The Centre for Ethics
Newsletter Volume 70 - Term 3, 2013
The good life
“What makes a life worth living?” In The Good Life, Hugh Mackay’s book has stepped out of the frame of social research and asked a deeper and more challenging question: “What makes a life worth living?” According to Mackay, we are in a phase where we seem to have become preoccupied with happiness and selfesteem whereas we know that some of the most important lessons we learn about ourselves and what it means to be human come out of the experience of tragedy, sadness, disappointment or failure. Not that he is suggesting we chase such times of hardship. They will find us sooner or later. Rather, he is saying in this book that in order to experience the richness of what it means to be fully human we need to understand that life is not about happiness. It is about wholeness. We need to experience the full range of human emotions as they come to us and we need to learn how to deal with all of them. At a time when there are so many books, articles and conferences about happiness, it is a controversial and rather countercultural stance to take.
Hugh Mackay has spent his life as a social researcher, documenting what Australians do and why we do it. His fourteen books include nine in the field of social analysis, social psychology and ethics. He was the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board, a deputy chairman of the Australia Council and one of the founders of the St James Ethics Centre. He frequently contributes to
discussions on ABC Radio National and appears on ABC television. He was highly visible during April this year when his latest book The Good Life was released. There was a particularly good discussion between Jane Hutcheon and Hugh Mackay on Channel 24’s One Plus One.
The common good
By the ‘good life’, Hugh Mackay means a life that is “characterised by goodness, a morally praiseworthy life, a life valuable in its impact on others, a life devoted to the common good.” In others words, the focus is away from the self and towards other people. It reminds me of the words in a much loved Anglican grace before meals which refers to being “ever mindful of the needs of others.” It is interesting that the idea of mindfulness has made something of a come back in our day, particularly in contemporary discussions about Buddhism and meditation.
In the preface to The Good Life, Hugh Mackay dwells on this perspective away from obsession with the self to an awareness of others. A good life, he writes, is “marked by a courteous respect for others’ rights, a responsiveness to others’ needs (including, most particularly, their need to be taken seriously) and a concern for others’ wellbeing. A person living this life will be motivated by kindness and compassion.”
www.abc.net.au/health/features/ stories/2012/10/25/3618470.htm#. UY2-1s2BLCQ Mackay is certainly asking people to practise mindfulness.
A spacious and tolerant view The author has always been interested in religious questions and he devotes quite a bit of space in this book to an examination of the place of religion in a good life. He grew up in a fundamentalist household and has made his way out of that into a more spacious and tolerant view of the world.
Why live the good life?
Who are we?
Hugh Mackay is critical of people who push their views about religion onto others. These include militant atheists as well as fundamentalists from the various religions of the world. He thinks that some modern day atheists are themselves fundamentalists. So he writes that “When the British biologist Richard Dawkins criticises religion for the fanaticism or cruelty of some of its followers, or for their blind embrace of scriptures riven with contradictions, this sounds less like a criticism of religious faith, per se, and more like an attack on fundamentalism. (Ironically, Dawkins is himself something of a fundamentalist, with his relentless one-note samba, his rigid dogma, his deification of science, his unshakable resistance to mystery or ambiguity and his unwillingness to acknowledge the value of religious faith for millions of people.)” Is this fair to Dawkins? Discussions about him generate great heat. I once had a discussion with him on radio and he seemed more reasonable than many of the talk-back callers. Whatever of all that, Hugh Mackay allows room for religious faith within the good life. Not everybody does.
This is a book that reflects an optimism about human nature. Hugh Mackay strikes me as much more an “original blessing” rather than an “original sin” sort of person. He believes that we have a great capacity for goodness. He believes that the way to live the good life is to be good for pure reasons. It is not about reward. As he writes: “In fact, the good life offers no promise of reward, either public or private. It certainly offers no glittering prospect of praise or recognition. We don’t live the good life at home, at work or in any of the settings of our life for any reason other than our recognition that this is the best way for humans to live. To do otherwise is to deny the nobler aspects of our nature. Yes, we humans are capable of all kinds of nastiness, ruthlessness and insensitivity; our innate potential for goodness can be undermined by negative formative experiences. But we were born to be good guys.”
