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  • Dougie

When I was a child I believed that love is kind ...

I still believe that love is kind.

Nelson Mandela turns away from an enormous crows of supporters after giving a speech in Glasgow's George Square
Nelson Mandela after giving a speech in Glasgow's George Square. I'm in that crowd in my wheelchair. Somewhere.

Too frequently in my longish life, however, I have forgotten (or ignored) the injunction in The Golden Rule to go through the world with love and kindness to others. But that's because I'm a "miserable sinner" (... as we all are, allegedly). But more about that in a moment.


Forgotten the Golden Rule?


Select your tradition of choice. You can see we're talking about a universal human truth.

  • Buddhism: "Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." - Udana-Varga 5:18

  • Christianity: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - Matthew 7:12

  • Confucianism: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you." - Analects 15:23

  • Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." - Mahabharata 5:1517

  • Islam: "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." - Hadith 13 of Imam Nawawi's Forty Hadiths

  • Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary." - Talmud, Shabbat 31a

  • Sikhism: "I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all." - Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1299

  • Taoism: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." - Tai Shang Kan Yin P'ien 213-218

For the sake of (a loving) argument, therefore, let's agree that the golden rule is, in fact, a rule. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, whatever you believe (about the religious or non-religious sense of that word) the golden rule is a rule.


It's a law of social harmony.


It's like 'E = mc squared' for human beings. If we all break the rule all of the time (or even often) we're fucked. That's a technical term for DOOMED!!!


Which brings us back to me and my (many) sins.


I know there are "many".


I checked.


With Exodus 20:1-17 if you must know.

  • I fail (sometimes very badly) on Commandments 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

  • I pass 1 and 2 (but only by virtue of a nitpicky, semantic technicality in each case).

  • I definitely pass 6 but ... you know ... how hard is it NOT to kill anyone?

  • I have tried to live up to 5 -- "Honour thy father and thy mother" -- every day of my life. (Editor's Note: There was a short period as a hormonal, pubescent & spotty teenager when I might not have fulfilled their hopes. But I grew up. Their example guides me every day. So I'm going to give myself the benefit of the doubt on that one.)

1 out of 10.


Not what anyone would call angelic.


And that's before we even think about the minor sins. Dougie ... thy name is legion (you can look up that one yourself if you don't know the story. It involves some pigs and a man in chains).


It feels necessary (to me at least) that I remind myself about all of the above because my reason for coming here today - to write - is to express an opinion about the video published by the irredeemably awful One Nation, trashing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


First -- a detour.


I am not a Christian nor a person of any other faith. I am -- I hope -- a kind, loving Humanist with no religious belief of any type. But I cannot escape my upbringing. Nor do I want to.


I am a completely ordinary Scottish man. I was raised in a closely-knit, wholly typical Scottish family by loving parents. More cliched writing might describe them as the salt of the earth and pillars of society.


We grew up in the stoic environment of the mildly censorious, ever-improving, Scriptural guidance of Scottish Presbyterianism. Do good. But you're still doomed.


My father was a leader of the youth group at his neighbourhood church -- St. Francis in the East -- at the 'wrong' end of Glasgow (they were all 'wrong' ends in the 1930s and 40s). He took us on holiday when I was very young to the island of Iona so he could work on renovations to the Cathedral and buildings of the Iona Community -- adherents to a typically Scottish, somehow 'muscular' form of doing good.

Blurry monochrome photo of my father crouching as he holds me steady while I stand in shallow water at a beach in Scotland in 1958.
The past is a foreign country. And always out of focus. Me and my dad. Iona, 1958.

He became an Elder at St Luke's Church of Scotland in Milngavie. And he was making a speech at the re-dedication of the Church Hall at St. Francis when he collapsed (still speaking) from the aneurism that would kill him twelve days later, aged forty-four.


Have I said this before?


We all know I talk too much. Easily distracted. Like in this paragraph.


It's possible that for almost 50 years -- since I was seventeen -- I've been trying to complete my father's unfinished sentence. One day I will. And when I do, I'll plummet to the ground like a stone; like my dad, and his dad before him (although -- at the time -- he was just waiting for a bus to take him home from work).


Anyway.


I mention my Scottish foundations because I intend to be critical of One Nation and its ghastly, harmful, horrible video which I detest and abhor. As any decent person would.


