Emphatically Yes, Julia Gillard.

June 19, 2007 at 2:07 am (Uncategorized)

Today’s post was going to be about good samaritans and the question of our duty of care, following yesterday’s horrific fatal shooting in Melbourne. I may return to this subject tomorrow. But I’ve just been checking the papers online, and I came across Julia Gillard’s edited address from a speech she gave last night. Here it is.

Make way for a renaissance. What a great idea. I really love the thought of Australians everywhere, those living within the country and those very many thousands living without, enjoying the freedom to pursue their myriad goals in the hopes of bettering themselves and their community, be it local or global. Australians have so much to offer each other and the rest of the world, if only we would allow ourselves to hear each other speak. I get so tired and flat-feeling when I see that sort of pack-nationalism, the flag-draping expression of something not altogether patriotic. Not altogether proud. Sometimes these things are about insecurity and fear, and I have found that insecurity and fear tend to be the natural enemies of education.

Why aren’t educators properly cherished and heeded in Australia today? Some of the feeling toward teachers across the education spectrum in this country is so vitriolic one almost expects to see spit smearing the newsprint. It’s like we have a deep cultural suspicion of our own capabilities. A fear of where all that learning might lead us.

Being intellectually curious is a great thing. Having doubts, and feeling free or indeed compelled to express them, is a sign of something going very right, not the other way around. Answers are lovely, aren’t they, it’s a grand thing to know the answer to a question that has pressed upon you, but questions, questions are something else again. Questions without answers are, in my humble opinion, the greatest questions of all. They’ll keep us amused and vexed for all time. Talk about getting your money’s worth.

Mercifully, people want different things out of this life of ours. Not everyone is clamouring to paint, write, sculpt, philosophise, experiment, invent, or kindly bequeath the world their version of Hamlet. Everyone is different. Last time I checked, that was precisely the ingredient of the human condition that was best holding my interest. That, and, of course, the competing, ever-present yang of our sameness.

Everywhere I have ever been, I have encountered people who have enriched my life through even the simplest conversation. If Gillard and Rudd are sincere, and I believe they are, the importance of conversation, of exchanging ideas and articulating differences of opinion, may return to its hard-won and too-easily lost place as an invaluable aspect of Australian culture. I believe this freedom to broaden both the individual and the collective mind must at all times be defended against those who would ever have the conversation stopped.

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