Australian Cricket Captain Steve Smith sits at the press conference, bags under his eyes, with a solemn look on his face. He apologies to the Australian public and takes full responsibility for the ball tampering saga that has rocked the sporting world.
We all gaze at the television, squirming in our chairs as he awkwardly chokes back tears, offering his sincere regret for the recent decision he made. With his father’s hand on his shoulder, you could see the pain, the anguish and the hurt upon this young man’s shoulders.
But did we care?
In recent weeks former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce could not escape the Australian media, with accusations and stories flying around about marriage infidelity and bad book-keeping.
I was driving through country Victoria at the time when the ABC aired a live press interview where Barnaby Joyce swallowed his own pride and resisted a flow of tears while resigning as a front bencher and second-in-charge of the Australian Government.
I don’t think anyone sent Barnaby Joyce flowers.
ABC journalist Tracey Spicer has been collating story after story from women who have been abused, both physically and sexually. The stories range from inappropriate touching to sexual advances, all the way to allegations of rape.
Spurred on by the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world and the #metoo campaign, Spicer unfortunately had a lot of material to work with. Then the media campaign happens, and the ABC bring down Don Burke in one big swoop and bring down Craig McLachlan in another swift punch from the media elite.
There’s not a lot of scope for forgiveness.
Let me dare to mention possibly the most unpopular senior Catholic in Australia, Cardinal George Pell. Is he guilty of committing child sexual abuse? Is he innocent?
I would suggest it doesn’t matter.
We have already crucified him.
You are to remain guilty
The Australian public has very little patience left. I think we’ve just heard too many horrifying stories and experienced too many cases of abuse, theft and immorality that we are sick and tired.
We are sick and tired of women being treated like objects.
We are sick and tired of priests who say one thing and do another.
We are sick and tired of politicians who couldn’t find a moral compass even if someone hand delivered it to them.
And because we’re so sick and tired, we crucify people. Innocent or guilty, it doesn’t matter anymore. We’re sick. We’re tired. You’re guilty.
We’ve set the punishment irrespective of the crime. You will be crucified.
The problem is, we’re no different to the religious leaders assembled back when Jesus of Nazareth was standing before Pontius Pilate. We’re gathered in the metaphorical courtyard of public life and in unison we are screaming, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ We yell with gusto, all the while drowning out any possibility of civilised discussion or debate.
A few rational voices in the midst of the furore call for calm. But who listens to Pontius Pilate anyway? We shout all the louder.
‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’
I’m sorry friends, but in the Australian public today you and I are guilty well before we can plead innocence (or ask for forgiveness).
When you’re down, you’re really down
We are so sick and tired of the abuse and immorality, it’s irrelevant now whether you are innocent or guilty.
That is an issue in Australian culture today. I’m not saying people are all innocent, I’m merely saying, those that are, find themselves lumped in with those that aren’t. Our passions run so high, that we fail to give some a fair trial. Our disdain for bad choices now runs so deep, we don’t have the emotional energy to deal with another case of idiocy.
That makes Australia look ugly. Mean. Brash. Judgemental.
Australia we are better than this. Since when do we drag our brother and sister down before we’ve given them a fair go?
Since when did Jesus’ challenge to pray your enemies get lost in transmission? If you simply love those who love you, what reward will you get for that?
Are we sick and tired of crucifying people yet?
Pete Brookshaw is the Senior Minister of The Salvation Army Craigieburn. He has a Bachelor of both Business and Theology and is passionate about the church being dynamic and effective in the world and creating communities of faith that are outward-focused, innovative, passionate about the lost and committed to societal change. He has been blogging since 2006 at www.petebrookshaw.com about leadership and faith and you can find him on:
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