Tag Archives: speeches

Dancing with Speeches #51 Anwar Sadat

Dancing with speeches this year has opened up new ideas, pathways, people and places. The year ends with edicts are being proclaimed in tweets from world leaders, speeches like that of Anwar Sadat’s are rare these day. The modern US composer Mohammed Fairouz says a speech is a kind of music by itself. There is certainly poetry and power in this week’s 1977 speech from Anwar Sadat. The speech took him from Cairo to Jerusalem stands as an incredible contrast to the leaders of today. What better instruction could we have than to be asked to fill the earth and space with recitals of peace! This speech is a little dance on a few phrases and the season, a speech that might be given by a CEO to their staff Christmas party.

You, bewailing mother; you, widowed wife; you, the son who lost a brother or a father; you, all victims of wars – fill the earth and space with recitals of peace. Fill bosoms and hearts with the aspirations of peace. Turn the song into a reality that blossoms and lives. Make hope a code of conduct and endeavour. The will of peoples is part of the will of God.

This Christmas Eve, looking for the spaces that gives us access to the sacred space means entering touching into eternity is the search that comes when following the star.

It is in the space, the silence between the notes, the crack where the light gets in, the shoot appearing in the crevice breaking the concrete. Keeping our poems and our music close together where we can recite by heart the words to guide us to humanity and our best selves is my hope for this season. We are all connected and when the song rings out from fans across a football stadium, the audience joining in the chorus in that same football stadium transformed into a rock concert, we know that we are one. We know we have arrived at a common place, and then when the harmonies begin … another level of beauty rises. We use the line “singing from the same hymn sheet” to bring clarity to argument and shared vision to strategic planning in corporate board rooms. What if we actually did then rise in song to consolidate a moment?

After a trial of decision-making and intense argument I was working with a board and at the end of the decision where consensus arrived I played one of KD Lang’s rendition’s of Leonard Cohen’s Hallejuah, the group stopped and silently listened … there were tears. I need to do this more often, bring music to the moments of decision-making and poetry to speech-making.

Language to bring people together is what a speech and a song can do. On this night songs will be sung by heart about the birth of a child in Palestine a couple of thousand years ago, those who only swing by the places of worship once or twice a year, will find the deep connection, the deep time in their cells. They will sing … there will be tears. The common humanity to be found in the humility of a stable with a family on the run from a tyrant seeking to destroy a generation, is the story of the day as Aleppo falls and orphans look for signs in the sky that are not bombs.

There will be some voices singing out of tune, creating a wild kind of counterpoint to remind us the rhythms and rhymes may co-exist but are not always in harmony – and that helps us know where the spaces are.   Those voices also offer us an invitation to come follow and see where we might be led. We hear the humour in the off beat and out of time.

May your Christmas take you from Cairo to Jerusalem under fire, may you find the babe in a manager in a village of your ancestors, and may you bring yourself to sacred spaces to hear the silences in poetry and music.


Egyptian President Anwar Sadat addressing the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem, Nov 20, 1977, The Times of Israel


Dancing with Speeches #27 Malcolm Turnbull

An angry Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stepped into the Wentworth Ball Room a place that has been home to highs and lows for decades for the Liberal Party, a conservative political party in Australia. His speech failed on so many levels, accountability, respect for the office, compassion and commiserations for colleagues who had lost their seats. Various commentators have already had their say, my dance is to re-write the speech.

My fellow Australians and Party members– thank you for coming out tonight to join me in raking over the coals on what has been a long campaign. These past eight weeks we have traversed the nation, I have listened in to the broken hearts of Tasmanians who lost their homes and livelihoods in floods, I have laughed along with children in schools taking in more STEM subjects to prepare them for the new economy which is already here and that they will be shaping, I have jumped on trains, trams and buses and made promises to consolidate the transport infrastructure our capital cities will need to be competitive and attractive to investors and workers. I have been humbled by the wonder and creativity of our greatest minds, entrepreneurs and risk takers willing to step up to the challenges ahead and inspire us to finance their ventures.

Tonight we sadly farewell those who have stood alongside of us in the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Australians. Everyone who lost their seat on our side of the house took their electorates to the wire – I personally want to thank Wyatt Roy and Peter Hendry for their support and I am sorry I won’t have them to call on in the next Parliament.

I am shocked there isn’t a clear result tonight, and we have to hear what this means for our Australia – while there is a division and uncertainty ahead – it is time for us to take a collective breath and realize that our vision and dreams for this country are not shared. People are worried and scared that they will be left out and left behind, the poorest communities moved further away from our values and into the arms of populist politicians and some even to the very edge of the most racist and acrimonious of views.

I take responsibility for the result. I could have called the election earlier and ridden on the wave of the honeymoon when I was first elected by the party room, I could have waited a few more months to the time when the election would have been due and not pulled the double dissolution trigger, I did neither – I took us to an election to get a clear mandate for industrial relations legislation to be passed by both houses – that was clearly a mistake as tonight’s result shows. The Senate will be less unified than it was 2 months ago and I am not sure we will be able to form even a minority government, only the days ahead as our wonderful Australian Electoral Commission staff, plough their way methodically through each and every ballot paper to make sure every vote counts.

Having a vote is the right of every citizen and we will honour that right by allowing the AEC to take the time they need to do that work without political interference.

I turn to my staff, my friends in the party and most of all my family and say thank you for all you do for me and for our nation. Your steadfast belief in our shared values is like oxygen to me and tonight while my heart beats furiously and I am somewhere between shame and fear and feel starved of air, it is your care and love that will help me through the night and the days and nights ahead as the results of the election are revealed with each ballot counted.

Living with uncertainty and managing complexity is the challenge for all modern leaders. During these days and nights, while we wait, I will look carefully at the results and listen to what the electorate has said and notice what the votes mean around the country and for my leadership and for the leadership of our party.

Thank you to all of you staying up so late and waiting with me in what feels a bit like the Garden of Gethsemane and I look forward to fronting you again in a few days with news that is clearer than what we have tonight.