GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – A bit about Israel Folau – More about Go Fund Me pages, Gen X and self- reliance


Go Fund Me recently closed Israel Folau’s page but it appears that he is still keen to use other people’s money to pay for his legal fight with Rugby Australia.  In my opinion it is morally wrong for a person of means to ask for charity to fund a personal campaign.  The interesting point is why do I feel this way?

I think it is because I am a Gen Xer, born in the last generation that was expected to grow up and be self-reliant. However, I know that if we are going to be beat climate change it will be led by the enlightened, empathetic Millennial Generation.  The role of my generation at this time is to provide a link with the past and to bear witness to some of the character traits that can steel them for that tough fight.

And this is why I am interested in the Folau saga, not because I care about him, but rather because it provides a wonderful situation for discussing important moral ideas that our generations seem to have very different perspectives about.  The discussion starts with this question – Why does a rich celebrity asking other people to fund their legal battle excite such a negative reaction?

First, because it is narcissistic. A person with the financial means to fund their own battle asking for other people’s money demonstrates that the rich person feels that they have a ‘right’ to maintain a comfortable life and that others have a corresponding ‘duty’ to pay for them to keep that comfortable life.  The person asking for the money must feel that they are very special to make such a claim?  That feeling of entitlement used to be called narcissism and it has never been a praiseworthy quality.

The second point is about how respect is earned. We earn respect by carrying our share, for accepting the burden of performing important tasks.  With regard to rugby, Folau can be respected, he is a formidable rugby player sharing his team’s burden.  He has earned respect on the field by working hard and taking risks.  But with regard to his legal battle he has faltered at a moral hurdle.  He has strong Christian beliefs and took a big risk to promote them.  That risk backfired and he was sacked by Rugby Australia.  In the old days he would have sold one or two of his houses and fought the legal battle on his own. His decision, his responsibility but in this case he doesn’t feel he should bear that burden.  Establishing the Go Fund Me page clearly indicates that instead of going without he feels others should shoulder the burden of his decision.

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Which leads to the third point, which is about self-reliance. This term relates to personal responsibility and decision-making.  If someone is self-reliant then they have sufficient personal responsibility to accept that their decision-making has consequences and further that the person responsible for that decision is them!

When Mr Folau was told by Rugby Australia not to make posts about gay people going to Hell he had free agency to decide what to do next.  He choose to make more posts and in this writer’s opinion asking for other people to cover legal costs (when you have significant financial resources) is like getting your parents to pay your credit card debt.  Being grown-up used to be defined by being self-reliant or able to accept responsibility for your actions and manage the consequences by yourself.

Mr Folau is not alone there are lots of people in modern society making similar claims; from the German model Catalin Onc asking for money to fund his world trip while living at home funded by his mother, to the large number of people in their thirties across the world moving back home with their parents. It seems that we no longer see being self-reliant as a virtue.

It is tough to watch. Generation X were the ‘latch kids’. We were the first generation that’s mothers routinely went out to work. We were expected to fend for ourselves after school. We grew up generally un-supervised and were forced to be self-reliant.  We value this quality and when a person does not display it is hard to respect them.

Why do Gen Xers place such a value on self-reliance? Because self-reliance and self-determination are inextricably linked. A person that is self-reliant has the capacity to speak truth to power with moral authority.  A self-reliant person is not bludging or living off the goodwill of others. A self-reliant person’s moral statements have authority because the person is accepting responsibility for the risk associated with their conviction.  A person with powerful moral authority can be self-determined, able to challenge orthodoxies and established power.

Like any large corporate or government; social media companies fear self-reliant people because they are able to determine their own pathways. Being self-reliant means that you don’t have accept peer pressure or rely on how others to determine your path in life. Scary stuff for the people that make their money and retain power in society by making people less self-reliant and more dependent on their services and the endorsements they provide through social media platforms.

Generation X probably aren’t going to change the world.  We are ‘slackers’, self-reliant but cynical and disengaged.  It will be the Millennials that will save the world.  But only if they can see through the social engineering that keeps them weak and compliant. Encouraging them to falter under pressure or look for external support, unable to accept risk or responsibility.  Instead, imagine the power of the Millennial Generation’s engagement and empathy steeled by self-reliance.  It might just save us.


Ben Morgan

A free-thinking, Gen X aspiring to write. Seeing some bad places means I value love and reason more than most. 

Particularly interested in moral and constitutional issues and encouraging a more reasoned civic discourse.


  1. Is Israel Folau personally wealthy? How much of his wealth is committed to his church? Does it matter? It is standard practice for those who confront the power of the political establishment to raise funds among sympathizers, particularly for legal defense teams which can be expensive. People know who Folau is, they know the case he is pursuing, and knowing all that they choose to give. That should be their right. If Folau was seeking money for his legal expenses from the state it would be different. Then you would be right to question and if appropriate object.
    Ben, you seem very eager to judge Folau as a person. “Narcissistic” and by implication greedy, selfish and materialistic. Do you know him well enough to say any of that? Do you know him at all?
    To use a rugby metaphor, let’s play the ball and not the man. Folau’s views will be debated in the media and on the web, and his legal right to say what he said will, I hope, be considered in a court of law.
    Self-reliance is a virtue to be encouraged, but self-reliance does not preclude collective support and solidarity.
    When I was a young man living on a low wage David Lange offered to forgo his very modest fee after representing me in court in relation to my stance against the Vietnam war . I chose to pay, so in that transaction both of us established our willingness to give freely, and that kind of mutual understanding and respect goes deeper than any sense of self-reliance.
    If Folau is financially supported by others, I would hope and expect that he will respond with gratitude and generosity of his own. If he does not, then might be a better time to make critical judgements upon his moral character.

