Vivaldi Lost: The Arts, “Lifestyle Choice” and sustainable, low-carbon economies


"expressionist violin" painting by Steve Johnson.
“expressionist violin”
painting by Steve Johnson.

In the early 18th century, Antonio Vivaldi taught violin to female students of the orphanage school, Ospedale della Pietà, so that they may have an occupation in adulthood.

Today, the arts are deemed, so we are told in Australia, an unprofitable “lifestyle choice”.

Before we turn to judgement, I would urge that we take this statement in the appropriate context.

Given that, raw resource extraction, the exploitation of cheap labour in developing nations, increasing car dependency and the hunger for material consumerism and housing, among others, are so profitable nowadays, why should we support the training of free expression?

It’s true that artists throughout history have struggled. Some of the most highly regarded authors, poets and painters only received their honours posthumously, when a future generation was ready to hear their message.

Others never make it for all their efforts.

From a strict financial risk assessment view point, investment in the arts is unfavourable.

Further, with the danger of sounding patronising I must also add that it’s easy to conclude materialism is our primary motivator. Just think of the mindless rush on stores around December and post-Christmas January.

Why invest in the arts when you can reliably receive greater returns in consumer goods and services?

The local art gallery appeals to a loftier crowd (who can be, or at least appear to be, judgemental to outsiders – I know firsthand).

How many venues for live local music close down each year? Of course, such venues only appeal to “youths”, drugs / alcohol and the unmotivated (so the stereotype goes). New apartments on the other hand will bring in students and young families – the industrious types.

A son returns home to tell his parents he was selected for a Bachelor degree in Creative Writing, while the daughter was previously accepted into a Medical degree. How do the parent respond? What do they envision for the relative futures of their children?

We have passively asserted to the “lifestyle choice” claim long before it was said.

I’m not casting blame here, however. We were often taught about the arts as a token gesture within our schools. In truth, it’s a feedback loop.

We are so far removed from Vivaldi.

The Arts can be an excellent low-carbon investment

In a recent post, I mentioned how Tobis once discussed the value of the non-material markets in achieving low carbon outcomes. The arts are exactly that.

Consumerism is little more than the wants of entertainment, either directly or one step removed (i.e. labour saving).

What if our culture again held the arts in high regard?

What if, rather than congealing on the couch before the “idiot box”, there was a thriving night scene in the local area?

What if, rather than buying a new computer console for the children, there were interesting / quirky activities nearby or after-school options that combined the arts with play, tailored to a given age group?

Aristotle once said that one learns music not necessarily to become a musician, but rather to acquire an ear able to appreciate good music. One could say the same of any of the arts. Thus, such a hypothetical culture would necessarily treat the arts as fundamental in all education, thereby opening up the door to this new low-carbon market.

Such a culture may also help with expression for those who otherwise suffer in silence with mental health issues. It could also be the antidote to our growing loneliness.

Lifestyle choices

To repeat; we have passively asserted to the “lifestyle choice” claim long before it was said.

We do that through our cultural value preferences.

Do we choose the high-carbon, meritocratic-neo-liberal cocktail that leaves us lonely and uncreative? Or, do we start thinking about other solutions that may be more sustainable, economically, environmentally and mentally?

Antonio Vivaldi himself betted on the favour of a king who, subsequently died soon after. With that preference gone, Vivaldi fell into poverty and died a year later.

I can’t help but find an important life lesson in the life of this musical genius.

Art is not a lifestyle choice, but rather life itself. A life without art isn’t innately human. If it loses preference, we will lose something more valuable than all the smart phones, flat screen TVs – all the mass consumer items combined.

If you doubt me, press play below.

Stockholm Syndrome for ideas: Why environmental and social debates are dripping with hostility

We’re all prisoners of Plato’s Cave.

To give the most brief explanation of Plato’s cave; we’re born unaware and as we reach adult years, we have developed a kind of Stockholm syndrome towards the conclusions we have reached over our lifetime, however poorly informed they may be. And, we will violently protect these conclusions as well.

I disagree with Plato on one point – no-one is ever entirely free from the cave.

For instance, I believe that I endeavour to learn daily from science, literature and history. But I know I remain ignorant to a great many subjects. Learning one subject comes at the cost of the ignorance of others and there are other subjects – such as gender / racial discrimination – which I never fully understand, given my gender and race.

