Steve Dick - Championing The Individual (Original Title: Madness)
Delivered 21 Jul 2004

Each human being is born as something new, something that has never existed before. At a superficial level if you look around the room you will see that we are all different physically. If you subscribe to the theism of any of the popular religions or those that are part of the fabric of ancient cultures such as the North American Indians or the natives of Papua or New Guinea, then life and its living are but an excursion through time. We come from the eons beyond, our spirit sublime; we assume a mortal form, have our metal tested by the challenges of life, shake off this mortal coil and resume our previous existence with varying capacities and capabilities.

The energy that is life begins clear and untainted: the beauty of a child is its purity of spirit. Each person is born with a unique way of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and thinking. Each has his or her unique potential; their capabilities and limitations - their authenticity. The true essence of the individual can uplift our lives if society in its darkness of ignorance can but restrain itself.

Each of us are born islands alone, for the delight of our fellows, not for them to own. Yet fortunately and unfortunately we are born into a family and a community and those who control the family and the various parts of the community including some of our peers, say we all must conform to the expectation of others. The energy of the individual must be bridled and as a result the uniqueness is transformed.

Most of us join the clones subjugating our authenticity, losing our capacities to express spontaneously and appropriately the full range of possible behaviour. We may be the victim of bullying which goes to us living and working with our dignity being challenged or compromised, or we may just wish to belong. The poor twisted wretches who bend to the pressure wander life's wasteland in search of their treasure.

Some of us find ourselves, transcending our training and peer and other pressures, our spirits emerging pure. The colour not spent they can refresh and allure.

Yet those in the haze continue to plot against these authentics, these individuals, to make them conform.

If, in words of Shakespeare in Hamlet, it is important above all things "to thine own self be true" then we must define and celebrate our own selves, the authentic individual.The Us!

The we, who reveal our true selves, not putting on a performance, maintaining pretence or manipulating others. We, who know our feelings and our limitations and are not afraid of them. We who can't run 100 metres in under 9.8 seconds or swim 100 metres in under 50 seconds, but can celebrate those who can.

The we, who cares for the world and its peoples.

Not isolated from the problems of society but concerned, compassionate and committed to improving the quality of life. Even in the face of national or international adversity we do not see ourselves as powerless.

The we, who is able to do our own thinking and to use our own knowledge. Aware of what we know and of what we don't know.

We, who is able to separate fact from opinion.

We, who can listen to others, listen to what is said and also for what is not said, evaluate it and come to our own conclusions.

The we, who is not afraid of our own opinions or of expressing them.

The we, who would answer to the call in John Williamson's song, "Hey true blue."

For if we and our actions are real, then understanding is defied why those who would intimidate or confuse us, these cripples of nature, would claim that those of us who would be authentic, who would be true to their own selves, are somehow impaired.

For if life be for living not merely existed,
These attempts to distort must be surely resisted,
The truth of one's being the prize to be sought,
Lest the lives of us others be poorer for nought.