Faiths call for compassionate Australia

ron cooking snags

Ron Hutchinson cooks snags for Wendouree Uniting Church Australia Day celebrations in 2017.

Leading up to Australia Day, Christian, Islamic and Jewish representatives have issued a common call for the nation to adopt compassion as its guiding principle.

“Compassion is the key to living the best of lives as a people,” the Australia Day Vision 2019 statement from the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews said.

“We have a vision of Australia guided by the principle that we would not act towards another as we would not want them to act to us.”

This Golden Rule principle can be found in the sacred texts of the three Abrahamic faiths.

The statement said Australia was “a blessed nation of plenty” that “is continually enriched by the wisdom, knowledge and history of the First Peoples”.

However, the statement did not wish to enter the debate about changing the date of national celebration.

“It is our concern that, on this date and on others, we change as Australians, to lead to the fulfilment of each of our own, and our nation’s potential,” the statement said.

“The first step in this involves listening to one another and speaking openly, honestly and thoughtfully.

“We ask that Australia Day 2019 become the beginning of better listening, more compassion and genuine gratitude for all that has been provided to us.”

The statement was signed by National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews co-chairs National Council of Churches Interim General Secretary Ms Elizabeth Stone, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Interfaith Affairs Director Imam Dr Amin Hady and Honorary Life Member of Executive Council of Australian Jewry Mr Jeremy Jones.

Read the full statement below:

AUSTRALIA DAY VISION 2019 – The Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews

As we mark the 231st Anniversary of the establishment of the colony of NSW and the way it led to the birth of modern Australia we, as people of faith, wish to make this contribution to public discussion.

The ancient wisdom of the Psalms contains a call to gratitude. “Let the Nations be glad and sing for joy” (Psalm 67). We are a blessed Nation of plenty. We have challenges, but we have faith that with goodwill and careful leadership we can address them and develop a society which embodies ideals of respect, responsibility and mutual concern.

Australia has become an attractive home for people of many backgrounds and cultures and we are continually enriched by the wisdom, knowledge and history of the First Peoples. If we can flourish and live well together, we can provide a beacon of hope to the whole global family.

With gratitude come questions for a national conversation. How should we now live? What platform do we wish to set for future generations?

Our sources tell us that compassion is the key to living the best of lives as a people.

We have a vision of Australia guided by the principle that we would not act towards another as we would not want them to act to us.

The dynamic of the golden rule is beautifully expressed in the holy texts of our three Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism). In Matthew 7:12 we read: “Therefore whatever you desire for others to do for you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law of the prophets”. In an early surah of the Qur’an, God asks Prophet Muhammad to remember the sorrows of his childhood and make sure no one else in his community would endure this deprivation. (Qur’an Surah 93). The Torah teaches “Love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18)

How wonderful it would be if Australia truly was a place in which no one suffered due to their ethnicity, culture, gender, skin colour, sexual orientation or faith!

It is not our aim to enter the discussion regarding a change of date for what has become our national celebration. It is our concern that, on this date and on others, we change as Australians, to lead to the fulfilment of each of our own, and our Nation’s potential. The first step in this involves listening to one another and speaking openly, honestly and thoughtfully.

We ask that Australia Day 2019 become the beginning of better listening, more compassion and genuine gratitude for all that has been provided to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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