This year’s events have been unprecedented. In the first three months,
- We’ve endured one natural disaster after another – in Australia, New Zealand and Japan
- People in the middle east have galvanised to fight bloody battles against tyranny and oppression in the hope of creating a better future
- The west has agreed to air strikes against Libya, that are likely to crescendo into a war and we’re left perplexed about the blatant hypocrisy and neglect of other countries who could do with similar support
- We’re mired in a political system that appears more interested in partisan politics, egos and hyperbole than it is in good governance and building a sustainable future.
The last circumstance is most concerning – because it’s local, visible and therefore most likely to stir our unease and fuel anxiety.
In a year such as this we need steady hands at the tiller. We need leadership that acknowledges the difficulties we’re facing, normalises our fears and anxieties and provides us with hope for the future. And this is not forthcoming!
What we see instead from our political leaders are unseemly insults thrown from all sides. We see divisive and unnecessary fear mongering. We see a tolerance of the intolerable – and it is NOT Ok.
The placards carried by right wing extreme groups last Monday in front of Parliament House were scary. They reminded me of similar placards I too often saw in the US when I lived there. Placards carried by people who, frankly, were not educated enough to think rationally on their own and were prone to easy manipulation by others with vested interests in a particular right wing agenda; people who could be galvanised and fuelled by rampant rhetoric and increasingly loud and urgent voices.
It’s unnerving for me to see similar tactics here. The opposition leader is fuelling the fear campaign – the analysts suggest this is a deliberate ploy to unnerve the independents and prompt them to remove their support from the government – but frankly, the motivation is irrelevant.
We’re all connected, which means at some level we’re all impacted by the environment we’re in. Some people I know are working on a daily basis in the middle of a political system that is full of urgent crises that are created by our politicians desire to stay in power rather than govern. Some are working in organisations that have direct and regular contact with people in the countries affected by the natural disasters. Some are just working hoping that they can make a difference and are seeing their efforts come to nothing.
Australia right now needs people who can remind us of the values, concerns and commitments we share. We need people to put us in touch with our basic good, and the things that connect us rather than divide us. We need leaders who can help us notice that the world is basically good, safer than it feels, and that our contribution does make a difference.
We’re not getting this leadership from the people we’ve elected to lead so it’s up to us to step up to the role. It’s up to us to deliberately move beyond the divisive role modelling we witness daily and make an effort to draw people closer.
Now is the time to show that you’re paying attention to people and care about them and their needs more than the latest urgent demand on their time. Now is the time to let people know that you see them, value them and their contribution and that we can collectively make the world a better place.