I, we, everyone, remains a prisoner.

Realising this has helped me to adjust my interpretation of how many respond to the environmental and social problems we face.

On topics such a climate change, vaccination, gender / racial / marriage equality, we’ve all witnessed the vicious nature of opponents. It’s not really maliciousness aimed at us, but hostility towards ‘images’ that challenge their ‘shadows’.

I’ll give you an example case, primarily regarding progressive gender equality.

Loss of advantage

Recently, I saw an article appear in my news feed of Gavin McInnes resorting to fairly juvenile name calling in response to Waleed Aly’s comments.

McInnes makes clear his world views with his constant comments around masculinity, chauvinism, feminism / the social status of women and how the actions of the daughter reflect her father.

Further, his noted experience being around wealthy men has clearly exposed him to just one tiny group of people: women who look past men and to their wallets and men who look past women’s minds and to their bodies.

The insults used by McInnes demonstrate all of this in how they hark back to the puffed chest, member measuring masculinity of yesteryear.

Like me, you might find his views abhorrent, but they deserve greater attention.

Stepping back a few generations, being born a white male in the West instantly meant that your chances of success were above average, when compared to all women and other ethnic and racial groups.

Women expected unwanted attention and were taught to tolerate it. Domestic violence wasn’t spoken of and women found it hard to leave a relationship.

Basically, everything was in its place for white men to conclude that he was the master of his destiny.

Social reform over the twentieth century has progressively chiselled away at this pedestal.

Don’t get me wrong, it still exists. However it is not so lofty that, say a man of darker skin or a woman would be excluded from becoming a US president.

Privilege is no longer guaranteed for one subgroup.

This fall from grace is so great that the leveling of privilege feels like disadvantage to some.

The anger too over “political correctness” is very much the same: It’s not actually about what can legally be said, but that our moral values have shifted so much that some, once common points of view, are now deemed offensive. It’s not political correctness, but moral decency. The complaints come from resenting being on the wrongside.

Politically, what we’re experiencing across the west is, in part, a revolt against progressive modernity, where race and gender mean less in success.

The shadows of yesterday were more comforting than the images of today…. for some.

What now?


Remember, we’re all prisoners of Plato’s Cave.

For me, I hope that McInnes eventually meets enough genuine people who respect him for who he is and not for badges of success. Eventually, it may illuminate more light on how superficial the relationships he seems to glorify actually are.

An anti-vaxxer is often a scared parent who wants to protect their children. The misinformation they have been imprisoned by is terrifying. There is nobility to be found in their actions, even if misguided.

And with climate change, the shadows paint a story that human condition is only improved through growth, carbon emissions and industry. You hear it in the refuting argument; “they want to send us back to the stone age!”

We are on the edge of a new frontier. Our climate, industry and societies will necessarily be different from what we are familiar with. Change is difficult. Any loss, or perceived loss, leads to grieving. A loss of ignorance often means a loss of perceived comfort.

If we can remain mindful of Plato’s Cave, hopefully, we develop productive strategies to help bring everyone along to the new frontier: the Anthropocene.

Bigger ways to lose it all: the climate, natural resources and even what’s ours

“If we develop a global nuclear economy with synthesised hydrocarbon fuels, or truly effective electric batteries for motor vehicles, why the hell not buy a bigger SUV next year?”

This comment by another has since remained with me – even inspiring its own cartoon.


Because, of course, bigger is better. Provided we can eradicate this pesky climate concern, we’re onto something great (please note my sarcasm).

The trouble with such a linear, dare I say blinkered, perspective is that sustainable energy is not our only concern. If the Nine Planetary Boundaries are taken as a fair indicator of the state our planet, climate change is actually in fourth place, with biosphere integrity (genetic diversity), biochemical flows and land use changes all more heavily modified and/or eroded.

With climate change included, these four represent the major threats to long term prosperity. All are the result of the “bigger is better” mentality.

Bigger cities and farms, and more produce and energy use, equal greater economic activity.

When efficiency is improved, we don’t make savings, we simply make more, exploiting resources more quickly.

Stocks up! GDP up!… up, up, up!!