Mackay concedes that the golden rule sets an unrealistically high standard. “And then you hear that insistent message, echoing through the philosophical traditions of East and West: treat other people the way you’d like to be treated.” Responding to the observation that there is consensus about this across diverse cultures, he makes the point that the question ‘Who am I?’ turns out to be far less significant than the question ‘Who are we?’. It reminds me of the philosopher Gabriel Marcel’s emphasis on the importance of our communal nature and his assertion that our essential self is about the social, not the individual. Marcel made the famous remark: “I hope in you for us.” We are all caught up in a life together. It is not simply the individual’s lonely struggle to be victorious over the rest of humanity. The Good Life will resonate for those with a similar view.
Frank Sheehan School Chaplain Director of the Centre for Ethics
The Good Life has a chapter entitled ‘Do Unto Others…’ in which Mackay makes the point that, in establishing ethical foundations, people keep going back to the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Regarding this rule, he notes that there is ample guidance from ancient Egypt, China and Greece. He states that versions of it are found in religious traditions from Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism and the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, he understands why people would baulk at living according to its demands.
EcoCare Climate Justice Exhibition From 21 June, Christ Church Grammar School will be hosting the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) EcoCare Climate Justice Exhibition. The exhibition
highlights the important work the Anglican Church is doing with its partners in Australia and overseas to support communities most affected by
the changing climate. The exhibition showcases nine canvases, each with stories from the field. Classes will be taken to see the exhibition.
ABM works with the Anglican Church of Melanesia, focusing on the preservation of reefs and coastal land, helping to mobilise affected communities, providing food and water security, and improved health and sanitation.
ABM is working with the Anglican Church of Melanesia in Vanuatu to implement water and sanitation projects across the two Vanuatu dioceses. All water projects are now part of a broader community consultation process. This gives the church skills in community consultation and community development, and it gives communities control over decisionmaking.
An example is by increasing water access by the construction of sand dams, where water is harvested during the rainy seasons. These supply water for domestic use, small scale irrigation and livestock. Women benefit from reduced walking distances to the water source and waiting times have also been decreased, giving them more time for other productive activities. Another aspect of the project is to improve food security and income generation. Farmers grow vegetables in the off season, with enough crops to feed their families and to sell for income. Training is given on good agricultural practices, focusing on planting drought tolerant crops, terracing and planting tree nurseries for food, shade and income.
Photo: Don Brice
ABM works in partnership with the Anglican Church of Kenya by supporting the work of Ukamba Christian Community Services (UCCS). The project aims to improve the livelihoods of local communities through an integrated approach to make them more resilient to the effects of climate change.
In the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, low lying islands have been feeling the effects of sea level rises for some years. About 12,000 people live in the affected outlying coral atolls of Ontong Java, Sikaiana and Reef Islands in the Solomons, and some of the Torres Islands in Northern Vanuatu. Rising sea levels over a number of years have reduced agricultural yields, as ground water salinity increases. These islands are only 1.5 metres above sea level, so any rise has a dramatic impact. As sea levels continue to rise, not only are food crops threatened, but so too is the availability of fresh drinking water and proper health and sanitation. After about 10 years, many of these people will need to be resettled.
Photo: Brad Chapman
21% of rural people in Vanuatu still do not have access to clean potable water, and 52% do not have access to proper sanitation facilities. The natural beauty of the country and its tourism masks this unacceptable level of underdevelopment.
