Motivated by love

AARON STONEHOUSE is the Liberal Democrat MLC for South Metro. On Sunday he joined thousands of people protesting against the violence being inflicted on white farmers in South Africa. This is a shortened version of the speech he gave at the rally.

I’VE caught a bit of flak recently for voicing my concern for the welfare of white farmers in South Africa.

In case you aren’t already aware, I’m a member of the Liberal Democrats, a libertarian political party in Australia. We don’t particularly like identity politics or looking at the world through the lens of race. We treat people as individuals and we judge them by their actions, not by the colour of their skin.

So why would I care about the plight of white farmers in South Africa, you wonder? Well, it’s simple: white farmers are being attacked in South Africa, their own government is fuelling the fire, and hardly any other government or organisation in the world are talking about it.

I care about this issue because I am a Christian, a libertarian and a member of this extended family of nations that you’d call the West.

You’re probably already aware of this but, people who live in the West have a lot in common.

There is a reason why a young boy or girl in South Africa can grow up to become a member of parliament or a businessperson here in Australia. And I think a lot of has to do with our shared values.

The South African people and the Australian people share the same values. We are derived from the same European experience of crossing into the great unknown with nothing but our swag by our side and our crosses by our heart.

Not knowing how things would turn out, but having faith and a dream of a new life.

And so we Europeans found ourselves in these strange new lands. Some of us came to call South Africa home.

Others came to call the Americas home. And those, like most of us here today, came to call Australia and New Zealand home.

Yet even though we found ourselves in these disparate places, separated by great tides, deserts and climates—we still share the same values that our ancestors did all those years ago.

Shared values 

The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion are values that motivated the Pilgrims to leave the old world and settle in the Americas. They are values that we, their descendants, and others who have added to our experience, share today.

The right to speak your own language, farm your own land and teach your own children are values that motivated the Boers to trek inlands and build themselves new nations. They are values that we, their descendants, and others who have added to our experience, share today.

The right to chart your own destiny in life, free of any baggage caused by nobility or birth are values that motivated many in the British Isles to seek a new life in Australia.

They are values that we, their descendants, and others who have added to our experience, share today.

The reason why I seek to remind you of our common heritage and our shared values is because I, and we as a bloc, have received a great deal of criticism for expressing our concern for the welfare of other individuals in this space that we call the West.

We have been called racists, fear mongers and agents of division. Let me be clear. Our feelings are not motivated by hate, but rather by love. We love our neighbours and we want nothing but good things for them.

Whether we do so as a result of our Christian faith, any other faith or humanist principles, is irrelevant. We’re all a part of the same experience that has led us to the same conclusion: that an egalitarian, just and liberal society is the best way to organise communities of people.

That’s why whenever any form of totalitarian regime emerges, we rebel against it. We did so against the politics of discrimination against indigenous peoples in Australia.

We did it against the great evil of apartheid in South Africa.

And now, we must do so again against the economic vandalism and racial violence that is occurring in South Africa today…

The point I make in my remarks today is that human rights are universal, and racism is intolerable.

Do not let anyone make you feel ashamed for taking a stand for human rights, and for taking a stand against racism.

Every person, regardless of the colour of their skin, has a right to life, liberty and property, and we are custodians of those values.

We have an obligation to speak out when they are being violated.

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