This may sound morbid, but I love reading the obituaries in the Economist magazine.

By the way, magazine is a misnomer these days as I am usually reading from a backlit piece of glass known as an iPad.

Nonetheless, reading about the recently dead is very instructive, especially from a magazine with a global perspective and an eye for history's big ideas.

If the Economist deems a synopsis of your life worth publishing, it usually means you have made a contribution to geo-politics during what has been a tumultuous period of world history.

And as Ecclesiastes teaches, there is nothing new under the sun.

This weeks' obituary was of a German expatriate, Fritz Stern, of whom I had never heard (no surprises there).

He was a child when his parents fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, eventually settling in America where Stern embarked on what would become a successful academic career.

Fascinated with how his country-men could willingly capitulate to the ideology of Adolf Hitler and the horrors it spawned, Stern spent a fair amount of his career exploring this.

When I read the following quote from the Economist's obituary of Stern, I saw parallels with today.

"Hitler's rise, he (Stern) argued, owed less to the Austrian corporal's personality, his thuggish supporters and brutish ideas, than to his opponents' cowardice and the weakness of Germany's "gatekeepers" - the guardians of its cultural and moral standards."

Now I know some of my friends in the gay community will be saying "there Shelton goes again - comparing us to Nazis".

Not so, the issues Australia faces are bigger than the rainbow political agenda.

And I am not saying people who dissent to today's cultural and political orthodoxy are about to be arrested by thugs wearing jackboots.

Although Archbishop Julian Porteous was recently before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission for six months for the crime of spreading Christian teaching on marriage and family.

That Labor leader Bill Shorten can promise during an election to fund the so-called "Safe Schools" program which teaches children as young as four that "only you can know if you are a boy or a girl - no one can tell you" and there be so little push back is a failure of those of us who know better.

Changing the definition of marriage to entrench motherless and fatherlessness in public policy and teaching our kids their gender is fluid should be opposed.

The cowardice and weakness of Australia's "gatekeepers" is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s.

Perhaps we have moved beyond cowardice to complicity.

Whatever the case, we have much to learn from the dead.

Lyle Shelton

Ps: All the talks from the ACL National Conference are now available. If you missed the conference, or would like to watch again please click here.