Opinion

Understanding our deepest fear

NOT for the first time, I am aware that one thing leads to another when thinking about subject matter for a column.

For no reason other than desperation, my search for ideas led me back to a talk I gave at a Fairholme College fundraising breakfast in September 2006.

I've long forgotten what the money was for or why an early start on a Saturday morning was thought to be a good idea.

The principal in those days was Stan Klan, Stan the Man, who apparently now lives on long-distance European trains although that certainly was not the reason for the fundraising.

I keep a record of all these little talks, about 500 of them, on my computer and will probably transfer them to my lovely new iPad as soon as I have mastered the necessary gestures....

My stuff at the breakfast included dubious Latin quotes and references to a snobby English girls' school adjacent to my own snobby English boys' school. Access to the snobby girls was achieved by misdirecting a discus thrown during testosterone-fired training sessions, with the subsequent need for retrieval when their snobby principal was looking the other way.

I'm sure it's not like that at Fairholme, but it did provide me with the basis from which to talk about the importance of encouraging the very brightest in our community to cherish and nurture their brightness.

In retrospect, some of what I said then was actually surprisingly good, especially with challengingly early bacon and eggs and the prospect of a long weekly shopping trip ahead of many of us.

I finished my stuff by saying:

"It's incredibly important we care for those with disabilities, those with learning difficulties and those who achieve marvellous progress and outcomes despite those difficulties. However, it is equally important that we recognise the needs of the intellectually most able among us....and 'license people to be outstanding'.

"We need to tell people that it's okay to be bright, okay to be smarter than the average, just as it's okay to be the best at netball, or swimming or caring for people. Being given the 'freedom' to be really excellent at anything can be incredibly scary."

I then made the mistake of trying to be clever.

I read them what I described as a famous quotation from former President Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural address.

It's the one that begins: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Unfortunately I now know that Nelson Mandela never said that, brilliant though he was. Many people, luckily including my audience that morning, think he did so I got away with it.

The quote is actually by a fascinatingly complicated woman called Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles.

The full quote, still brilliant, can be seen at aetw.org/mandela and I recommend it.

Anyway, I've actually come full circle in my search for subject matter. Truth to tell, I had originally decided to write about Nelson Mandela. He's one of my greatest heroes and he is fighting to recover and retain his health.

An African National Congress activist, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962, spending 27 years in prison before being released in February 1990. He was the first black African president of South Africa, from 1994-1999.

During his presidency, the ANC's chief whip in parliament and subsequently the premier of the Eastern Cape, Makhenkesi Stofile, was a huge Mandela friend and supporter. I sat next to Premier Stofile at a dinner for him during his visit to USQ some years ago.

He talked about his friendship and many other things....

Topics:  blog, fears, opinion, professor peter swannell




Springfield rue final defeat

Springfield Hawks rugby union Barber Cup coach Jeremy Clark, club president Dee Clark and Pegg Cup coach Tony Kiri.

Hawks fall just short of title double

Gallant Knights second in league after testing week

Ipswich Knights under-16 BPL captain Matthew Drummond (number seven) finished the season as second highest goal scorer.

Ipswich team eyes 'instant' revenge

Jo-Ann Miller speech leaves ALP faithful stunned

STILL STRONG: Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller MP at her Goodna office.

MP sticks to her guns at closed Labor conference

Latest deals and offers

What's on the small screen this week

Bella Frizza in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight.

THE Block's $65,000 bathroom is revealed and strangers marry.

MOVIE REVIEW: Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Foregone Conclusion (Steve Clarke, Andy Burrows, Stuart Baxter Wilkinson, Michael Clarke) in a scene from David Brent: Life on the Road.

Ricky Gervais has brought David Brent back to life on the big screen

Jessica Alba wants tequila shots served at her funeral

Businesswoman and actor Jessica Alba

There won't be mourning at this funeral

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa