Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Rise Above Vengeance

The following appeared in today's Toowoomba Chronicle.

The Chronicle, is, to be charitable, a bit of a rag, but this is worth a read.

The author is Dr Mark Copland, Executive Officer, Toowoomba Social Justice Commission.

Rise above vengeance to send a stronger message.
Imagine this. Last week as Prime Minister Abbott was traveling to New York he was informed of a dramatic and tragic violent incident in Melbourne.
A young man allegedly attacked two policemen and as a result, he was shot dead. When the Prime Minister landed in Hawaii he immediately got in touch with the policemen and offered them his gratitude and support.
This was right. This was proper. Just yesterday at St Luke's Anglican Church our city's civil and religious leaders stopped to show gratitude to the men and women in our police force.
Every day they do an incredible job and play a key role in protecting the rest of us.
Sadly some even pay the ultimate price as a part of this commitment.
They are human, like the rest of us they are not perfect - but many of the things we ask them to do can never be paid for with money.
But imagine this. What if our Prime Minister followed up the phone calls to the police officers with a call to the family of the dead young man! In this call he conveyed his dismay and shock at what had happened, but also offered condolence and support to the grieving family.
What a powerful statement it would be! It would let everybody know that the Muslim community are well and truly inside the tent when it comes to the nation of Australia.
Our leader would join with the parents searching for an answer. How does a young Australian citizen find himself in such a situation, allegedly adhering to a dangerous and deluded messed up ideology?
In doing this our Prime Minister would be matching his good words regarding Australia not being at war with any religion with a remarkable act of courage and moral leadership. I'm not presuming he didn't do it, perhaps he did and is just keeping it quiet, but imagine if it really happened.
There are times when very powerful messages can be made by people seizing the moment. There are many of these moments.
Rosa Parks in Alabama in 1955, refusing to give up her seat on a bus to somebody, simply because they were white.
Pope Francis in May of this year stopping to pray at a wall in Bethlehem in the Holy Land.
He rested his forehead against the wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem.
A wall covered with anti-Israeli graffiti. Speaking of graffiti and seizing the moment.
In 2005 there were a number of racist attacks on newly arrived households of refugees from South Sudan.
One anonymous bike rider rode around town plastering, "Sudanese are welcome in my city" posters on power-poles at various intersections in Toowoomba.
Giving heart and voice to those enduring and resisting the venomous actions of a misguided few.
And then this year we had the extraordinary example of Paul Guard.
In the wake of instantly losing his parents Roger and Jill, two remarkable people, Paul honoured them in an extraordinary way.
Instead of calling for vengeance or denouncing a group of people, he called for peace and an end to the violence that has claimed so many lives in Ukraine.
Each of these actions have a few things in common. They put the person making the gesture in touch with another's pain.
They are risky responses which go against what is most expected. The actions have integrity which makes them inspiring.
And they are grounded in doing what is right, no matter the consequence.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...