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Time to fix this unholy mess

With the change of government in Victoria and a promise by Premier Daniel Andrews to make Victoria the education state, is it possible that this might bring about a change in the policy concerning Special Religious Instruction (SRI) in that state and perhaps others?

An article in The Age on 15th January 2015 by Meredith Doig focuses on the dilemma now facing new Education Minister, James Merlino. How he responds will be watched very closely by his opposite numbers, particularly in Queensland and New South Wales.

andrews Just how Daniel Andrews plans to go about making Victoria the education state is unclear but both he and Merlino will have their hands full on this one very controversial matter.

The issue centres on the updated Education and Training Reform Act passed in 2006 that reiterated the longstanding policy that “education in government schools must be secular and not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect”.

But it also included an exception as detailed in section 2.2.11 where it permits, special religious instruction, defined as “instruction provided by churches and other religious groups and based on distinctive religious tenets and beliefs”.

The lack of logic here is self-evident. It is like saying that religious instruction is forbidden except in cases where religious instruction is permitted. The clarity is unbelievably irrational.

Few, I think, would argue against some form of religious education in our public schools; education that explains the origins and beliefs of all faiths. But if that is true then such education should also include studies that include atheism and rationalism as well.

How can our children make informed choices if they are not exposed to the broadest possible sentiments of religious and non-religious points of view?

This whole issue which began back in John Howard’s time has been fraught with controversy. It also borders on the unconstitutional, but that hasn’t stopped John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott continuing to fund it.

What has prevented it from gaining traction, however, is parental revolt. Today, in Victoria, only one sixth of children receive SRI. Late in 2014 when facing a teacher revolt, the then education minister, Martin Dixon issued a clarification of the enrolment process which gave parents an “opt-in” form to complete rather than an “opt out”, which made it clear, SRI was voluntary.

The downside, however, is that those opting out, even though they are the majority, must leave the classroom and not engage in any other lessons that would put those opting in, at a disadvantage.

merlino It might have been this absurdity that prompted John Bodycomb, an ordained minister of religion, former chaplain and university lecturer, to write to the new Victorian Education Minister, James Merlino and put his views as follows:
“It is my view as an ethicist that SRI (Special Religious Instruction) has no place in the state education system – which is to be ‘free, compulsory and secular’. My reasons for opposing the current system do not relate to its disruptive effect in a school day or its divisive effect in separating some children from others; these matters have been canvassed ad nauseam. There are two main issues.

The first is one of religious integrity. It is entirely inappropriate for a particular worldview (or religion) to be promulgated by arm of the state. Indeed, the teaching of a faith with a view to inculcating that faith in students is a hangover from the Constantinian era, when church and state became wedded for common advantage.

The second main issue is one of educational integrity. A properly rounded education must of necessity treat religion as a subject eminently worthy of attention. Since the earliest times of Homo sapiens, religion has been an enormously significant socio-cultural phenomenon. To exclude study of religion(s) is as irresponsible educationally as excluding study of maths or music.”

In his letter, Mr Bodycomb calls for an end to sectarian religious instruction and proposes establishing religious studies as a respectable academic discipline at both primary and secondary levels.

ration Dr Meredith Doig, who is president of the Rationalist Society of Australia thinks, “The time is right to fix this unholy nonsense once and for all.” She says SRI is a form of religious indoctrination and should be abandoned. She urges the state government instead, to work with all interested groups to develop a world class curriculum that reflects the multicultural diversity that Australia enjoys.

Who could argue with that?


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  1. Pingback: Time to fix this unholy mess – » The Australian Independent Media Network | winstonclose