When I was a child we were told that love is kind. We learned to recite the verses below, and my parents told me to do my best to honour these words throughout my life. Remember though ... I scored only 1 out of 10 on the Tablets of Stone test.


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Mindful of the above, back to the video.


You may have seen or read reports about this uncharitable, unkind, malevolent, malicious and obnoxious animation. It's like a giant, wet fart let loose upon the world by the people who commissioned, wrote, created and published it. It is poisonous and harmful.


Don't soil your own soul by looking for it (if you have not yet seen it). Watching it will only give perverse satisfaction, succour and encouragement to its heartless distributors. That's the sad truth even if you are -- as any decent human would be -- vehemently opposed to its content, tone, and callous disregard of the golden rule.


They don't give a shit about harming other people. But we do. Don't let their poison spread.


Take on trust what others have said about this egregious harm to decency.

  • Dr. Ben Gauntlett, Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner, calls it "reprehensible" and a "politically-motivated and callous use of humour at the expense of people with disability ... which creates fear, division and resentment."

  • Nicole Lee, President of People with Disability Australia, condemned "the insensitive cruelty of this propaganda [that] stoops to new lows, with its offensive, inappropriate and inaccurate depictions of disability supports under the NDIS."

  • Craig Wallace, of Canberra's Advocacy for Inclusion, wrote that the video "inspires hatred against disabled people and is a particularly nasty and vile depiction of the lives of highly vulnerable people ... It should be roundly condemned by all decent Australians including our national leaders."

It is entirely possible -- by the time you read these words -- that the makers of this pathetic assault on human dignity may have issued one of those non-apology apologies so loved by public figures who suddenly realise their statements or actions have made things too hot in Hell's kitchen, even for them.


There may be some of the usual dissembling and disingenuous attempts to crab walk away from the awfulness, the petty vindictiveness, the cruelty and the lies that those people sent out into the world. 'We didn't mean to offend anyone', they might try to say (while claiming victimhood for themselves as such troglodytes always do). 'It's was just a joke', they'll bleat through crocodile tears. 'It's the rough and tumble of politics, and Minister Shorten and Senator Steele-John are just as bad', their weasel words will try to sell like snake oil.


Or they may not. Because they are pathological misanthropes.


The trouble with these mean-spirited, insular, incoherent and inept handmaidens of proto-fascism is that they don't care. About anything or anyone except themselves.


It's just like Marshall McLuhan observed, "the medium is the message". Fear and hate from a safe distance.


One Nation and its unhinged, so-called leaders are interested only in attention-seeking, like three year old children not yet potty trained. They will say or do almost anything to provoke, offend, outrage and hurt anyone and everyone who doesn't look like them, think like them or talk like they do. Theirs is, as Shakespeare wrote,

a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

Fortunately (for me) I could not care less about what One Nation's leaders think, say or do. But I will oppose them peacefully in every way I can. At every opportunity.


I care more, however, about what the frequently ambivalent leaders of other parties -- supposedly part of the political mainstream -- say or do about these ghastly opportunists and purveyors of hate, discrimination and disunity.


Are you their bedfellows and allies whenever it suits your purposes? Or does truth matter?

  • Barnaby Joyce for instance. Pushing his profoundly mistaken belief that an Indigenous Voice to Australia's Parliament is a constitutional abomination, how many times will he share a platform with those racists (as he did in Tamworth in March)?

  • Peter Dutton's LNP is another, placing One Nation second on its voting preference list for the Senate in Queensland in the 2022 election. Second Pete?

  • Coalition silence on the despicably homophobic tweet of One Nation's (my ego over any sense of decency) Mark Latham.

It's not true that the 18th Century philosopher Edmund Burke actually said or wrote, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And in many ways that wrongly attributed phrase isn't even correct. But we know what folk mean when they repeat it.


Nevertheless, the approach of 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil' from the faux innocents and nativist bedfellows of the political far-Right is nothing but troubling. Just look at the mess that the big orange buffoon in America has created for the rabble that used to think of itself as the party of the moral majority (wrongly, of course).


Here in Australia, I believe we must never acquiesce to such silence, indifference or hate.


I still believe that love is kind.


And we will not allow the haters to win.


People with disability -- people like me -- are unapologetically here. We're going nowhere, except forward to claim our full human rights.


So ... these ideas still matter. Nothing about us without us. Defend the NDIS.

Every Australian Counts campaign logo
There's a reason we call it Every Australian Counts, Pauline. Because EVERY Australian counts.

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