Growth is the modern god, more tangible than any other before it.

The blessed, after all, are showered in fortune. Those who doubt it deserve their meager station. Oh, how wonderful is the union of neo-liberal individualism and meritocracy.

But how big can a city get before the term “city” loses all meaning? How many hectares can be converted from ecosystems to monocultures before we lose all bio-services (that underpin so much of our economic activity)?

And we openly scoff at the loss of biodiversity when the compounds found in plants, fungi and animals (especially venom) have probably saved each of our life at one point or another.

With another species lost, so too could a lifesaving compound.

But we need to be bigger to stay afloat!

When will we exhaust the resources we dig up in wild places – the metals, minerals and hydrocarbons – and be forced to turn our mining activities to sifting through yesteryear’s junk yards for the same resources?

When will we remove the white lines down our roads, merging two lanes into one to fit the colossal SUV’s just waiting for a primed market?

I’m personally uncomfortable with such naive economic philosophies we broadly celebrate. And I fail to see how we can even start to talk meaningfully about taking action on biodiversity loss, land degradation or climate change, while still holding out on “endless growth”.

Just because it is, doesn’t mean that it should be.

We need to start thinking differently about how we interact with our common natural resources.

Some years ago, Michael Tobis suggested that we encourage much more economic activity towards non-material (or renewable) sources, such as art and entertainment. Given that higher density cities can achieve greater efficiencies, that automation is reducing the need for full time work and the concerns mentioned above, this could develop into hubs of economic activity while reducing such sources of stress.

And then there’s the thinking of people, such as Epicurus who said, “To become rich, do not add to your account, but subtract from your desires.

Materialism brings loneliness and anxiety. We feel a strong want for so many things we don’t actually need and, moreover, are only momentarily fulfilling once they are obtained.

Learning to quiet the inner voice of trivial want makes us richer on a number of fronts: Of course, without spending, one has additional income to spend on more meaningful things (or to work less). And then there is the other side as well; if you desire less, you already have most of what you need and want.

This is the proper outcome of having wealth – the amount accrued to subjective and trivial, the outcome (i.e. contentment with one’s lot) more objective.

We may think we want to be a millionaire, but that is just the tool used to quench our desires. The same thing can be achieved, for a fraction of the cost, through the taming of want, while at the same reducing our anxieties, pointless efforts and vanities.

With our death, material stuff and wealth pass on to others or erode to nothing. We don’t own any of it, but borrow it for a brief speck of time.

The only thing we do own is our time. It’s ours to spend however we see fit. Unlike wealth, once it’s gone, it can never again be reclaimed.

We could waste our fleeting moments, stressing over our desk and work floors on how we can acquire a bigger SUV, house and other soon-to-be-forgotten goods (made more so by planned obsolescence). Or we could treasure the moments we save to hold our loved ones, laugh with old friends and build bonds with new friends.

Before bigger meant better, it was often defined by greed and gluttony.

Spend your time preciously and, in turn, tread a little lighter on our limited resources.

Who deserves equal rights: One reason why so many social and environmental debates fail

Thoughts 2The further you chip away at the essential meaning of any social structure, two fundamental causes appear: guiding regulations must aim (however successfully) to further the well-being and opportunity of its free citizens.

Now, what defines a citizen within the population has often changed within societies – take slaves, gender or race discrimination, for example. Likewise the political and economic philosophies  behind these societies have also been as varied. However, the fundamental causes of such a unified population remains the same.

Recently, I’ve noticed an increase of opinion articles challenging the suitability of the neo-liberal philosophy.

Personally, I don’t hold a preference towards any system, provided it meets the objectives of improved well-being and opportunity for its citizens. In some society neo-liberal philosophies may achieve these ends, but they certainly do not today in any country I’m aware of.

I know I will be challenged on this conclusion.

And, I also know that neither my opponent nor myself would actually be wrong. The fault would be, as it so often is, that we would not be arguing the same thing.

The whole discrepancy starts with the view of the citizen.

Being more equal

Coupled with neol-liberalism is what is known as Meritocracy. The basic idea behind meritocracy is that the better the person, the more they are showered in fortune. There is something special, or it is the result of endless sacrifice, that leads our betters to their natural economic status.

