Moving beyond “what’s in it for me?”

Clare Condon SGS

Clare Condon SGS

Two weeks out from a Federal election, may we all weigh up what is most important and precious to us as a people and as residents of this earth, says Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon.

BY Clare Condon SGS*

Promises, promises and more promises! This is the rhetoric of politicians as we Australians move to a Federal election in two weeks. What is the average Joe or Joanne to make of it all?

There are the short-term promises, which will provide a few extra dollars in the pockets of some families now. But these people are left with uncertainty about what kind of future awaits their children and grandchildren.

There are the long-term promises, which only hang together with an optimistic but fragile hope in our increasingly globalised and fractured world.

It seems that the mighty dollar is presented as the only criterion for measuring a policy benefit or cost, rather than the validity and effectiveness of a policy’s capacity to improve the well-being of the nation as a whole.

I agree with the sentiments of Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Brisbane, who recently called on politicians to speak for a “genuinely human economy” founded on policy rather than simply presenting short-term tactics which are superficial and unsustainable.

What would a “genuinely human economy” look like?

First of all, people and their environment would take precedence over the profit motives of, for example, multi-national conglomerates and their environmental destruction through open-cut mining and deforestation.

There would be sufficient financial resources to be shared among the populace. There would be enough for all to live at an acceptable standard of living. The gap between the extreme wealthy and the poor would be minimised. Perhaps homelessness and destitution could be a thing of the past in this first-world country of ours with its significant wealth.

The economic paradigm of constant growth would be challenged by the recognition that this earth is a limited resource and cannot keep giving up to an insatiable human demand for more. I would extend the Archbishop’s reference to a “genuinely human economy” to include a genuinely ecologically sustainable economy.

In this human and ecological economy, there would need to be change in the national language from “taxpayer” to “citizen”. The common good might just override the self-focussed question of “What’s in it for me?”

Rather than a constant litany of promises, perhaps our politicians could present some old-fashioned principles and values that are capable of creating: a society that includes all, even the stranger; a society where violence and racism are diminished; a society that reduces its prison population and provides rehabilitation programs; a society that cherishes its earthly home and environmental treasures; a society that places the first people of this land at the centre of respect and well-being.

Promises without values are empty and hollow, and are sure to disappoint.

Two weeks out from a Federal election, may we all weigh up what is most important and precious to us as a people and as residents of this earth. Let us seek to make our vote count for a genuinely human and ecologically sustainable economy.

As the Australian Catholic Bishops have said: “any society is ultimately judged not on how well it manages the economy but on how well it treats the thrown-away people… But it is not just individual people who are thrown away. The same can happen to the environment, both social and natural”.

* Sister Clare Condon is the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict.

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The Good Oil, June 21, 2016. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

5 Responses to “Moving beyond “what’s in it for me?””

  1. Edwina says:

    Hi Sister Clare, thanks for expressing such a balanced, sane and life-giving overview of what really matters – and the logic that predicts that there will be a more just, healthy and sustainable society and environment when these simple things are given the priority they deserve. Possibly my greatest concern is for opportunities for meaningful occupation – for all, whether through employment and/or study , caring for family or other varied voluntary opportunities. Good decisions will support a better future, not just short term gains. Edwina

  2. Frank Duff says:

    THIS is a single-issue election – forget the economy. It’s about legalising same-sex ‘marriage’ SSM: That threatens freedom of speech & freedom of religion: If SSM becomes legal, faith-based schools will be pressured to stop teaching that SSM is in ANY way inferior to real marriage; then funding will be withdrawn; then the ‘false’ teaching will be made illegal, AND punishable. READ what has happened in Canada in recent many years of such madness.

  3. Frank S says:

    Many people have as their first priority “the economy”, but don’t seem to make the connection that if we don’t take care of the environment, and specifically attend to global warming, the human economy will be destroyed and the earth with it.

  4. Kath Kennedy says:

    Thank you Sister Clare for your article. It is very hard to put your trust into any of our political parties . I support your statement: ” Rather than a constant litany of promises, perhaps our politicians could present some old-fashioned principles and values that are capable of creating: a society that includes all, even the stranger; a society where violence and racism are diminished; a society that reduces its prison population and provides rehabilitation programs; a society that cherishes its earthly home and environmental treasures; a society that places the first people of this land at the centre of respect and well-being.”

  5. Marie Casamento says:

    Clare I was challenged by your statement,’ there would be enough for us to live at an acceptable standard’. It sits beside the terrible images of the last few weeks of destruction. I wonder how unscrupulous councils and building supervisors have become in search of the dollar. Sands are shifting. Marie Casamento

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