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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Editorial July 1st 2022

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

When I was a lad I was told that one should never mention sex, politics or religion at a dinner table. This may well have been the rule but, fortunately for me, was rarely the case as I came to discover when the rule was ignored my parent’s dinner party conversations became far more interesting.

Conversations around sex in the sixties and the seventies were fairly tame and often were simply commentary on the bed-jumping that seemed commonplace in the colonial out post that was Papua New Guinea. Nearly everybody, from what I saw, felt the romantic draw of tropical nights, too much alcohol and too few rules to contain themselves. And all too often it erupted in ugly consequence, though when it was discussed over a friendly cocktail of fresh prawns, lettuce and secret dressing or grilled, skewered prunes wrapped in bacon the tales of dalliances seemed almost normal.

The next no-no at the dinner table was politics. PNG at the time was moving toward independence and the political conversations of the day were focused around the ego, greed, naivety, or futility of the few who were about to dramatically change the lives of the many. And everyone was trying to work out how to profit from it.

With a new country would come new laws and those who sought independence most wanted to be the ones who wrote those laws. Generally this might be considered reasonable however there was a faction, a very powerful faction, who wanted to guide the pen and write their own perspectives into the new laws of the land. This powerful lobby group were known as the Lotu’s (Lotu in Tok Pisin for Church).

Some might think it would be a good thing to adopt some guidance from the church leaders. Some principles perhaps around murder, theft, adultery. Given that all of the church groups of the day followed generally the same text book, that shared the same cast of characters and parables, it might have appeared an easy task. But it turned out that one church felt that they should be the authors of the new laws because they were the oldest, the most popular, had the most churches, had the most converts and held the right version of The Book.

It turns out that the book they held up was a different edition to the ones being displayed by the others. There were versions. “My version versus your version”. What they had done was to transform from churches into tribes that were more different than alike. Us and Them. Right and Wrong. “My god is better than your god”. “My church is richer than your church”. Best of all “I will go to heaven where there are riches and you will go to hell”.

The memories of rolling riots in Goroka that saw one Christian faith being beheaded by another is presently brought back by the rolling riots happening in Udaipur, India as I type, where there is blood in the streets between Hindus and Muslims in what is beginning to become a religious war between religious beliefs repeating 1947. At a National Level Modi, a staunch Hindu, is adding fuel to an already volatile situation. In India politics and religion have become so entwined they are nearly inseparable.

We are now seeing religion on the main stage in the USA with reforms that will also set that country alight. Extreme law changes, driven by the personal religious views of the powerful few, set to change the lives of millions.

I was concerned that Australia was heading that way via Scott Morrison and his fellow religious zealots, committed to bring change to our lives based on their own personal religious beliefs. A small collection of extreme Christians wanting to impose their beliefs on a multinational, multi faith country. Fortunately we have been saved, for the minute, but their intent remains and no doubt, like Trump, they conspire to return and bring a new order, their order, to our country and its citizens.

This week saw the release of the 2021 Census data. With that came the news that only 61.1% of us said we were religious and that Christianity had been demoted and now had to respect and share more of the stage with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism. Maybe it is time that we drop religion out of politics. We are a multi-national country with the average Australian now being female, 37 years old, either born overseas or with a parent born overseas and not necessarily Christian, or heterosexual.

We can look at the Census results and realise all of the subsets that we have become. The Millennials, the Boomers, the males, the females, the newly arrived, the educated, the employed, where we live, how we live , it goes on and on of the divisions we can include ourselves in or label others with. We then add our own layers of further separation with religion, language, ’nationality’ and finances. The Census offers the opportunity to celebrate who we are collectively, but it can also work as a tool to pull us apart.

Maybe it is time to stop documenting the differences. And maybe, just maybe, it is time for a national Census that measures the well being of our country instead, the wildlife, forests, rivers and oceans, reporting every four years on our Land that is Girt by Sea where apparently We are One.

Until next lei

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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