So, last Friday evening I headed into the city to attend two events at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Both were being held at the same venue, with a one hour break between them, so I thought I would head to the bar during the break as I was on my own and didn’t feel like wandering through the city streets at night.
Arriving at the Capitol Theatre a bit early I did a circuit of the foyer before the reality sunk in that there was no bar! There wasn’t even a café. There were no refreshments at all. So much for Plan A. Plan B presented itself as a table full of books for sale and I spent my time perusing them.
The first event was an oration on privacy entitled “Privacy, do we need it?” by Frank Moorhouse, the author I had seen the night before. I was eager to hear what he had to say as his writing was very frank and often graphic, and he was seemingly unconcerned with what his family or friends would think. I was to be disappointed. His oration gave the impression of skirting the issues at best and being fairly wishy washy at worst. His speaking had lost the punch of the night before and before the end of it people started leaving. The only thing I liked about his speech was the fact it went overtime, leaving me less time to sit in the foyer looking lost before the next oration.
The second event was an oration given by Noel Pearson, entitled “Nights when I dream of a better world: An argument for the Labor Party to move from the centre left to the radical centre of Australian politics”. Noel Pearson is one of Australia’s best known Aboriginal leaders and activists. He is a lawyer and the founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. He is a fantastic speaker and we, the audience, hung on every word and he received a standing ovation at the end of it. I can tell you right now, if he ever decides to run for Prime Minister or form his own political party, he will have my vote!
One point Pearson made has stuck in my head. He told us that when he and the other people at the Cape York Institute had attempted to define capability, they came up with the equation that “personal responsibility + opportunity = capability”. Think about that for a minute. We don’t often factor in personal responsibility when we are looking at what we are capable of. Too often we look at what others are offering us and forget that we also have the responsibility of helping ourselves. I thought it a noteworthy point!
I’m glad I made the effort to attend the events I did. Every year I tell myself I should go and every year I procrastinate until the Festival is over. I look forward to next year’s program and maybe attending even more events!