Yet, over time, we find an increasing divide, not only economically, but socially, between the super rich and the rest, as meritocratic and neo-liberal principles couple in new policy.

For the so-called “land of the free,” it was interesting to witness in recent years the hot debate over basic universal healthcare for all US citizens. In much the same fashion, our own Medicare is always under threat of erosion for much the same reasons:

Why should the successful pay taxes so that society’s “losers” can receive free or subsidised healthcare?

The economic “leaners” as they are called in Australia.

This perspective effectively defines two groups within the population and, to return to the premise above about free citizens, I can only conclude that those who cannot afford adequate health care are not truly citizens with equal rights and dignities compared to their wealthy counterparts.

Beyond subsistence

I happen to disagree with this conclusion. Citizenship in my eyes applies to our whole species, regardless of wealth, race, gender, religion, age or ability.

A society I stand for is one that protects all people from cruelty, slavery and discrimination based on physical / cultural attributes (as opposed to one’s choices). It is a society that provides fair opportunity to all members, based on equal access to quality health care, education and essential utilities / amenities, which services as a fair starting platform for all to aspire to grow. Rights and dignities in such a society are universal, with law enforcers fair and balanced.

As has been said in numerous ways before; how many potential geniuses were snuffed out in the slums before they could ever spark? How fickle is fortune who sends so many falling from grace?

Providing a life beyond subsistence for all, provides greater intellectual capital for industry, a safety net from misfortune, and dignity for those of us who could never stand alone, or who time has exhausted.

The bad cocktail

Maybe neo-liberal ideas could work, if the society held strong social values to champion the lives and opportunities of their neighbours over favour and fortune.

“The wise are informed in what is right, the inferior in what will pay,” being such an example of this idea from Confucius.

Maybe Meritocracy could work, if it truly valued the efforts of all members equitably, for no-one is worthless (service providers shouldn’t need penalty rates just to make ends meet while massive profits from the business activity flow elsewhere).

No, neo-liberal and meritocracy are not compatible philosophies unless we conclude that not all members of a population are true citizens, which of course, I don’t.

And it is the latter – meritocracy – with which I most thoroughly disagree.

Social science shows us that wealth, beyond a given point, is superfluous and even potentially harmful – leading to worse outcomes even for the most wealthy among us.

Seneca also adds, “No man, however, enjoys a blessing that brings anxiety; he is always trying to add a little more. While he puzzles over increasing his wealth, he forgets how to use it. In short, he ceases to be master and becomes a steward.”

Forwarding on from my previous posts on loneliness and slavery, here again, I find common fault with our social practices.

The endlessly hot debates over environmental management, climate change, social wealthfare, refugees, wages / taxes and even same-sex marriage have a level of commonality, with the source being this bad cocktail. Who is a citizen, or deserves to be a citizen, with the same universal rights?

Both sides of the debate fail to understand what it is they are actually debating, because they address the symptom and not the cause. Regardless of the topic, we are only trying to define who is eligible for citizenship within our personal world view.

We will continue to fail to answer any of these issues, leading to needless suffering, unless we start with the central cause to them all.

Who deserves to be our equals?

Nothing but junk: How we buy up loneliness

A recent Lifeline survey found that the majority of respondents felt lonely. Even more respondents believed that loneliness was on the rise.

For me, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes to mind.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs (click for source)
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (click for source)

We live with the endless pursuit of stuff.

Stuff is suppose to make us entertained and more desirable to others. Stuff fills our homes and our spare time. Stuff weighs upon our anxieties.

Yet, to return to Maslow, beyond basic comfort (eg. shelter, warmth etc) and safety, much of the stuff is pointless.

We are sold on the idea that brands provide us with esteem, but does anyone really respect others more because they wear or hold a certain brand?

Even if the answer is yes, is this genuine esteem; after all, its attention is not the result of the person in any way, but only due to the badge they hold? Envy would be a better name for it, but more often, the types of people we would prefer to respect us are not the types of people so caught up in such trivialities as branding.

Brand association also means we spend a lot more on stuff when the generic alternative is just as good or, where the item is actually superfluous, we could live better without it entirely.

Self-actualisation too is not found in stuff. In fact the opposite is often true.

The advertisement shows us the driver cruising on empty roads through forests by sunset, and never the repayment schedule that leaves them pinned to the office desk.

