The sensible centre: reason, compassion and tolerance

By | 10 Nov 2018

March for Science in Melbourne, Australia, on 22nd April, 2017, on the steps of the State Library in Swanston StreetHumanists make decisions using reason, compassion and tolerance, as do many Australians.  We are the people who occupy the sensible centre on attitudes and issues.  We are not extremists.  When given a choice, those in the sensible centre support evidence-backed policies that enhance life for ourselves and others.  An example from late 2017 was the same-sex marriage plebiscite, when over 61% of Australians voted yes.

Another example comes from polling and interviews of electors in Wentworth, prior to the 20 October 2018 by-election.  Most gave among their top priorities: humane action on refugees held on Nauru and Manus, and real action on climate change by cutting back emissions.

Yet these issues were not policy priorities of the Liberals, whose candidate, David Sharma, had the unenviable task of trying to retain a seat they had held since federation.  Sharma’s task was made doubly difficult by the dumping of Wentworth’s previous popular member, Malcolm Turnbull, as Prime Minister in late August 2018 for no comprehensible, objective reason.

As a consequence many electors voted for independent candidates, such as the local and well-known former president of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Kerryn Phelps, who was advocating better treatment for refugees and action on climate change.

Since the loss of Wentworth to Phelps, there has been a small shift in government action on refugees, with a group of distressed children and family members from Nauru being brought to Australia. Hopefully, with more pressure from disgusted electors, all asylum seekers currently held will be released to appropriate locations, including Australia.

On emission reduction to limit global warming and climate change, an issue with huge implications for the future of humans and other species, the Coalition government has failed dismally to enact even modest proposals. And what they have said since the by-election indicates they are not rethinking this crucial issue.

The humanist approach to living through the use of reason, seeking evidence, showing compassion and care for others, including animals, and tolerance of non-harmful views and actions is worth promoting.  The sensible centre needs to be active in advocating for refugees and emission cut-backs, among other important issues.  If you have any ideas  the Humanist Society of Victoria can get involved in, please send us your suggestions.

Reproduced from Victorian Humanist, Vol. 57, No. 10, November 2018

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