  2. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    In England, which recognised the Church of England as offering the official view of Christianity, I went to a state-aided C of E girls secondary grammar school. As required by its charter, we studied the Scriptures – which meant we followed a recognised course towards the optional Certificate of Education at Ordinary Level Scripture examination. For the first 2 or 3 years we studied the Old Testament, taught by a history teacher, and, still with a history teacher, we studied the New Testament for the next 2 years. In our last two years at school we followed a non-examinable course in Comparative Religion which introduced us to all the major world religions and drew parallels between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There was alternatively an Advanced Level course in Scripture available for those who wished to continue study in that subject. Our charter required us to attend the parish (C of E) church on Ash Wednesday and Ascension Day but non-Christian students could be exempted from this.
    After completing an honours degree in Mathematics, my first employment (in 1957) was teaching maths at the Convent of the Sacred Heart Girls High School in Hammersmith. I played the piano for the hymn at morning assembly but was exempt from attending mass on Thursday. I was not assigned a home room group as I was not Catholic (I had to do yard duty every lunch time instead – I guess that could be seen as a kind of penance, although I had some enjoyable encounters with students in the process!) About one third of the staff at the school were non-Catholic, while another one third were lay Catholics, the remainder being nuns of the convent.
    I am now an agnostic, being disillusioned by the level of hypocrisy and dissent among religious adherents, particularly in the Christian and Islamic faiths. I fully support the Dalai Lama’s call for secular ethics to be taught in schools but I see no harm – in fact possible benefit – in offering properly accredited courses, delivered by appropriately educated teachers, in any or all religious histories, separately or under the banner of Comparative Religion.
    I left England at the end of 1970 so am not au fait with the current system, although I know the Queen is still recognised as the secular head of the Church of England. While I lived there, Catholics were not evident to the extent that I have experienced in Australia – certainly there were far fewer Catholic schools, particularly at primary level – so many of the laws in the UK relating to issues of sexuality, abortion and contraception were modified well ahead of similar changes in the laws here.
    I have always been grateful for my opportunity to learn so much about the world’s religions which, in my mind, relate more to issues of cohesive communities and power of priests and imams than to the existence or otherwise of any supernatural beings. The more you learn and come to understand about the history of those who come from different backgrounds, the better, in my opinion.
    I believe Jesus Christ reportedly said words to the effect “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” before defining “neighbour” through the story of the Good Samaritan. I translate that as “do as you would be done by” and I think that is an ethic that could guide us all to a less confrontational and divisive community.

  3. Blanik

    Unbelievably irrational clarity is exactly what the proponents of SRI are best at. One can bet their socks on the religion proposed is christianity and all its nonsense concerning sin. What better way to control people?

  4. Kaye Lee

    Some parts of my family are very religious. My household is not. My daughter studied religion for the HSC, more as an anthropological study than a philosophical one. I think I would summarise her experience as recognising the commonality of religions along with the futility of them.

  5. Ross

    If, as seems likely, the real reason for imposing this sort of SRI in primary schools is to get to the kids early to make more adherents for Christianity then it’s a waste of money, time and school resources.
    Religious people usually come from religious households. If religion plays minimal or no part in the life of the household then the chances of a child becoming religious through SRI into their teenage years is very small.

    Admittedly I don’t move in religious circles but I would hazard a guess there wouldn’t be many teenagers who would want to get up early on Sunday morning to go to church.

  6. darrel nay

    I have noticed that most adults religiously fail to honor the choices children make. For example, if a child doesn’t want to go to school then adults will self-righteously discount the child’s decision. Similarly, if a child doesn’t want to be victimised a pedophile fails to respect the child’s choice.

  7. Matters Not

    Some interesting comments here.

    I am now an agnostic, being disillusioned by the level of hypocrisy and dissent among religious adherents

    So the level of ‘hypocrisy’ among ‘some’ caused you to become ‘agnostic’? Interesting. I would have hoped there might be more compelling reasons to perhaps go the ‘whole hog’. But each to their own.

    darrel nay said

    if a child doesn’t want to go to school then adults will self-righteously discount the child’s decision

    Count me as one of those. I don’t let my grandchildren play on the road as well. Further, I don’t let them ‘taste’ whatever they may ‘choose’. Or jump off rooves. Or shoot guns. Or punch …

    Darrel, when an individual(s) makes a choice, the assumption is that they have some knowledge of the consequences. Are you seriously suggesting that a child will make ‘good’ decisions because they have some knowledge of the consequences? If so can you say that this ‘knowledge’ is innate? So many questions.

    Do you have children? Because in this instance it may matter.

