Noel Pearson is a formidable intellect and is always worth reading.
For conservatives and Christians, wondering why the pillars of civil society keep crumbling, Pearson gave sage advice in his column in the Weekend Australian.
He dissected last week’s Queensland parliamentary debate on euthanasia which in a landslide vote allowed the poisoning of supposedly terminally ill patients as part of “end of life health care”.
Conservatives are shown once again unable to uphold conservatism on social questions. They are incapable of explaining the importance and relevance of their philosophy to the rest of the society. Which is why progressives are winning the argument at every turn. Why should society listen to the conservatives when too much of what they can discern is intolerance and bigotry? This is the cost of waging cultural war as a pastime. There is a world of difference between conservatism as a philosophy and as a standpoint in cultural war.
Stinging stuff for those of us who have been activists over the past few decades.
Pearson is right that we have done a poor job at explaining our philosophy.
But it is not entirely our fault that our views are discerned by people as “intolerance and bigotry”.
Good and evil have been cleverly inverted by the radical left and the libertarian right so that pillars like normal marriage and family are seen as oppressive structures.
The supposed liberation of the sexual revolution, championed at every turn in popular culture and the academy, makes these things seem anachronistic and even harmful.
This despite the bitter consequences of the revolution producing a backlash through the likes of the #MeToo movement.
When it comes to issues like euthanasia and human rights for the unborn, the conservative position has been framed as cruel.
A biased media is not interested in the other side of the debate and they shape a narrative that is one way traffic.
If you are for something, you must stand against the things which destroy it.
That is noble, courageous and it is right.
No one should wage “cultural war as a pastime” for the sake of it, we do it because silence in the face of evil is evil itself. We do it to protect the vulnerable.
The other big problem Pearson puts his finger on is what I call the new logic of emotivism.
These parliamentarians think the question of assisted dying is first a matter of emotion. So Hansard records days of emotional speechifying, with MPs delivering tearful performances like actors winning baubles at the Academy Awards, the whole spectacle ending with cathartic applause.
Despite the valiant efforts of some MPs in the Queensland Parliament, including the Liberal National Party Leader David Crisufulli who gave an underreported reasoned defence of why we should not turn doctors into killers, the Kleenex brigade won.
Whether it is the loving same-sex couple denied their special day or the woman with an unwanted pregnancy now allegedly facing a coat hanger in a butcher's backyard, the radical left and libertarian right’s emotivism seems unassailable.
It is enabled by an uncurious media who have lost their ability to think critically.
So Pearson is right. We come across as bigoted and intolerant.
But reason and logic are on our side, they just don’t get an airing.
The march through the institutions and their capture by the “progressives” is the main reason for this.
But there is another.
And that is what the great dissident of Soviet Communism Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn called out as a lack of will and courage by people who know the truth.
It was terrific that Pearson wrote so eloquently for the dignity of human life at the weekend, even focussing on why it is anathema to indigenous people.
Crisufulli’s speech was as fine a shredding of the lies of the “Voluntary Assisted Dying” edifice as any parliamentarian has given.
But the time for fine speeches and articles is not at 30 seconds to midnight, or in the case of Pearson, five minutes after.
The holy discontent that fires my bones is the sustained silence of our people in the face of sustained advocacy over years, and even decades in the case of euthanasia, of our opponents.
We live in the same democracy and have access to the same tools. One side chooses to use them.
Where were Crisufulli and Pearson during the years, yes years, that Campbell Newman and Andrew Denton spent tilling the ground?
Pearson is right that we need to do better at explaining our philosophy. We have a good story to tell but he told it when it was too late.
If we don’t have the will and courage to speak into the public square in a sustained manner and make our case, we will continue to be seen as intolerant bigots.
Truth resonates in the heart of human creatures because we are made in the image and likeness of God, whether we know it or not.
If people have the opportunity to hear the truth, society will change. If all they hear is lies, we will continue to see pillars fall until the roof collapses.
That is why the radical left and libertarian right rely so much on cancel culture.
Their monopoly of the megaphone leaves us in the box of bigots.
Only will and courage to step up in public will get us out. Only the truth can set our society free. But for that we need truthtellers out everyday.
Lyle Shelton is Director of Campaigns and Communications for the Christian Democratic Party. To keep in touch with Lyle and the CDP, sign up here.