Meeting Intolerance with Generosity

Celebrate National Unity Week 2019

I’ve long been a fan of Nick Cave and a recent article in The Guardian only served to further my admiration. The article outlines the musician’s response to a fan letter that included a bigoted and hateful question. Cave’s response is vastly more gracious than the fan deserved. He writes:

“The opportunity to act in a better way is one that is continuously afforded to us – to try to make the next thing we do the best thing, rather than the worst thing, the destructive thing.”

What do we do in the face of increasing polarisation, divisive ideologies and fear saturated media? The tendency can be to fight fire with fire, but that doesn’t always (or often) advance the cause of welcoming and inclusion.

The article’s author, Eleni Stefanou, contends that:

“Outrage is a necessary force when a line has been crossed, especially by those with influence and power. Without it, we give destructive ideas oxygen and a free pass to become the new normal. But there is also something powerful about meeting hate with generosity – provided it’s safe to do so.

The idea of meeting hate, or intolerance, with generosity is one of the founding principles of Welcoming Australia. Our organisation began by engaging Australians in practical acts of welcome. Welcome dinners, supporting young people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds to play sport, engaging civic leaders as ambassadors, and walking together to celebrate who are and who we can be – all lie at the heart of our movement.

The invitation to lead and be part of that work continues.

From 26 October to 2 November, National Unity Week 2019 will take place. You’re invited to celebrate with us by hosting or attending an inter-faith or intercultural event in your community. National Unity Week is built around four themes – walk together, learn together, eat together and play together. It’s an opportunity to meet people of other cultures and faiths, learn from one another and celebrate the fact that unity builds a better future than division ever could.

How will you participate in National Unity Week? We’d love as many people involved as possible – as we join together around conversation, community and a commitment to one another’s right to flourish and prosper.

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