I’m not usually one to position myself in the centre of heated arguments, but given the current tumultuous socio-political state our nation is in, I find myself compelled to write.

Perhaps because, I am hurting. I am hurting at the hatred being perpetuated by both sides of this contentious, unpleasant debate. The verbal abuse, the physical and emotional. We are a human race spiralling out of control.

Yet dwelling on this serves no purpose but to further fuel the animosity, or perhaps worse, encourage apathy, and the optimist in me desires no part of that kind of narrative.

Hence my challenge to you is to consider this: that the fight we are truly fighting isn’t about equality, but empathy.

I say this not to disregard nor trivialise the real issues at hand which are considerably affecting people. Nobody can ever dispute the way we feel and it is our perceptions that form our realities.

Unfortunately we are all tarred by discrimination, no matter what the rule books say. I myself as just one person, have experienced prejudice across a vast spectrum of ideologies; my race, gender, religion, age, sexuality, appearance and even more simply, my ideas, opinions, experiences and basic life choices. And such discrimination isn’t just carried out by those in public power; we face intolerance every day from our own colleagues, peers, friends and family.

The truth is, there is no such thing as true equality. Such an ideal is non-existent in the systematic yet chaotic world in which we live. It never has been. Where bureaucratic institutions reign, there will always be pockets of our society and community that have to either endure the harsher plight or relish the unfair advantage.

Although I like most of us believe that all human beings were created equal, the world does not agree.

This again is not to discourage but rather, to help shift our collective energy and focus to the sentiment of empowerment.

Government may not grant us equality across all of the issues that truly matter to us, but we can control the discourse. This is simply because ‘equality’ – no matter how idealistic you may perceive this to be – is at its truer essence, defined by how we treat one another.

Are we open enough to different perspectives? Kind enough to listen to each other? Brave enough to walk in another’s shoes?

Throughout my life and career, I have found the media accountable for taking me off this course time and again. It has influenced me to value unimportant things, to lead with a selfish agenda, to promote and consume the superficial and nonsensical.

I know myself enough these days to not blindly give into the messages I see on and around our screens, and my hope is that we all learn to think for ourselves, as the clever, creative and loving human beings we were all born to be.

“Equality is at its truer essence, defined by how we treat one another.”

However there is no reason for passivity and I still urge you to fight for what breaks your heart. Whatever your cause may be, fight passionately for it, stand your ground and seek to make the difference you are being called to make.

It is the way you go about it that matters.

Lead with empathy for it is with kind intent, informed understanding and compassion that we can unlock meaningful and powerful solutions to the problems of the world.

Empathy doesn’t require a vote, but a choice.