The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Adolescent Australia's road to adulthood

In his new Lowy Institute Paper, Peter Hartcher is correct when he writes that Australia is an adolescent country. However, I believe the roots of our adolescent behaviour lie deep in the lack of maturity of our national consciousness.
The juvenile language of our leaders, our false bravado, and our burning need to constantly prove ourselves on the sporting world stage all reflect the characteristics of an adolescent: insecure, uncertain of their place in the world, reluctant to come of age and enter adulthood. 
Speaking of ourselves as a 'middle power', boasting how we 'punch above our weight', saying we are the 'best in the southern hemisphere', is immature — this is Australia.
When watching the 1972 Olympic Games, I clearly recall Shane Gould receiving her three gold medals to a rendition of God Save the Queen; the anthem of Great Britain was also our national anthem at the time. Today very few would consider that appropriate and many would cringe, but back then few thought anything of it. Our nation eventually decided to change its anthem to reflect a maturing nation.
Today, several more things will need to change before we as a nation will fully mature.
First, we need our own truly Australian flag. Our current national flag is clearly a remnant of our colonial past. To have the flag of another nation on our national flag is as inappropriate as having the national anthem of another nation as our own.
Second, we need to become a republic. To have our head of state not one of us but a monarch from another nation is similarly inappropriate for a truly independent nation.
Third, we need to fully come to terms with our treatment of the original inhabitants of this land, our indigenous people. A mature nation would take complete responsibility for its often shameful history and embrace indigenous culture as central to the country and its future.
Fourth, we need to fully embrace the participation of women in the stewardship of the nation, politically and commercially. To have a federal cabinet that consists of 18 men and one woman, and to have only three women as chief executive officers of the top 50 ASX-listed companies (two when Gail Kelly of Westpac steps down), is an indictment on our society and not befitting a mature nation.
Fifth, we need to accept that since 1788 we have been an immigrant nation, full of people from all over the world, arriving in all types of circumstances. A mature nation, with this sort of understanding, would not tie itself in ridiculous knots over asylum seekers. 
Sixth, we need to accept that we are well and truly part of Asia and not a satellite of Europe. The sooner we are able to do this (and it entails more than just trade links), the sooner we will enter international adulthood.
With the right leadership all this will be possible for Australia, but unless and until these issues are dealt with, we will remain adolescent.
Imagine this one day: a national president who was originally an Afghan refugee opens our national parliament. The president swears into office our prime minister, an indigenous woman. The cabinet and parliament of the day reflect the gender and racial make up of our society. Flying above Parliament House is the Australian flag, without the Union Jack.
One might think that when all this happens the nation will have come of age, but that is only partly right; Australia will have fully come of age when everyone thinks this is normal.

This piece was originally published on the Lowy Institute's Interpreter website

Insiders - Poll of Polls November 23, 2014

You can view the latest Poll of Polls segment here

Monday, 17 November 2014

A face that any mother could love

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait, all the ships at sea and marsupials in the bush.

A face that any mother could love.

My old mate watching the proceedings at the G20.

Friday, 14 November 2014

A question for the ages

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: G20 Leaders Summit, Brisbane, Australia, 2014.

Channelling my great ancestor Socrates, a question for the world leaders attending the G20: "How do you propose to achieve infinite growth in a finite world?"

It's a question no economist can answer satisfactorily, except for vague references to technology.

I entrust all members of the fourth estate to ask this if they get the opportunity.

I hope doing so won't result in having to down a glass of hemlock.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Origin of the origin of the species

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait, all the ships at sea and starships in space.

Dateline: Earth, Origin of Life, 2014.

Scientists have speculated that comets crashing onto the Earth might well have been the origin of life on this planet.

This photographic evidence appears rather conclusive, don't you think?

Coincidence? I think not.

A few quiet words.

Fellow citizens,

A few quiet words from Wilfred Owen and John McCrae for Armistice Day.

Lest we forget.

I've been to the mountaintop.

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Last week we witnessed an exceptional speech given by Noel Pearson at the memorial for Gough Whitlam. It led to discussions regarding other great speeches.

For mine, the most powerful speech I've seen was delivered by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the evening of April 3, 1968 called "I've been to the mountaintop".

He was assassinated the next day. He was only 39 years old.

Below is the transcript of the final section of that speech in which he prophetically speaks of his imminent demise and a YouTube link to him saying those words.

It is truly remarkable from a truly remarkable man.

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind. 

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man! 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"

YouTube link here

"I've been to the mountaintop" full transcript and audio here.

Blog Archive

Our home

Our home
Earthrise over the moon (click on picture to view film)

The pale blue dot

The pale blue dot
Earth viewed from Saturn (click on picture to view film clip)

Our neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood
The Solar System (click on picture to view film)

Our Home Galaxy

Our Home Galaxy
The Milky Way (click on picture to view film)

A sister galaxy

A sister galaxy
Andromeda (click on picture to view film)

Another sister galaxy

Another sister galaxy
Triangulum (click on picture to view short film clip)

The Local Group of Galaxies

The Local Group of Galaxies
Our Galactic Neighbourhood (click on picture to view film clip).

Our farthest view of the Universe

Our farthest view of the Universe
Hubble's farthest view (click on picture to view film clip)

The virgo super cluster of galaxies

The virgo super cluster of galaxies
Galaxies within 100 million light years (click on picture to view film clip)

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Galaxies within 1 billion light years