When it comes to boat people: whatever happened to ‘concern for the underdog’?

In a book published last month I argue for public policy to be developed by focusing on core values of Australian society. (‘Religious Policy, Multi-Faith Dialogue and Australian Values’ in ‘ISLAM: Human Rights and Public Policy’, David Claydon (Editor), Acorn Press, Brunswick East 2009)

This emphasis on Australian values is in response to the ill-conceived desire of some policy makers to pursue social harmony through promoting multi-faith dialogue. This approach ignores the conflicting truth claims of religions and the need to respect difference, while building on shared Australian values. No easy matter.

Nor is it an easy matter to state some of those core Australian values in the midst of emotive statements about heinous boat smugglers and Australia’s endangered national security. Whatever happened to that outstanding Australian core value – ‘concern for the underdog’?

At some risk, I quote myself! –

‘A subsidiary of mateship is the concern for the underdog, supported by philanthropy of a few and altruism of the many. Australians are generous compared to other countries in responding to disasters in other places. They also strongly affirm a social security system providing a safety net for the poor , unemployed and disabled.’ (page 244)

My plea?

Please let us not forget the desperation that risks life and limb to escape inhumane practice and perishing.

Please let us not forget in this ANZAC week the self-sacrifice of Simpson and his donkey in bringing wounded soldiers down to the beach dressing stations.

Please let us not forget in this post-Easter time neither Jesus’ story of the good Samaritan risking all to help an unknown ‘enemy’ nor Jesus’ own self-sacrifice to save ‘a wretch like me’.

I have found the following articles helpful

‘Rudd’s refugee dilemma needs global solution’, Karin Sowada April 21, 2009

‘Asylum seekers are not criminals’ by Sacha Bermudez-Goldman April 21, 2009

‘Refugee Council calls for humane and moral response to unauthorised boat arrivals’, April 20, 2009

‘Forward with fairness for asylum seeker policy’, Kerry Murphy April 17, 2009

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