Australian aid & character under threat

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is ever relevant.  [See Luke 10: 25-37]

The Samaritan is the outsider, the one who is the despised neighbour and unworthy of a handshake, let alone aid! It seems that when things get tough in Australia, the overseas’ needy are not unlike the Samaritan of Jesus’ parable.

It is tempting when things get tough for the tough to get going out the door! Australia is ‘tough’ nation facing ‘tough’ times. Bolstered by rich natural and human resources and an enlightened and stable socio-political democracy we are comparatively very well off, we are ‘tough’.

 Therefore when we suffer major hardship at home, tough times, we need to respond with compassion and generosity to our own Australians and maintain our international aid commitments. We are tough and we will not let our international commitments whither.

But the generosity of Australia to overseas aid is under threat. See, The Age, ABC Radio AM & The Australian.  

Tim Costello argues against this threat, Cuts to aid budget short-sighted: World Vision.  

Australia was a rich nation that could afford to respond to those in need at home as well as providing life-saving aid to those beyond our borders. He said Australia’s $370million in aid funding for Africa could save more than 160,000 lives each year.

We can finance the needs of our fellow Australians through a deficit budget; after all that is what deficits are for – the tough times, plus the one off Levy proposed by the Prime Minister. I am confident that most Australians earning over $50,000 a year are more than happy to make the special levy contribution to our mates who have lost so much in the recent floods.

Jesus just kept on describing our human condition with such precision. The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to generosity to the outsider. We will always have needs at home. We must respond to them without neglecting ‘the other’ – the outsider. Of course, helping the underdog is part of our Australian folklore. We need to ensure that it is kept central to our character. The test of character is what happens in the tough times. Do we get going out the door or do we engage with compassion, justice and generosity?

As I have argued elsewhere, 

‘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.’ (Religious Policy, Multi-Faith Dialogue & Australian Values, page 244)

C’mon Aussies, let’s keep the aid flowing to our suffering mates and to our suffering world. 

See also, Micah challenge opposes cuts to foreign aid  and ideas as to what you can do, here.

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