Talking the talk

Violent extremism is a challenge to the most fundamental Australian values. We are the most successful multicultural society in the world. None of us can look in the mirror and say “All Australians look like me.” Australians look like every race, like every culture, like every ethnic group in the world…

Posted by Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday, 8 October 2015

If one has to look for differences between our previous PM and our current one, you don’t need to look much further than the opening paragraph in Mr Turnbull’s facebook post. Where Abbott always sought to divide us, Mr Turnbull seeks to unite. This is a no-brainer basic criteria for any national leader and it’s terrible that what should be taken for granted in our political leadership is now something that I am lauding.

Lest readers think that Mr Turnbull then goes on to hector about the rights of minorities within a multicultural society (as sometimes happens from the left), he instead reminds us of our responsibilities:

“Every religion, every faith, every moral doctrine understands the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So if we want to be respected, if we want our faith, our cultural background to be respected, then we have to respect others. That is a fundamental part of the Australian project.”

Without having to state it, we know that this applies equally to haters of all stripes.

I’m still not decided if Mr Turnbull will be able to walk the talk, but at least on the level of principles, I am proud for the first time in years of our PM.

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Where are you from? No, where are you really from?

As anyone with an accent and/or who doesn’t quite conform to a thankfully fast-fading stereotype of what a “real” Australian looks like, that sequence of questions is familiar, often irritatingly so. It’s also one that I haven’t been asked for many years probably almost a decade now until one night at Burning Seed around the fire.

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Thank you but …

… I’d rather make my own drink. Fix my own food. Bring my own stuff. Sleep in my own space.

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Burning Man (kinda) Part 2

Not Burning Seed

I caught a glimpse of what Burning Seed was about during the final night when the Temple was burnt. As everyone sat down quietly to watch a small (if beautiful) structure go up in flames in which many had inscribed messages in the days before, I could almost see that mix of prayers, insults, jokes, well-wishes and general graffiti waft up with the smoke and embers. It wasn’t a bad metaphor of what happens in general to the loftiest ideals of transforming societies or cultures.

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Burning Man (kinda)

We’ll be packing up our van and heading almost 6 hours north to the Australian version of the famous Burning Man festival. It’s called Burning Seed and will go for around 6 days starting tomorrow. It has the same ten principles that Burning Man has and like all grand motherhood statements, it’s hard to tell what it all means until you see it in action. Given that Burning Seed has been going now for around 4 or 5 years, it should be stable enough to see how those principles translate to Australia especially as some of them are almost a given these days even if the practice is not as consistent as it should be (leave no trace for example).

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