Now, there is no more sensitive issue in Australia than the one that this book deals with, namely, the past, present and future actions of the Australian nation regarding the First Australians. Sure, there are other issues. But, the central, gnawing problem that lies at the very foundations of modern Australia is the one regarding Aboriginal Australia. It is the powder keg issue that is always lying beneath the surface. Occasionally, an event explodes out from the depths to rattle the conscience and challenge the spirit of the nation. The recent Australia Day protests in Canberra, the stand off in Musgrave Park in south Brisbane, the Andrew Bolt racial discrimination case and the present umming and ahhing over the referendum to eliminate all racist elements in our Constitution. All of these events burst forth from the central contradiction that lies at the core of the national psyche. Unfortunately, usually after each eruption, the issue quickly retreats again, back beneath the surface. Until the next eruption.

After reading the blurb about the book, you may be thinking a few things about the book and possibly about the author. Some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh my God, here is yet another ignorant white Australian, getting on his little soapbox and dealing yet another blow to the poor old Aboriginal Australians. Oh, a self-published book? Probably the only vehicle through which this bogan racist could hurl his diatribe into the public sphere.’ Or some of you may think, ‘Oh, here we go. Another black armband apologist for the sins of white Australia, hating upon the nation and attempting to infect the reader with an obstinate guilt for the nation’s dark, violent and murderous past.’ The truth is, however, that neither of those judgements would be accurate. This issue is complex and prickly and riddled with contradictions and fuelled by ignorance, and to represent it from a one-sided perspective will necessarily prove to be ineffective. The book I have written is an effort to explore the issue’s multidimensional complexity and is not to attempt to convince the reader that there is a correct way of interpreting the problem. I am not seeking to defend anyone, nor am I offering any answers. Race and racism is a prominent theme in Might. Australia has historically had a problem with race, and still does. Some of the characters in the book hold and express very racist views, none of which I hold personally.

The central contradiction at the heart of the nation is this: Australia is a great country that has a substantial catalogue of achievements that are worthy of celebration and pride. But. At the very core of all this achievement is a burning, seething problem: that all of this brilliance – our political freedom, our wealth and economic opportunities, our generous welfare system and effective legal system – all of these great things have been built upon the land of another people, the First Australians. And most of these European migrants were probably fairly decent people. They were not all monsters in any sense, but most were probably guilty of being completely oblivious to the results of their collective actions. The nation was established upon, and is still established upon, land that my European forebears – as a collective – thought it appropriate to take by imperial cunning and by superior force. This is the central contradiction and this is what I call the wound. The wound in the national imagination. And it is still there. And the wound is inside me, in a way. This is personal for me because it is a part of who I am as an Australian, enjoying the blessings of Western civilisation, but at the expense of the devastation of another entire culture and people. This is a problem that I wrestle with because I am but the product of this history. Actions and events – of both hostile and friendly relations between European boat people and the First Australians – have built up upon each other through time, extending seamlessly from the arrival of Captain Arthur Philip to the referendum debate we are having presently. There is no way that I can personally undo what has been done nor is there anywhere else to go. So I need to work out a way to firstly understand, and then work out a way to deal with this awkwardness that I have been born into, due to the overzealous actions of my European forefathers. Not many want to venture into this sensitive region of our past. It is a painful and difficult place. But the wound doesn’t go away. It still remains today, hidden under the glittering surface of modern Australia. The unwillingness to look at or understand this wound is the biggest challenge for the Australian nation.

Franz Kafka: “If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skulls, then why do we read it? What we must have are those books that come on us like ill fortune, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” Now, it is the same everywhere. Around sensitive issues, it is easy to fall into silence. There is a fear of saying something inappropriate or politically incorrect that would make you look like a bigoted racist. No one wants to be relegated into the Pauline Hansen basket. So, a silence descends on the topic and the ice freezes over in the social imagination. No one says anything! It is too scary! So the sea freezes over. The book I have written, Might – in my somewhat vainglorious opinion – is intended to be the Kafkan ice axe that breaks the frozen sea apart. This book says something. It is not attempting to pussy foot around the issues, nor is it attempting to engage in the debate about our history or culture at an academic level, detached from the hearts and minds of everyday Australians. Besides, fictional works are usually a far more powerful way of framing the moral dimensions of an issue and subsequently inspiring change. Fiction brings the issues alive and shoves it right in the face of the reader.

Might actually says something. It doesn’t make a whimpering sound from the corner and then quickly retracts what was said for fear of persecution. It stands out there and screams. Might exposes the wound, and intentionally pokes around in this most sensitive part of the national imagination. It is painful. It is confronting and explosive. The consequences for me as the author will be what they will. I love Australia and only want to see it become an even better place. Hopefully, with the ice sheet busted up, the conversation can become fluid and we can start to look at ourselves as Australians, even the deepest aspects of our past and present, without flinching or overreacting. Change and growth can only come through challenging and destroying existing ways of seeing and being. Vote yes in the forthcoming referendum, whenever it finally comes around. Peace.