My father once voted for the Nationals. He is more embarrassed about this than the many times prior that he voted Liberal. He puts it down to a transient view that the Nationals - or the Country Party, as it was then - were a bunch of agrarian socialists.
How's your father? – Part 3
I can certainly see the logic here, given the passion farmers have for government support. But I suspect most people would view the National Party of Australia as a socially conservative party, and I can never remember my father being especially conservative, at least on social issues.
Read more from Philosophically Yours: How's your father? – Part 2
Indeed, one of his catch cries is: "People should be able to do anything they want, so long as it does not hurt anyone else." There is nothing socially conservative about this point of view, just as there is nothing socially progressive about the Nationals' belief in traditional values and morays – including viewing marriage as a strictly heterosexual preserve.
Shortly after his dalliance with socially conservative agrarian socialism, my father committed himself, and in some senses, all of us, to more traditional socialism - or at least, socialism as it is practised by the Australian Labour Party.
He became an ALP voter, member, aggressive supporter, executive and candidate. As was his way, my father threw himself into this new adventure and, 50-odd years later, is as committed as ever.
This commitment has had a number of ramifications. To begin with, I have never heard my father say anything that is remotely sexist, racist or homophobic. In recent years, he has been very critical of some, if not most, religions and anyone who supports the Collingwood Football Club. Beyond that, he has never treated anyone as anything less than equal – at least in terms of how they should be treated and how he behaved toward them.
I have never been a fan of aggressive feminism, or women-only movements and organisations. I think this is largely due to the fact that I have never considered women to be any more or less than men. Different, certainly, but never any more or less. The same must be said for homosexuals and heterosexuals, white people (who are not, in reality, white), black people (again, who are not in fact black) or yellow people (who in my observation, certainly do not appear yellow).
I have never considered ranking people on any scale, or judging people on the basis of their gender, nationality or sexual preference. This, I am sure, is because I grew up in a household where these kinds of criteria were never considered relevant to the value of a person.
I will confess to being an intellectual snob. While I don’t think any less of people with a low intellect, I do think a whole lot less of the arguments they put forward. In this vein, I have less-than-high regard for the intellectual rigour that many people devote to assessing their religious beliefs. These less-than-charitable attributes I also learned from my father. He was often intellectually intolerant, and so am I.
While he never actively taught it, I learned about equality from my father.
Through his words, he taught me that it is intellectually unsound to consider all people equal (or the same). But through his behaviour, he taught me all people should be considered on their individual merits - and that everyone has the right to the resources and support of each of us, and all of us. He believed that we all have a right to equality of opportunity and so do I.
I go a step further, as I'm sure he would, if asked. I believe in equity, in giving everyone the support they need to realise their potential.
As a result of my father’s behaviour - and that of my mother - I'm certainly a socialist and a strong supporter of equity.
I also believe that no one should be judged or treated differently because of their race, gender or sexual orientation. My biases in terms of religion, I am working on. That said, I never discriminate between religious followers – I treat them all equally. In terms of intellect, It only ever discriminate against people who think they have it when they don’t!
People who think they can think, but cannot, are like people who think they can sing but can’t – and I know that I cannot sing!!