The Eve of the Eve of Yom Kippur

The house, emptied now of the insurrection that is a bunch of grandboys on school holidays, is quiet. These are the peaceful moments when the house exhales, the pulses slow and thought recovers.

Tonight is the night before the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, our Sorry Day. What am I sorry for? For what need I atone? Almost all my sins are those committed in words: I am sorry for the words shouted in anger at my grandrats, sorry for careless slights and unkind witticisms, sorry for speaking faster than my thinking.
And as this blog consists of words, I should search them.

I wrote (in How we Killed Leo) unkindly of Mister Scott Morrison. Elsewhere I have written uncharitably of Mr Shorten and Mr Abbott. All of these public people have private families who would feel wounded when writers such as I play the man instead of attacking the issue. I referred – wittily I felt – to our homegrown press baron as Murd. I should wash my mouth out. I am sorry for the hurt I have done those men and their families.

I remain sorry – and ashamed – that we Australians choose representatives who follow our baser instincts instead of those who might lead us and inspire our finer selves.

In the person of the successor in Sydney to Cardinal Pell, we might have found such a leader. On the morning after his accession the new archbishop spoke like one repentant for wrongs, transparent in confession, compassionate towards those hurt, and creative and courageous in his declared resolve to seek out his brother clerics in the Muslim community, ‘to find ways we can work together to heal our community’. This on the very morning we all read of the arrest of one Australian suspected of plotting to kidnap and behead another – any other – Australian.

A few weeks ago a Jewish democrat, tirelessly active in the struggle to improve our policies towards refugees, shared with me a bright new idea. “Howard,” he said, “Instead of attacking politicians I want to mobilise members and leaders of all of Australia’s faith communities to work together with government to create some softer policies that will be less cruel in their effects on those already here and kept in limbo.” Many, many are the Australians who wish our practices were not so harsh. Many are ashamed. Many have raised voices – as I have – in rancour. What I heard now was the echo of the quiet wisdom of Petro Georgiou, former Member for Kooyong, the man who spoke softly to a hard-faced Prime Minister and brought some humanity into policy.

As the prophet said, “Come, let us reason together.”

7 thoughts on “The Eve of the Eve of Yom Kippur

  1. Indeed, and the Danes have their failures, but they know exactly who they are and why. There was something going on which involved accommodation, not agreeing with the indoctrination, but not starting from the ‘You’re wrong’ statement. The problem is it takes time to listen properly and time spent on ‘baddies’, as you point out, wins no votes.


  2. I think you can say with certainty that this will work better than the shouting. We saw a programme recently about how, in Denmark, returning Danes who went to Syria to fight for whoever are welcomed and helped, very carefully, to re-integrate. Here in the UK, the plan is to deny returners their citizenship, arrest them and treat them with the utmost severity. Want to take bets on which method will have the better long-term consequences?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary

      You give me pause to think freshly

      I would feel pessimistic about both approaches

      Those who are indoctrinated to this bloodthirsty for a deity are not easily exdoctrinated , I should think

      The uk approach sounds savage, winning votes and losing hearts

      As we know

      There is nothing like a Dane

      Nothing you can name

      That is anything like a Dane



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