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Easter's inspirational message: building bridges in time of division

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Two days before the Christchurch massacre, Tim Dixon, former speechwriter and economic adviser to Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, delivered a public lecture at NSW Parliament House titled, “Crossing the Great Divide: Building bridges in an age of tribalism”.

In that speech, Dixon spoke of the toxic public discourse that is increasingly commonplace, intensifying and driving us apart. He offered a warning against the kind of contempt with which opponents typically view each other today, and suggested that “for many people, it’s just a short path from contempt to acting out violence". Dixon couldn’t have known how prescient his words would prove to be. He says they have haunted him since.

Across the Western world we are entering dangerous waters, as public disdain for others becomes the norm rather than the exception. Authoritarian populists exploit these feelings of contempt that exist on all points of the political spectrum. We live in a time of rapid, disorienting change and disruption. Critical to our health and flourishing as a diverse community will be an ability to understand and to navigate profound differences. We can’t pretend we won’t have these........

© The Sydney Morning Herald