‘Narcissists are on uncomfortable ground when they are not the centre of the world… These people on the edge need to understand that the rest of us will not back down on our view just because they have a different one.
They have to be made to accept that we all have an equal right to hold different views. With any luck we can drag some of them to seeing that we all have an equal responsibility to have some understanding of each other’s point of view. Those discussions are where we find the true meaning of democracy, the great conversation of all of our lives.’ – Amanda Vanstone, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 1 2017
“Islamic State has had tremendous success in wooing young, disenchanted people from the West to embark on the adventure of a lifetime and head off to fight in support of the caliphate. Is there anyone stupid enough to think that the photos of these kids just accidentally end up in the Western media? These kids are lambs to the slaughter. IS don’t need their numbers; they need the message to the West: “Your young people think we’re great.”…In this way, they not only promote themselves but they cause us to ask ourselves where we have gone wrong.
IS has something else in its favour, too. As outdated and sickening as we find their ideology, they are at least out there selling it. The West hasn’t had a leader in my lifetime who has taken on the task of selling Western democratic philosophy. It starts with the unbeatable premise that all men are created equal, that everyone gets a say in who will govern us, that everyone is equal before the law, that presidents and prime ministers are subject to the same laws as tradies and teachers. I can’t think of a better message.
Yes, part of the battle is on the ground, for territory, fought with troops and equipment. However, the bigger battle is for hearts and minds, and that has to be fought in mainstream and social media. Ask yourself this: is there is a wordsmith out there to lift our hearts and minds and help us win this battle? There was Churchill in the Second World War, Kennedy in the Cold War; now, we need a new hero.” – Amanda Vanstone
“John F. Kennedy had a great line in his inauguration speech pointing out that civility is not a sign of weakness. Civility is much more than the absence of shouting, much more than the veneer of a smile. It demands that we really listen and try to understand the other point of view, that when we disagree we do so without rancour and that we have respect for the other person despite the fact that they hold a different view. It is a fairly simple test, but much of what we hear in the media and from some politicians fails that test. The constant denigration of politicians as a class contributes to the diminution of our civil discourse. Of course, when a politician fails to live up to a required standard, that should be pursued vigorously. But what damages all of us is the endless undermining of our democratic institutions by the seemingly daily presentation of politicians as feckless, self-serving users. Is it any wonder that a Lowy Institute poll shows a worrying proportion of young Australians are not enamoured with democracy? The constant denigration undermines the institutions we enjoy and for which people from all corners of the earth are willing to die.” – Amanda Vanstone