And so we say goodbye to 2021.
And we’d like to end the year by acknowledging 2 very different individuals who have in very different ways made the world a better place.
As a general rule, Australians of the year are worthy recipients. They’ve done good things; they’ve excelled in a particular field; they’ve overcome adversity; they’ve been a trailblazer. Sometimes, of course, they are cricketers.
In announcing that Grace Tame was the 2021 Australian of the Year, the panel described her in this way, ‘Grace has demonstrated extraordinary courage, using her voice to push for legal reform and raise public awareness about the impacts of sexual violence.’
So Grace Tame comes to the award as an extraordinary Australian.
Where, however, she stands apart is in her preparedness to speak truth to power.
And that is not always easy.
To her endless credit, Grace Tame has not stayed meek and silent when powerful men – and they are almost always men – have spoken or acted in inappropriate and foolish ways. She’s stood against the machine and supported others and raged against the notion that she should just go gently into the night.
The result is a country and institutions that are more decent because of her efforts.
We also need to praise American climatologist and geophysicist, Professor Michael Mann.
Michael Mann has worked on the science of climate change for almost 3 decades. As a researcher he’s published 4 books and more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications.
In short, he’s done the hard graft of science, collecting evidence, testing hypotheses, making findings and articulating the logical conclusions.
What’s important about Michael Mann is that he takes the science and he then insists that humanity should not give up on efforts to manage global warming.
Every day he’s standing in the public forum urging us to never give up. Breathing confidence into us that we can do this, and that the defeatism or it’s-all-too-much-ism, which dooms us as humans living on a fragile planet, is not pre-ordained.
For the most of us, our daily wrestle is with small things – Do I really need a second helping? Should I upgrade the BBQ to a Weber? – and the like.
Michael Mann is different. He takes on the most powerful and ruthless corporations on the planet.
Each day he presents to us the idea that we can take control of our own destiny – and gives us practical tips that enable us to be good citizens rather than slaves or shills.
This energy and effort must come at a cost but it does not show and all that we know is that he is in our corner.