Poem: Now Is Not The Time

A long time ago Martin Luther King

Sought justice for his minority,

But his white friends demurred, “That’s not a thing


If you can’t persuade the majority.

Now’s not the time, wait your turn, you’ll get there”.

Well, even longer, the sorority


Campaigned for equal treatment, equal care,

Yet heard again the dreaded, sad refrain:

“Now’s not the time, but hold, do not despair.”


Perhaps longer still, gays faced fierce disdain

When seeking basic rights that others own,

Strong prejudice diminished their campaign,


They struggled on, till law was set in stone

That – like others – they were humans too!

But as for wedlock they were still alone,


Amid more cries of “not this time” anew

They struggled hard until they won the day,

Despite Australian backwardness, it’s true.


So activists can take a bow, I say,

And not the politicians who came late,

Still less the blockers who preferred delay.


Next, Aboriginals hear “Now’s not the date”

For a treaty or advisory board,

“You got the Apology, now please wait,


We guarantee you are not being ignored.”

Repeatedly, sadly, we’ve not known when

We can achieve what other nations scored:


Progressive measures, wise reforms; and then

Can we now hope once more to get respect,

(Or is it yet a thing beyond our ken?)

To be esteemed, to proudly reconnect,

A forward-looking country once again?


The same thing obtains when a bill of rights

Is canvassed here in our fitful debate.

While other modern nations have their sights


On using such a bill for setting straight

Injustices, we still discuss the pros

And mighty cons of this quite basic state.


These rights concepts long time ago arose,

And Bills of Rights two hundred years or so,

We could catch up some time, I might suppose,

(At last even the monarchy might go!)   

A bold, progressive nation if we chose.