Harmony Day and the importance of promoting tolerance and inclusion
Today the ‘matter of public importance’ debated in the Assembly was the importance of promoting tolerance and inclusion in the ACT. On many prior occasions, I have stood in the chamber to speak on behalf of this topic, and I was pleased to do so again.
Numerous social observers have pointed out that both technology and modern institutions have made it possible for people to divide up into tribes of likeminded individuals, essentially existing in echo chambers where their shared ideas and values are never analysed or questioned. In such a world, it takes determined, intentional effort to build relationships with people whose cultures, languages, faith and thoughts differ to our own.
Last night I hosted a reception for the territory’s multicultural and faith leaders on the eve of Harmony Day. I was grateful for my close Muslim friends who attended the event as a show of unity and solidarity despite the horror events of last week. On many occasions, these friends have invited me into their places of worship and into their lives. We have broken fast together and furthered friendship on numerous other occasions. I cherish the opportunity to be with people who desire to share not just their bread but also their faith and compassion.
Governments certainly have a role to play in promoting tolerance, but our dedicated multicultural and faith leaders are at the coalface on this issue. I know from personal experience that these good women and men spend thousands of hours in serving their communities and in working to establish real and lasting harmony amongst those communities.
Harmony doesn’t just happen. It takes planning and hard work, big hearts and heaps of patience. Thankfully, many Canberrans seem committed to this cause, and I thank them.