We don’t seem to have heard much from Eden-Monaro by-election candidates about the Coalition’s raising of fees for humanities degrees or further cuts to ABC funding? The erosion of each of these has significant repercussions for the nature of our society.
The rationale for raising fees for the humanities is that the government want an emphasis on job-focused areas of study. At face value, this seems reasonable enough.
But if we inquire more deeply, we might see the shaping of a society that increasingly views people as individual units of production and consumption – a merely mechanistic culture.
The cuts to ABC underscore the devaluing of a more “human” society. The arts, philosophy, history, theology and so on appear to be seen by this government as unnecessary expenses in a world geared towards satisfying the demands of an economy of unlimited growth.
And this world view underlies the utter intransigence of the Coalition in regard to acting seriously in the face of the climate crisis. Nature herself has become industrialised, mechanised and degraded by our human activity.
We will all be the poorer for it. The original purpose of education – paideia in ancient Greece – was to be a formation in growth towards wisdom.
Today, it appears to be simply a jobs factory.
A society undergirded by a wholistic education with the humanities valued as developing a whole, thinking, questioning human being is essential.
We are meant for more than just production and consumption. We can be more than simply fodder for a technologised and industrialised world in which the other-than-human world has been so destroyed that we lose touch with what it means to be human.
Human activity is significantly contributing to the climate warming which fuelled the drought, which fuelled the devastating fires we have just come through and will face again.
Apparently, one of the Eden-Monaro by-election candidates suggests we just need to do more hazard reduction burning. The science does not support this view. It is a simplistic response.
We must, as a whole society, inquire more deeply into the way in which we are shaping both the present and the future. What we know is that we need to urgently reduce our use of fossil fuel emissions in the form of coal and gas. The economy must be seen as a partner and enabler of the ecology.
Renewable energy means a renewable economy. Jobs are meant to support a whole society – the common good – not just the profit of corporations. And the common good is grounded in care for the whole environment.
We are rapidly running out of time. We cannot afford to placate climate deniers. We need governments that have the vision and wisdom to lead into a viable future.
We, the people, have critical choices to make.
Reverend Linda Chapman OAM is the rector of the Anglican Parish of Moruya, and Open Sanctuary in Tilba Tilba.