Myanmar ABM’s Disaster Risk Reduction project aims at reducing the impact of disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable communities. Funding enables us to conduct training, planning and simulation with our partners, building preparedness and reducing risk in communities that can ill afford the impact of a disaster. In May 2008, cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar. Over 160,000 people died during and after the cyclone, which hit the Irrawaddy delta. This region was the country’s ‘rice bowl’. Not only was the current crop destroyed, but flooded fields meant that new crops could not be planted. In the days and weeks following the cyclone, ABM helped the Church of the Province of Myanmar to provide emergency food, relief kits and medical services to affected areas within the Diocese of Yangon.
Photo: Julianne Stewart
These children collect water in the Southern Sudanese community of Torit. Communities like this one experience major problems from the lack of health services, schools and clean drinking water. Contaminated water results in ill health.
Programmes such as clean water and sanitation, English language classes (essential for future employment prospects), youth skills training workshops, food security and other microfinance programmes in local communities, have been very positive ways in which the CPM has worked to help free people from a life of poverty and ill health.
Vulnerable people like children and pregnant women sometimes die on the way in search of medical assistance due to insufficient local health care services. By helping the Episcopal Church of Sudan’s Health Commission Programme, ABM hopes to bring positive change to these communities through an improved health infrastructure.
Photo: Julianne Stewart
ABM pays the salary of the Episcopal Church of Sudan’s Health Co-ordinator as he works on their strategic plan and liaises with national government officials to build a viable health programme. Through the Emergency Assistance Fund, ABM partners with the Sudan Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), to train diocesan disaster co-ordinators to respond to disasters as they occur, providing relief aid to people affected by the upheaval and conflict prevalent in the country.
ABM supports the Episcopal Church in the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East through the Good Friday Gift, and various projects. Through the Women and Youth Empowerment project in Jerusalem, women and young people are given opportunities to develop their leadership skills and encouraged to play a more active role within their communities. We know the importance of women smallholders, and their enormous ability to contribute to the alleviation of poverty. Another project in Egypt funds the training of field workers who work in marginalized and very poor urban communities. These communities lack basic services, infrastructure and good educational institutions.
ABM’s projects in South Sudan support health, education and emergency relief initiatives. There are plans to build a girls’ boarding house at Juba Diocesan Secondary School, since currently girls have to engage in many domestic chores when they are at home, and this space will enable them to focus more on their studies.
Photo: Jon Brice
The Anglican Church in the Province of Myanmar (CPM) is one of ABM’s long term partners. We have supported the CPM for many years as it has sought to care for some of the poorest people across the country.
ABM continues to support TOPIK in its vital and active role in helping to build a peace network in East Asia through participation in peace conferences, campaigns, and promoting peace amongst the Korean people.
The Towards Peace in Korea (TOPIK) project aims at preventing widespread famine within North Korea and at the same time, promote the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas. In 2011, TOPIK sent 180 tonnes of wheat flour to North Korea. This much needed food took six months to arrive. It focuses on strengthening humanitarian aid programmes to maintain the continuous relationship with North Korean counterparts. One of the main activities at grassroots level is to offer humanitarian aid and nutrition support to children and the vulnerable.
Kids who Give WA programme Christ Church Grammar School student James Tonnison will speak to the students and staff about his experiences in Africa. www.perthnow.com.au/news/special-features/governors-family-join-drive-to-help-orphans-women/ story-fnd1xzft-1226661210257?sv=debfedff19c8a8c1ba18db4b4496c896#.UbbHZalYjZ4.email
The life of a Gyuto Monk is a life of practice – of loving kindness and compassion for the benefit of all. The monks do this by the practice of the tantric arts, including harmonic chanting, butter sculpture and the creation of sand mandalas. About 60 monks escaped to India with the Dalai Lama and throughout the past 30 years, enduring serious privation as refugees, they have nurtured and preserved the ancient rituals and traditions and carefully rebuilt the monastic community to today’s population of over 500. The unique sound of their chanting occasioned an invitation to the West
for the first time in 1967 and since then they have regularly conducted tantric arts programmes around the world. Such visits have been integral to the financial survival and regeneration of monastery life, as the old monks pass on 500 years of wisdom to the young refugee monks still pouring into the monastery from Tibet – all of whom need food, accommodation and care. The monks will build a sand mandala with coloured sand, ground from rock from the Himalayas, and then pour it precisely onto the mandala design using a cone shaped fine tipped metal funnel.
