John Knew, Michael Knows…

Many years ago I worked for a while as a Law Librarian in one of the largest and ‘established’ international law firms in Perth. If I wasn’t already sceptical of corporate capitalism, this experience cemented that attitude within me. Whilst there though I began to revel in some of the decisions, speeches and work coming from one particular Judge, Michael Kirby and I’ve kind of followed his work ever since.

As reported on the ABC this morning, the retiring Justice Kirby gave a speech to new graduates yesterday, distilling the essence of his life, experience and learning for their benefit. This is from the ABC report of the speech:

Receiving an honorary doctorate and speaking to law and business graduates, Justice Kirby told the crowd it was a watershed night for all.

MICHAEL KIRBY: For me, the occasion comes as I am furiously packing papers, books and bric-a-brac, preparing to leave behind 34 years of public life. You are coming into your careers, I am moving out and on.

KAREN BARLOW: The retiring judge says he didn’t want to be tedious, so he dove straight into what he says is the most important thing he has discovered in life.

MICHAEL KIRBY: I am going to share it with you, like a precious jewel, fit for this special occasion. I refer to love. Love for one another. Love for our community. Love for others everywhere in the world.

Love, you see, transcends even scholarship, cleverness and university degrees. It is greater than pride and it’s greater than wealth. It endures when all worldly vanities fade.

KAREN BARLOW: He urged the graduates to take love into their future workplaces.

Justice Kirby is concerned about a lack of self-love with stress and depression running rife in law and business, and he also says legal practitioners should practice love by standing up for human rights.

MICHAEL KIRBY: We must be a voice for the voiceless, protectors of the weak and the vulnerable. With our privileges and gifts, go great duties and obligations.

The Australian on the weekend quoted one of Justice Kirby’s friends as saying he thought Michael would have entered politics and tried to be Prime Minister, if it wasn’t for the endemic prejudice against his homosexuality. How sad for Australia that we missed the opportunity of having such a potentially wonderful politician due to our homophobia. Times have changed a little now, but I still wager there are a fair few compassionate and capable women and men who have not entered or advanced in public life for fear of persecution stemming from sexual prejudice.

Since this prejudice is communally held and generated, it is up to us to change it as much as any policy maker or politician. As part of the spiritual and esoteric community we know that changing our hearts affects the whole. Speaking outwardly against injustice activates the movement towards wholeness within the group and social mind. This is the reason that Justice Kirby finally came out – he and his partner felt they owed it to the younger generation to be open, to give an example of being openly gay and holding high public office.

I wish Justice Kirby peace and happiness and continuing love in his retirement.  🙂


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