Do We Need Evil?

The 7 O’clock News this morning had me jumping straight out of bed and heading to my computer.
The Avalon Airshow is on again after Covid.

Almost 800 companies are taking part in Avalon 2023, which organisers say will be the biggest in the 30-year history of the event.

“This year, there will be 56 international delegations represented at the Australian International Airshow Aerospace and Defence Exposition, including 22 chiefs of service,” a department spokesperson told the ABC.

On Monday evening, Air Marshal Rob Chipman highlighted the importance of air superiority, telling conference delegates “our competitive advantage achieved through strength, readiness and partnerships will be vital in deterring conflict in the future”.

“It is not just about the platforms and technology — we need to invest in the humans that will maintain our competitive edge,” the RAAF chief said.

“If it were not for the resilience and resourcefulness of the Ukrainian people, we might be reflecting on a very different outcome today.”

When I wrote my book ‘An Improbable Feast’ in 2009, I began by describing how we chaplains at Flinders University had taken a different direction to Bush, Blair and Howard in their reaction to the 9/11 attacks in the US. They decided to fight evil with evil – a ‘War on Terror’ with ‘safe-guarding’ protectionism at home.

Ironically, our ‘terror’ at Flinders was rooted in the aggression of conservative evangelical Christian ideology. Outsiders to their clan did not feel safe among them. Understandably, anxiety among Muslims from the wave of threat that issued from the National Cathedral in Washington by President Bush following 9/11 was already palpable on and off campus.

Looking back now, could we have achieved a peace by respect and a valuing of difference at Flinders if it had not been provoked by the toxic effects of the hardline ideology of the dominant Christian group? Would the RAAF Chief have known so clearly that defence priority lies with people if the Ukrainians had not demonstrated their resilience against the might of the Russian army? Do we need the prospect of evil to goad us into good?

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