opinion

Andrew Miller: Arming our community after Bondi massacre a path to hell

Andrew Miller
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Beyond expressing grief and outrage at the news of the recent terrible events in Bondi, is there something more useful we can do?
Beyond expressing grief and outrage at the news of the recent terrible events in Bondi, is there something more useful we can do? Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Beyond expressing grief and outrage at the news of the recent terrible events in Bondi, is there something more useful we can do?

Some are saying, “We need more guns.”

Let us all pray that we remain bipartisan in our instinct to avoid that American fallacy. Yes, guns are a bloke thing, by and large, and arming a community is a path to hell.

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My exhortation to prayer is entirely tongue-in-cheek.

Thoughts and prayers are a show of solidarity — but in practical terms, they only demonstrate the lack of any interventionist benign force.

God never arrives in time to stop tragedies. Religious myths are nice — even important — but they are not operational. We must clean up our own messes.

Common religious belief and observance, the old glue that tacked our siloed, monochromatic societies together, no longer works positively, if it ever did.

The future is not TikTok; however, it will be based on fostering positive human instincts, a lot of which happens on social media already — gold flakes amongst the swill.

We still possess hopeful genes that make us feel empathy for those we will never meet. We hope our children are not entering a dystopian spiral — as many of them genuinely fear. A more solid basis for cooperative endeavour is truth and trust based on verifiable science.

This instinct can build nations; it is vast in ambition and achievement. It can make healthcare systems, schools and infrastructure, but unfortunately, also massive weapons programs and horrific, calculated war. It depends on the wolf we feed.

For the positive aspects of our dual nature to prevail, we need leadership, but most politicians are stuck in a loop of focus groups and stakeholder management rather than being prepared to live or die for their principles.

They are keen for photo ops with heroes, but will dismiss with indignation any suggestion that a lack of community mental health services is ultimately their responsibility.

Prime Minister John Howard’s best moment — by far — was his gut instinct to buy back the guns after the Port Arthur massacre. It was rare and risky leadership — I’m no fan of his oeuvre, but credit where it’s due.

The bravest, most brilliant leaders of thought are always the artists. We must seek them out.

A deep understanding of tragedy, comedy and mortality gives much more insight than the economic indices we slavishly attend. Give me Miles Franklin, Elizabeth Jolley, Andrew Winton, Tim Minchin — Rob Sitch’s Utopia, and Kitty Flanagan’s Fisk over any assembly of political and religious luminaries.

The godless writers, painters, scriptwriters, and musicians hold an honest mirror to the hypocrisy and negative tendencies of the human spirit, as well as our strengths — they explain it all.

This holistic vision is appreciated by anyone who works with human tragedy.

From the first responders through the health and law enforcement professions to the social workers and carers, none of them can delegate their personal responsibility for the human right in front of them.

They cannot deny the worst of our problems or pretend our not-bad society is optimised.

The police officer who sadly had to use the full extent of her skills to bring the Bondi episode to a close is not paid enough, just like the mental health care workers. The financiers are overly powerful and overly rewarded.

She will get a decoration, as she should, but her union will have to fight tooth and nail for any begrudging resources from some white-toothed politician. Our defence force veterans know too well that medals do not come with generous benefits and support.

Leonardo Da Vinci said we must learn how to see, in particular, that everything connects to everything else; artists remind us that there are more dimensions connected to any problem than first appear.

They help us to feel responsibility, and to care about truth — the beginning of every useful solution.

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