The mandala is constructed from the centre outwards. Once the mandala is completed it is dismantled. The head lama cuts through the main lines thus cutting the energy of the mandala. The remaining sand is then swept into the centre of the mandala and placed in an urn. In a ritual procession the monks carry the sand to the nearest water where the sand is symbolically scattered to demonstrate life’s impermanence.
Jon Doust He has performed at a number of comedy venues and festivals, including the Amnesty International Comedy Festival in Sydney and the Palandri International Comedy Festival in Margaret River.
Jon Doust – a Christ Church Grammar School old boy – is a comedian, writer, novelist and professional speaker from Western Australia. Jon was born in Bridgetown. He studied English at Curtin University and worked in farming, retailing and journalism before pursuing a career in comedy and writing.
Jon was the driving force behind the formation of Laugh Resort Inc – an association of stand-up comedians, who continue to run Laugh Resort at the Brass Monkey in Perth, now one of the longest running comedy rooms in Australia. It has been the breeding ground for a number of Australia’s current crop of leading comedians, including Rove McManus, Dave Hughes and Dave Callen.
ran a University of Western Australia extension programme course entitled How to Laugh Your Way out of a Paper Bag, in collaboration with others including Steve Wells and Don Smith. As well as comedy interests, Jon has studied and based much of his writing on the work of Carl Jung and is an accredited Myers Briggs practitioner.
Jon was a guest lecturer at the Curtin University Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and for many years
Jon has co-authored two children’s books with Ken Spillman, Magpie Mischief and Magwheel Madness, as well as short stories published in anthologies and The West Australian newspaper. He self-published two small books titled How to lose an election and Letters to the police and other species and his novels Boy on a Wire and To the Highlands were published by Fremantle Press.
In her role as Director of Meridian Services, Nina conducts complex investigations using her skills as an investigator, experience as a child protection specialist and her compassion as a mum to successfully educate young people, teachers and parents about the dangers associated with cyber safety.
During her session, Nina will provide an overview on topics relevant to the students. Facebook, digital footprints, sexting, Peer to Peer (P2P) file sharing, gambling, addiction, bullying and inappropriate sites are a few of the topics covered. Nina will advise the students on what is safe, the law and how it may affect them.
Nina will be coming to the School to talk to the students about staying safe on the internet. She uses an interactive programme to discuss any concerns that the students may have and what to do should they find themselves affected by any of the dangers associated with modern technology.
Nina said, “We do not want to use scare tactics as we agree the internet is an exciting and useful tool when it is used correctly. What we want to do is educate the boys about some of the things they should be aware of and how to deal with any potential danger should it occur”.
Nina Hobson Nina is an advocate for child safety. She spent 15 years in the police force in the United Kingdom working for the most part in child protection and the major crime unit. She hosted her own prime time TV show Undercover Mum. Nina then found herself on the other side of the world wanting to continue making a difference working for the safety of children. On arrival in Perth some five years ago Nina began work with the child protection unit as a specialist interviewer. It was during this time that she became aware of the growing boom in cybercrime. Nina identified the need for greater education about issues concerning the internet and modern technology. Space Safe Kidz provides a number of programmes for schools and the community which are used to reinforce cyber safety and to promote an anti-bullying message. Topics covered by the Space Safe team include mobile phone usage, Facebook, digital footprints, geolocators, addiction and bullying.