  8. darrel nay

    reply for matters not:

    You have outlined a number of your choices but will not our children learn quickly given the freedom to make their own choices! The sky won’t fall if we as adults facilitate a new freedom for young people. Consider why adults are allowed to drive but children are not – why is a fourteen year old not allowed to drive across town to visit grandma. Children aren’t even allowed to play with fireworks anymore. We are increasingly a society of control-freaks. As kids we used to have all sorts of fun jumping off the roof and generations of aussie kids used to play in the street. Most parents will continue to love their kids but there is a line between guiding/facilitating kids and controlling them.

  9. Kaye Lee


    Should adults be given the same freedom to decide if they want to go to work? I saw the results of a school who allowed the kids to join in or not, as they saw fit. Many of them ended up in my class when their parents eventually transferred them because they were learning nothing and getting into trouble through boredom. It was very hard for these kids who found themselves so far behind their peers. School doesn’t just teach to exams, it teaches time-management, self-discipline, organisation, commitment, responsibility, and hopefully, tolerance and empathy.

    Highly self-motivated kids will learn despite any of us – most kids however need a little nudge along to learn the benefits of accepting and fulfilling your responsibilities.

  10. Matters Not

    Thanks for your response darrel. May I respond to the issues you raise.

    You say.

    will not our children learn quickly given the freedom to make their own choices!

    Indeed they will. But in some instances at least, the learning will come at great cost. In my neighbourhood, I know of ‘children’ who are now in wheelchairs because of stupid choices they made in the absence of parental guidance. I won’t mention those who are no longer with us because of stupid choices.

    You go on:

    Consider why adults are allowed to drive but children are not

    Actually I have considered that. I don’t mind kids ‘learning’ to drive (yes it is a learned skill) in a controlled environment but I remained unconvinced that a 14 year old has the ‘judgement’ (also learned over time) to be let loose on the same roads on which I drive. Sure there may be some who should be ‘authorised’, but the ‘law’ is always about ‘generalities’, and in my view, 14 year olds should be kept well away from vehicles on public highways, as a generality.

    Children aren’t even allowed to play with fireworks anymore.

    Good! Again they have little understanding of the consequences of such ‘playing’. While my kids may have detonated fireworks, I always ensured that they never ‘played’ with same. What about you?

    We are increasingly a society of control-freaks.

    Perhaps. But can you provide me with an example of a society (human rather than animal, insect and the like) in which the ‘adults’ simply abandoned responsibility for the guidance of their children?

    As I say, there are so many questions.

    Perhaps you might provide some answers at some stage.

  11. darrel nay

    Adults do have freedom to work or not – only slaves ‘have’ to work.
    Our schools are full of students who hate being there ( often leading to suicide or violent acts) – many educators have written about the way this situation retards the learning of those students who want to learn. Our school system suits many children but for the rest of the children they just have to deal with it – hardly ideal. It should be noted that life teaches time-management, self-discipline, organisation, commitment, responsibility, and hopefully, tolerance and empathy. We, as a society, have an opportunity to respect the choices of our children but, generally speaking, we place little value on children’s choices.
    If we made school voluntary and flexible we would, in effect, be teaching kids that we respect their freedoms and we may be surprised at the educational outcomes we achieve. I often like to ask adults if they consider themselves good at maths, science, language, etc. and generally the reply is ‘NO’ and this suggests to me that there is something fundamentally flawed with our education system.

    just a thought

  12. Matters Not

    Should adults be given the same freedom to decide if they want to go to work?

    Most definitely. But I suggest that such ‘freedom’ isn’t given . Simply, it’s not denied.

    In our society ‘adults’ can choose to do whatever they like. But they must also expect to ‘suffer’ the consequences of those choices, whether they be negative or positive. It’s what being an ‘adult’ is all about.

    But not so with children who can’t vote and the like. It’s why we call them children, broadly defined.

