The coverage of Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s surfing lesson with former refugee Riz Wakil focuses heavily on the ‘political dialogue’, with most media outlets using exactly that term courtesy of AAP’s report.
And while there was indeed a sharp political edge to the event, due to the Federal Government’s current bungling efforts to come up with their own ‘non-Pacific-solution-Pacific-solution’, I am more interested to learn if there was any ‘personal dialogue’ between the two men.
It is amazing what can happen when we get to know someone from another stream of life. Our tightly held prejudices, misunderstandings, ignorances and apathies often fall away.
Many differences in society could be resolved if opposing sides actually got to know one another as real people rather than stereotypical objects.
This was an opportunity for such an interaction to occur, but at this stage, the only reports show two men shoring up their so-called political agendas.
‘Mr Abbott can teach me a thing or two about surfing, and I’ll teach him about what refugees go through to build a new life in Australia,’ Mr Wakil was reported as saying before the event.
Likewise, Mr Abbott was widely reported as looking forward to the surfing lesson largely because of the political mileage he would gain amidst the Government’s woes.
But I’m hoping, when the cameras and microphones were out of reach, the two men spoke of their families, their hopes and dreams, the pressures they face, the fears they have and what motivates them every day.
Shane Claiborne famously said that the problem is not that Christians (and by extension, people in general) don’t care for the poor, it is that they don’t know the poor. We can apply that sentiment to this issue and many others in our world.
A bit more knowing and a little less showing would work wonders in the political process…
For Sydneysiders, Riz Wakil is in the printing industry and worked for NSW printers Statewide Printing in Parramatta, Ralya Press in Granville and Enoch in Balgowlah before becoming co-owner of iMedia in 2009.
By the way, check out a more light hearted report on Kevin Rudd’s bowling game, bought at the same charity auction as Abbott’s surfing lesson.
For background on how the surfing lesson came about, check out a previous post on Australian Christian Voter.
Read the Sydney Morning Herald’s report on the surfing lesson.