Bill Leadbetter Dr Bill Leadbetter is an historian, whose principal interest is in the Roman Empire. He has published widely on Roman history and on the history of the early church. He has participated in and led archaeological survey work at Aperlae in southern Turkey, and published a range of inscriptions from the site. Dr Leadbetter has, in addition, contributed to the study of genocide in
antiquity, and the furtherance of history education in Western Australian schools. He has also done a stint in government as a ministerial policy adviser on heritage matters. Most recently, he has published a study of the politics of the Roman Empire at the turn of the fourth century AD entitled Galerius and the Will of Diocletian (Routedge, 2009), which has now been published in paperback. He is a regular participant in the ABC programme Sunday Nights with John Cleary, and is currently working on a series of
interlinked biographies to be entitled Roman Lives. Dr Leadbetter is currently a cathedral scholar at St George’s Cathedral and an Honorary Fellow in Ancient History at Macquarie University. He has lectured on topics related to the History of the Early Church for both St George’s Cathedral and the University of Western Australia.
Karen Marais Karen has devoted virtually her entire professional life to teaching and working with students at both secondary and tertiary levels. She has had international teaching experience at a number of educational institutions in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia where she developed her presentational skills and academic
record. Karen has a great commitment to maximising students’ skills, developing strategies for life-long learning, and fostering critical and independent thinking. In her work at the Graduate School of Education, University of Western Australia, she has been extensively
involved in curriculum design, implementation and evaluation across a range of courses and year groups. The major emphasis has been on inculcating in students critical thinking skills and strategies for their own lifelong learning and to develop these competencies in their own classroom teaching.
Jarrod McKenna Jarrod McKenna, peace award winning activist/trainer, @welcome2Aussie ambassador and @WorldVisionAustralia advisor, believes love is practical. He is passionate about the role spiritualities of earth-affirming neighbourliness, nonviolence and imagination can play in forming communities of resilience to navigate our ecological crisis. At the age of 26, Jarrod became the youngest recipient of the
Donald Groom Peace Fellowship for his work as a nonviolence trainer and activist. He is the ‘National Advisor on Faith and Activism’ to the southern hemisphere’s largest aid, development, relief and advocacy non-government organization (NGO), World Vision Australia. Recently, Jarrod and his wife Teresa, started a new innovative community welcoming, housing and empowering refugees called First Home Project.
Confirmation – 27 October 2013 The Archbishop will come to the parish of Christ Church, Claremont on Sunday 27 October at 5.00pm for confirmation. Some Christ Church Grammar school boys and a parent have already put
their names down for this confirmation ceremony. Others who wish to be involved should send an email to Canon Sheehan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Centre For Ethics
EVENT AND TOPIC
Thursday 25 July Wednesday 31 July
Kids who give WA programme Space Safe Kidz The key to cyber safety
Anglican Board of Mission James Tonnison
Tuesday 6 August Thursday 15 August
9.00am – 3.00pm
Year 9 Classes Year 10 Classes Year 11 Classes Year 12 Classes
Wednesday 28 August Wednesday 28 August Wednesday 28 August Wednesday 28 August Thursday 29 August Monday 2 September Monday 2 September Tuesday 3 September Thursday 5 September Tuesday 10 September Wednesday 25 September and Thursday 26 September
Sunday 27 October
Nina Hobson 2012 Telstra Business Woman of the year nominee
Now why did I write that? There’s this thing about writing. Writing, what a novel idea. Matters ancient and modern The historical Jesus
Megarian Decree Thucydides
Dr Karen Marais
For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share Perspectives and possibilities Sports and professional ethics “If you believe in your dreams you can do miracles!” Sustainable September “Enoughness” Leadership Year 11s
Frank Sheehan Richard Pengelly The Most Reverend Roger Herft AM Archbishop of Perth Susie Ascott Akram Azimi Andrew Winton The Most Reverend Roger Herft AM Archbishop of Perth
Year 11 Classes Year 9 Classes Year 10 Classes RSVP 9442 1705 Chapel
RSVP 9442 1705 Wollaston College
Enquiries Canon Frank Sheehan 9442 1670
Please contact Mrs Teresa Scott on 9442 1705 beforehand, in case there is a change in the programme. A map of Christ Church Grammar School is available on our website www.ccgs.wa.edu.au/about-us/our-location/campus-map