Tonight I went to the South Australian launch and meet-the-author session for 'Optimism', the new book by Bob Brown, activist, former senator for Tasmania and leader of the Australian Greens, and all-round wonderful Human Being.
Bob is a hero of mine for any number of excellent reasons. But I think a very important one is that he managed to stand up time and again in front of the Australian people and get a fair chunk to see sense. Not all, not even a majority, but a fair chunk. When you are up against vested interests with vast resources to throw at you, when you are up against the most pervasive and perverse media empire in the world, hell bent on controlling opinions, that's a damn fine effort indeed and an example I hope more of us can emulate.
His talk was engaging, enlightening, and inspired action. Though he was well and truly preaching to the converted this evening I think a lot of us will have left with the desire to increase our efforts and do more to save ourselves from ourselves.
I stood in line to get my copy of the book signed, and one for a friend who was devastated she couldn't make it. I stuck the names on sticky notes to go inside the books, and I got to the front of the line. Do you remember meeting Father Christmas as a small, nervous child? You would be feeling excited and somewhat awed, he'd ask you a question and your brain would stop working and you'd respond with something stupid? It was almost exactly like that for me, though with age comes that ability to be only vaguely stupid instead of completely. I can't remember what he asked me, now, only that I told him about my job.
I thanked him for being him, and told him that I didn't know where we'd be without him. "I just evolved, as we all do", was his response. He had such an easy candour, and struck me as an extremely gracious, thoughtful, humble person. I felt as giddy as a schoolgirl at a Beatles concert in the 60s. If I can evolve through my life half as well as Bob Brown I will consider it a great achievement indeed.
Meeting your heroes is always a strange thing; sometimes they live up to your expectations, sometimes they shatter them. Bob lived up to them and then some, and he's one of those rare people that I think I actually understand to some degree. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the book.