  13. darrel nay

    reply for Matters Not,
    Thanks for your comments – you seem like you would be a fantastic grandma.
    I wonder if we could not invent vehicles that were safe for youngsters to drive if we really made it a priority – it seems to me that expanding freedoms for children is not even on the national radar. I, for one, would be prepared to drive slower if it meant our younger citizens could share the roads with us. Clearly I am not advocating abandoning guidance for our kids, rather I am implying that we have a tendency to control children rather than facilitating their development – control tends to limit development and stifle individuality and often the action of control leads to pressured reaction.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Ok…perhaps I am a slave to my children but to provide them with what they need then I must work.

    Having spent many years as a high school teacher I understand not everybody is having fun every moment. That is why teacher quality is important because the right teachers can help anyone improve and that is always good for self-esteem. It is also why I think class sizes matter because kids are all individuals and need individual approaches to get the best from them. I have also seen success with two teachers on a larger class at the same time.

    Life indeed teaches us important lessons but there is nothing wrong with giving kids some help in preparing for adult life. Kids are given choices throughout their education – what subjects to study, what sport to play, which essay to write, whether to be part of extra-curricular activities on offer.

    I agree that children’s voices should be heard and they should be treated with the respect that I hope they will show towards me. I also know that children make mistakes and that is all part of learning.

    I actually DO consider myself good at math, science, and language. I thank my schools for encouraging my love of learning and giving me access to things that I could never have had anywhere else. Let’s work on improving schools to better suit the needs of their students rather than abandoning the kids to work it all out for themselves.

  15. Matters Not

    darrel nay said:

    only slaves ‘have’ to work

    Not quite true. Slaves have been known to refuse. And they suffered to consequences. In short, people can choose to do whatever they like. But for many the consequences are unpalatable.

    Our schools are full of students who hate being there

    Most definitely! But don’t confine that insight to just the classroom. Broaden it to include the ‘workplace’. Some, most?

    many educators have written about the way this situation retards the learning of those students who want to learn

    Indeed they have. (Do you want a list or an essay)? But those who you describe as ‘not learning’ are in fact ‘learning’ about their social reality. I won’t go on.

    It should be noted that life teaches time-management, self-discipline, organisation, commitment, responsibility, and hopefully, tolerance and

    darrel, the ‘concepts’ you employ in the above statement, useful as they are in giving meaning to our world, only come from those who have been ‘schooled’. They are not natural.

    I often like to ask adults if they consider themselves good at maths, science, language, etc. and generally the reply is ‘NO’ and this suggests to me that there is something fundamentally flawed with our education system

    I think the problem might lie with conclusion people draw.

  16. darrel nay

    I am pro-school but anti-compulsory school. I too consider myself good at maths but this doesn’t change the point that most adults claim not to be proficient

  17. Kaye Lee

    So the children roam the streets while their parents work?

  18. matters Not

    you seem like you would be a fantastic grandma.

    Yep, it’s only ‘grandma’ who can be caring. But it matters not.

    wonder if we could not invent vehicles that were safe for youngsters to drive if we really made it a priority

    I think we have already achieved that. Scooters, bicycles, skate boards and the like fit the bill.

    Clearly I am not advocating abandoning guidance for our kids

    Good! Glad to hear it.

    control tends to limit development and stifle individuality

    That’s one way to look at it. But on the upside this ‘control’ of which you speak also aids/enhances development by not letting children proceed down ‘blind alleys’ and allows individuality to bloom in exciting and socially acceptable ways.

    The Bali bombers were expressing their individuality. As were the Bali Nine.

  19. darrel nay

    No Kaye,
    “Roaming the streets” is a standard refrain from those who haven’t put any effort into a solution to the challenge. There are in fact countless options for children to experience in our society if we can overcome our entrenched fears. If some kids were free to spend THEIR time outside school they may, for example spend a day at the library or assisting a charity – use your imagination.

  20. darrel nay

    reply for Matters Not,
    I would guess that the bali 9 went to school and that sometimes controlling children leads to blow-back.

  21. Kaye Lee

    And if they went to school they would definitely be spending time in the library and assisting charity.

    I don’t need imagination. I was a classroom teacher for twenty years, I was on the management board of a homeless youth refuge for 5 years, I’ve been a mother for 23 years, I have worked with children all my life in many different capacities.

    I get the impression you had a really unfortunate experience with your schooling. Things are better nowadays. Not perfect by any means, but moving forward to better nurture individual skills.

