Politics and Universal Ethics South Australian Launch
The Honourable Dennis Hood MLC (Family First), Parliament of South Australia
There are a few reflections I’d like to make on the content of the book before I talk about the overall themes if you like. But the first thing that really struck me when I read this book (and very few books I’ve read in my life – and I’m an avid reader have caused that reaction – it was quite a moment for me in a way, but when I read this book I reflected on the saying that everyone in politics, or most people in society, but certainly everyone in politics, has a book in them. They’re really trying to tell a story and they’re trying to do it in public arena. That’s why they go into politics, so the theory goes.
I was really quite taken by this book and how it addresses what is an essential aspect of what I as a MP go about doing every single day. We live in a society where the secular voice is becoming louder and louder in society and, what you might call, the values voice, or what was once called the ‘religious voice’, these days we might call it ‘the voice of faith’, is not as loud as it once was. It doesn’t have the prominence that it once did and can be in some cases even ridiculed in a way that it never has been or so frequently was in the past. To me that seems to be one of the central themes of this book. The scales have shifted. Our society has become a place where as Steven has well said, those avenues aren’t held in the esteem they were once held.
The book goes into a great deal of detail about this, but I like some of the passages in particular. On page 113 it says something which applies to Australia although the book talks about Europe and the U.S and the Victorian part a lot, “the moral relativism which appears in the governments of Western, Christian society in Europe and of late in America (and I’ll put in brackets in South Australia and Australia), unhinges them from the … origins of their culture.” And it goes on to sort of talk about the Judeo Christian ethics that have underpinned our society for centuries and the very clear point which we are at now, which is like when we talk about having a Cold War through the 50’s into the 80’s: the analogy I would make is that the Cold War of our years is that of faith vs secularism in our current society. And that war isn’t so cold anymore actually, it’s quite hot at times, not in the sense that we’re firing missiles at each other, not just yet, but they are in some parts of the world. So I think this book is presented at a very timely point in history.
I remember a statistic from about two months ago which I shared with a [prayer?] breakfast that I spoke at last week, and it is something that is worth repeating. It is that in the U.S many more children, I think it was 2 to 1, are familiar with the characters in Sponge Box Square Pants than they are with the story of Noah’s Ark. The underpinnings of the great stories of the Christian and Jewish faiths have, in a generation, been swept away from the common experience of people as they grow up and that of course has had a massive impact on our Parliaments, Parliamentarians and the laws that are passed on those Parliaments. We now have Euthanasia Laws presented commonly, laws to change all sorts of things, the value of human life is not held and regarded as it once was because of all these issues.
I think this is a book at the right time. It talks about all those sorts of issues and actually gives practical advice on how MP’s, such myself, and those that support MP’s, such as yourself, can have a voice in that sort of battle. And I think, the thing I particularly like about the book is right at the end, it ends on a very positive note, saying it believes, or rather the author believes, Shimon, that with a targeted campaign and with a genuine concerted effort at the faith forces, put it that way, the argument for faith, can prevail. And certainly that’s my hope.