The Dim-Post

November 30, 2011

Book recommendations

Filed under: books,Politics — danylmc @ 10:49 am

I like this speech by David Shearer, given to the TEC conference yesterday:

A couple of experiences in my life taught me how important these issues are.

It began a few years ago when I was something of a hippy, travelling around the world like many Kiwis take the time to do.

A friend and I decided to follow the Nile River to its source in Uganda. I think we had this romantic notion of following in the footsteps of those great explorers.

I remember we were reading a couple of wonderful books by Alan Moorehead, who wrote about those who had passed through these same places 100 years earlier. They were called called ‘White Nile’ and the ‘Blue Nile’.

In South Sudan we hitched a ride on a Somali truck that seemed the only way to cross the wild terrain of the Turkana tribe. It was about a five day trip.

We were sitting in the back of the truck peeling a mango and throwing the skins over the side.

I heard noises below and looking down I saw children fighting over the skins – simply because they were hungry. It was a real shock. Here I was, a tourist, travelling through a land where people were so hungry they fought over mango skins.

Over the next few days we saw many people sitting or walking – who knows where – who were just skin and bones, their lives devastated by a drought and conflict in the area, many were close to dying.

For me it was one of those turning points – it hit me that perhaps I should be doing something more to make a difference in the world.

God, I haven’t thought about those Moorehead books for years. I also read them while bumming around North Africa – although I was never ambitious enough to try for Uganda. I was more of a Dahab, Siwa, Chechaouen kind of tourist. Like Shearer, my experience in the region had a profound impact on me, and like Shearer I resolved to change my life and make a difference in the world, but unlike him I went back to London to work in the financial sector instead. So we’re both heroes, in our own ways.

Anyway, I also endorse the General Gordon section of Eminent Victorians.

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13 Comments »

  1. I read that speech and I thought “My God, that man is a socialist.”

    Comment by Sanctuary — November 30, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  2. Given the mayhem in Euro/US markets right now, I can see a whole new generation of idealistic, honest young people dedicating their lives to working in the financial sector just so they can straighten those bastards out. Making a difference!

    Comment by Neil — November 30, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  3. Has Key ever travelled outside his comfort zone? Or is his world view totally formed by making millions in New York?

    Comment by ieuan — November 30, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  4. The Tree Where Man Was Born, by Peter Mathiessen…

    Comment by Frankie — November 30, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  5. Sadly, you missed this bit:

    “We need to re-think the connections between education, science and training, and re-think what they mean to the economy and to people. This can’t be about ideology, and it can’t just be about parts of the education and science system in isolation.
    We have to think about what works, and how they can be made to work together better.
    In my view we need to re-think our economy.
    This requires us to rethink the way we harness our science and innovation, and the way we unleash for people new opportunities in education and training.”

    And this:

    “For the money our universities are some of the best in the world. Are they open and linked to our companies to foster innovations being taken to the market? Not from what I hear from the private sector? Mostly they’re seen as providers of graduates, not trading in ideas.”

    And chillingly for his his fellow MPs:

    “He was, I need to say, voted out at the next election. He might have wanted to s(t)ay, but he thought it was more important to make a difference than to get re-elected. Because he had a vision for why he was in politics – not for his own sake.

    We could all take a lesson in that.”

    This man is monstrously dangerous to the NZ Labour Party.

    JC

    Comment by JC — November 30, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

  6. And apparently he thinks experience in Iraq, Palestine and Somalia is a good parallel to what’s needed to lead Labour. And I thought YOU were harsh on them…

    Comment by garethw — November 30, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  7. The more I read from him the more I like from him. I also don’t buy the argument he doesn’t have the experience. Don Brash was only in over a year and he was leader. David Lange not much longer I think.
    Would be some fresh air and he seems to have the common touch. Well I’m guessing he would after choosing to live in warzones.

    Comment by max — November 30, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  8. He could be the next John Key, but Labour doesnt want that- for some reason they want a grey man.

    Comment by gn — November 30, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

  9. I have to say the idea of Shearer as leader has been slowly growing on me over the last couple of days too. He’s got an impeccable story and seems pragmatic and appealing. He didn’t make much of a splash in opposition, but he’s certainly not alone in that, even among the other public contenders.

    Comment by Jordan — November 30, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  10. “…I resolved to change my life and make a difference in the world, but unlike him I went back to London to work in the financial sector instead.”

    I could imagine John Key saying that, or Don Brash.

    Comment by insider — November 30, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

  11. “I was more of a Dahab … kind of tourist.”
    Disgraceful.
    I suppose you just hung out, drinking and smoking near the Italian restaurant.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — November 30, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  12. “…I resolved to change my life and make a difference in the world, but unlike him I went back to London to work in the financial sector instead.” – those guys party like animals, it takes years off your life and is not for the faint hearted.

    Shearer has one thing none of the others have, no baggage and a fresh perspective and if Labour as a whole can’t see that then they are truly toast for a decade.

    Comment by will — November 30, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  13. I also don’t buy the argument he doesn’t have the experience. Don Brash was only in over a year and he was leader. David Lange not much longer I think.

    Yes, and both of them were such good leaders…

    Comment by helenalex — December 1, 2011 @ 9:13 am


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