29 Apr 2008

Who Are We? Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?

Elizabeth Farrelly asks the question:
If you were writing the screenplay Australia, we'd be just at the point, about one-third the way in, where the desire line splits. Where Luke Skywalker must decide whether to stay with his childless rels or follow his dream. Where Simba must choose between running away and confronting his destiny. Where the main character - Australia - must face its defining dilemma. What dilemma, where? What's to decide when it seems we might be the only country unaffected by the coming recession? Where's the problem in that?
She could be talking about War Crimes, our continued support of the criminals in Washington, or a host of other important issues. But she's talking specifically about fossil fuels:
Our future wealth, so gleefully proclaimed, depends on selling fossil fuels - oil, gas, coal - to as many people as possible as hard and as long as possible. But our future survival depends on reducing global use of these same fuels, as much as possible, immediately.

... [W]e - on this vast sunny, wind-washed island, abounding with next-century's energy sources, with the necessary space, stability and nous - we also have a responsibility to make it happen. This is our destiny path, as inconvenient as destiny generally is. More exciting than the other but also more testing, it may be our last chance to really stand for something, and it leads - if we have the bottle for it - to the light on the hill.
I have often thought that Australia is in a unique position to take the lead on a host of big 21st Century issues, given our wealth, geography and ethnic mix. Think immigration, defence, education, health, research... In the end, it's our own human greed, fear and other failings that hold us back.

Farrelly mentions the thorny issue of a Bill Of Rights, which would certainly complicate further immoral government decision-making on our behalf. Jack Waterford at The Canberra Times today also considers the issue:
I have myself been sceptical of the need. But I am changing my mind again, because our politicians are not showing themselves great instinctive protectors of rights, just when they are needed. Certainly not Carr or Hatzistergos. Or previously John Howard and Philip Ruddock, in actions scarcely criticised by those who have now succeeded them. And not only over terrorism and refugee issues but also in developing or exploiting moral panic about the state of crime or vice.

The risks are being aggravated by the ever-outreaching power of executive government, by the supine position into which legislatures have been put by modern executives, and by the coordination of incumbency and spin to overwhelm popular criticism. It's not parliamentary rule we ought to fear, but increasingly arbitrary and unaccountable rule by executive government...

The fiction ought to be that power comes from the people, and that the powers of government, at whatever level, or in whatever branch, are only those they have been given... It is a fiction, because in history, particularly British history, the rights of which we boast were ones seized from kings, occasionally by beheading them.
Yes, but that's because the kings seized them from US in the first place! Our human power as individuals, or united as a group, is a God-given right. As Nelson Mandela once said:
"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, fabulous, gorgeous, talented? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You're playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that's within us. It's not just in some of us. It's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we automatically give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others."