I disagree with just about everything that Mark Latham opines and in how he chooses to opine however it serves no grand purpose to galvanise malice and hate towards him; no purposeful meaning to hypocritically ‘lampoon’ Mr Latham as in silly fashion he did to others. He is of my generation, a year older than I and every time I hear Mark Latham speak – and see the manner in which he casts slurs and aspersions – I am reminded of my schoolyard days, of the racism and prejudices and the suffocating conservatism and the culminations of bullying. I have often argued that the racists of my youth now fill our parliaments but who mischievously are on the alert to not wear heart on sleeve.

Personally, I fear for Mark Latham and his state of mind, I am concerned for him and his young family. There has to be a point where we forgive people whether they have redeemed themselves or not. We must let slide much of that which is discourteous. We should not jab pitchforks at others and rail against each other in pitchfork standoffs. There is much anger and hate in Mark and I’d rather step into his shoes and understand him instead of judging him into irrelevancy or oblivion. Someone like myself who has dedicated the last several years of his life to suicide prevention and postvention, to trauma recovery, to the well-being of others finds it imperative we understand one another no matter how wide the divides appear to be between us. Never underestimate the battles we all fight, battles unknown to others. We must be kind to each other.

I am someone who since a toddler lived hurtful racism and discrimination, whose positive-self went missing for many years because of these harms but who also understands that we are all victims. All of us soak up beliefs, the majority of which maybe false. I have rarely found benefit in ridiculing others, in taking down those who ridicule me or do a number or hatchet job on me. It is more important to know oneself at all times and keep the faith.

If social justice and human rights are to have any shot at authentically unfolding hence we must work to carry everyone across the line, and that line will not be crossed by all of us at the same time. Viciously ripping into people, whether they are seen as perpetrators of this and that, only derails the unfolding of human rights, and makes gibberish of the social justice vocabulary.

Personally, I was disappointed by some of the negative vitriol to the passing of cartoonist Bill Leak. I was disappointed by the vitriol targeted at Mark Latham following his inanities. Despite anything I always wish the families Leak and Latham good stead. Authentic social justice calls upon all of us to be sympathetic and empathetic to one another no matter how we have hit the world otherwise there will never be a journey to equality and ‘humanity’; to universal human courtesies and civilities. The sufferings or misfortunes of others should never standalone as what draw our compassion, sympathy and pity for our fellow human beings. There should be tender- and warm-heartedness to others even if they appear vile in their muddle-mindedness. In general, I have always found ways forward with the muddle-minded – be it they perpetrate racism and extol malice as result of envy, be it unreasonable anger and hate. Nearly always when I have extended my hand, remained civil, spread the love there has been a coming together.

Compassion belongs to everyone, to the right wing and the left wing and it can galvanise camaraderie, and move us further along the journey to social justice and human rights. I am not suggesting that there should be no possibility of revolution or of standing against the crowd but on most issues we can resolve the ways forward by trying to better understand the other. There is no more hardened left winger than I but I am not deluded to argue that compassion and right mindedness belong exclusively to the left.

I have no anger or hate towards Mark Latham and I wish him good stead. Many of us can see the anger that fuels him and there is anger and hate in Mark, who titled a book, “Conga line of suck holes.” He obviously lost a lot of faith in his colleagues, in fellow human beings and in the causes and ideologies he may once have believed in and this in part has catapulted him into a darker place. But should we lower ourselves into hypocrisies and corral him into an even darker place or do we believe in our common humanity? Forgiveness and condoning are two different actions.

Forgiveness is unusual in the political sphere but what a difference socially it would make for all of us if forgiveness had its place in public affairs. Philosopher Hannah Arendt argued that forgiveness should indeed have a place in the field of public affairs.

A recitation from the Torah occurs before Yom Kippur in the observance of the Day of Atonement, “I know that there is no-one so righteous that they have not wronged another.”

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, forged understandings on the importance of forgiveness and said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

I love the bit in Matthew, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that you may be forgiven your sins.”

The Buddhists understood the degeneration ill-thinking can bring about to one’s mental well-being. Anger and hate become a constancy of trauma, degenerating into disordered thinking. Forgiveness can prevent ill-thoughts harming oneself. We can argue ‘karma’ and we can also argue what is it that is right, what is and isn’t social justice and human rights and the ways forward. I’ll go another step and suggest that in the forgiving of others there is redeeming of oneself.

 

  • Gerry Georgatos is a prolific writer on trauma and trauma recovery, on redemption and forgiveness. Gerry has written widely on suicide prevention and well-being. He is a social justice and human rights advocate.