Brendan Keilar points the way to a better world

"Just as cruelty and fear have a capacity to spread and affect others dreadfully, so too, can love and sacrifice spread and affect others. These can transform the world. Brendan died making the world a better place."

Brendan Keilar points the way to a better worldThose words are from the homily at last Friday's Requiem Mass for Brendan Keilar, the 43 year old solicitor who was fatally shot after going to aid of a woman involved in a scuffle in central Melbourne on 18 June.

Commentators have seized upon that moment to highlight the powerful effect that goodness can have on a society. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has confirmed that his government is working on a permanent memorial in the Melbourne CBD for Brendan Keilar, whom he said "did the instinctive thing that many people around Australia would do". The point of a memorial is that such selfless acts of heroism will remain instinctive to Australians only to the extent that examples like that of Brendan Keilar remain in the public consciousness.

The public also needs to know of the existence of acts or cruelty, which do indeed "affect others dreadfully". Last week, we became acutely aware of how human cruelty and fear can take root in Aboriginal communities and destroy their sense of human purpose. The report of the Northern Territory Government's Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse seemed to suggest that it's time to reflect upon the consequences of our latter-day abhorrence of paternalism.

As Frank Brennan says in his article for this issue of Eureka Street, everyone wants to heed Noel Pearson’s wake up call to the nation. Pearson had said on ABC Radio: "Ask the terrified kid huddling in the corner when there is a binge drinking party going on down the hall if they want a bit of paternalism."

Brendan Keilar points the way to a better worldBrennan speaks of a "helpful paternalism" that can be delivered if there is good motivation and co-operation on the part of the Federal and Northern Territory Governments.

This working together for a better world is what is behind the See Judge Act template of a strand of Catholic social activism, which Stefan Gigacz writes about in this issue of Eureka Street. It's clear how we might apply this formula to incidences of cruelty, or other ills we come across. Obviously Brendan Keilar did exactly this, in very fast motion. But Brennan and Gigacz are stressing that acting together is the further requirement for a positive outcome.

Gigacz says that See Judge Act is about "a common search for the truth at different levels – facts, values and action – by people of diverse faiths, beliefs and ideologies". Similarly, Frank Brennan argues with regard to the protection of Aboriginal children from sexual abuse, that "nothing sustained will be achieved unless Canberra and Darwin work hand in glove".



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