My wife, Marg, and I nipped in to the Art Gallery of NSW today for the Arts of Islam exhibition. It was an interesting exhibition, nothing particularly stunning.
However, one important observation we made is the extent to which the exhibition demonstrated the multi-cultural facets of the arts. Not surprisingly really, since even Mohammed himself started out as a trader, and the subsequent Islamic empires reach into the sub-continent and Europe.
Marg made the observation that really all civilisations have been "multi-cultural", at least the ones under which there has been progress. Contrast the French uniculture under Louis XIV with the blossoming England in the period 1650 to 1750. (There is a book review I want to write here on a book called "The Last Revolution" - I'll get to it!).
When we sat down for lunch I collected some of those free postcards they distribute at places like that. One was an ad calling for nominations for Australian of the Year. I asked Marg if she could think of anyone worth nominating. While she was thinking I started "But I can't think of anyone who has done something for..." and paused, and Marg completed it by saying "humanity", which is exactly what I'd been thinking.
I'm sure there are lots of Australians worthy of this recognition for their work in delivering on human rights - they just don't seem to make the news. The only name I can come up with is Major Michael Mori - but he's an American!