June 2022

Do we dare?

It is our responsibility to promote a world where self-interest is abandoned and the wellbeing of all peoples is at the heart of our political, social, environmental and economic action, writes John Haren.

Saturday night, May 21, 2022: as it became clear that Australia’s Parliament was being reshaped before our very eyes, amidst the mind-boggling realignment of seats between blue, red, green and teal, my eyes gently closed. My consciousness reverted to a dream world and, when I awoke, I pondered what became infused in my brain. Could my dream be a collective dream of all?

Do we dare hope for a different future? A Parliament that has robust but respectful discussions on legislation. Where our political leaders engage in debate that is grounded in their connections with community aspirations.

Do we dare to dream of a future with a commitment to real action on climate change? Where there is an ambitious plan for transition to renewables. Where the Great Barrier Reef can survive and thrive. Where the Murray River flows freely into the Lower Lakes. Where no new coal mines and coal-fired generation plants are established.

Do we dare to dream of a future where Reconciliation and adoption of the Uluru Statement from the Heart are at the forefront of the Australian psyche? A future where First Nations people can find their rightful place. Where positive outcomes on Indigenous health, housing and community participation are achieved.

Do we dare to dream of a future with a more compassionate response to asylum seekers, living up to our international obligations? The granting of permanent resident status to the tens of thousands who have lived with years of traumatic uncertainty.

Do we dare to dream of a future with increased opportunities for women? Just wages for essential workers, including child care, aged care and disability staff. More women in leadership. Where domestic violence is addressed.

Do we dare to dream of a future where a person’s humanity is paramount, before their race, colour, gender or sexual orientation? A future where we value people for who they are, what their hopes and needs are. Policies and programs that reflect a society that is served by the economy rather than being subservient to a neoclassical economic agenda.

Do we dare to dream of a fairer and more just society? A society where the most vulnerable have their dignity restored. Where multinational companies pay their share of tax. Where all people can expect to live in good standard and affordable homes.

Do we dare to dream of a future where Australia is party to international conversations where real progress is made on human rights, trade, cultural opportunities and climate action? Where there is a commitment to diplomatic solutions rather than oppositional taunts.

These are not dreams beyond our capacity to fulfil them. The tone has already changed from sloganeering to conversations that really matter about our future. It is not as if there were no warning signs for the previous government. Ignore women, the climate, Indigenous people, people struggling with the daily costs of living, and treatment of asylum seekers, at your peril. These are not rhetorical considerations but real life issues that are critical to the future of the nation.

My own peace I give you, was Jesus’ refrain of the following Sunday’s Gospel from John. Dare we also dream of a time when nations can speak with each other respectfully, challenging all countries to act in peaceful and just ways?

It is up to the entire citizenry, as well as our elected representatives, to promote a world where self-interest is abandoned and the wellbeing of all peoples is at the heart of our political, social, environmental and economic action.

Let the dreams take root and the movement for a better world begin.

 

John Haren

John Haren has been engaged in the community sector for over 30 years, including eight years as CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society in South Australia. With a social work and social policy background John has worked with the homeless, asylum seekers and refugees, people with disability, those with mental health challenges and in the health sector. John lives in Adelaide where he writes on many contemporary social issues and is working on his first novel.

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