Self-actualisation demands minimal overheads and expensive items that require undue attention and protection. The aim is to have opportunity to learn what fuels the fire in our hearts and minds as well as to provide us with the power to pursue these personal interests.

I entered into the discussion of environmental management from a natural sciences avenue, but the more I’ve learnt, the more I’ve come to realise that the problem is cultural. We are generally unfulfilled and needlessly isolated in a world of abundance and opportunity. We admire people that we typically don’t like and suffer endlessly from buyer’s remorse.

All the while, we churn over resources ever faster, quickly filling up garbage tip after garbage tip. The sigh of disappointment grows, pumping ever more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere and we are left paralysed, unable to stop it.

The valley of lost dreams (click for source)
The valley of lost dreams (click for source)

The problem isn’t new. Thinkers have long recognised that stuff does not bring happiness. Seneca, Epicurus and Lao Tzu are all examples of such thinkers who warned us thousands of years ago.

We are told that we want this stuff, but we fail to listen to the inner self as to what we actually need: The laughter of good friends over lively conversation. The affection of one in particular. To master something for no other reason but the enjoyment of it. To tread on new grounds.

To live.

To achieve a higher level of joy in life, it starts with recognising that the most rewarding goals are not found in material stuff. We need to focus on friendships and pursuing our hobbies.

Rather than a new pair of designer sunglasses, buy a $15 pair of sunnies and spend the rest on a BBQ with mates.

When your mobile plan is up, keep your phone if it’s otherwise fine (or replace it with a reasonable one you can buy outright), move to a SIM only plan and use the money you save to have regular movie nights with close friends once a month.

Reassess the house and car for functionality over prestige.

Make “work less, live more” central to all your future planning.

You’ll feel better for it.

Refugee crisis: are we better than that?

It’s good to see that, globally, we are finally motivated to care about the plight of the growing number of refugees.

In a heart beat, we stopped calling them the sterile term “asylum-seekers” (or more idiotically, illegal asylum-seekers) and recognised them for what they are.

What changed our perception were, primarily two photographs; one of an emotional father on the beach and another, more horrible; a lifeless child on another beach.

“Aren’t we better than this?” many have been asking.

No. No, we’re not better than this. If we were, actions would never have led us to such conclusions.

We’ve had more than a decade of scapegoating refugees as potential terrorists, the eroders of cultural identity and even the cause of job loss or economic weakness. Even since this shift in attitude, our own PM has stated that by helping the refugees we hold in detention camps, we would be rewarding people smugglers.

(A word to the wise: the people smugglers already have the money, they don’t care about the future of these people.)

Refugees are the easy option for that ails your political sphere. Afterall, how often do they have enough of a voice to defend themselves?

We are only ever as good as our behaviour, including, more damningly, those voted in to direct future actions. Polls shouldn’t be just a signal for anxious politicians, but also a gauge of popular attitude.

Policies geared towards coming down hard on refugees have remained popular for years.

No, we’re not better than that.

Sure, a voice of defence for refugees has lingered in the national discourse, but this has been drowned out by red-faced rants wrapped in a makeshift Aussie flag cape. Morality has long tried to be entertained, only to be rejected, on most platforms.

So, again, we’re not better than that.

If we cared about the risks of boat arrival, we would have long recognised that these refugees are not idiots. Just like us, they know just how risky this venture is. Moreover, they often burn the last of their meagre cash supplies on the gamble.

Given a genuine alternative in an Asian country, say a processing office that gave them real hope of refuge, the whole “business model” of the smugglers would be undermined.

Because risky behaviour remains the preferable option also tells us that we are not better than that.

If we were better than this, we would have been proactive, not reactive after some gruesome photos went viral.

It’s always easier to ignore a problem than to face it. Our willingness to warp the problem and to blame the victims speaks volumes to what we will condone.

My only hope is that this is not a mere wisp of concern to quickly be lost the next time a politician points the finger and screams “bogeyman!”

Don’t be hoodwinked.

Allow this to be another step forward in our moral development.

Ultimately, this is only the start of the problem. Not only are the players involved seemed determined to annihilate the Middle East, but food and water security will increasingly shift where people will need to be, simply to live.

