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Bishop Philip Huggins: Healing the Wounds of History


by Bishop Philip Huggins

To heal the wounds of history, there must be a leadership of persuasive depth and beauty.

As scripture says from long ago,’without a vision, the people perish. [Proverbs.29:18]

The vision has to be embodied.

Taking in the disappointment caused by the Federal Opposition’s decision, thus far, on the Referendum, I was reminded of a scene from the film ‘Lincoln’.

It is the scene in which President Lincoln meets young soldiers sometime after his Gettysburg Address.

There is some banter, but then the two young white soldiers start quoting his Address.It is evident they have memorised it, inspiring their courage in that particular struggle against historic racism and oppression. These two are then called away. Lincoln urges them to go where they are called. A solitary black man then emerges, stands in front of Lincoln and completes the Gettysburg address from memory. The poignancy is vivid.


The Uluru Statement from the Heart is inspired, poetic and nation-building, like the Gettysburg Address.

Remembering those in’ Lincoln’, we might memorise salient parts and have them ready in our hearts when circumstances give us the opportunity to speak.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart invites us, through the referendum, into’ a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

The Statement concludes: ’We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.’

As this Statement settles in more of our hearts, its beauty and truth are transformative. We know these next months are momentous in terms of what this nation becomes.

There is and will be plenty of noise. But what comes truly from the heart always cuts through.

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