Tonight, you have been invited here to honour a man - a man who deeply felt the despairing aching humanity of our times and who had the intellectual capacity and moral courage to defend it against those who would compromise it. It was a Herculean task. One man - in a position of influence, universally respected and intellectually formidable &endash; against the combined forces of imperialism and fundamentalism, and probably what is even harder to penetrate, the seething mass of apathy and self-indulgence amongst the more fortunate of humankind. He was certainly heard, causing many to rage against him, but he would not and could not be silenced. Now at his passing, it is inevitable that those of us who so admired his courage and honesty should feel cast to the wolves without his presence to guide us.
Tonight, we are reflecting on Edward Said's life and work, but our true tribute to him must be what we are willing to do to continue his legacy. That legacy encompasses Palestine. It is simply not possible to think of Edward Said without reference to Palestine. Palestine was his cause to the end. For him, it represented half a century of unacknowledged, unresolved human suffering. As a humanist, Edward Said believed that all human beings have a right to live with dignity. It was incomprehensible to him that people could speak of human rights and peace with justice and yet be silent on Palestine. Thus, we cannot pay tribute to Edward Said and ignore Palestine. If one man could stand up and make a difference in the thinking of thousands, then thousands could change the thinking of thousands more. It is a legacy not without its dangers and its demands, but it is an honourable one. Edward Said has already taken the first giant step &endash; we just need to find a tiny bit of Edward Said within ourselves to walk in the wake of his footsteps.
We listen to music, we look at art, we see plays and films, we read books and we shudder at the recurring themes of inhumanity and despair, but as Edward Said has said "there is no sound, no articulation that is adequate to what injustice and power inflict on the poor, the disadvantaged and the disinherited." Therefore, it is not enough to have come to speak or listen tonight. We must do more than that. We must find a way - as Edward Said did - of stilling the sounds of baying wolves and making a safe space for the millions of human voices long silenced, long denied.
Women for Palestine
Dr Yoshiko Nakano, Hong Kong University
Elliott S. Parker, Central Michigan University, USA
Dr Philip Robertson, Central Queensland University
Jim Tully, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Dr Stephen Stockwell, Griffith University
Philip Cass, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates
Dr Steve Quinn, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates
Ejournalist is published by ejournalism.au.com, Faculty of Informatics and Communication, Central Queensland University