On religious education

Helen Kennedy writes: Re. “Rundle: imagine there’s no religion (in education)” (yesterday). I agree and [am] impressed by today’s article as I have long expressed those same arguments to friends and family (they actually listen especially my very, very clever grandchildren — I am not biased!).

As a child of Polish migrants in Brisbane in the 1940s, I and my sisters went to the local catholic convent (a small colony of Ireland) during the week. Although struggling and poor everybody was welcome, no matter their denomination, race, financial status, disability. The priest was a pompous prick but at least he did not molest the girls and boys and the nuns were not perfect but they did their best to teach us, including music and art of speech. Hence my love of music and Charles Dickens. Then on to the Good Sam’s at high school. Weekends were for fun — the Polish Church at Bowen Hills and the Polish Club.

I am eternally grateful to my parents and the odds and sods that moulded me. That’s what I call a wonderful start to life.

On the Syria debate

Peter Matters writes: Re. “Failure to debate Syria undermines our politics” (yesterday). The UK and Australian references of debates in both parliaments totally miss the point. The debate about attacking Daesh or not will solve nothing.

To look at realities, we must come to the unpleasant conclusion that we are sort of involved in a sort of Cold War II. It is carefully organised in such a way that the body bags do not arrive in the US, or Russia, or Iran, or Turkey, or Saudi Arabia ,except Daesh’ habit of cutting off heads to ensure themselves international headlines. Conditions having changed radically since Cold War I, people at large have become acutely aware that a) due to technological advances at an exponential rate, this small planet has shrunk  to the size of a village and the species ‘Homo not at all Sapiens’ to the size of a tribe, b) our extremely clever mammal species has displayed the ability to behave stupidly equal in degree to our cleverness and in consequence is on the way to turn Mother Earth into a half dead garbage dump and also trying to prove that we are the first species of mammal in history capable to commit mass suicide.

So, let us sit down and get real. Stop supplying arms to the actual protagonists and stop buying their oil. The result will be that Daesh will simply wither, Assad can be removed, the Saudis will work out that trying run a medieval kind of theocracy in the 21st century amounts to sitting for years on a barbed wire fence. They will listen to the younger generation who they sent to study in the US and Britain and evolve a form of government to suit everybody rather than only the Saudi family billionaires.

Then we can start to work out peace in what we call the Middle East. The British and the French were the dickheads who at the World War I peace negotiations managed to engage in a very late try of Imperialism, gobbled up all the centuries old opponents and turned them into a Yugoslavian mix with the result clear only to intelligent people. Sunni, Shia and Kurds — note President Erdogan — have the right like everybody else to form states just for themselves. Once this is achieved, the Israelis will be cured  of their persecution complex and will readily understand that it will be in theirs as well as everybody else’s interests in assist the Palestinians and all their other neighbours to raise their living standards.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey