The Macquarie Dictionary describes the word sorry as meaning : feeling regret, compunction ,sympathy, pity etc. Like so many people over the years i have downplayed the real meaning of this simple word because often it is used when for example you bump into someone and it is automatic reaction. Two things have happened recently that has made me realise just how significant this simple word is.
I have known a tribal elder of the local indigenous community on and off for many years. i have played golf with Uncle Murray and he is a calm cool serene gentleman keeping his composure whilst i have lost golf clubs in trees wrapped around buggies or any other place that the club should not have been. Uncle Murray is the last of true gentlemen.
Recently i had reason to chat with my old golfing companion and he told me how when he was just a small child how when his parents were working in the field authorities came and took him away falsely claiming he was at risk and moved him from one side of Victoria to the other where he was placed in the old Ballarat Orphanage. If any person had reason to feel deep anger and rage this man did but was much too proud to let that control his life. he told me about the old trading routes around Victoria whee the different tribes would trade with each other and how they had the ability to calculate quite complex trade deals.
Well Uncle Murray gave me, a white Late discovery adoptee a lesson in being a human being when he said to me, "Murray do you know one of the greatest moments in my life was when Prime Minister Rudd shook my hand and said "I am sorry mate" ". These words to me gave me the a view of how we, the adoptees should look at what is the most vital component of what we are seeking. but until yesterday i did not personally realise how significant those words can be to a person and how such words have affected me.
Yesterday i spoke to a person with a high level of responsibility in relation to the needs of our nation and also is in a position to make recommendations in relation to future services for those affected by the tragedy of adoption. this person expressed her sorrow at the pain and anguish i have been suffering in relation to behind the scenes activities relating to the Inquiry into forced adoption practices. Now this person is not responsible for what has been done to me and many of my adoptee friends. i repeat this person is not responsible.
However, that kind act by this person in a position of responsibility allowed me to see how positive those words can have on a person state of mind and well being. I will be forever grateful to the kind thoughts and words of that person and i am sure if she had the time she would express the same feelings to all those who have found the course of this inquiry has been a bruising experience behind the scenes. yes my friends, the power of the word "sorry"can and is a simple statement of validation for all those who have suffered. The person does not have to had caused the pain but from their position of authority the act of recognising your pain is so liberating.