Making a difference in the age of high-speed politics

My latest article on Eureka Street looks at our ailing political era in which leaders are expendable and political expedience has driven out all trace of idealism:

Those of us motivated more by idealism or by the simple desire for strong and stable governance cannot help but feel dismayed and discouraged by the now half-decade of leadership instability and political melodrama that persists like the dying seasons of a once-popular TV show.


Like the pursuit of profit as the over-riding concern of big business, the pursuit of office at all costs has gradually stripped big politics of any extraneous, inefficient, aesthetic, idiosyncratic or genuinely amateur qualities — unless they poll well in the electorate, of course. Efficiency translates into uniformity and conformity, with even the Prime Minister himself forced to adhere to the prevailing ideology of his peers in exchange for their political endorsement.

Australia’s complex multi-culture

My latest article at Eureka Street examines the complexities of Australia’s multiple cultures, and the challenge of cultivating overarching, common values across society.

I wrote this piece some time ago, but news of the siege in Sydney broke just as it was about to be published. We can only hope and pray the siege ends peacefully.

Anyone who happens to live outside the predominant football and cricket cultures can attest that culture clash, exclusion, and alienation can be equally powerful within ethnic boundaries. It may seem petty to compare social and sporting interests to the divisions between different ethnicities, but we shouldn’t underestimate the significance of these phenomena. It is not hyperbole to refer to Australia’s drinking culture, barbecue culture, beach culture, business culture, consumer culture, and so on. We can quite often have more in common with people from different religious and ethnic groups than with people from our own ethnicity whose lifestyles and interests are totally divergent.

Tonti-Filippini’s intellectual quest undaunted by physical pain

Eureka Street asked me to write a brief obituary for the late Professor Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, the prominent and distinguished Australian Bioethicist.  I met the Professor a few times while I was working in bioethics.  He was an exemplary intellectual, and I never knew until later that he was suffering all the while with severe illness and debilitating pain.  According to a 2011 report, he was at that stage undergoing dialysis four nights per week.

Having quoted Sertillanges in the published obituary, I’ll leave you with another quotation that seemed fitting for a man who was, in addition to his intellectual virtues, a devout and faithful Catholic:

“when the thinker thinks rightly, he follows God step by step; he does not follow his own vain fancy. When he gropes and struggles in the effort of research, he is Jacob wrestling with the angel and ‘strong against God’.”

The unfolding logic of euthanasia

Eureka Street has just published my latest article, this time on the euthanasia of a psychiatrically disturbed Belgian prisoner, serving a life-sentence for rape and murder. As far as controversies go, this one is brimming with ethical questions and challenges. Read a little about them here:

A Belgian court recently granted permission for a psychiatrically ill prisoner to be euthanised. Having worked in bioethics, I find it hard to avoid a morbid fascination with the gradual unfurling of euthanasia in nations where it has had a chance to become firmly established. While members of the public are usually shocked to hear of each new milestone, from an ethical perspective there are no real surprises.

Thinking beyond gender equality etiquette

My latest article has been published on Eureka Street, wherein I bring a bit of Chinese philosophy to bear on the ideal approach to gender equality:

Our family performed well in regard to key gender equality concepts described in the report, such as: power-sharing and decision-making within relationships, whilst avoiding stereotypical ideas of gender roles, ‘benevolent sexism’, hostility towards women and gender equality, and narrow ideals of masculinity and femininity, including objectification of women. Yet the concept of gender or of gender equality was never explicitly invoked. Instead it was simply common sense that we ought to treat people as individuals and have concern for their individual well-being.