    “Roaming the streets” is not a cliché….it is what happens when children are lonely, bored, and unsupervised.

  22. Matters Not

    darrel nay, If you really want to pursue this ‘well worn’ track you might consider, as a starting point, the reading of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in particular his novel(s) Emile, or On Education which outlines his ideas on ‘education’.

    Perhaps he might be a little dated. If so, then can I suggest more recent works by Ivan Illich, Everett Reimer, John Holt, Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner and the like. Their works are only 50 years old.

    Generally speaking they fit under the umbrella of the ‘deschooling movement’.

    Useful but certainly not a ‘silver bullet’.

  23. Kaye Lee

    You may want to look at Montessori schools and Steiner schools who also employ that approach to a degree. (They still ended up in my class when the experiment failed).

  24. Matters Not

    would guess that the bali 9 went to school and that sometimes controlling children leads to blow-back

    Indeed! But perhaps the cause can be explained by the fact that they rode bikes to school. Or didn’t.

    To suggest that Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran’s circumstance is somehow caused by them being forced to attend school is beyond the pale.

    Shakes head.

    Perhaps they were just trying to be ‘greedy’? Not something I associate with schooling, but the wider society.

  25. stephentardrew

    I grant that people have the freedom to choose their religions however knowing the facts in the world, and the basics of logic, scientific methodology, and empirical derivation of proofs, set the foundation for critical thinking which should come before any type of subjective ideological indoctrination.

    The world is a material world of causally derivable facts that can be demonstrably proven to solve many of the dilemmas that confront a modern society. Most of our problems are material and biological problems that demand scientific and engineering solutions.

    Is it so hard to face the facts that lead to emancipation from superstition while maintaining a metaphysical perspective upon the world? The many claims by religions to promote love, compassion and empathy are thwarted by erroneous notions of judgment, blame and retribution which today perfectly describes the political landscape.

    It can be easily demonstrated that people do not create their realities and deserve rational understanding of causal contributors, and as Kaye noted, assertively informing people, young and old, in clear rational direction built upon facts that can help alleviate trauma and suffering.

    The thing is for religious people to realize the love of science and facts, driven by proof, can meet at the point at which we share our love and consideration for our fellow human beings and it is here we must find common cause.

  26. Matters Not

    darrel nay, I congratulate you on your efforts to explore the compulsory ‘schooling’ issue. And keep going. But it’s an issue with a long history.

    Try this as a useful reading that bolsters your approach.

    stephentardrew said:

    It can be easily demonstrated that people do not create their realities

    ‘easily demonstrated’? Have you a link for that?

    Or are you talking about the psychological constructed ‘reality’ and in so doing ignoring the ‘sociological’ construct?

    Perhaps there is a difference? And if so then where does that leave us? And if not then why does one way of constructing reality have superiority over another?

    But perhaps that’s a loaded question?

  27. DanDark

    My favourite saying when some one congratulates or praises my adolescent/adult kids for something they have made, built, done, achieved etc etc is….. “It keeps them off the streets and out of the pubs” and it does,
    kids need boundaries, they need a structured education and they need to learn how to get the best out of their own natural talents that we are all born with, children are curious little beings and that curiosity needs to be moulded and even tamed sometimes….

  28. stephentardrew


    Sociological constructs are driven by opinions. The actual fact is that no person chooses to be born with certain biological, genetic, cultural, familial or religious predilections. Opinions are imposed, not by the facts of causation, but, by human interpretation. Facts should be clarified by proof and the proof of initial innocence is irrefutable. No human every has a influence upon the initial conditions that bring reality into existence therefore to post hock assume that opinion can override the causal facts is illogical. Though not a great fan of Dawkin’s “The Selfish Gene” and “The Blind Watchmaker” set out the arguments effectively. The after the fact counter-factual statement of sociological opinion cannot make sense if it is not based upon the fundamental axioms that drive evolution science, logic and rationality. You cannot have determinism, objectivity and a universe independent of measurement when human observation influences the nature of quantum events. You can have any two but not all three simultaneously so quantum paradox infects phenomenal reality as subjective paradox and opinion. The degrees of freedom in subjective space allow us high degrees of flexibility and adaptability in subjective space however they are inevitably beholden to the empirical facts. So paradox rises out of uncertainty and incompleteness while objectivity and determinism rise out of the causally contiguous connectivity of facts not opinions.

