We come together today because we are conscious of the many challenges we face in the 21st century. We are here because we understand that to meet these challenges we must see beyond the short term, beyond the election cycle, and beyond traditional party loyalties.
The biggest challenges facing humanity today are global; they are no respecter of borders and national identities. Climate change, refugees, economics, education, health and human rights are all best addressed when we first think globally and then act locally.
The problem is, like many other countries, we deceive ourselves, addressing global issues as domestic problems and as short-term political opportunities.
We are here because we know we need more from our political leaders, and so we gather to demand better governance. However, these needs will never be met until we, the Australian people, refuse to accept the lie, the false dichotomy, the spin and the deceptions that keep us incarcerated in our own narrow worlds.
When those who seek power over us attempt to take control, they don’t come to our doors in the middle of the night with burning torches, they come with an idea; an idea that makes us feel afraid. They use a certain kind of language that sets up a dynamic of ‘us and them’. Words like ‘illegals’, ‘operation sovereign borders’, ‘team Australia’, ‘enemies at the gate’, ‘goodies and baddies’. They all assault our senses. Before we know it we are imprisoning innocent children in offshore concentration camps, all the time believing that we are doing humanity a favour.
We are here today to alert our elected leaders to the fact that we know that the world is a global village, we know that manipulated nationalism can only lead to self destruction, and that the only way to ensure our survival is for us the be card carrying members of Team Humanity.
This form of manipulative nationalism is symptomatic of what the ancients called incurvatus in se, translated as “to be curved in on one’s self”. It is a condition that renders us unable to see, to hear, and to think; but perhaps worst of all, unable to breathe.
The current regime is so ideologically driven that it is incurvatus in se, so curved in on itself that it cannot see the pain of the poor and marginalised, cannot hear the cries of children behind razor wire, cannot process information beyond its own narrow terms of reference, and cannot be inspired by the hopes and dreams of humanity seeking its fullest expression.
But the Australian people are refusing to be bent over by the weight of fear, we refuse to be deaf to spin and blind to manipulation, and we refuse to be suffocated by denial of the information we need to make informed decisions.
We the members of Team Humanity know that when one person is diminished all humanity is diminished; and so we are standing up, filling our lungs and screaming out our truth; we are human beings and we will not allow our sisters and brothers to be diminished.
The ‘Murdoch Government’ is diminishing us as a people, blaming the poor, making the marginalised responsible for an imagined budget crisis, while continuing to give the financially strong unneeded support. This government encourages us to project our fears onto the nationless asylum seeker and assures us that they will keep us safe and free, all the while passing laws that erode the very freedoms they are sworn to protect.
No-one wants people getting on boats; no-one wants families drowning in the Timor Sea, but had we known stopping the boats meant the intentional and systematic dehumanisation of men, women and children (who are now being kept in the most life-denying conditions to create the illusion of deterrence), we, the Australian people, would not have agreed to it. We would have demanded a better, more humane, solution.
We now know the effects of this policy and so we demand a better way. We do not accept that we have to deny peoples’ human rights in order to protect them.
But we all know that this is not really about saving lives; this is about keeping us ‘curved in on ourselves’, afraid and malleable to the whims and ideological proclivities of this unjust regime.
We will not accept this, we will stand up, we will cry out, and we will be the voice of the voiceless.
We know that the way forward is not to be curved in on ourselves, but to be curved outwards, enabling a free, open and generous humanity to find its fullest expression.
This is the leadership we seek from our representatives, and if this government will not change its policies, then we will change this government.
And now may your God bless you, and if you don’t have one may you bless one another.
This is a transcript of the speech made by Father Rod Bower during the Gosford #MarchInAugust Rally. Fr Bower was interviewed for Viewpoint by Chris Kenny (@chriskkenny) at the Sky News Parliament House studio, on Sunday after the Canberra #MarchInAugust rally.
Central Coast – Gosford #MarchInAugust Storify
Other NoFibs pieces by Fr Rod Bower
History always repeats: @FrBower comments on conflict in #Gaza
The shadowy underbelly of Australia’s fair go: @FrBower comments on #racism