  2. Something that I don’t remember being mentioned in this item, is that of being humble, and self-reflecting.
    Being humble means that a person has recognised their own faults, and when they are noticed in others’ behaviour they are understood before they are condemned. I don’t think Folau is humble, and that is required of a Christian. How can he state he is a Christian fairly and honestly? What do other Christians think about his harsh statements that seem to belong in sharia law, the harsh side of Islam that most Islamists reject? The writer of this post reminds me of the character The Saint in Leslie Charteris books. He was so clever that I grew tired of reading about his virtues, as I soon got tired of The Selfishness of Ayn Rand. Self-reliance plus respect for others and working co-operatively in a kind, practical community will help us best to cope with the future. All those factors are needed plus wariness of those who wish to dominate through ideas of superiority.

    • Israel Folau has $3 million dollars worth of other people’s support. If the ARU doesn’t handle this with the proper care it may very well destroy Rugby Australia. Folau has a good case. It’s actually against the bill of rights to discriminate on religious grounds.

      • “It’s actually against the bill of rights to discriminate on religious grounds.”

        Yeah and i’ve always wondered why tgat us

        Why are some people allowed to discriminate on religious grounds?? I mean, lets look at what “religious grounds” actually means

        It means a person believes in a supernatural, invisible deity

        That belief is not shared by everyone

        So, what “religious grounds” means is that someone can discriminate against me or LGBTQI members of my family based on their belief of an invisible deity that i do not believe in

        It means i can’t discriminate against a person having those beliefs but they sure as hell can discriminate against me and my family and friends

        Excuse me, but i don’t see that as even remotely being FAIR

        If someone wants to believe in a god or spirit thats fine by me. If Folau doesnt want to play rugby on sunday because of his beliefs, thats perfectly acceptable But a religious belief doesnt give a free pass for that person to then discrimnate against me or others. That crosses the line

        I do not subscribe to “religious grounds” being reason to discrimnate. That is bullshit that cannot be justified

        Hope that make sense??

        • Depends. Some nod and say “that’s very interesting” some say “You gana go to hell and git raped up the bum by Lucifer every day when you die.”

          I don’t really know what I believe anymore. That seems to make people want to try and convert me either way Y’know? Atheist try and convert me one way and missionaries try and convert me the other way. The last time someone said that “you’re going to hell”, I replied, “isn’t Elvis there too?”

          The problem with banning religion is that people ALWAYS find a way around it, so that they can worship a “god” or some bullshit deity money or what ever.

          Anyway, I don’t usually talk about religious workings ect in real life because I find attitudes to be quite annoying, but not discriminatory. I feel like an alien, but not in a bad way.

          The lack or much lesser amount of religious people complaining about such over the top incidents is indicative of how much it is blown out of proportion in all likliehood, unless you’re about to tell me that atheism is the one true religion.

          I’ve never really seen any religious discimination while living in Australia. They’re overwhelmingly religious same as most countries but they’re more interested in going to the beach of watching sport than bothering someone because they have a different religion.

          Heck even the Pope criticised Australia for supposedly being too egalitarian.

  3. Grey… Folau only referred someone on his blog to a bible passage he thought relevant to the question. He wasn’t even giving a personal opinion.
    What this court case may cost is unknown, It might be well within his financial capacity, or it might ruin him. His adversary has relatively unlimited funds to call on, most of it coming from the very people likely to support Folau . It is not a tax. Every one who contributes knows he is a well paid professional sportsman. To a large degree the success of his appeal is a referendum on his public’s opinion of the action that has been taken against him. If you don’t want to contribute fair enough . Others obviously do.
    D J S

  4. Agree with Geoff F. and Sam. The blog argument is about individual “self reliance’ as if the money involved is the main thing. Like many, I find Folau’s rants repulsive but that’s not the point either. He’s expressing heartfelt Christian ideals learned from his parents and his church community. Already, many players look upwards and cross themselves after scoring a try. I would like that to be banned but realise that is unlkely. No complaints in the media so Rugby Australia find it acceptable and these religious observances are tolerated. Not the same as a biblical quote damning gays, drunks etc. On an inappropriate personal note, I want to continue to see his brilliance on the field both as an amazing individual player and a great team player.

  5. These poor individual who try to live their lives following a prescription laid down in tangle of scripts cobbled together hundreds of years ago, become slaves to an unreality so end up being obedient to a “religious” leader.

    Such cult behaviour is hard to escape from once they are captured by family, peer group or other community that has targeted their recruitment.
    Their reference to reason becomes the group think they are immersed in.
    Such enslavement along with its usual money extraction defies sense. The chances are most won’t escape without help.

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