Saturday, June 07, 2008

Tony Kevin: "Asking awkward questions: the uncomfortable terrain of moral dissent"

In his recent address to a writers' conference Tony Kevin spoke on the consequences of activism. Though his talk received a warm reception from the National Library audience of some 300 people, he has so far been unable to publish the text of this talk. He has agreed to publication on the RAC website, because he feels that what he said here ought to be read as widely as possible.

The risks inherent to dissent from the policies of any particular government are a conundrum faced by any public servant whose integrity and ethics are compromised by official policies and/or actions. However, failure to be true to one's self can have have bleak consequences for the dark nights of the soul.

Career damage and mental illness are just two possible scenarios faced by the disaffected officer. A severe loss of morale and a sense of guiding purpose are less tangible but equally debilitating outcomes. Someone thoroughly committed to their career can suddenly find themselves less than enthusiastic to carry out their duties and inclined toward a path of covert resistance to the dominant paradigm.

As someone who experienced this syndrome in the face of the Howard government's asylum seeker policies I empathize strongly with Tony Kevin's position and encourage readers to purchase his books.

1 comment:

Trevor said...

Kevin's is a compelling and moving account, the unwritten public service codes still send a chill down my spine