Without tolerance, we will fail to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Australian democracy: why we are fighting back

The word ‘democracy’ means something different to each of us. In short, it represents empowered people, with all else open to debate, as it should be.

In Australia, empowerment is embedded with the belief of fairness; the ‘fair go’ for the individual to make a life for themselves, based not on class, but solely merit. Fair opportunity, not privileged positioning.

I have to admit, for most of my three and a half decades of life, the ‘fair go’ felt to have left polite conversation. I believe it quietly sat within the Australian values goodie bag while the market took our imagination with bling, sprawl and SUV’s.

Yet, so nasty and individualistic has this government’s attitude been that it has reminded us of our core sense of fairness.

Make no mistake; the student protests and the March Australia protests are truly free, democratic processes. The Aussie ‘fair go’, is back.

The right to be free from sickness

For a small cost to taxpayers collectively, we all have the right to genuine healthcare. We are all empowered to seek out quality medical help when we need it, regardless of our social status.

It opens the doors to those most disadvantaged and works to Close the Gap for indigenous people. It gives us all a ‘leg up’ in tough times.

For me, as a young and healthy professional, I know I’ve paid more than my share of use of public healthcare.

So what? There will come a time where I am no longer so young or so healthy. I may suffer illness that limits my capacity to earn. My support for Medicare will, at that point, be returned to me. It’s a personal investment as much as it is a social service.

The co-payments may not currently hurt me personally, but the same cannot be said for those who must struggle to make ends meet. For them, a doctor visit, potentially leading to blood tests, x-rays and/or medicine, all add up. Rather than working to Close the Gap, it rips it a new one.

Some might point out that co-payments are limited to the first 10 visits for concession holders. Does the government really need that $70 from a poor person’s pocket, especially when $50 of it goes to research?

Tertiary education

Gina Rinehart once lamented that she had to compete against companies in Africa where they could get away with paying employees little better than crumbs.

Australia is an expensive country when compared to developing countries in Africa. It is expensive not only to pay wages, but also for workers to make ends meet.

What we trade abroad must meet that challenge. Rather than flogging off iron ore, coal and wood to whoever would buy it, we must refine our resources and develop specialised products that include due premium.

We are also moving towards a service based economy. All of which requires a population with specialised tertiary educated to remain globally competitive. Business needs highly trained people.

The proposed changes to the cost of tertiary education may lead to lifelong debt. It will act as a deterrent to family-orientated women and the disadvantaged, reducing our resource of professionals in contrast to the needs of our changing economy.

As Luke Sulzberger recently wrote [my emphasis]; “Would it not be more logical and efficient (not to mention fair) to increase the income tax rate of the demographic earning this “75 per cent more” [the assumed benefit of tertiary education of personal income] to pay for the hike in education fees?”

This would be today’s successful professions passing on the benefits they enjoyed for all the economic perks that come come along with it for themselves (eg. employees and high quality services) as much the country.

Fair go vs. individualism

Mr. Pyne labelled tertiary student protesters a “socialist alternative“. This must have had Joe Hockey squirming uncomfortably in his seat, known to protest against increased university fees in his own youth.

It gets worst for Pyne. The protesters are not calling for a radical change from current situations, but against changes. Is Christopher Pyne suggesting that Australia currently has a socialist leaning already?

Above I’ve tried to illustrate the clear economic benefits of the systems we now have in place.

Moreover, Australian’s believe in a fair go for all. This isn’t some slippery slope to an alternative government, but the acknowledgement that a population full of healthy bodies and fit minds benefit us all and our local marketplace. The most efficient way to empower the Australian population is for us to contribute to the ‘whip round’ when we are in our prime. It all comes back.

Australian’s have always done the heavy lifting, with our working class roots, which allowed Hockey and Pyne to enjoy cheap tertiary education and free health care when they were young.

We are not ignorant, however, and can spot when our government is removing the mechanisms of general empowerment that remain fundamental to Australian culture.

Bring the faith to Australian schools and all hell will break loose.

Firstly, I would like to publicly apologize to my wife for my outburst when I heard the following. I was so appalled that this could even be taken seriously in 21st century Australia.

Straight from ABC news;

“Former teacher and ex-Liberal Party staffer Kevin Donnelly says Australian education has become too secular, and the federation’s Judeo-Christian heritage should be better reflected in the curriculum.”

