BLOG: MTV Movement’s Olly Tripodi on what Easter means to young Australians
I had such a wonderful Easter break. I usually spend time with my immediate family and eat delicious food, laugh a lot and generally appreciate the company I’m in. But my gorgeous parents, who I’m semi-convinced have entered an early retirement without telling my brother Ed and I, went away to Sydney to see some of their friends.
Left at a loose end in what is usually family time, I made plans with a big group of friends from High School to head away to our mate Sean’s farm, just an hour outside of Melbourne. It was an incredibly beautiful two days away, filled with guitar sing-a-longs by the fire, goal kicking competitions with a soft Sherrin footy, red wine and considerable sentimentality as we reminded each other of our school days and associated antics.
And though I didn’t get to Church over the weekend, on my many trips wandering solo from the campfire back up to the house, I looked into the clear night sky and let gratitude flood my chest. How lucky I was, to be surrounded by so many people that I love and cherish. I let all of the things that I appreciate buoy me, and marvelled in that moment how fortunate I really was. And though I would stop short of calling it a religious experience, it was an immensely nourishing weekend for the soul; I know my friends felt the same way too.
Some conservative political pundits like to point to declining numbers of young people engaging ecclesiastically as evidence that ethics and morality are ideals belonging only to those of a certain age. Specifically that since 1976, the proportion of young people declaring themselves to have ‘no religion’ has doubled, and the largest proportion of ‘non religious believers’ in 2011 was young adults.
But that’s absolutely untrue. What I have always felt, and which has been confirmed for me again this weekend, is that religion isn’t a pre-requisite to introspection, gratitude and morality. I have many wonderful friends who compassionately represent their religious tribes, and those who’ll defend their atheism until their last breath; none more or less ethically sound than the other.
And so, to those conservative vestiges of Australian society who see the falling piety in young people as the crumbling of our moral fibe; stop. Look at NSW, where there are now 20,000 students in 300 schools learning critical thinking skills and secular ethics. I’ve long believed that religion is a powerful force for good, but it’s not the only force for good.
I know that Easter has just as much secular and cultural relevance to Australians as it has religious relevance. Children hunt down Easter eggs with what seems like increasing vigour, and many associate the period more with family than with piety. But when we start looking at the significance of Easter to Australians, and start thinking about what makes this holiday special it’s important to remember that religion isn’t the only door to feelings of community, morality and a sense of place in the world.
It might be that a camping trip away with a group of friends is just nourishing for the soul.
— Olly Tripodi