    Philosophers strive to determine the facts before imposing opinion whereas the run of the mill person sees opinion as the fact in a weird paradoxical reversal of objectivity and determinism. Unfortunately it is our misconstruing of the facts in the way we concoct narratives about the world to satisfy our wishes, hopes and desires rather than the demonstrably provable facts that lead us astray.

    Tried to be short and to the point. Max Weber understood the first stage of social critique and construct is to act as a neutral, unbiased observer free from personal opinion and biases. Sociology must be held to the same strictures that empirical science adheres to if it is to have any meaning at all.

    So no people do not create their realities but given the chance, circumstances and nominal choice they can subjectively direct their beliefs and opinions however they run amiss by ignoring the facts.

  29. John Fraser


    Here's the "unholy mess" :

    "A 15 year-old boy who had come to Dr Paterson in the late 1980s, to tell him that a teacher Damien Vance had made advances on him beneath Knox chapel, was initially told to go away and think about it before repeating the allegation, because … why?

    "The boy was a drama boy, who liked to exaggerate stories … " Dr Paterson said, to gasps from the gallery. "And that was the reason why I asked him to go and think about it."

    But, counsel persisted, groping and propositioning a boy was a crime …

    "I was not aware that it was a crime."

    Its beginning to become a pathetic refrain from the "religious teachers" at the Royal Commission.

    People had better start asking themselves if these protectors of child abusers are so lacking in basic human decency why they shouldn't be tested and investigated before being allowed near any children.

  30. CMMC

    Christain Democrat candidate in Goulburn tells meeting that all NSW problems are due to 1984 Wran govt decriminalising sodomy.

    This is the ‘Fred Nile’ party of pious ‘preference whisperers’.

  31. Awabakal

    “The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior “righteous indignation” — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

    “It is man’s intelligence that makes him so often behave more stupidly than the beasts. … Man is impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic. Thus, no animal is clever enough, when there is a drought, to imagine that the rain is being withheld by evil spirits, or as punishment for its transgressions. Therefore you never see animals going through the absurd and often horrible fooleries of magic and religion. No horse, for example would kill one of its foals to make the wind change direction. Dogs do not ritually urinate in the hope of persuading heaven to do the same and send down rain. Asses do not bray a liturgy to cloudless skies. Nor do cats attempt, by abstinence from cat’s meat, to wheedle the feline spirits into benevolence. Only man behaves with such gratuitous folly. It is the price he has to pay for being intelligent but not, as yet, intelligent enough.”

    “At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice, and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”

    “We may not appreciate the fact; but a fact nevertheless it remains: we are living in a Golden Age, the most gilded Golden Age of human history — not only of past history, but of future history. For, as Sir Charles Darwin and many others before him have pointed out, we are living like drunken sailors, like the irresponsible heirs of a millionaire uncle. At an ever accelerating rate we are now squandering the capital of metallic ores and fossil fuels accumulated in the earth’s crust during hundreds of millions of years. How long can this spending spree go on? Estimates vary. But all are agreed that within a few centuries or at most a few millennia, Man will have run through his capital and will be compelled to live, for the remaining nine thousand nine hundred and seventy or eighty centuries of his career as Homo sapiens, strictly on income. Sir Charles is of the opinion that Man will successfully make the transition from rich ores to poor ores and even sea water, from coal, oil, uranium and thorium to solar energy and alcohol derived from plants. About as much energy as is now available can be derived from the new sources — but with a far greater expense in man hours, a much larger capital investment in machinery. And the same holds true of the raw materials on which industrial civilization depends. By doing a great deal more work than they are doing now, men will contrive to extract the diluted dregs of the planet’s metallic wealth or will fabricate non-metallic substitutes for the elements they have completely used up. In such an event, some human beings will still live fairly well, but not in the style to which we, the squanderers of planetary capital, are accustomed.”

