That Walk in October

It happened two days ago. Thousands of people gathered across the country to walk for a better, harmonious Australia. Only a few turned up in Sydney. But that didn’t matter.

I joined them again this year. Marching awkwardly within the throng of people, desperately praying that this little action will play a part of a greater movement – a movement of welcome and love.

I wrote more about this walk earlier in the year. You can read it here.

There were families pushing their babies in prams. Mothers carrying their young children. Fathers holding on to their sons with one hand, with the other holding up a sign that said we are all welcome here.

There was a bus full of African women that was stopped at the lights. They heard our drums and saw our signs. Their faces lit up with smiles. Many waved. Some started dancing. A couple of people, stuck in traffic, clapped from their cars. Tourists on the busy footpath moved to the side and grinned as they let us pass.

We walked for harmony and inclusion under the glorious Sydney sunshine.

I struck up a conversation with a woman who was walking next to me. She was 75 years old. Her back was slightly hunched and she did her best to steadily march with the others. She told me I should try to keep up.

Her family came to Australia from Hungary, just before World War 2. They were refugees of sorts. She tells me they could see what was coming and did all they could to get out.

“We’re an immigrant country,” she says. “If we are not Aboriginal, then we’ve all come from somewhere else to make this place our home.”

She went to a protest rally last week in support of refugees. There was the protest against building another coal mine before that. She signed petitions. She made submissions to government inquiries. She was there to defend the cause of the vulnerable and protect our environment.

She was awesome. I felt like I just met Wonder Woman’s grandmother.

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