Yesterday, B.I.N. went to Trentham - at least Margaret Lay, Margaret Lenan-Ellis and I did. As we walked along the main street, Margaret L-E's eye was caught by the headline "Why we hate refugees". We paused and discussed it. It is an article in the latest edition of The Monthly. It is by Christos Tsiolkas.
The article is well-constructed, well written and his argument is well made - as one would expect, from one of the nation's leading writers and recorders of our social relationships. It is not a short article. The best journalism is in long-form done by people of the calibre of Tsiolkas and published, these days, in journals such as The Monthly. Certainly, this sort of journalism is seldom found in the newsprint editions of Murdoch and Fairfax.
Jana Favero's story is included in the article. Some of us remember her from the Bendigo Forum in June which sought new approaches in speaking for the interests of refugees and asylum seekers. This goes to the heart of Tsiolkas' article. The level of our conversation. Our focus on matters of small relevance while ignoring the topics of larger relevance.
This is why I believe our interfaith work to be of such great value when done well. Interfaith brings us into contact with all sorts of people, beliefs, ethnicities and points of view. Our Ballarat Interfaith Network motto of "Conversations not conversions" speaks volume for our attitudes. We are clear that we wish to be respectful, we want to hear the viewpoints of others - and we understand how different we human beings all can be.
So I hope you can make yourself a cup of coffee - well, you may need two or perhaps three - and settle in the sun with this article and have a good think at what Tsiolkas is saying to us and about us. Out of all our good thinks just might come a different discourse and different attitudes - and the new approaches we dreamed of in Bendigo.