Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are we failing the ANZAC ideal?

I've a column in the Sydney Morning Herald today: 'Cherishing the Anzac spirit - as long as it's not going to cost'.

I'm arguing that the ANZAC ideal is narrow but important one - and many Australians who esteem it are falling well short. A sample:
For some Australians, the idea of sacrificing dollars - not one's life or health - for the common good is affronting. They react with righteous fury at the mere mention of ''tax'', and treat the plan with hostility and suspicion. Gone are old ideas of mutual aid and stoic generosity. Climate change is someone else's problem. 
My point is not that the government and its plans are flawless, but that it is very difficult to reconcile the ideal of Anzac sacrifice with the reality of contemporary selfishness. 
We remember the Anzac generations, not only to commemorate their virtues, but also to encourage our own. Lest we forget.
(Photo: ABC)


Shannon Garson said...

Thank you Damon! I have great difficulty with the celebration of nationalism and militarism that ANZAC day has become. I think remembering thw sacrifices made in the name of war is important but the myths that have risen around ANZAC day are dangerous. Sacrifice can come in all forms, working together for the good of all is a wonderful thing to celebrate.

climatenonconformist said...

And tell me, what common good will be achieved with this carbon tax? How much of an impact will it have on the climate, for all the sacrifice that we're going to make? To invoke the Anzac legend to make a point about something like the carbon tax is disgusting.

Just an Aussie said...

To Shannon, Obviously you then object to the peace and freedom we have in Australia, gotten and made available by the same people who do maintain and celebrate our traditions as they are? If you know our Australian military to be an organization to be scared of, put your evidence forward now. I was an Australian soldier for thirty years and i can assure you there is nothing to be afraid of, as you are trying to infer. Sure, there are myths that stretch the truth at times, but regardless of all the revisionist academics out there that want to tare down everything they can get there grubby paws on to satisfy bullshit academic thinking, the truth is the normal citizens of this country did forge a grand tradition that did help form Australian traditions and values, even though some may not be unique to Australia, they are still "Australianised" by us. And Lastly put down in factual terms how exactly this carbon tax is going to stop the worlds carbon production and when ?

Phil Rutherford said...

ood evening,

I enjoyed your article in yesterday's SMH - aside, that is, from having to grapple with your bridge between the sacrifice that the ANZAC's made and Julia Gillard's Carbon Tax.

As a veteran myself I have trouble seeing any parallel between what I and my mates went through and the pain that is already being caused by bodies such as electrical authorities ramping prices up and telling us that it is all the fault of the Carbon Tax.

Whether one agrees with the tax or not (and I don't) the sacrifices I have to now make in order that Ms Gillard's government can bring its budget back into 'the black' has in no way any comparison with the sacrifice that I was prepared to make (and some of my best friends did make) in order to rid our world of an evil and vicious scourge which would have, if left unfettered, enslaved us all.

It is disappointing that the spirit of ANZAC is being used so much to further certain interests which have, at best, dubious links to what I and my mates put ourselves through - and many continue to put themselves through.

It would do your reputation far greater good if you were to pick parallels which are more easily linked to the message you are trying to express.

Kind regards

Phil Rutherford Ph.D

Damon Young said...

Thanks for your comments. And thank you to JaA and Phil for your service.

I don't think carbon tax will magically solve the problem of climate change. It's just a small start. And it also puts us in a better position to work with other countries, i.e. having begun to do our bit (more of the 'common good' idea).

I also have no faith that this government will manage it well. (Which I noted in the column.)

On ANZAC, my point wasn't that economic sacrifice and military sacrifice are the same thing. They're not, and you'd be rightly pissed off or aghast if I wrote that they were. I'd hoped that my point was clear - perhaps not.

My point was that Australians today, who respect the ANZAC ideal, might like to ask themselves: What sacrifices can I make towards the common good? What virtues did the ANZACs have, that I might have? This is why I wrote of the generation, including my great-grandmother.

I genuinely think these are very important questions.

Nathan Ellery said...

To compare those who laid down their lives for freedom with our present government who are betraying our freedom is just simply disgusting.
That a philosopher seems to have little knowledge of the big picture that is the 'carbon tax' and accepts it at face value... well, you need to get out more.
It will do nothing for the climate as we have so little bearing on what the climate does, something that is and will bear out as time goes on and the truth is revealed further.
It will however and is already significantly damaging our financial future.
If you really are 'genuinely' concerned, do some more research outside the box. Look across to the dark side. You should have sufficient education to examine the presentation from both sides and weigh up. Follow the money! To stay where you are is to risk your future reputation on a world scale con.


Realist-Yeah said...

Nathan I believe you touch on the main point. Follow the money.

4 years ago this was "the greatest moral issue of our time" (Or whatever the quote was)....and now it is nothing but a bit part in left wing politics.

Scaremongering offers no recourse....Sars...Nuclear holocausts...Climate Change, wait sorry global warming wasn't it?

jazza said...

The comunity spirit and ideals for the common good become more evident during war time. It seems people are more willing to make sacrifices protecting life itself more than the quality of life. In war time the community's sacrifice for the common good were an expression of necessity: It was unacceptable that their children would suffer oppression and pain because of there selfishness, thus it was necessary, it was duty. Social justice is rarely discussed in terms of duty in modern discourse. The Discussion is now based on values more so than principals. I think part of the reason for this Is that the wiliness for self sacrifice is based on contrast. This is a quote from "Mobey DIck"
"The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more"
This is my point. The Anzac suffered so that we wouldn't. They felt the cold and so pulled up the blanket(sacrifice) and knew they would be warm. We have been comfortable so long we don't know what comfort is. Thus don't value it enough to invest in its security and financially support climate change. I believe the two crisis are comparable.Another contribution to hesitant self sacrifice is that war is a reality but dought flood and sea level rising are only potentiality ( all be it an assured one).