The best gift we can give this year

I have one simple request from my fellow Australians this Christmas and I hope it’s something we can all at least try to embrace in 2014.

For Christmas, can we please get our compassion back?

Something nasty crept into the Australian collective consciousness this year and if it’s a sign of things to come we’ve got a tough year ahead.

It was a year in which sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a wide range of other phobias and “isms” were issues often at the forefront of the public space, but in many cases felt like we’ve backtracked and gone back to “protecting our own”. It’s a gross binary opposition against whatever particular enemy we choose at the time and it’s contributing deeply to this nastiness we’ve seen over the year.

Our politics demonstrated this with one of the most toxic years we’ve seen in a while, where compassion seemed to be the last thing on the agenda. Instead of aiming to be a more cohesive, more connected community we became even more of a blind cheer squad for “our” ideologies and forgot the people in our community who need us the most.

Australians, of all people around the world, have the most to be thankful for. We’re still one of the most privileged, secure and lucky countries in the world, but somehow we’ve bought into the rhetoric that we’ve got it so bad we can forget our most vulnerable and needy both at home and internationally.

So if there’s one thing I can ask of my fellow Australians it’s this – As you (hopefully) enjoy your Christmas Day take a moment to cherish the things you and I are so lucky for in this country, take that good energy and spirit, think of those who don’t have it so lucky heading into 2014 and do something about it. Make a commitment and decide how you plan to make our community a more loving and caring place in 2014.

The greatest gift you can give this Christmas is to bring some compassion back into our community.

Merry Christmas and thank you to all the wonderful people I’ve shared my year with both offline and online. Many of you have given me hope we can bring that compassion and care for each other back. Thank you.

-JB

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