Class of 95 remembered, and Muslim students today

There is much of interest to me in today’s Sun-Herald, not least a wonderful cartoon by Cathy Wilcox – not yet online. Going back a bit I was drawn to the article The class of 1995: HSC high achievers 20 years on, having taught the Class of 1995 at Sydney Boys High. One member, Jeremy Heimans, features in the article.

Having received a TER of 99.95, he studied Arts Law and then Honours in government at the University of Sydney. After studying at Harvard he has spent the past 10 years working as a political activist and entrepreneur. In 2005 he founded Get-up in Australia. Today he is chief executive and co-founder of the New York-based company Purpose.com. In 2014, he delivered one of the year’s top TED talks, which attracted more than a million views, and today he is working on a book on the topic of “new power”.

Heimans describes himself as “an activist from the age of 12”.

“I had this funny childhood where at age 12 I sounded like a 40-year-old,” Heimans jokes. “In many ways I’m doing a lot of the work I did as a kid, but with better tools.

“I had to try on a bunch of different suits for size – I tried on a lot of different roles in my teens and mid-20s.”

“I benefited from a great public school education and I’m very grateful for that,” said Heimans, who remembers his final school years as a period of robust debates, challenging ideas and honing his debating skills.

I have mentioned him over the years. See, for example, The Top 10 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics (October 2006) and  SBHS ex-students in the news, and pleasant Sunday in Illawarra (May 2012).

I recently posted on the Parramatta tragedy. In that post I wrote:

Space precludes my repeating my own earlier thoughts on teenage Muslim boys, of whom I had considerable and mostly positive experience in Sydney especially in the years between 9/11 and the Cronulla riots. See such past posts as Recycle and prelude: nine years ago, Some reflections on the late teen suicide bomber, Bringing it home, From omnishambles to pizza…, London ten years on and Go back, lunchtime prayers, Adam Goodes.  Also the reactions to this tragedy from NSW Premier Mike Baird and the revamped administration of Malcolm Turnbull in Canberra have been in marked contrast to the rhetoric Tony Abbott would have come up with. See my June post Contributions to a wiser, cooler look at IS and terror. This can only be for the good of all.

That Cathy Wilcox cartoon, by the way, nails the contrast in language between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, referred to also in today’s Sun-Herald opinion piece by Charles Waterstreet.

Ironically when the Manchurian Candidate teenager Farhard Khalil Mohammad Jarbar chose an Asian employee of the police service, an integrated success story, an accountant and a father, a man cherished and loved in a multi-racial police culture, he couldn’t have chosen better proof of the ability of an Australian inclusiveness, and an everlasting symbol that withstood the rage he threw at Australia, and a churlish outrage his preachers and provokers were attempting to provoke and promulgate. Curtis Cheng was living proof of a multicultural Australia, and in death, a tragic but beaming example that we can absorb other cultures, and an everlasting monument to rebut the malevolent movement that seeks to agitate differences and proclaim other gods, other faiths, as a solution, who when standing in front of the black-robed radicalised robot with a gun on Charles Street, was briefly living proof, he was wrong, completely wrong, he had been used, misused, abused and a disposable vehicle for a false and self-destructive cult of mass murderers, disguised as a religion.

Turnbull has begun to solve this unexpected internal civil disturbance by reaching out to all of Australia, including all Muslims, to all faiths, calling on them to close ranks but open their doors and hearts and minds, by embracing core values, the community of our different cultures, by recognising all our commonalities, not our differences, by force of our love, not our hate. The first reaction is to make our streets and schools safe, then he must reject the bullhorn radio cheerleaders of hate and division, the racist call to arms by dogmatic dividers, and become more Mandela, more Martin Luther King, more Mother Teresa, and more Malcolm the mediator and moderator, rather than Monty of North Africa. It’s not us and them. It’s just us, brown, yellow, white, olive, and pale stars, in and under the Southern Cross, under any god, or gods, or symbols any one of us chooses.

What we really DO NOT need is this sort of thing. Just look at them and weep! The picture is on page 9 of today’s print Sun-Herald.

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There is much sense and some nonsense in the article by Natalie O’Brien Most radicalised Australian teenagers attended public schools. Obviously from my earlier posts I have thoughts on the subject. I will be returning to it. The Sun-Herald has done a good summary photo collage:

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See also Kirsty Needham, School prayer group rules must apply equally to Muslim, Christian, Jedi. Again see my post Go back, lunchtime prayers, Adam Goodes (July 2015).

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