doubt
Bruce Pascoe The Guardian 2 June 2, 2019
‘We, the quiet people, need to rebel’: Bruce Pascoe. Photograph: Vicky Shukuroglou
A million fish died in our rivers last summer because billionaires dammed the upper reaches of several major Australian rivers so they could grow cotton. ‘What about the fish?’ we should have asked our government. ‘What about the trees? What about the downstream farmers? What about Adelaide?’
We should have asked those questions of our government, but no, we left that to the farmers and to a bunch of ‘hippies’…………….
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We, the quiet people, need to rebel. We need our children to rebel – not necessarily by chanting platitudes or yelling into megaphones, although the whales were saved by such methods. If we don’t encourage them to demonstrate or protest, then we need to instil the wisest of all our skills in our children: doubt.
We need our children to care about the planet like those who have saved the whales for the enjoyment and reassurance of all. We need our children to consider the orthodoxy of the world, and examine it for its merit. That is called education.
When I was told at school that Aboriginal people were wanderers and the most backward people on Earth, I was ashamed rather than rebellious. Inquiry had been drilled out of me. By the time elders had drilled it back in, years after I left university, I began using the greatest research tools of all: curiosity and doubt.
We don’t need the kind of doubt that cripples us into inaction, but the kind that inspires generous thirst for investigation. I want students to read Young Dark Emu, not to vindicate my own opinion but to raise a platform for vigorous inquiry and generous doubt…………..
Doubt is just another word for investigation………………..
- Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe is out through Magabala books