    “One Folk, One Realm, One Leader. Union with the unity of an insect swarm. Knowledgeless understanding of nonsense and diabolism. And then the newsreel camera had cut back to the serried ranks, the swastikas, the brass bands, the yelling hypnotist on the rostrum. And here once again, in the glare of his inner light, was the brown insect-like column, marching endlessly to the tunes of this rococo horror-music. Onward Nazi soldiers, onward Christian soldiers, onward Marxists and Muslims, onward every chosen People, every Crusader and Holy War-maker. Onward into misery, into all wickedness, into death!”

    “Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell.”

    “Never give children a chance of imagining that anything exists in isolation. Make it plain from the very beginning that all living is relationship. Show them relationships in the woods, in the fields, in the ponds and streams, in the village and in the country around it. Rub it in.”

    And, lastly, one for Abbott – “Defined in psychological terms, a fanatic is a man who (sub) consciously over-compensates a secret doubt.”

    All above texts come from one highly under-regarded writer.

  32. stephentardrew

    Nice one Awabakal:

    Exponential growth in technology and the onset of a radically logical artificial intelligence may well tip the pendulum in the right direction. Evolution is such a slow and tedious affair yet it has millions of years to play with. The point is subjective space offers us the means to accelerate our capacity to construct a manageable steady state economy and equitable society.

    The basis of love and kindness is not hard to find in biochemistry (mirror neurons, reciprocity, communitarianism, endorphins etc.) leading to the subsequent stricture that we should “do unto others as self” since if we do not create our realities our notions of judgment, blame and retribution are moribund.

    So the facts are much more forgiving and compassionate than retributive notions derived from magic, mythology and religion. There remain many deep mysteries in the nature of time; the application of infinity; paradoxes and counterintuitives in physics and maths; and the implications for loving kindness in realising an environment in equilibrium, underscored by equality, compassion and justice. We are mere beginners with a bag full of potentialities yet to be realised.

    The new is the unknown so to frame our future in terms of the known is to miss those statistical outliers trending towards the mean. Lots of hope for a better future for our children.

    Our current problem is to effectively negate the Abbotts of this world.

  33. Matters Not

    Sociological constructs are driven by opinions

    Well if that be ‘true’, then surely other social sciences such as Anthropology, Archaeology, Criminology, Demography, Economics, Geography, History, Law, Linguistics, Pedagogy, Political science and Psychology all must wear that (presumably) pejorative descriptor as well?

    Stephen there is much I would contest in your post, but I must away. Off to George Street for a rally at Parliament House. Starts at noon, but I live on the Bay and public transport takes its time.

    Awabakal, I think Aldous Huxley is the highly under-regarded writer

  34. stephentardrew

    Matters just wrote a rave where I accept empirical facts in social science and their robustness. Wasn’t clear in my first post. My latest post was blown away and like you lack the time to re-write. Anyway have a good one.

  35. Pingback: Time to fix this unholy mess | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  36. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    In reply to Matters Not – my becoming an agnostic was over-simplified in the interests of brevity.
    My mother, daughter of a non-conformist minister, believed the story of Genesis verbatim. To me this was crazy, even as a child, and later knowledge from anthropology and scientific research confirmed for me that it was indeed just a parable not an accurate historical account.
    For a variety of reasons, my education was more extensive and more liberal than had been my mother’s although she was the prime mover in ensuring that my older brother and sister and I should aspire to as high a level of education as possible.
    My brother won a State Scholarship to Cambridge and continued on to employment as an aero-engine designer with Rolls Royce.
    My sister studied medicine and specialised in surgery and eventually, in more recent years, I progressed from teaching maths to studying and practising law and also becoming an accredited mediator.
    I have three children, all university graduates as are my two oldest grandchildren.
    Knowledge, particularly scientific knowledge was a further spur to reject the superstitions and mythology of religion and see it in terms of man invented god in his own image so that, by claiming the power to interpret god’s message, he could control the people.
    The concept that religion is the opium of the people has, in my opinion, some foundation.
    For me, knowledge is power to liberate oneself and whenever possible to help others.

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