There will always be debate about the most pressing issues facing a nation. For some it will be matters environmental, for others economic or financial. For me it is cultural.
Culture determines the type of country we are and it overwhelmingly determines the type of country we will be in the future.
Culture is critically important to a nation because, unlike a financial balance sheet which can always be fixed through fiscal measures, a cultural balance sheet is often rectified through revolution.
For those of us that are interested in Australian culture, there is a great deal to be concerned about.
Take, for example, freedom of speech, which is defended by too few.
A few weeks ago, the government refused to grant a visa to a pro-life campaigner because a select few didn't like his views. Sections of the Muslim community want a democratically elected MP from one of our strongest allies banned from the country because he dares to say what too many will not. Even promised reform of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has been dumped because ‘now is not the right time’.
In my opinion, it’s always a good time to speak up for freedom of speech. Perhaps now more than ever.
Because unless we do, people will feel disenfranchised from saying what needs to be said, which will almost certainly lead to a drastic change in culture.
We have already seen it overseas.
Successive leaders in the United Kingdom have ignored the corrosive elements gnawing away at its cultural heart for two decades. The country is now labouring under the burden of cultural atomisation from which it may not emerge.
The same can be said for France, Holland, Sweden, Finland… I could go on. The most recent entrant to the cultural euthanasia crowd is Germany, where leader Angela Merkel has committed to taking millions of immigrants despite having too few jobs, accommodation or support services to assist them.
The lived experience overseas is clear - sweeping cultural challenges under the carpet doesn't make them go away. It just makes for larger problems down the track.
That’s why it is important to have a frank conversation about the difficulties Australia is having with elements of our own community. A fortnight ago a young man visited a mosque, obtained a gun, dressed in black robes and then shot and killed a police support worker whilst shouting ‘Allah’.
Few commentators linked this act of barbarity to the religious and political ideology of Islam.
In fact it seems that most went out of the way to divorce the actions from the ideology.
It was described as a ‘political attack’ by a number of politicians and police whilst the Islamic Grand Mufti refused to describe it as a terrorist incident.
Personally, I found it somewhat bizarre that this particular religious leader spoke strongly about the need for community integration but insisted upon doing so in Arabic through an interpreter.
After all, a common language is one of the most important elements of integration with any culture.
Whatever the language, as long as those in positions of influence refuse to discuss frankly and candidly the elements intent on undermining our values and way of life, they will be effectively sweeping the problems under the carpet.
That approach has been a disaster overseas and there is no reason to expect it would have a different result here.