There is a lot of hate in the world. You don’t need me to
tell you that. Look anywhere and you will see it. It’s always been that way,
but I think it is getting marginally better.
I mean, my grandparents grew up during World War Two, which
was a famously not-good time. My parents were still alive during the White
Australia policy and lived through the end of the Cold War. Even homosexuality
was still considered a crime in some parts of Australia in my lifetime.
So in a lot of different ways things are better than before.
But in the face of Trump and Hanson 2.0, the alt-right and any internet comment
section anywhere, things couldn’t look worse.
But I don’t know. I try to do the right thing but it all
seems pretty hopeless. I’m not sure, overall, that people are good at heart.
But I do think they have the capacity to be.
I’ve recently listened to some of Wil Anderson’s podcast,
“Wilosophy”, which is pretty fantastic. I especially recommend Jane Caro’s
episode, and I recommend her being in charge of everything. I’ve thought about
how I might answer Wil’s question to his guests – “what is your philosophy?”
Apart from the obvious “watch all the movies that you can”
I’ve had to give it a lot of thought. I didn’t grow up with religion to guide
my beliefs and in fact, actively avoided it once I was old enough. But I did
watch plenty of TV and honest to God, I think that left a bigger impact on my
moral viewpoints than any Sunday sermon.
So to answer Wil’s question, I think I’d answer in a few
ways. First, you should always try to do the right thing, which sounds a lot
easier than it really is. You’ll screw up, but at least you have to try. If we
all leave things a bit better than we found them, then things wouldn’t be so
bad, would they?
But the most important thing I’ve realised lately is this –
everyone is doing the best with what they’ve got. And everyone is affected by
limited time and access. This can be applied to just about everything, but I
think it’s most pertinent in regard to the whole hate thing I started this
So while I don’t doubt there are some people who know better
but still continue to peddle their particular form of hatred, I’d wager more
people out there are simply working with the best information and empathy they
can muster with the time they can devote to certain issues and the level access
they are granted.
As an example, if all working class white people in Australia
had the time and access to refugees, I doubt they’d approve of our country’s
approach to border control. And I’m sure they’d find that Muslims are just
people like you and me.
The same goes for climate change. If everyone started with
the same knowledge base, I doubt so many of us would choose to doubt 99% of
But not everyone has the time to meet with asylum seekers or
the capacity to understand complicated science. And when you’re struggling to
feed your kids and have never met a gay person, it can be hard to worry about
something like same-sex marriage. And I’m not perfect. I see it myself –
sometimes I just have to switch off from all news because the stress of my
personal life can’t handle the latest crisis here or overseas.
If time and access were unlimited, wouldn’t we all be better
people? There would always be disagreements, but at least they’d be from a
nuanced, legitimate position.
But that’s not going to happen is it? At the very least, you
can start to see why some people are the way they are when you realise they’re
just doing their best.
I’m not sure it’s much of a philosophy. I don’t think it
covers everything, or if it even helps. If you can begin to understand hate,
then maybe that’s a good first step. I’m heartened by history, by the fact that
things usually seem to work out in the end. Even if there’s a lot of hate along
the way, always.
To me, it’s not so important that good always conquers evil –
it’s that good exists at all.