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Canberra Today 15°/21° | Friday, February 23, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Why growth reflects a shared vision of what is to come

The late Italian conductor and composer Ennio Morricone… who can forget his haunting sounds from The Mission?

“As you begin a new school year, take your inspiration not from those who assert knowledge but will not permit it to be examined, but from those who mentor, who share, who inspire.” Columnist HUGH SELBY pens a letter of hope for young people everywhere…  

Dear grandchildren,

There is good, there is bad, there is ugly, and – depending upon your actions and those of others – there can also be hope.

Hugh Selby.

Ennio Morricone, who died in 2020, wrote memorable music, including film scores. Among them are, A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

While the last film title is the theme of this letter to you, it is another of his film scores that backgrounds this piece. Who can forget his haunting sounds from The Mission?

Among the performances of that score I, along with many millions, like his conducting of an orchestra and a choir here

I like it not only for its musical pleasure, but for the working together of the composer as conductor, all the orchestra and choir members, the solo oboe and flute, and a couple of French horns.

The opening by the oboe caresses the listener’s soul, but it is everything else that gives the oboe, flute and horns a much larger context, letting those sounds linger pleasurably in your mind.

As a listener and a viewer – and please immerse yourself now – what you experience is how much can be achieved when there is composition genius, and a shared wish by all those performing to give you something that is inspiring, that is “good”.

How different from that are the wishes of those who are focused upon self-love and self-advancement to the extent of riding roughshod over any and everyone in their way.

You and your friends will experience their corrosive actions throughout your lives. From school bully to malevolent social influencer and media ranter, to populist cultural, political and religious leader, to workplace terroriser – these are people for whom a fistful and then a few dollars more for themselves justifies each lie they tell, each false rumour they feed, each sorrow they cause.

Shakespeare’s Marc Antony, in Julius Caesar, says: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” 

As you gather and trade Pokemon, and yell with delight in the water park, your life is such a contrast to those children who are living and dying in the terror in the Ukraine.

Thankfully, too, you were far from the October murders of the innocents and the indiscriminate revenge that has been waged in Gaza ever since.

These acts will not be forgiven or forgotten by the survivors, adults and children. Quite apart from the life-long physical and mental injury, the violent legacy of those evil deeds (justified in the name of religious and political shibboleths) will be righteously cloaked for this and later generations in the deadly purity of national, race and religious fervour.

My father, who worked himself to death as a physician, held firm to the belief that: “No religion is worth dying for”. 

Saving lives, managing pain and sustaining hope was his mission.

Public sentiment is often as shallow as it is righteous

Such a mission, just as the performance of Morricone’s music, requires a commitment and an understanding of humanity that goes well beyond being a flag bearer for in-vogue public sentiment.

Public sentiment is often as shallow as it is righteous. Just a few scratches at the surface and the paucity of its evidence base and the strength of its prejudice are all too clear.

Sadly, it is the fate of humans, educated or not, to fall prey to hyperbole, cant and rank bigotry disguised as truth, and delivered with a leader’s authority.

There are careerists in politics, religion and media whose fuel are those falsehoods. It has always been so. They are false prophets. To the extent that they claim to be leaders, history will show them as failures. 

As you begin a new school year, take your inspiration not from those who assert knowledge but will not permit it to be examined, but from those who mentor, who share, who inspire. 

There are boundless sources of such inspiration. It may be from one or more of your home, your school, your creative outlets or work experience. Any and all of these can bring growth.

Growth is something that is shared. Growth reflects a shared vision of what is to come. That is why, dear grandchildren, you must clamour against the current leadership ageism – where those in power, and those hangers-on to them, are approaching or already beyond the biblical three score years and ten.

Their vision can only be of decline, decay, death and dust. Their “use by” date has come and gone.

Your vision is of opportunity, of shared experience, of turning back the ill effects of climate change, of being able to push back those who demean others to enhance themselves.

Your mission is a better world for you and your grandchildren. 

To get there, you need your parents to put aside their blinkers and their acquiescence in today’s human disasters. You want them to lead now, as you grow, so that you have real, not imaginary hopes.

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Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Hugh Selby

Hugh Selby

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