An ontological view of the Adam Goodes conversation


Here in Australia, an Aboriginal man named Adam Goodes, a star Australian Football player, is at the centre of a raging national conversation about racism. He has been booed by the crowd for the last one to two years, and he has taken leave from playing football this weekend due to the toll the booing, and the national conversation about the booing, is taking on him.

The newspapers, radio and TV are filled with opinions about whether or not it’s racism, and what it all means.

My view is that the conversation is fruitless as long as it remains at the level of content. The place the conversation needs to go is to the ontological level. Here are four points about the situation from an ontological point of view:

  • the incompletions of the past are coming up into view
  • the past cannot be completed while ever blame is present
  • the past cannot be completed until one party takes 100% responsibility for the relationship, which is to say, for the future
  • what’s missing is a possibility – a future to live into – which people can be enrolled in.



10 thoughts on “An ontological view of the Adam Goodes conversation

    • Oops, non-Australian readers need that bit. Forgot :)

      Why he’s being booed is the question. These are the various answers the different camps are giving:

      * because he’s black
      * because he’s black and he “calls out” racism when he experiences it
      * because in 2013 someone in the crowd called out “you big ape” or something similar and he called it out and it turned out to have been said by a 13-year-old girl
      * because he was named Australian of the Year for 2014 and when he accepted the role he talked about Australia Day being rather “Invasion Day” for the aboriginal peoples
      * because he plays the victim
      * because people have the experience he’s saying they are racist
      * because he exaggerates on the field in order to get free kicks
      * because he’s taking the weekend off and should just “harden up” and go out and play

      Plus, a thousand different variations on all of these.


    • Yep, and then the other side starts in with “But she’s 13 years old and she said she didn’t realise …” and then the whole thing starts up again. That’s why getting stuck at the level of content doesn’t work. You know, even if the grandest judge in the most unimpeachable court in the whole world declared “Yes, this is racist”, then so what? It doesn’t get us anywhere, doesn’t make anything new available. It’s just now there’s a label been stuck on a certain thing. That’s all that’s changed. The issue, the incompletion, has not gone anywhere.

      The past will/must keep repeating while ever it is not completed on.


    • You’re absolutely correct, MIC. You’d be surprised at the many “right-headed” citizens who don’t get this. “So what’s wrong with saying an elite sportsman looks like King Kong?”


  1. I’ve been here on another blog. I’ve left now rather disillusioned. The closer you think you get to a “completion”, the further assured, it seems, of incompletion. What do you mean by “the level of content?” Which party do you believe should take “100% responsibility for the relationship?” When you say: “… what’s missing is a possibility – a future to live into – which people can be enrolled in…”, are you suggesting the nation lacks a vision of this issue? What will it take for people to enroll?


    • Hi BR. I recognise your moniker from Bob’s place. As you know, his place is 50% hilarious, 50% vicious, and always to be entered at one’s peril.

      By “the level of content” I mean as distinct from the level of context (ie, the ontological level). And if you’re wondering what I mean by that I can’t help you in a straightforward way.

      It doesn’t matter which party takes 100% responsibility. Either will do. Yes, I’m saying the nation lacks a vision on this issue. In fact, by a law akin to the implacable laws of physics, it cannot even create a vision (a possibility, in my lingo) until the past is completed on. Because the past is in the future.


  2. So, “content” could mean ‘a state of peaceful happiness’ – could have a religious connotation.

    “It doesn’t matter which party takes 100% responsibility. Either will do.” C’mon, get some skin in the game – have you not read Henry Reynolds? Either will do? I work with Aboriginal people and this notion is fanciful.


    • I mean content in the sense of something inside a container. Content is the water in the glass, context the glass.

      Yes, either will do. A person, a nation, a peoples, can have peace and completion OR they can be right, justified, on the “winning” side. I’ve made my choice. Which are you choosing?


  3. I’m gonna need some time to digest your proposition, sgc. Honestly, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I will have to undertake that degree, I think. If we could deploy some emoticons here, I would deploy, in order: the embarrassment one; and then the jolly good laugh one. Or maybe in reverse order. Sorry.


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