It’s time to get tough!

Well, here it is – my first ever blog. And I have decided to write about something that has been bothering me for a very long time.

I’m not sure when it happened but somewhere along the line we seem to have decided that public policy in Australia would be good if we could call it ‘tough’ and bad if it could be described as ‘soft’.

I have always believed that the aim of public policy in a democratic nation state was to create, build, enable and enliven; to contribute to the development of a society that was safe, inclusive, healthy and prosperous; a society where everyone would be able to contribute according to their capacity and their dreams; a society that valued and encouraged learning, respect, the exercise of mutual care and concern, the growth of creativity and the flourishing of individual and communal imagination; a sustainable, compassionate and generous society. Obviously I was wrong.

The shameful debacle of the public policy debate around asylum seekers in Australia continues because the Labor Government – which started its term so positively in shifting (a little) to more humane and decent (as opposed to punitive, xenophobic and harmful) policies – has caved in to the pressure to re-present its policies as ‘tough’. Julia Gillard’s supposedly, but not really, ‘new’ policies will ‘wreck’ people smugglers. Wreck them, she said, wreck them! Them’s are fighting words. Those are words deliberately chosen to ease our anxious souls – we have no need to fear, the Gillard Government can be as tough as any!

But that’s not all. Paradoxically as our anxieties are meant to be eased, we are told that it is quite OK to feel anxious. How does that work?

I had always believed that a good leader was supposed to ease our anxieties, especially those based on ignorance and fear. Again, I’ve obviously had it wrong for quite some time.

Oh well, I will get back to trying to come to terms with those fabulously ‘tough’ policies designed to wreck things and people. I’ll try to work on my own ‘softness. I am far too much of a bleeding heart and we all know how bad that is: that is so bad that it deactivates any inherent capacity to be tough. It’s time to get tough on the bleeding hearts!

Here ends the first blog.