Sunday, September 8, 2013

Now is the time to fight for justice and compassion

So Australia now has a more selfish government. That's not just my opinion. That's the opinion I've seen stated in any number of articles, posts and tweets.

And it seems that this was the Australia Tony Abbott and the Liberal National Party were trying to get people to vote for. Their pre-election material focused a lot on jobs, the economy and roads and not at all on helping the disadvantaged or the marginalised. There was a lot of emphasis on growth and the economy and not much on justice and compassion. Their pre-election promises including cutting foreign aid, stopping the boats and ending the carbon tax.

In a recent article for the Guardian, George Monbiot said "Abbott’s policies are really about removing the social and environmental protections enjoyed by all Australians, to allow the filthy rich to become richer – and filthier."  (If Abbott is elected, Australia'snatural wonders will gradually be rubbed away)

Is this the Australia we want? Well according to the election results, yet it is. Or at least it's the Australia that some of us voted for.

But not everybody is happy with it. Since Saturday night, my Twitter and Facebook feeds have been filled with comments from people who are disappointed with the result. Not all of us wanted a more selfish Australia after all.

So what do we do now? Vent on social media, throw up our hands and start counting down to the next election? Decide that the fight for justice and compassion is over for another three years?


Now is the time that those of us who don't want a more selfish Australia need to fight even harder for justice and compassion. If we are to live in a more selfish Australia, those of us who want something different need to ensure our voices are heard.

We do need to accept the result. But we don't need to just lie back and accept the fallout.

I hope that the many people who voiced disgust at the result on social media also tell the newly elected government what they think. I hope they write letters to their MPs telling them what they want Australia to look like. I hope they protest against every decision the LNP Government makes that they don't like.

As Martin Luther King Jr said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.'

So let's make sure we're not silent.

But our fight for justice and compassion shouldn't end there.

The commentators who have said Australia under a LNP-led government would be more selfish have got it wrong in one respect - it's the government that will be more selfish, not necessarily the country. And the country is filled with many people who don't have to be selfish just because our government's policies are.

Justice and compassion should never be relegated to the governmental sphere, regardless of who's leading the country. It should start in our own lives.

So now, more than ever, let us be the ones to show kindness and compassion to others. Let us to be the ones to help our neighbours in need, wherever in this world they may live. Let us be the ones to look after this earth and do all we can to protect it. Let us be the one to treat all people, regardless of country of birth or religion or sexual orientation or socio-economic status, equally and justly. Let us be the ones to help the oppressed and the marginalised and the disadvantaged. Let us be the ones to let our own lives reflect the kind of country we wish we had.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why I'm a Christian and support marriage equality

In the wake of Kevin Rudd's response to a pastor about same-sex marriage on Q and A last night, I wanted to say something (and warning, this is a very long soap-box type post).

I too have sometimes had people say to me that I can't be a Christian and support same-sex marriage. Well I support marriage equality because of my faith, not despite it.

I believe in marriage equality because I know that we ignore lots of things in the bible while saying that the verses about homosexuality can't be ignored. (I for one would prefer us to focus on the laws about women separating themselves from everyone during their periods - or the laws about the Year of Jubilee where all debts were repaid. Let's worry about them, instead of the verses about homosexuality which actually cause people a lot of pain). 

I believe in marriage equality because I know that the bible was written in a specific time and was influenced by the culture of its day - and in a new context and a new culture (and with new scientific knowledge about sexual orientation which the bible-writers did not have at the time) we need to rethink things.

I believe in marriage equality because I believe that our understanding of God is not static, but changes and evolves over time. Just as we changed our understanding of slavery, so too I believe it's now time to change our understanding of homosexuality.

I believe in marriage equality because I believe the 300 plus verses about justice are more important than the few about homosexuality.

I believe in marriage equality because I believe God created everyone and loves them just the way they are.

And like Kevin Rudd, I believe the central message of the Gospels is love. The church's views on homosexuality has caused so much pain and hurt over the years. I can't believe that this is what the God of love would want.

You may disagree with me. But don't say I'm not a Christian or I need to read my bible. I am and I do - and I still believe it's time for marriage equality.


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