I was accused of virtue signalling this week – it is a relatively new term to me. Probably my whole life is a virtue signal for the people who used this term as a ‘put down’ to me this week. The opposite of virtue signalling as far as I understand it is bigotry, and the accusation is a dog whistle to rally their allies.
Overall, in this election campaign it has been incredibly friendly, warm and generous. People have offered me glasses of water on hot days when I have been door knocking, opened their doors to me with friendly smiles, invited me in to see their gardens, shared stories, waved and tooted to me. There however is always a dark-side and this has shown up in this campaign as the ugly face of racism and a deep vein of climate denialism. You can detect the fascist playbook being referred to and I have been surprised a few times about how it shows up – this invisible thread making itself visible.
There are a team of candidates who are a mixed bag. One of them is a ralien and another has connections to the neo-Nazi political group. Of course, these qualities are not included in the prepared material for public consumption, and I do believe in a democracy like ours it is perfectly reasonable for all kinds of people with all kinds of persuasions to put themselves forward. What I am wondering about is how we counteract these views as when they turn into policy once people with these views get into governing positions, we all know what the consequences are for minorities. Oh dear, there I go again, virtue signalling.
We are at a crunch point for climate justice, our Pacific neighbours Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama condemned the climate war as being fought with “apathy, denial, and a lack of courage to do what we all know what must be done.”
He appealed for the world to step up.
“Fiji is ready to make the coming years count for our people and for the planet – our question to you is this: Are you with us? Don’t tell us yes unless you plan to show it.
But we do not need to look to the Pacific to know this story, the City of Onkaparinga has 31kms of coastline and by all indications it needs our help to stay strong as sea levels rise. It is not fiction. So once again if this is virtue signally, I am more than happy to put my hand up and say ‘guilty’. What fascinates me though is the person who accused me of this online, is a professional. He works as a physiotherapist in one of the big clinics in a busy practice. It is fuel for me to keep doing more and motivate those who do want their values of justice, equity, access, affordability and inclusion to be turned into policies and practices.
But like the Fiji Prime Minister railed at the UN, I am asking the same question of voters in Onkaparinga – are you with us? And who are the us?
The us are the people who support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the people who believe the scientists and understand we have a climate emergency, the ones who voted for Marriage Equality, the people who notice those who go without because of a systems failure and do not play the blame the victim game. I am happy to be in this company and if you are a voter in Onkaparinga, do not outsource your democracy by not voting, grab your ballot pack, fill in the papers and post back – vote for the virtues you want to see reflected in your community.