Now, here’s why I have a problem with that. Take one example, say from the book of Judges, a story relevant to Judeo-Christians.

In short, a mob wanted to rape a male guest of a household, but were convinced in the end to brutalise his female slave instead, ultimately killing her. Her master then, for some reason, thought it was a good idea to cut her to pieces and leave those parts around the country (story below from the King James Version).

How the hell is that of any value to a child’s education?

Why not teach children about Zeus, Thor or  whoever some culture has ever imagined at some point in history?

The reason we don’t is because it is of very limited value apart from a minor historical perspective. Already children spend many hours outside of school completing homework that has real-world application, such as mathematics, science and English. Why would we want to add to this with mythology?

A child is at school to learn facts and practical skills, not dogmatic ideologies that often threaten death and eternal damnation to non-believers. A young mind is impressionable and unlikely to have the skills sets to take such fiction for what it is without fear of suffering if they do not accept it as true.

For this reason, religion must be kept away from a child until they are old enough to make an informed decision.

Furthermore, ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ does not reflect modern Australia. Looking at the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data from 2011, 22.3% of Australian’s stated themselves to be non-religious, just shy of the 25.3% who claimed to be Catholic. Another 24.9% stated that they were other, younger forms of Christian.

So around half of the Australian population consider themselves Christian in some form (remembering that Christians have a long history of fighting amount their various sects so one cannot even consider this group united) and the next biggest group are non-religious, accounting for almost another quarter of Australia, leaving one in four Australians making up the other faiths of the world.

We could add that the comment ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ is insulting. Not only to the half of the population that now do not consider themselves reflected by this, but the various cultures and religions that made up Australia prior to federation.

If anything of culture needs greater representation in schools, it should be the deep history that exists in our indigenous heritage. Not only the dream time stories and cultural significance of landscapes, flora and fauna, but also the modern history that covers the fight for recognition and equality.

This is to most children a complete unknown, which is shameful.

This is why comments made by people like Cory Bernardi about “traditional values” as well as Donnelly’s are increasingly out of date. Bernardi and Donnelly are clearly throw backs to an era that didn’t look like they think it did.

We live in an age that is increasingly humane and well-informed. This has been achieved because we’ve chosen to step away from dogmatic scripture that teaches racism (“god’s people” for instance) and sexism and debated these time-old traditions through humanistic, secular arguments.

It’s a step backwards for my daughter to have to carry a Bible alongside her Biology text book. Both men happily admit that it’s a step backwards, but they would fail to understand why this is a problem.

It’s a massive problem if anyone wants to subject my children to religious education where I send them for life training. If they came home fearful of hell, I would have no problem in confronting the school for child abuse.

Religions get tax breaks to build places to conduct their teachings. Keep it within those walls and by voluntary entry by the faithful and not where evidence and reasoning are suppose to take center-stage for each Australian child.

J’g:19:22: Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.
J’g:19:23: And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.
J’g:19:24: Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.
J’g:19:25: But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.
J’g:19:26: Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.
J’g:19:27: And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.
J’g:19:28: And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.
J’g:19:29: And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.
J’g:19:30: And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds.

Australian government playing dirty behind the scene

The latest in the saga on the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government should have been seen as inevitable to anybody with half a brain or more (which, I can only assume, excludes anyone in the Coalition with a voice).

“Turning back the boats” was an election promise that the largest minority voted for. We voted for it… at least enough of us.

The Indonesian government told us that it was a no go – here’s a regional problem, NOT Australia’s problem. We ought to work it out as a collective of responsible nations and not just sweep it under the Indonesian rug.

Now the UN has cottoned-on to this policy and outlined that it’s very likely illegal to boot.

But the government is proving itself so gutless and unable to adjust its policies to fit in with the realities of foreign sovereignty and international law, that it is apparently carrying out this failed policy in secret, insulting us with claims that to inform the public (who in truth, they are responsible to and speaking on behalf of) will be a security issue.

I lost a friend over the 2013 election, and one of the promises I left her regarded this topic; Abbott may stop the boats (or may not), but the only thing that is certain is that he’ll make a mess along the way. All I can say is, “watch this space”.