Best of the Season. This post is a little delayed, but hey, it is the Yuletide!
“Does this discrepancy between reality and altruistic morality yield the positive effects which are conventionally claimed? Do exhortations to self-sacrifice for other people and lofty goals make the world any better?”
(Tullman J., Tullman J., Natural Ethics – A Confrontation with Altruism.)
Over the past couple of years Channel Ten has aired the CBS series The Good Wife, a tale based upon the reactions of a devoted and honorable wife of a politician who finds herself betrayed by the man she married. She had done everything that was expected of her, as a wife, mother and political sidekick to her husband … and she got kicked in the teeth. The program puts in focus the merits of being “good”; it is all in the definition, often shifting with the perspective of the viewing audience and who benefits from her benevolence. After a time, “The Good Wife” puts herself before her husband, choosing instead to do some things for herself, to rediscover her own soul … and her husband and the political players around him don’t like it.
The Australian Oxford Dictionary has many definitions of ‘good’. As an adjective, definitions include:
1. having the right or desired qualities; satisfactory, adequate.
2. efficient, competent.
3. kind, benevolent;
a. morally excellent or virtuous.
c. well behaved.
d. enjoyable, agreeable.
4. not less than.
5. right, proper, expedient.
6. (sometimes, patronizing) commendable, worthy.
When one speaks of Christians and goodness, I’m afraid that there is absolutely no separating the concept of morality from the discussion.
Christianity was imported to Australia along with the convicts sent in bowels of the hulking ships with the First Fleet. From the moment the Empire claimed this land as their own the British settlers and commanders set out to tame the ‘noble savage’, bringing enlightenment of the way, the truth and the light. The proselytizing of the British went so far as to remove Aboriginal children from their homes, placing them in state care, if ‘care’ it could be called and persisted well past the granting of voting privileges to Aborigines in both New South Wales and the Commonwealth. The so-called Protector of Aborigines would place such children in the boarding houses and schools run by the various religious denominations. In the case of the family of the Bakchos, those denominations were Methodist, Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran, although other religious sects have been implicated in other lives. The families of the indigenous children so removed had no choice about the dogma in which their offspring were indoctrinated, generally no access or communication with them and frequently lost all contact with their child. The Annunciation, Christmas, the Epiphany, Easter, the Resurrection … it would all have been rammed down the children’s throats on a daily basis. The ‘good’ intentions of the missionaries and the effects on the Stolen generations driven by flawed concepts of evolution, did not have good outcomes for the Indigenous people of Australia and have left a lasting schism in the psyche of this nation.
By now, the reader is most likely wondering what any of this has to do with the issues at Blak and Black. It’s simply the season, the Yuletide (which is celebrated in deference to the Christian feast of Christmas in some parts of the northern hemisphere by Christians and non-Christians alike) and consideration of comments made by some of the less salubrious readers of this blog.
The former Commissioner for ACT Revenue behaved with integrity, working in the service of the public when he left the ‘hallowed’ halls of Ernst & Young. In drawing attention to the large sum of money missing from the coffers of ACT Treasury, he acted in the interests of the taxpayers of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). For his efforts, he wound up becoming the sacrificial lamb at the altar of Mammon. As I said at the beginning of this post, the relative merits and interpretations of the word ‘good’ depend entirely on your perspective. Comments such as “… my good friends …” take on an entirely different connotation than intended in the term “Good Christian souls”, especially when read in conjunction with the subsequent statement that Christmas “is for white Christians”. This begs the question, can you only be a Christian if you are white? It’s a curious thought, given that Jesus, a Jew, would have been of Semitic heritage, an ethnic group with origins in the Middle East and Arabian peninsula and hence of darker skin tones. Makes you wonder about the ‘sanitized’ version of a pale white Jesus in popular Western art, doesn’t it?
In my home, I enjoy the Yuletide for the family and friends that come back in contact and the time we get to spend together. I no longer observe the day from any religious context; Sunday Christians such as those who have been permitted to get away with the racism Blak and Black exposes have destroyed the last vestiges of my belief in the ‘good Christian’; I have found too many of them to be spoiled, ruined, discriminating, focused more upon appearances than substance. The current concept of goodness in the Australian corporate, political and legal framework disgusts me. The hypocrisy of those who claim Christmas for whites only is not only offensive, but shows a complete lack of comprehension of what was exported in 1788, not to mention the motivations of our forebears in spreading the ‘good word’ for the past two centuries.
Australia needs to address discrimination targeted on not only on the basis of race and colour, but also creed. Our leaders claim to enforce a separation of politics from religion, but evidence suggests otherwise. The waves of refugees and asylum seekers from countries such as Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Egypt who have been so forcibly kept at bay by the immigration system and the paranoia in some sections of the community about non-Christina immigrants, point to a narrow minded idealism that stretches far past the derision of Australia’s Aborigines. If you are Asian, you’re not much better off, based upon some of the comments left on this blog. And yet, the majority of refugees and new Australians with whom I have had the pleasure of interacting over my more than 40 years have been simply hard working, family oriented people who share a desire for a peaceful life. Perhaps it’s the likes of Tom Payne that should be deported to the Malaysian or Manus Island detention centres. If was good enough for Hicks …